TVG.COM HASKELL TICKETS GO ON SALE STARTING SATURDAY; FAMILY FUN DAYS RETURN TO MONMOUTH THIS WEEKEND; TONER-TRAINED HAWKISH LOOKS TO REGAIN WINNING WAYS IN SATURDAY’S CLIFF HANGER STAKES AT MONMOUTH PARK
It was shortly after trainer Jimmy Toner nominated Hawkish to Saturday’s $100,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes at Monmouth Park that he happened to see a picture of the horse winning that exact same race hanging in his office.
But he said he never noticed the date on the photograph. Told it was May 4, 2019, he was surprised.
“Was it really three years ago? That’s hard to believe,” said Toner. “I don’t think he’s won since then either.”
For a variety of reasons, that’s true. Hawkish, who owns a Grade 2 victory from the 2018 Penn Mile, enters the 42nd running of the Cliff Hanger off a winless drought that has stretched 13 races now.
But that hasn’t diminished Toner’s confidence in the Kentucky-bred 7-year-old when it comes to Saturday’s mile and a sixteenth turf feature that kicks off a busy three-day Memorial Day weekend of live racing.
“He’s a tough old pro and he shows he still wants to do it,” said Toner. “We’ve just gone through so many different issues with him. It seems like every time we have him ready he comes up with a new issue. It’s nothing ever too serious. Just enough to that you have to give him time.
“It takes a lot to get him ready and have him right. That’s the whole thing.”
In addition to the Cliff Hanger – which will be followed by Sunday’s $100,000 Jersey Derby and Monday’s $100,000 Miss Liberty Stakes as the racing highlights of the holiday weekend – the three-day Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival will mark its return with 35 trucks.
As for Hawkish, the son of Artie Schiller, owned by A J Suited Racing Stable and Madaket Stables, will make his third start of the year on Saturday. His seasonal debut on Jan. 16 at Gulfstream resulted in a solid second-place finish but Toner then had to wait until April 16 before Hawkish was ready again. He finished eighth in a deep allowance race at Keeneland that day.
“I wanted to run him back before that but he had another little issue and he needed a race so we sent him there,” said Toner. “He needed that race. We’re hoping the race at Monmouth is the right spot for him.
“When he’s right he can be good. It’s just a matter of getting him right. He’s acting good right now and he’s as good as he can be so we’ll see how he does.”
Hawkish sports a 4-4-1 line from 20 career starts with earnings of $539,390.
A victory in the Cliff Hanger includes a free entry and start fees to the $600,000 Grade 1 United Nations on July 23.
TVG.COM HASKELL TICKETS GO ON SALE STARTING SATURDAY;
FAMILY FUN DAYS RETURN TO MONMOUTH THIS WEEKEND
Tickets for the TVG.com Haskell Stakes on July 23, the annual highlight on Monmouth Park’s racing calendar, will go on sale Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m.
All tickets for Haskell Day (except for the Dining Club Buffet and Lady’s Secret Cafe) may be purchased on seatgeek.com/Monmouth or by visiting the reserved seating booth on the second floor of the Grandstand any live racing day.
The Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Stakes for 3-year-olds headlines a stakes-filled card.
Saturday also marks the return of two fan favorites following a hiatus due to Covid-19.
The Jersey Shore Food Truck Festival, featuring 35 trucks over the three-day Memorial Day weekend is back, as are Family Fun Days. The latter will feature clowns, face painters, a bounce house, pony rides and music for children 12 and under on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free for children 12 and under.
Live music will add to the festive three-day racing weekend, with country artist Jessica Rose kicking things off by performing “On the Green” from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Lakehouse Music Academy will perform that day as well.
Sunday’s musical lineup will consist of Garden State Groove from noon to 4 p.m. and Lakehouse Music Academy. On Monday, it will be Chris Morrisy from noon to 4 and Lakehouse Music Academy providing the musical entertainment.
Additionally, Saturday marks the start of the free “Survival at the Shore” online handicapping contest. Contestants must be registered by 11 a.m. Saturday morning. For more information, visit email@example.com.