Posted: 7/29/2012 11:02:20 AM
"Haskell Invitational Preview"
Sunday July 29, (Post Time: 6:17 pm ET) Surface: Dirt,
1 1/8 Miles, Open, 3 Year Olds, G1 STAKES, Purse: $1,000,000
The Grade 1 Haskell Invitational boasts a purse of $1 million. It is one
of the best races on the calendar for sophomore colts. The Monmouth
race is contested at 1 1/8 miles and has gathered a field of six horses.
Recent winners include Big Brown, Rachel Alexandra and Lookin At Lucky.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won the last two editions of the race and will
saddle Paynter as the 3-2 favorite this year.
NONIOS (Pleasantly Perfect x Stylish Manner by Touch Gold): Winner of
the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap has never raced on dirt, but trainer Jerry
Hollendorfer told Blood-Horse that he trained well at Pleasanton as a
juvenile. He was last seen finishing second in the Swaps Stakes,
rallying into a slow place to lose by ¾ of a length. The Swaps has been a
good prep for this race and produced last year’s winner, Coil.
DULLAHAN (Even The Score x Mining My Own by Smart Strike): Belmont
Stakes favorite failed to fire in that race and before that was a hard
closing third in the Kentucky Derby. His best career efforts have been
on synthetic tracks. It’s too early to write off his dirt ability, but
he clearly is better on synthetic. He fired a quick :59 4/5 B five
furlong bullet on July 21 and will be reunited with jockey Kent
PAYNTER (Awesome Again x Tizso by Cee’s Tizzy): The talk of the town,
this colt was last seen relenting in the Belmont Stakes to finish
second, a neck behind Union Rags. He is the speed of the speed and the
one they will have to catch. His talent level is high and clearly
visible, but there are still questions for him to answer. He catches the
field he has ever faced here. Rafael Bejarano rides for Bob Baffert.
GEMOLOGIST (Tiznow x Crystal Shard by Mr. Prospector): Todd Pletcher and
WinStar Farm were shocked that this guy ran so poorly in the Kentucky
Derby where he finished 16th. It turns out he sustained a minor injury
in the race that required some time off, but now he is ready to go.
Previously undefeated, it is hard to find a knock on him. A five furlong
work in :58 2/5 B which Pletcher thought was spectacular tells us he is
sitting on a big effort.
HANDSOME MIKE (Scat Daddy x Classic Strike by Smart Strike): This Doug
O’Neill pupil was a fringe contender for the Kentucky Derby, but
couldn’t make the race. His best effort to date saw him finish third in
the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate behind Daddy Nose Best and Lucky
Chappy. After that he was taken off the pace and rallied to be fourth
in Turfway Park’s Spiral Stakes. His works are strong and Mario
Gutierrez is making the trip to ride. Anything is possible for this dark
STEALCASE (Lawyer Ron x Steal The Show by Cat Thief): Another fringe
contender in the Kentucky Derby, Stealcase woke up just a little too
late. He ran third in the Derby Trial, only a neck behind Paynter. After
that he ran off to a four length allowance win over Morgan’s Guerrrilla
and Seven Lively Sins. His last venture to the races was a second place
finish behind Neck n’ Neck in the Matt Winn Stakes. Shaun Bridgmahon
rides for Mark Casse.
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