The Haskell Invitational Handicap, or Resorts & Hotel Haskell Invitational, was inaugurated in 1968 in honor of Amory Haskell, the former director of Monmouth Park Racecourse. It became a race by invitation only in 1981, and is an event for three-year-old horses. With a purse of $1 million it is a popular race, and most winners of the Haskell have received the Eclipse Award for Three Year Old horses, including Big Brown and Rachel Alexandra. In 2001 Bob Baffert entered a horse by the name of Point Given into this Grade 1 race, which he won convincingly. Little did they know that ten years later, Point Given’s son, Coil, would follow in his father’s footsteps.
Coil was bred by Glen Hill Farm, located in Ocala, and was teamed up with jockey Martin Garcia for the big event. Even though Coil had done well in his previous racing events, no-one could foresee the outcome for Coil, as he had never raced on dirt before. Over and above this, he was up against an exceptional field of horses that included Ruler on Ice, as well as Shackleford that went off as the race favorite.
There were eight horses in the field for the Haskell Invitational and after having quite a bad break, Garcia and Coil found themselves at the back of the field in eighth place. But they were not prepared to give up yet. Garcia settled Coil into the pace and then patiently waited for his opportunity. As the field entered the final turn, Garcia sent Coil to the outside, and from there on, nothing was going to stop this magnificent team. They began to work their way to the front of the field, but Shackleford was not going to give up easily either.
The crowd rose to their feet as the final battle between Shackleford and Coil began to unfold in front of them. It was an epic finish. Both horses put their hearts into the race, and neither can be faulted for their efforts, but Coil had a little more determination and crossed the finish line before Shackleford by a neck. This is the fifth Haskell Invitational victory for Baffert, and also means that Coil will be able to move onto the iconic Breeders Cup Classic, which will be hosted in November at Churchill Downs Racecourse.