From a Monmouth Park release
Saturday’s $100,000 Long Branch Stakes represents one last shot to reach the Haskell. The race has proven to be the final stepping stone for horses looking to get an invite to Monmouth Park’s signature event, the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2.
Saturday’s 81st renewal of the mile and a sixteenth Long Branch has drawn a field of seven, including stakes winner Souper Colossal, who won last year’s Tyro and Sapling at Monmouth Park, and graded stakes runner-up Stanford, who finished second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Among those trying to pull off the upset is Iamahandsome Man, who looks to make it two in a row over the Monmouth Park main track.
“The horse has been training really well,” said Derek Ryan, who conditions the horse for Metro Thoroughbreds LLC. “We wanted to stretch him out and this distance should fit him well.”
The 3-year-old gelding by Musket Man out of the Racing Star mare Ginny Auxier broke his maiden earlier in the meet on May 23 when he took the field wire-to-wire in the one mile event on the main track, scoring by nearly two lengths.
Last time out, Iamahandsome Man tried the turf for the first time in a $40,000 allowance race as he went out to set the pace, but finished seventh behind eventual winner Boot Scootn Daddy, who has started his career two-for-two.
Iamahandsome Man has worked once since his last start, where he went :48 4/5 over four furlongs on the Monmouth dirt on July 6. That work was the fifth fastest out of the 23 horses that went four furlongs on that day.
“This is going to be a tough field,” said Ryan. “but he’s doing well and we’re hoping for the best.”
Traditionally, the top two finishers of the Long Branch have received invites into the $1 million Haskell Invitational. Last year’s one-two in the Long Branch, Irish You Well and Just Call Kenny, competed in the 2014 Haskell with the pair finishing fourth and sixth, respectively, behind winner Bayern.
Daniel Centeno is back aboard Iamahandsome Man on Saturday. The Long Branch will be race 11 on Saturday’s 12-race card. Gates open at 11:30 a.m., with first post at 12:50 p.m.