Paynter, runner-up to Union Rags in the G1-Belmont Stakes back in June, leads a field of six in the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday, July 29th (post time: 6:17pm Eastern; TV: TVG). Gemologist, 16th in the Kentucky Derby in his only defeat in six lifetime starts, is the 3/1 co-second choice on the morning line, while Dullahan, third in the Derby and a disappointing seventh in the Belmont as the 5/2 favorite, is also 3/1 on the morning line.
Bob Baffert's #1 three-year-old, Bodemeister, was originally scheduled to run in the Haskell but was replaced by stablemate Paynter after he recently spiked a fever. Paynter, a son of Awesome Again who nearly took the Belmont Stakes field gate-to-wire, has unleashed a quartet of bullet works at Santa Anita and Del Mar over the past month.
Gemologist looked like he might garner favoritism for the Kentucky Derby after a gutty victory in the Wood Memorial in early April, the fifth straight win to begin his career. But the Wood has come back to be a so-so race going forward and you have to start to wonder if he really beat anything as good as Paynter that day. Teeth of the Dog came back to win the G2-Dwyer and The Lumber Guy won the G2-Jerome, but I think legitimate questions remain concerning the quality of that field.
Three of the horses that ran behind Gemologist in the Wood (Alpha, Teeth of the Dog and Street Life) will run at Saratoga this weekend in the Curlin Stakes (Street Life) and the Jim Dandy (Alpha, Teeth of the Dog).
Dullahan has run decent in his dirt starts but still only has a win over Polytrack on his resume. If he were to come up flat in the Haskell, like he did in the Belmont, I think it is highly likely that Dale Romans will look to change surfaces for Dullahan's next start.
Below are the entries, post positions and morning line odds for Sunday's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes.
|G1-Haskell Invitational; Post Time: 6:17pm Eastern|
|1||Nonios||C. Nakatani||J. Hollendorfer||7/2|
|2||Dullahan||K. Desormeaux||D. Romans||3/1|
|3||Paynter||R. Bejarano||B. Baffert||3/2|
|4||Gemologist||J. Castellano||T. Pletcher||3/1|
|5||Handsome Mike||M. Gutierrez||D. O'Neill||15/1|
|6||Stealcase||S. Bridgmohan||M. Casse||8/1|