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Aug 02, 2007

Curlin and Hard Spun face-off in Haskell


Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Preakness Stakes winner Curlin and Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun will go at it again on Sunday in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

The only two thoroughbreds to compete this year in all three Triple Crown events, Curlin and Hard Spun will face each other for a fourth time and take on an additional six rivals.

While Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby and Hard Spun finished second, Curlin, the morning-line favorite, was third. Curlin then took the Preakness with Street Sense second and Hard Spun third.

Curlin followed with a second behind Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes, as the even-money favorite, with Hard Spun fading to fourth.

For the Haskell, Curlin is again the even-money favorite with Hard Spun 5-2 in the morning-line. The Preakness champ will start from post six and Hard Spun will break from post seven.

The rest of the field in post position order is Any Given Saturday 3-1, Cable Boy 8-1, Stormello 15-1, Imawildandcrazyguy 30-1, Reata's Shadow 50-1 and Xchanger 20-1. Post-time for the 1 1/8 mile race is 6:12 p.m. (et).

Curlin will be ridden by Robby Albarado for owners Stonestreet Stables, Padua Stables, George Bolton and Midnight Cry Stables. Trained by Steve Asmussen the colt has earned more than $1.8 million with four wins in six starts.

Along with his Preakness victory he has won the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes.

"The Haskell is a very competitive field, but we have the same confidence level in Curlin as we've had in the past," Asmussen said. "Coming back in this race gives us the opportunity to get back to the races without having to face older horses right away, and will give us some answers to the tendencies of the Monmouth surface when we return in the fall."

Hard Spun, who was scheduled to go in the Arkansas Derby at the start of the year, is the winner of five of nine career starts for better than $1 million. He won the Lane's End Stakes in March and the Lecomte Stakes in January.

Owned by Rick Porter and trained by Larry Jones, Hard Spun will again be ridden by Mario Pino. Pino rode the colt in his first eight starts, but was replaced by Garrett Gomez in the Belmont Stakes

"We didn't see improvement when we changed," Jones said about the return of Pino. "We would like to keep the team together."

Last year the Haskell was won by Bluegrass Cat. The stakes record of 1:47 is shared by Majestic Light and Bet Twice. The track record of 1:46.80 is owned by Spend a Buck.

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