08/20/2013 4:19PM

Del Mar notes: Paynter can give Zayat great birthday gift in Woodward

Shigeki Kikkawa
Grade 1 winner Paynter has raced twice in 2013, with a win and a runner-up finish, after recovering from severe bouts with colitis and laminitis.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – A year ago on Aug. 31, owner Ahmed Zayat celebrated his 50th birthday, and though a surprise party was thrown for him, he wasn’t fully into the moment, his mind wandering to what he had seen earlier that morning at Saratoga, where he visited a very, very ill Paynter.

“I went to visit him in the clinic and literally went to say goodbye,” Zayat recalled Tuesday morning at Del Mar. “I thought I really was saying goodbye.”

Paynter’s journey since then is well chronicled, from illness to recovery and back to the races, with a win and a close second to show from two starts in 2013.

Emotions were high for those races, and they will be again in a little less than two weeks, because exactly one year after Zayat thought he was saying goodbye to Paynter at Saratoga, Paynter is scheduled to race there in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes, on Zayat’s 51st birthday.

“It’s ironic that Aug. 31 is the day of the race,” Zayat said.

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Zayat and several family members were out early at Del Mar on Tuesday to watch Paynter continue his preparation for the Woodward. Working in company just after the renovation break, Paynter went seven furlongs from the five-furlong pole under jockey Rafael Bejarano.

He started about 3 1/2 lengths behind, was even crossing the wire, and continued out to the six-furlong pole, with track clockers giving him an official time of 1:25.60. His trainer, Bob Baffert, had him galloping out a mile in 1:38.20.

Paynter’s work was solid, though not spectacular. However, he never has trained at his best over the Polytrack surface here, which Zayat dismissively calls “plastic.” Paynter trained in similar fashion before his powerful win in last year’s Grade 1 Haskell, so he should benefit by moving to dirt for the Woodward.

“It was not a ‘wow’ work, but he did what he needs to do,” Zayat said.

Paynter is scheduled to work once more next week at Del Mar before traveling to Saratoga, his flight, Zayat said, tentatively set for Aug. 28.

Halo Dolly back where she belongs

Halo Dolly has won 16 of 32 starts, but it is on Del Mar’s turf that she shines brightest, with four wins in five starts, the most recent coming Sunday in the Solana Beach Handicap, a race she has now won in three consecutive years.

That hat trick put Halo Dolly in rare company, as only four other horses – Flawlessly, Native Diver, Track Gal, and Zenyatta – have won the same stakes race three straight years at Del Mar.

“I really think she loves this course,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Halo Dolly, 5, and owns her in a partnership. “We had been pointing for this race.”

Because of Halo Dolly’s fondness for Del Mar’s turf course, Hollendorfer plans on bringing her back in 15 days to defend her title in the Grade 2, $150,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap on Sept. 2.

Cheering expected in press box

One of the unwritten rules of sports journalism is that there’s no cheering in the press box, but that may have to be waived for the second race Thursday because two of the race’s runners are owned in part by media members.

Jack Disney, now retired but in a previous life a longtime reporter for the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and a publicist at Santa Anita and Betfair Hollywood Park, is a principal in Indizguys Stable, which sends out Toomanytomatoes, who goes for a $25,000 claiming price in the optional-claiming event.

Disney will have to stare down Bob Ike, a public handicapper who swept the card at Del Mar on July 18 and is a partner in Summit Racing, part of the ownership group of Cotton’s Point, who beat maidens July 24 and is using her first-level allowance condition Thursday.

“Maybe there will be a little trash talk in the paddock,” Ike said.

“We’re both Occidental Tigers, though Diz was quite a few years ahead of me,” Ike added. “We’ve still got a long ways to go compared to him as owners, considering he’s won the San Juan Capistrano.”

Indizguys won the San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita in 2007 with On the Acorn, a horse the group had claimed.

JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful difference a year has made for mighty warrior, Paynter. He's a champion in every way, his total triumph over adversity has certainly proven that. I am very proud of him, as is every fan out there. Totally pulling for you, Paynter!
Rosanne Frieri More than 1 year ago
Paynter is my HERO, I wish all the best for him and his wonderful caring owners. May you be blessed with this horse for a very long time.
Erin Vespe More than 1 year ago
Nice story about Paynter's recovery below. Hope he has a good trip and comes back safely. http://www.theracingbiz.com/2013/08/20/for-paynter-journey-back-to-health-began-at-fair-hill/
Faru More than 1 year ago
Carter. I agree that Deborah`s c0mment is good, on friday I got a gorgeous Cadillac sincee geting a check for $7338 this last month and-a little over, $10,000 lass-month. with-out a doubt this is the nicest work Ive had. I began this four months/ago and almost straight away got me over $70, per/hr. I use this website,, .........www.mac22.com
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Ha, s s s s sorry folks, wrong article for that post below.
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Knock knock. Who's there. Canoe. Canoe who. Canoe repaint the Travers canoe to the Let's Go Stable colors?
Walter More than 1 year ago
I like the fact Baffert is sending Paynter to Sar. Racing needs more of this where horses ship for big races. Best thing about horse racing is... If you believe it, bet it. If you don't, bet against it.
Joan More than 1 year ago
Jaycito is in ALbuequerque , New Mexico, going thru morning works. I am trying to keep tabs on him, Zayat sure won't. I hope PAynter comes home safe, not for Mr. Zayat, but for the horse.
B More than 1 year ago
It's going to be a very tough race as it usually is, but it would be great for racing should Paynter pull this off. Gambling aside, I so hope he can win it.
sharjil More than 1 year ago
You are out of your mind if you think Paynter has any shot at this race. this ain't so cal. the division here is tough. amazing story of paynter, no doubt. but expect him to win this race. I dont know what are they thinking. Cross Traffic, Succ Dan, FL, Flat Out, MMM. these are hungry horses. no chance poor guy
Tom Fritzsche More than 1 year ago
he'll hit the board at least.......at a price
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Paynter has more talent than every horse you named except maybe Cross Traffic. He's got a very legit shot in this race IMO. You can't hold a loss at Del Mar against him as that surface is a complete joke.
sharjil More than 1 year ago
Talent alone doesn't win races my friend. How can you ignore Successful Dan ? How can you ignore Flat Out or Fort Larned, both of whom can show up big on some days. Any of these horses bring their A game, Paynter aint even coming 5 lengths close. Then there is the Cross Traffic. Already a scary fast horse. The division is just too tough here. They kill each other. Poor Paynter has no shot
michael More than 1 year ago
If hes in the race, he has a shot. Horse can fly.
Starr D More than 1 year ago
It's a good thing then that Paynter hasn't only run well in California then huh? Ever hear of a "little" race called the BELMONT STAKES that he almost won? Or how about the Haskell that he won easily? Last time I checked, New York and New Jersey were not in California!!!! None of those horses you mentioned are world beaters but they can all be good at times. I suspect Paynter will win this race but just the fact that he is even here and able to race makes him a winner already!
sharjil More than 1 year ago
Last time I checked two of the horses I mentioned were many lengths ahead of the best California horse in the last years BCC. And since when do the ALMOST WONS count ? How about you mention that he lost the Belmont Stakes to a horse that was not bred to go more than a mile. And I mentioned, it is spectacular that he made it back to races, and is going for a gr1. No doubt. My comment was strictly based on winning on the race. Sentiments dont count there.
Starr D More than 1 year ago
I am very tired of hearing about California horses not being as good as east coast horses (and I'm not from or in California). Last years triple crown was dominated by "California" horses - but you must remember that regardless of where most of them run, they are all basically from the same bloodlines and almost always bred in Kentucky. If Paynter does not win it will NOT be because he trains in California. And if you know bloodlines than you should know that Union Rags pedigree is loaded with 10+ furlong horses and his dosage index of 2.33 equates to between 10-11 furlongs as his distance capability.....Paynter's dosage of 2.5 equals 10 furlongs.
sharjil More than 1 year ago
Rather than all of you going crazy about my comment, also make sure to remember the circumstances. Did I say Paynter is not talented ? Or ;ess talented than any of these ? Or did I use his last race as an excuse ? What I mean is that he does not have a good chance in this race. These are seasoned horses. Rather than mentioning his Haskell over no one, and his belmont over a miler, how about you mention that he is trying to beat a group for the course ? Think rationally. Emotions dont win races, neither does talent alone.
tim More than 1 year ago
Paynter- Hard knocker, game old campaigner. Love this horse. But best chance for glory was probably that Belmont Stakes where he got beat on the wire. Hard knocker, will route for him in this race. Great story in a game with a lot of blacjk eyes and creeps.
Ricky Williams More than 1 year ago
I just love those east coast BSers! Money talks and BS walks! Place your money where your mouth is.
sharjil More than 1 year ago
Yeah two of those same east coasters kicked Dude, the best California horse in recent years in his a**...... Remember last Breeders Cup ? Oh thats BS right ? ha ha ha... This year the division is even tougher. Just chill out, no need to over react. Place your money on Paynter, I'll love to cash in.......
Ricky Williams More than 1 year ago
Hey see you wise guys at the Breeders Cup! lol
Ricky Williams More than 1 year ago
hey send a few to run this weekend at Delmar! Do see any east coasters entered lol.
Perl More than 1 year ago
It's so easy to say a horse WON'T win a horserace. Chances are you'll be right, but Paynter is not without a shot, even against these tough customers. This is his third race off a layoff and he seems to prefer the dirt. If he can run back to last year's Haskell, he will be very dangerous. Also, he can get a good trip in behind Cross Traffic and Ft Larned and come with his run. He has a chance.
sharjil More than 1 year ago
And how about this year's Haskell ? If Paynter was impressive, then what was Verrazano ? What if he runs to that race ? What if FL or MMM run to what they did in BCC ? What if Cross Traffic really is what we think he is ? What is Successful Dan has nothing against him and he finally break the shackles ? There are too many What Ifs............. That is what I am saying. More things are against him than in his favor. But I hope he proves me wrong, and runs big. That would be awesome for the sport and the fans.
Jarod Blade More than 1 year ago
Ur a fool if you think he doesn't have a chance here! You talk if he has no resume at all. Fort Larned got mocked by horses that haven't even won a graded race. Same type of B S about Animal kingdom having no chance in breeders cup or World Cup. They wouldn't ship him if he had little chance here.