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Jul 24, 2009

Haskell purse increased by quarter-million



Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Monmouth Park officials announced on Thursday that the purse for its marquee event, the Haskell Invitational, will be increased by $250,000. The 1 1/8 mile race for three-year-olds will now have a total worth of $1.25 million.

The Haskell Invitational will take place on Sunday, August 2 and feature this year's leading thoroughbred, Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra. The filly continues atop the NTRA poll over leading older female Zenyatta.

The winner's share of the Haskell purse has been increased from $600,000 to $700,000. Second-place will be worth $250,000 and $125,000 will go to the third-place finisher.

The remainder of the Haskell field continues to be in flux.

Atomic Rain, recent winner of the track's Long Branch Stakes, has been sold to Godolphin Stable and his status for the race is in doubt.

"We have purchased Atomic Rain to race in Dubai this winter," Simon Crisford, Godolphin racing manager, said in a statement, "But we will make a decision shortly with regard to his more immediate future."

Godolphin purchased Atomic Rain from George and Lori Hall who earlier this year sold their three-year-old West Side Bernie to the stable. Both colts were trained by Kelly Breen and ran in the Kentucky Derby.

Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem is a serious possibility for the Haskell. Trainer Gary Stute stated that his three-year-old is "95-percent" for the race.

"It's almost definite we're going," Stute said from his Santa Anita base. "The only thing we're not sure of right now is the jockey."

The horse's regular jockey, Rafael Bejarano, was injured in a spill at Del Mar on Wednesday, suffering facial fractures. Bejarano underwent successful surgery Thursday at Scripps Hospital.

"His agent (Joe Ferrer) told me that Rafael probably could ride in a couple of weeks wearing one of those cages that covers the face," Stute said. "He didn't have any other fractures, which is great. He's such a good guy, I hope he recovers quickly."

Also expected to take on Rachel Alexandra in the 42nd Haskell Invitational are Belmont Stakes champ Summer Bird, local runner Bunker Hill and Tom Fool Handicap winner Munnings.

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