About 10 minutes before American Pharoah arrived at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, NJ on Wednesday afternoon, the track announced that the purse for Sunday’s William Hill Haskell Invitational would be increased from $1 million to $1.75 million.
While it’s not unusual for purse incentives to be added to big races to attract top horses, those incentives are generally announced weeks, not days, before the race is scheduled to be run, and not the day before the race is scheduled to be drawn, in order for owners and trainers to make decisions about where they will run their horses.
“The Haskell has been called the fourth jewel of the Triple Crown,” said Bob Kulina, president of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth Park Racetrack, in a press release. “With the Derby purse at $2 million and the Preakness and Belmont going to $1.5 million, it’s only fitting that we join in that mix for our race, which has proven itself the next logical step for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown.”
While a popular, lucrative race that carries Thoroughbred racing’s highest ranking–Grade I– the Haskell is seldom, if ever, discussed in terms of the Triple Crown. Both the purse increase and Kulina’s assertion gave rise to speculative conversations on social media, about both the timing and the rationale for the seemingly sudden purse increase.
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