07/25/2012 4:02PM

Monmouth notes: Dullahan stretches legs for Haskell meeting with Paynter, Gemologist

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Dullahan gallops on the Monmouth surface in preparation for Sunday's Haskell.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Dullahan got acquainted with the Monmouth Park racing surface for the first time on Wednesday morning, galloping 1 1/2 miles in preparation for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday.

The winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, Dullahan joins Paynter and Gemologist as the top contenders in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.

A field of six appears likely for the premier event of the meet when post positions are drawn Thursday afternoon.

This will be Dullahan’s first start since running seventh in the Belmont Stakes, a disappointing follow-up to his third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Paynter, the leader every stride in the Belmont until the final ones, is expected to arrive on Thursday along with Nonios on a flight from California.

Paynter is trained by Bob Baffert, winner of a record five Haskells, including the last two editions with Lookin At Lucky and Coil.

Nonios, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, will be making his first start outside California and first on dirt. The winner of the Grade 3 Affirmed, Nonios was second most recently in the Grade 2 Swaps at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Gemologist was confirmed as a starter on Wednesday morning by WinStar Farm, winner of the Haskell in 2006 (Bluegrass Cat) and 2007 (Any Given Saturday).

Unbeaten in five starts to begin his career, Gemologist looks to rebound from a 16th place finish in the Derby.

Completing the expected field are Stealcase and Handsome Mike, trained by Doug O’Neill, who saddled I’ll Have Another to Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins this spring.

Must Be Love eyes clean trip

Haskell weekend kicks off Friday afternoon with a 10-race card starting at 12:45 p.m. Eastern.

The feature is a $42,000 first-level allowance for filly and mare turf sprinters where Must Be Love looks to build on a third-place finish in a similar event here earlier this month.

In her first race since shipping up from Florida for trainer David Fawkes, Must Be Love got away a step slower than usual and wound up in a traffic jam heading into the turn of the five-furlong race. Forced to steady and rally from last in the six-horse field, Must Be Love charged home fastest of all after swinging wide for the stretch run.

“She’s coming up to his race really good,” Fawkes said. “She had a troubled trip last time. She got sandwiched pretty good. We’re hoping for a clean trip.”

Fawkes is also hoping for a little less early pace this time following a race in which the fractions were 21.08 and 43.67.

“They went really quick early,” Fawkes said. “She’s not quite that quick. They got away from her a little bit but she ran a really good race. If she didn’t get stopped, I think she wins it.”

Joe Bravo has the return call.

Natalie’s Goal took a class drop from that same allowance race to capture a $25,000 claimer last weekend. This will be her third race since July 6. Miss Sprightly and No Splits both step up following maiden wins.

Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Gemologist wins. Period. End of story.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
GEMOLOGIST LOST BIG TIME PERIOD. END OF YOUR STORY AND BANKROLL!!! LMAO!!!
Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
I think people who are sold on Dullahan, including Romans himself, continue to persuade themselves that he is a dirt horse because he gallops and works well on the dirt. Too bad they don't give out prizes for best showing in the morning. This horse should be running in the Secretariat, but hope springs stubborn.........er, eternal.
Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
I wonder if Gemologist is in the Haskell because they think he would have less to lose if he loses to Paynter than if he lost to that bunch in the Jim Dandy. Less embarrassing. Anyway, I don't like any horse in a Grade I that is coming off such a long layoff. Even if the Derby was a big fluke for him, give him an easier spot in which to come back.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
He won't lose to Paynter. Period. End of story.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
OH YES HE DID, PERIOD. LOL!!
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Wow! This race gets more interesting everyday. It's turning out to be a 4th for TC contenders. Still like Paynter, who will probably take the lead, and hope for the same outcome with Handsome Mike and Mario, to take him on the outside down the final stretch. It's just a fitting tribute. Dullahan in third, again!
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
and down the stretch they come!..............and its handsome mike flying on the outside!
zeakman1398 More than 1 year ago
I love this race. I still believe this year's crop of 3 year-olds was amazing. Dullahan was one of the horses I think would have been an absolute triple crown player in a few of the past years (with of course the deflections of eskendreya and I want revenge). I hope the Haskell is his turn. Looking for a snappy early pace and a hard closing Dullahan. I can't remember, did Coil run in front last year?
bleck1022 More than 1 year ago
The key to this year's race will be to see how the track is playing. Last year I thought Shackleford was a lock because of his front-running style. But on Haskell day the track was playing toward closers all day long. Coil, normally a front-runner, had a bad start and ended up at the back of the pack. He was able to take advantage of the track bias and ended up winning the race. Watch how the track plays, and make your decisions accordingly for horses such as Paynter and Dullahan.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
If nothing else, this year has had some tabloid worthy back stories on horses, trainers and owners.
B More than 1 year ago
Well, if enough of the better ones keep falling by the wayside, Dullahan just might finally be able to pull one off on the dirt. Maybe. As weak as this field is, I'd still personally choose another.
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Dullahans kind don't come from that far back at Monmouth.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
I'll Choose Another!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
A salute to Bob Kulina and Co. for rubbin' this race back into Grade 1 shape... Good luck and a safe trip to all... Hey Don, if your man's there - Pay attention...
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
Sure will CMR all these guys are very good, but just look at gem, physically, would not want to rumble with this guy, grace and power and will to win with intelligence daddy
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
NikitaW, very happy to inform you that JC, Javier Castellano, the regular rider for gemologist will be riding him on Sunday, and he was on him for his astounding bullet workout Sunday at SPA. He smiled big time when I asked him about Gem after one of his victories at DP July 14, feel he will be smiling wider come Sunday evening.
NikitaW More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know, who has the mount for Dullahan and Gemo?
Joe Tartaglia More than 1 year ago
I know Desormeaux is on Dullahan.
NikitaW More than 1 year ago
Really? That's great, I'm happy for Kent. Thx.