- Lane Gold, ESPN Contributor
The summer racing season is always one of the highlights of the year, as Saratoga and Del Mar welcome the biggest crowds and best overall horses in the sport. Not to be outdone, Monmouth Park hosts one of most important 3-year-old races after the Triple Crown.
The $1 million Haskell Invitational typically attracts some of the best sophomores in the country, and this year is no exception. The Preakness winner (Shackleford) and Belmont victor (Ruler on Ice) will start in Sunday's race, but arguably the best 3-year-old in the country is missing: Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is on the sidelines until early next year after his season ended prematurely due to injury.
The Haskell field isn't big, with just eight horses entered, but the two classic winners should get a stern test in their first event back since the Triple Crown. The best finishers from Sunday's Haskell and Saturday's Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga, another important 3-year-old race, are expected to renew their rivalry in racing's final major sophomore race of the year, The Travers Stakes on Aug. 27.
Here is a look at the starters in Sunday's Haskell and odds that could offer some good value:
Shackleford (No. 5, 5-2 morning line favorite)
The speedy colt should be able to stay at, or right near, the front of the pack early on. If Coil, who starts from inside post position, goes for the lead early, Shackleford will likely chase him from second place.