|2012 Haskell champ Paynter|
It was my third trip to the Longest Stretch on the Shore, the first being in 2006 for the Haskell on a long Whitney-Haskell weekend with the boys, by the time we showed up to Monmouth it was for the late stakes Pick-4 and the weekend was pretty much a blur. Bluegrass Cat won that edition in a romp and my first Haskell was in the books.
My second trip was for the 2007 Breeders' Cup Saturday and we all know what the weather was like that day, although seeing Curlin roll around the top of the stretch in the Classic is still my favorite live racetrack moment I've ever witnessed.
This year's trip was fueled by a family vacation in South Jersey (undisclosed location) and I treated my dad to his first trip to Monmouth on its biggest day. Over 35,000 patrons were on hand to see Bob Baffert win his third consecutive Haskell and his record sixth title. This was the first time I took some time to explore Monmouth and it is quite the maze.
We had seats on the third floor reserved section (this was a non-working trip) just past the finish line and the sight lines were very good. The only thing lacking was more people from the track helping those who might have looked lost. It took us a while to figure out where we were sitting and I think my dad got lost a few times trying to find our seats. I did figure out a nice route to the paddock down the escalators, and enjoyed spending some time along the fences at the paddock. It's an old school track that looks like it's been updated a few times. I like how the picnic area is actually on and just off the apron of the track, different from Saratoga, which is in the backyard.
Betting wise, it was the normal Haskell day bloodbath, equated only to my annual Belmont Stakes day wagering action. But, it wasn't about the wagering on Sunday, I was enjoying the sunshine, adding another major sporting event attended with my father and seeing a great performance by a rising and maturing horse. Even my Kreskin selection of a yellow Haskell hat bit the dust (it was blue)...oh well.
Here are some photos from my day....
|Welcome to Monmouth Park|
|Our view from Reserved Clubhouse (3rd Floor)|
|Another view from our seats|
|Lunch - $8 Sausage Sandwich smothered|
with peppers and onions (Level of Difficulty - High)
|View of the plant from the paddock area|
|Yes, Elvis was in the building|
(making a wager, of course)
|You could even get your Saratoga fix|
on the big screen in the backyard
|Pletcher and Castellano |
confer in the paddock
|Dale Romans and Rafael Bejarano|
with Afleeting Lady before the Molly Pitcher
|Molly Pitcher upset winner|
Brushed by a Star
|Derby/Preakness winning jockey|
Mario Gutierrez signing autographs
|Brushed by a Star|
surges to the wire
|Handsome Mike's owner|
Paul Reddam in paddock before the Haskell
|Second place finisher Nonios|
Corey Nakatani up
|Dullahan with Kent Desormeaux|
|Gemologist, Castellano and Pletcher|
leading him around walking ring
|Show horse Stealcase with|
|Paynter wins the 2012 Haskell|