|Contact: Eric Wing, NTRA, (212) 907-9283|
Jeff Shapes, (203) 249-9202
WAR EMBLEM RETURNS TO ACTION IN THE $1 MILLION HASKELL INVITATIONAL ON SUNDAY'S “ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS”
"Thoroughbred Classics” Returns with Haskell Retrospective
The top three-year-old horses in training, headed by Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner War Emblem, return to action this weekend in the Grade I, $1 million Haskell Invitational and the Grade II, $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes, on this week's "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships." To be presented live, the Haskell, from Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., and the Jim Dandy, from Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., will air Sunday from 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. They are part of the World Thoroughbred Championships Classic Division.
Expected to make his first start in the 1 1/8-miles Haskell since finishing eighth in last month's Belmont Stakes is the Bob Baffert-trained War Emblem. Running for the first time since the death of owner Prince Ahmed bin Salman, War Emblem will attempt to follow in the footsteps of The Thoroughbred Corporation stablemate Point Given who won last year's Haskell after capturing two-thirds of the Visa Triple Crown. Expected to challenge War Emblem, currently third in the World Thoroughbred Rankings Classic Division, on Sunday is Preakness runner-up Magic Weisner, who won the Ohio Derby his last time out. Other likely starters include Puck, winner of Monmouth's Long Branch Stakes; Like a Hero, second in the Swaps Stakes earlier this month; Mr. Mellon; Easyfromthegitgo; Peekskill and Island Skipper.
The Haskell has produced a number of horses who went on to capture the Breeders' Cup Classic, including Alysheba (2nd in 1987 Haskell, won 1988 Classic), Concern (3rd in 1994 Haskell, won 1994 Classic), Skip Away (won 1966 Haskell and 1997 Classic) and Cat Thief (2nd in 1999 Haskell, won 1999 Classic). Cherokee Run finished fourth in the 1994 Haskell before winning the same year's Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Expected to start in the 1 1/8-miles Jim Dandy is Belmont Stakes runner-up Medaglia d'Oro, who campaigned in all three Triple Crown events. The Bobby Frankel-trained horse, tied for fifth in the World Thoroughbred Rankings Classic Division, won the Grade II San Felipe at Santa Anita and was a close second to Buddha in the Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct earlier in the year. Gygistar, winner of the Riva Ridge and Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park, could be a Jim Dandy starter as well. Other Jim Dandy candidates are Stephentown, Iron Deputy, Quest, Nothing Flat, and Essence of Dubai.
The Jim Dandy's past winners include such champions as Affirmed (1978), Conquistador Cielo (1982) and Arts And Letters (1969). Awesome Again (1997 Jim Dandy winner) went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic in 1998. Hosting the weekend telecast will be Jeff Medders, joined by analyst Jay Privman, reporter Jeannine Edwards and feature reporter Eleanor Mondale.
Meanwhile, on ESPN Classic, “Thoroughbred Classics” returns for the fall with a retrospective on the Haskell Invitational (see below for dates and times). Featuring Jim McKay and Jack Whitaker, the half-hour programs will feature performers and personalities from each of the races profiled, and will reflect on the race's history as well as preview its 2002 running.
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