07/25/2012 8:48AM

Monmouth: Gemologist to run in Haskell instead of Jim Dandy

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Barbara D. Livingston
Gemologist hasn't raced since finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Though he would have been the favorite in Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga, Gemologist will return to the races in Sunday’s Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, his connections said Wednesday.

Elliott Walden, president of WinStar Farm, which owns Gemologist, said the Grade 1 status of the Haskell was a factor in choosing that race over the Jim Dandy.

“The Jim Dandy is a very, very nice race but the Haskell is one of the top races for 3-year-olds,” said Walden, whose WinStar Farm won the Haskell in 2006-07 with Bluegrass Cat and Any Given Saturday. “It’s still a marquee race for the summer. He deserves a chance.”

Gemologist, trained by Todd Pletcher, won his first five races including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. He was sent off the third choice in the Kentucky Derby but finished 16th. He emerged from the Derby with a bruised foot that forced him to miss the Belmont Stakes.

In the Haskell, Gemologist will face Paynter, the Belmont Stakes runner-up who will most likely go off the favorite Sunday.

“Paynter’s a very nice horse, ran very well in the Belmont,” Walden said. “This horse is 5 for 6. The only time he got beat was in the Kentucky Derby and came out of it with a bruised foot.

“We were very disappointed that day, felt like he had a great chance; also felt like he was our best chance to win ever going into the race. He was as good a horse as we ever brought there.”

WinStar won the Derby in 2010 Super Saver and finished second in 2006 with Bluegrass Cat.

Post positions for the Haskell will be drawn Thursday. In addition to Paynter and Gemologist, others expected to run are Dullahan, Nonios, Handsome Mike and Stealcase. Teeth of the Dog is possible.

Post positions for Saturday’s Jim Dandy were to be drawn later Wednesday.

Favoritism in the Jim Dandy will now be between Alpha, Teeth of the Dog - if he enters - and Neck n Neck, winner of the Matt Winn in his last start.

Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of Alpha, who was beaten a neck by Gemologist in the Wood, was not sorry to hear that Gemologist was Jersey bound.

“I hope he wins the Haskell," McLaughlin said. "We’ll stay here for the Jim Dandy. Good luck to Todd. One less very nice horse to beat.”

Others expected for the Jim Dandy include Prospective, Fast Falcon and Liaison.

McLaughlin also said that Le Bernardin, winner of the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth on June 17, will run in the West Virginia Derby on Aug. 4 at Mountaineer.