Move over, boys -- Untapable is coming to town.
Fresh off a 9 ¼-length drubbing of her own division in the June 28 Mother Goose Invitational at Belmont Park and undefeated this season in four starts for Winchell Thoroughbreds, the 3-year-old filly seeks a bigger challenge when she takes on eight colts July 27 in the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
Not only could Untapable maintain her status as the top 3-year-old filly in the country with a victory over males, but she could earn her way into the Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. The Haskell is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the Classic division.
HASKELL INVITATIONAL DRAW
Untapable, the 2-1 favorite on the morning line from post 7 in the Haskell under regular rider Rosie Napravnik, has won her races this year by a combined 31 lengths. The daughter of Tapit last tackled the 1 ⅛-mile distance of the Haskell in the May 2 Longines Kentucky Oaks, which she won by 4 ½ lengths. Trainer Steve Asmussen has sent her to six wins from eight starts; he also trained 2009 Haskell winner Rachel Alexandra, who included that victory in a season that resulted in her achieving Horse of the Year status.
"I think it's an excellent draw considering the field," Asmussen said of Untapable's post position. "With the performance she gave in the Kentucky Oaks and how she's trained since, we felt that this was the right time to give the Haskell a chance. We've had a great year with her so far. We're very pleased that she could continue to give more of the same as far as just being a nice, talented filly that's doing extremely well."
Untapable carries an impost of 115, three pounds lighter than her male rivals. Of those, the toughest figures to be Kaleem Shah's Bayern, speedy winner of the June 7 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
"The Haskell is basically an addition to the [Triple Crown] classics," said Baffert, who has sent out six winners of New Jersey's marquee event. "It's so important, and it's very exciting. I really enjoy when I have a horse that's good enough to run in the Haskell."
Bayern, an Offlee Wild colt, blew away his competition by 7 ½ lengths in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens, clocking the distance in 1:20.75. He is the 5-2 second choice from post 2, and will be ridden by Martin Garcia. Earlier this season, Bayern finished third in the Arkansas Derby before fizzling ninth of 10 in the Preakness. His lifetime mark stands at 3-1-1 from six starts.
Another interesting contender is Spendthrift Farm's Medal Count, a sharp third in the June 7 Belmont Stakes. Trainer Dale Romans cleverly placed the Dynaformer colt earlier on the Triple Crown trail, winning the Transylvania Stakes over Polytrack at Keeneland before sending him to a runner-up finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes there. Although Medal Count next ran eighth in the Kentucky Derby, he rebounded strongly in the Belmont. Regular rider Robby Albarado will be in the irons from the outside.
There are also other viable contenders in the Haskell, including Rontos Racing Stable's Social Inclusion. The Pioneerof the Nile colt has run a string of thirds for trainer Manny Azpurua, left in Bayern's wake in the Woody Stephens and also winding up third in the Preakness and in the Twinspires.com Wood Memorial (gr. I). He leaves the 8 hole under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado.
Honor Stable's Wildcat Red won the Hutcheson Stakes and the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park this winter but seeks his first win past 1 1/16 miles for trainer Jose Garoffalo.
Brereton Jones' Albano, who won the local Pegasus Stakes June 15 for trainer Larry Jones, Donegal Racing's Irish You Well, winner of the July 5 Long Branch for trainer Wayne Catalano, and Phantom House Farm's Just Call Kenny, second in the Long Brach for trainer Patrick McBurney, round out the prospective field along with Stoneway Farm's Encryption. The latter, a Kelly Breen trainee, was second in the Pegasus and third in the Long Branch last time out.