On the shore with a popular lady

The announcement that Rachel Alexandra will make her next start in the $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational (G1) was one that didn’t come as a surprise but it sure did pique my interest.  Not only will this be Rachel’s first start of the “second half” but it will also be her 2nd try against males and that should provide her another opportunity to add to her already budding legacy.  The next question you’re prompted to ask is: who will run against her?

ATOMIC RAIN– The winner of the main Haskell prep, the Long Branch, is based at Monmouth, is trained by a Monmouth guy, and is owned by a New Jersey family.  He looked very sharp in the Long Branch and if he were to show up with his rabbit, you’d have to think his chances would be decent.

MUNNINGS– This guy was definitely the most interesting Haskell participant prior to the announcement about Rachel Alexandra.  He is 2 for 2 in stakes company this year and would be making his first start around two turns since last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita.

DUKE OF MISCHIEF– The Iowa Derby winner has really come to hand of late for trainer David Fawkes and while he’s the 2nd best 3YO in his barn, he might have the most upside.  Fawkes was very candid about his intentions with Big Drama should Rachel Alexandra show up and he mentioned yesterday that this guy might serve as his lone entrant.

SUMMER BIRD– The Belmont winner has been pointed to this spot since he crossed the wire first on June 6.  He has been training at Monmouth for the last couple of weeks and has certainly gotten better with experience.  He is another, like ‘Duke or Atomic Rain that’ll need a bit of pace to set up his late run.

PAPA CLEM– The Arkansas Derby champion was sent to Monmouth for the Long Branch, which was meant to serve as a prep for the Haskell.  He didn’t exactly fare well in the Long Branch but likely needed a race and should be set for a better effort in his 2nd start off a layoff.

Kudos to Monmouth Park for getting another big name to their biggest race as they’ve had tremendous success getting the most popular 3YOs into their starting gate on the first Sunday in August.  Monmouth is not only one of the most aesthetically pleasing tracks but the racing has been quite strong this meet and should be very good on August 2nd thanks to the seven stakes races on tap.

Just last week Sports Illustrated chose Monmouth Park as the “best summer sports bargain.”  What better place to pass a Sunday afternoon then with Rachel Alexandra and 45,000 of your closest friends.  See you on the shore.

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