Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Lion Heart and Rock Hard Ten, the
two horses that finished second to Smarty Jones in this year's Triple
Crown series, head the field in Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational
at Monmouth Park.
The Haskell is Monmouth's signature race and has attracted nine
three-year- olds for the 1 1/8 mile test.
Coming in as the 9-5 morning-line favorite is the speedy Lion Heart, who
set the pace in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He finished
second in the Run for the Roses and fourth in the Preakness, but is
coming off a victory in the Long Branch Stakes, which serves as Monmouth's
prep race for the Haskell.
Lion Heart will start from post four with Joe Bravo in the saddle. This
year Lion Heart has just the one win and three second-place finishes for
$470,000. He is owned by Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, and trained by
Bravo indicated that he might try a different tactic with Lion Heart. "We
can sit off the pace. We'll have to see what other pace these other horses
are going to be doing and we'll let him decide."
Starting next to Lion Heart in the five post will be Rock Hard Ten, who
captured the Swaps Stakes last time out. Previously, he was fifth in the
Belmont Stakes and second in both the Preakness and Santa Anita Derby,
though was disqualified to third at Santa Anita. Rock Hard Ten will be
ridden by Corey Nakatani for trainer Jason Orman and the Mercedes Stable.
The colt has earned $630,380 this year after not starting in 2003.
Orman likes post five for the often unruly colt. "That's a good spot for
him," said the trainer. "Corey can kind of figure out what the pace is
going to be, put him where he needs to be from there."
A surprise entrant in the Haskell is Illinois Derby winner Pollard's
Vision. The three-year-old is also entered in the West Virginia Derby
for Saturday and is the 9-5 favorite there. Pollard's Vision is 5-1 in
the morning-line at Monmouth Park with Eibar Coa set to ride. Trained by
Todd Pletcher, Pollard's Vision secured post eight. He took the Leonard
Richards Stakes at Delaware Park in mid-July.
"I know he's also named on Saturday," Coa said. "I don't have the answer
right now which one I'm going to be riding."
Completing the field for Haskell are My Snookie's Boy, Pies Prospect,
Royal Assault, Wimplestiltskin, Tap Day and Swingforthefences.