Long Branch to Haskell?

Profile Picture: Jen Caldwell

Jen Caldwell

July 10th, 2015

Saturday’s $100,000 Long Branch S. at Monmouth Park is the traditional local prep for the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) on August 2, and Stanford (Malibu Moon) could stamp his ticket to that latter event with a win.

The bay colt has yet to break through with a stakes victory, and in fact only boasts two career scores to date. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Stanford has finished first or second in all but one of his six lifetime starts, though one of those ended up being a DQ to sixth.

That DQ came in the Islamorada H. at Gulfstream Park in March, and Stanford has since missed by a neck in the March 28 Louisiana Derby (G2) and finished a nice second in the Easy Goer S. at Belmont Park on June 6.

The sophomore colt, who earned a nice 99 BRIS Speed rating for his Louisiana Derby effort, already owns a win at Monmouth Park, having taken his maiden debut last June. Joe Bravo was aboard for that triumph and takes the mount on Saturday at Stanford attempts to make a case for the Haskell.

The only other big name in the Long Branch is Souper Colossal (War Front). That Ed Plesa Jr. pupil is three-for-three on Monmouth’s main track, all from his juvenile season.

The bay colt romped during his two-year-old campaign in New Jersey before wrapping up 2014 with a seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Park.

Souper Colossal has started just twice this year, taking Gulfstream’s Texas Glitter S. on February 7 and finishing second last out in the June 14 Select S. at Monmouth. One important note, though, is that both of those came over turf.

The Kentucky-bred sophomore has thus proven to be a dual surface threat, but will be returning to the main track for the Long Branch under Paco Lopez, who was aboard for all of last year’s races.

Photo: Stanford (Adam Coglianese Photography)