Saturday’s Haskell Invitational at Monmouth marks the return of Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. I am sure he will win this one. Easily. He has been working up a storm the last month or so, unlike his pre-Belmont training program. Only 6 others are projected to face him, and unless Atoned steps up big time (which ain’t happn’in) I just don’t see another horse good enough.
A lot of people have tried to extrapolate Da’Tara’s loss last weekend into some dire symbolism of Big Brown’s career. That’s a bit unfair, considering how other Belmont winners have fared lately. Just checking the surface, only 4 of the past 10 Belmont winners have won a subsequent start (Point Given ’01, Birdstone ’04, Victory Gallop’98, Lemon Drop Kid, ’99). The upset winners have done exceptionally bad: Sarava(’02) never won again, Jazil (’06) never won again, Commendable (’00) never won again … Even a few of the “good” winners couldn’t pull it together after the 1.5 mile test: Rags to Riches (’07) made one more start & was retired, Empire Maker (’03) ran in one more race & was retired, and Alfeet Alex (’05) was retired after the Belmont.
I am certain Da’Tara’s fate will be similar to the Sarava & Commendable years.
As for the Haskell, my favorite was the 1996 running:
Followed closely by the 1995 version:
The 1988 Haskell was a terrific battle between two future major sires, Seeking The Gold & Forty Niner:
War Emblem used the Haskell to redeem himself after his chaotic Belmont. The vid quality sucks in this, but I still get chills when I see WE on the early lead & the crowd cheers:
Of course, I can’t forget the magnificent Point Given, whose Haskell win was the 3rd of his 4 consecutive Gr1 Million-dollar races. You’ll just have to imagine his brilliance in that race, because it’s *gasp* NOT ON YOUTUBE!! Bitches!