The 49th annual $1 million betfair.com Haskell Invitational has been set for Sunday, July 31, and will now feature this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist.
"We're headed to New Jersey," said Doug O'Neill, trainer of Nyquist in a press release from Monmouth Park. "He very much impressed us this morning with his work. Mario (Gutierrez) was aboard and he looked really solid. We're pumped up and can't wait to get to New Jersey."
A colt by Uncle Mo, Nyquist won his first eight career starts for Reddam Racing LLC before finishing second last out over a sloppy track in the Preakness on May 21. He secured champion 2-year-old honors with his victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and this year sports wins in the San Vicente Stakes, Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. The betfair.com Haskell will mark his tenth trip to the post and fifth in 2016.
With 2015's race setting attendance records at the Oceanport racetrack, expectations are high this year.
"We're very grateful to Paul and Ziillah Reddam and Doug O'Neill on their decision to run Nyquist in the Haskell," said Bob Kulina, president of Darby Development LLC, operators of the racetrack. "The Haskell has always been the race where champions prove their greatness and the addition of Nyquist to the field will ensure that fans see another fantastic renewal of New Jersey's biggest horse race."
Twenty nine other horses have been invited including Exaggerator, the winner of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes champion Creator. A trio of horses from the barn of Hall Of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, American Freedom, Arrogate and Cupid, have also gotten invites to this year's race.
Nearly 61,000 people came out to last year's Haskell, so track officials are hoping that landing Nyquist will bring out the crowds once again to what is Monmouth Park's biggest race of the season.