Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Could Bob Baffert Kentucky Derby win could be victory for Monmouth Park and Haskell?

Could Bob Baffert Kentucky Derby win could be victory for Monmouth Park and Haskell?

  • 0

The joke around Monmouth Park is that the Kentucky Derby is the first Haskell prep race.

Except it’s not a joke, with the Triple Crown races providing the star power for the Jersey Shore’s signature race each summer.

And no star has been brighter at Monmouth Park than Bob Baffert. The silver-haired trainer with the golden touch has elevated the $1 million Haskell Stakes to a once unthinkable level, winning it a record nine times.

Baffert is good for business at the Jersey Shore and the Monmouth Park brand. That is why his record seventh Kentucky Derby win Saturday was the best possible outcome in Oceanport, as Medina Spirit went wire-to-wire at Churchill Downs.

The Haskell will be run July 17, six weeks removed from the Belmont Stakes, the final jewel of the Triple Crown, on June 5.

“He supports Monmouth Park. You can count on him most every year to send one of his big horses, and he wins a lot of them,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park. “So I think it’s all good for racing, and it’s all good for Baffert and it’s all good for Monmouth Park.”

Among Baffert’s first six Derby winners, War Emblem, American Pharoah and Authentic all won the Haskell, although Authentic won the Haskell first last year when the COVID-19 pandemic scrambled the Triple Crown calendar.

The best $500,000 Monmouth Park ever spent was used to raise the 2001 purse to $1.5 million, luring Baffert’s first Haskell winner, Point Given, with the Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner eventually named Horse of the Year.

That came four years after a Monmouth Park contingent showed up at Baffert’s Hollywood Park barn trying to entice him to send Silver Charm, Baffert’s first Kentucky Derby winner, to the Haskell.

While he didn’t ship Silver Charm, the trip paid big dividends because it broke the ice. Baffert ended up sending Anet, with his first Haskell starter finishing second behind Belmont winner Touch Gold, who ended Silver Charm’s Triple Crown bid.

It all culminated with American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, cruising to victory in the 2015 Haskell, shattering attendance and handle records at Monmouth Park.

Baffert has never missed the board with any of his 15 Haskell starters, which have bankrolled $7.3 million.

As for Medina Spirit, his running style looks incredibly similar to Authentic, who went wire-to-wire in the Kentucky Derby last September, seven weeks after doing it in the Haskell.

In addition to Medina Spirit, Baffert’s also pointing Concert Tour towards the Preakness on May 15.

Opening day May 28

Monmouth Park had been opening on Kentucky Derby Day. This year, the stable area opened Saturday, with opening day set for May 28. Now the track is trying to move forward a year after opening day was postponed for two months, until July 3, with the meet reduced to 44 days.

“We’re excited,” Drazin said. “We had 2,000 applications for 1,600 stalls. Horses want to compete because the purses are good. The subsidy certainly helped the racing last year. We ended up actually making a profit in tough times. When all’s said and done, you found that when sports were closed for a while racing became very big, and then racing continued to grow.

“Our account wagering was up significantly over expectations so I think all in all we gives you some confidence that coming into this year with things being much more normal.”

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

A Monmouth County grand jury on Friday returned an indictment against a 23-year-old Wall man, already imprisoned for abusing his young son, in the death of his 6-week-old daughter in 2019, authorities said. The indictment charges Austin Meli with murder and endangering the welfare of a child, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a news release. Court documents allege ...

ASBURY PARK - With the Atlantic Ocean behind him and flanked by several environmental groups, state legislators and the state's environmental commissioner, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., announced his intent to reintroduce a bill that would permanently ban offshore drilling for oil and gas on the Atlantic Coast. Called the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act, or COAST Act, it ...

The season's first OCEARCH-tagged great white shark reached the New Jersey coast on Saturday and is still south of Long Beach Island. Andromache, who was a sub-adult great white shark according to her size when she was tagged, last "pinged" at 11:33 a.m. yesterday when she was 20 or more miles offshore of Brigantine, according to OCEARCH's Global Shark Tracker. A ping occurs when the global ...

OCEANPORT - With opening day on May 28 rapidly approaching, Monmouth Park faces a potential boycott by jockeys, while finding itself at the center of a national debate pitting public perception against horse racing traditions. Some of the track's leading riders have yet to commit to returning to the Jersey Shore for the 2021 season — citing the New Jersey Racing Commission’s decision to ...

The best local coverage, unlimited

Sign up for a digital subscription to The Press of Atlantic City now and take advantage of a great offer.


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News