07/25/2014 11:58AM

Untapable favored to beat males in Haskell

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Untapable, walking the shed row at Monmouth Park on Friday, will try to continue a trend that has seen favorites win five of the last six runnings of the Haskell.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – The Haskell Invitational always seems to get its leading man or lady, but some years the rest of the cast has been a bit thin. On Sunday, the race has its star, the top 3-year-old filly in the land, Untapable, plus a salty supporting group that will make her earn the lion’s share of the $1 million purse.

In the last six years, five favorites have won the Grade 1 Haskell: Verrazano, Paynter, Lookin At Lucky, Rachel Alexandra, and Big Brown. The highest price of the lot was Lookin At Lucky at 6-5.

This year, Untapable is 2-1 on the morning line. She may go off a bit lower because of her large fan base, but Untapable will not be the 1-2 Rachel Alexandra was in 2009.

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Untapable is the only Grade 1 winner in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell, but Bayern, Medal Count, Albano, Wildcat Red, and Social Inclusion could have a lot to say in the 3-year-old division during the second half of the year.

The Haskell is a Win and You're In for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Pace a key factor

Predicting the pace of the Haskell is tricky. Bayern, Wildcat Red, Social Inclusion, and Encryption are all quick. Who will go and who will take back is anyone’s guess.

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At the post-position draw Thursday, Bob Baffert said, “Bayern is a speed horse. It’s going to be a battle for him. He’s going to have to be up front.”

Social Inclusion comes into the Haskell off a sizzling series of works. He likely will challenge early. The connections of Wildcat Red and Encryption have both used the word “rate” in recent days. Having said that, can they?

A fast pace would work in favor of Untapable, Medal Count, and Albano.

Haskell Invitational, Race 12


Untapable (Last 3 Beyers: 95-107-106)

◗ Untapable has glided to a 4-for-4 record this year, including the Kentucky Oaks. But now she will be facing males.

“We have a lot of faith in her,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “When the year started out, the Oaks was our goal. After the performance she gave and the way she’s trained since, we decided to give this a chance.”

Asmussen went on to say that Untapable is a more settled horse than earlier in her career. She was on her best behavior for her most recent race, a 9 1/4-length romp in the Grade 1 Mother Goose.

“Her demeanor was so good for the Mother Goose,” Asmussen said. “Sometimes in the past, she has gotten a little excited or a little upset, but the Mother Goose was the best to date for her.”

◗ Rosie Napravnik, 5 for 6 on Untapable, will be back aboard after missing the Mother Goose with a shoulder injury.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 7 Untapable. Trainer Steve Asmussen is 5 for 40 with a $0.43 ROI over the past five years with 3-year-olds in Grade 1 stakes. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Bayern (Last 3 Beyers: 107-72-94)

◗ Bayern has yet to win beyond a mile. Baffert said he might shorten Bayern up to seven furlongs following the Haskell in the King’s Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 23. Bayern worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at Del Mar on Monday.

“He had to show me something to go to the Haskell,” Baffert said. “It was an impressive work.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 Bayern. Trainer Bob Baffert is 18 for 37 with a $2.94 ROI over the past two years with 3-year-olds going from sprint to route on dirt. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Medal Count (Last 3 Beyers: 99-86-94)

◗ Trainer Dale Romans has made clear how highly he regards Medal Count. He was stopped while rallying in the stretch of the Kentucky Derby and is coming off a strong third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

“He’s a big, strong horse. He’s going to run well this weekend, but his better days may lie ahead,” Romans said. “He’s an old-fashioned horse that goes back to the Roberto sire line. I think he can go right to the top.”

Albano (Last 3 Beyers: 100-80-97)

◗ Throw out Albano’s fifth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby – he was fouled nearing the far turn and raced wide throughout – and he has not finished off the board in seven starts. He was sharp in winning Monmouth’s top Haskell prep, the Grade 3 Pegasus, by 6 1/2 lengths and has been in steady training at Delaware Park with Larry Jones.

Albano has the tactical speed to adjust to whatever pace scenario develops in the Haskell.

Social Inclusion (Last 3 Beyers: 90-92-98)

◗ It was learned Saturday that Social Inclusion will be taken off Lasix for the Haskell by trainer Mannzy Azpurua and owner Ron Sanchez.

Social Inclusion won his career debut without Lasix but has used the diuretic in his last four starts. On Saturday, Sanchez said that Social Inclusion had been washing out and getting excited before his races and that after Social Inclusion returned to Florida following his third-place finish in the Woody Stephens Stakes that Azpurua and he decided to take him off Lasix in the hope it would calm him down.

"We have been working to get him to relax and we think he has been doing much better without Lasix," Sanchez said. "We expect him to be calmer before the Haskell and we think he will run an improved race."

Azpurua and Sanchez notified Florida racing officials in mid-June that they were declaring him off Lasix. Unfortunately, that information  did not make its way to New Jersey and past performances for the race and the track program show that Social Inclusion will race with Lasix. The change will be announced throughout the Haskell card.

Wildcat Red (Last 3 Beyers: 93-54-98)

◗ Trainer Jose Garoffalo shipped Wildcat Red to Monmouth Park almost two weeks before the Haskell and is the only shipper in the field to have a timed workout over the track. Wildcat Red has adjusted well to his new surroundings and is "getting a good hold of the Monmouth track," according to Garoffalo. On Sunday, July 20, he turned in a useful workout.

Wildcat Red galloped an easy mile and then worked three furlongs. Garoffalo timed the work in 36.60 second with a final eighth in 10.80. Track clockers credited Wildcat Red with a half-mile work in 48.80.

The top two finishers from the Long Branch Stakes – Irish You Well (Last 3 Beyers: 98-85-93) held off Just Call Kenny (Last 3 Beyers: 97-96-69) – round out the field. The Long Branch was the first start for Just Call Kenny since having surgery for a condylar fracture following his victory in the Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream Park in January.

◗ The Haskell will be televised on NBC from 5-6 p.m. Eastern, and the full Monmouth card will be streamed live at DRF.com.

◗ Sunday’s Haskell card will offer a $250,000-guaranteed all-stakes pick four beginning on race 9 and a $100,000-guaranteed pick five starting on race 5. Both wagers have a 50-cent minimum.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Social Inclusion. Trainer Manny Azpurua is 3 for 31 with a $0.94 ROI with horses going sprint to route on dirt. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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