– Zayat Stables’ Paynter put on a brilliant show in the $1 million Haskell
Invitational (G1) on Sunday, drawing off for an easy score to give trainer Bob
Baffert an unprecedented sixth victory and third straight in Monmouth Park’s
signature event before a crowd of 35,253.
colt by Awesome Again, who came close in the Belmont Stakes last out when he
finished just a neck behind Union Rags, put himself squarely in the 3-year-old
championship picture as he made his even-money starting price look like a
bargain in the Haskell.
with Rafael Bejarano aboard for the first time, allowed Gemologist to set most
of the early fractions, and then put that rival away rounding the stretch turn.
He came into the straight two lengths in front, with only Nonios mounting a
late charge. Through the final furlong, Paynter pulled away from Nonios to
score by nearly four lengths, stopping the timer in 1:48.87 for the mile and an
eighth on a fast track.
second by four and a half lengths over a late-closing Stealcase, the 28-1 shot
who was off to a tardy beginning. Handsome Mike ran fourth, with Dullahan and
Gemologist finishing in the final two positions.
paid $4, $2.60 and $2.40 across the board as the favorite, and topped a $21.40
exacta with Nonios, who returned $5.20 to place and $3.80 to show. Stealcase
paid $5 to show.
who watched the race on television from his Del
headquarters with assistant trainer Jim Barnes doing the saddling honors at
Monmouth, was ecstatic over his horse’s performance.
I have always been high on him,” Baffert said of Paynter. “It was nice to
finally get a big win for Zayat (Stables) and with Rafael Bejarano.”
what it was like to win a sixth Haskell, the trainer said, “When you win, they
always feel like the first one. They’re all exciting and they never get old.”
said that Paynter showed in his Del
Mar works that he was ready to roll today.
really well there getting ready for this,” the trainer said. “He came here and
showed us he is a serious horse.”
who had been working Paynter in the mornings but had never ridden the colt, was
given a chance on him for the Haskell and came through.
“I knew I
could come from off the pace if I wanted to,” the jockey said. “I pulled him to
the outside and that was that. He ran so easy.
Gemologist was the horse to beat, but if he wanted to go to the lead, that was
fine. At the half-mile pole, my horse blew by him and that was that.
thrilling for me to win the Haskell. It’s a great race, and great for my
who started the 2-1 second choice, battled for the lead from the start, and
held the advantage over Paynter through a half-mile in :48. Paynter, just a
length behind, challenged Gemologist just past the half-mile pole, pulled to
the lead in mid-turn, and then opened daylight at the quarter-pole.
Nonios, who had stayed just a few lengths behind the leaders, was able to mount
any kind of a rally. The lightly raced colt made a dent in Paynter’s lead with
a furlong to go, but then was left adrift when the winner hit his best stride.
who was left behind at the break when he turned his head and hit the gate, was
best of the rest.
who was winning the first stakes race of his six-race career, earned a prize of
$600,000 for his Haskell victory, bringing his career total to $952,224 on a
record of three wins and two seconds in six starts.
who won a record fifth Haskell last year with Coil after Lookin At Lucky’s 2010
win, became the first trainer in Monmouth history to train three straight winners.
He had won the race with Point Given in 2001, War Emblem in 2002, and Roman
Ruler in 2005.