Updated on 09/17/2011 10:01PM

Roman Ruler gives Baffert third Haskell

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Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Roman Ruler with Jerry Bailey riding wins the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Sunday.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Bob Baffert continued his domination of the Grade 1, $1 million as Roman Ruler outdueled Sun King by 1 1/4 lengths on Sunday to win the premier event at Monmouth Park.

On a muggy afternoon on the Jersey Shore before 43,769, Baffert got his third win in the last five renewals of the 1 1/8 miles race for 3-year-olds.

The third win gave Baffert a share of the stakes record for training victories with Hall of Famers Jimmy Croll and Sonny Hine.

Baffert won with Point Given in 2001 and War Emblem in 2002.

Roman Ruler ($4.20) was clocked in 1:49.88 on the fast track as he recorded the biggest win of his eight race career.

The colt missed the Triple Crown with chronic foot problems. Roman Ruler served notice he was back with a victory in the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.

With the Haskell, Roman Ruler made a major statement in a division lacking active leadership with Giacomo and Afleet Alex sidelined by injuries.

"We always knew he was a very good horse," Baffert said. "We had the complications with his feet and that's all behind him. We missed the classics but we're picking it up at a good time of the year with the Breeders' Cup around the corner."

The Haskell unfolded with Sun King setting the pace. Trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Javier Castellano, Sun King set a solid pace with Joey P. in second and Park Avenue Ball third.

Jerry Bailey, who had had trouble reaching Monmouth from Saratoga because of a problem at a local airport, let Roman Ruler relax in fourth.

"I almost expected to be on the lead," Bailey said. "I wanted to keep him off the pace if I could. He was very kind and let me do that and he just waited on me to call on him."

Roman Ruler edged closer approaching the final turn and ranged up to engage Sun King at the quarter pole. Those two waged a spirited fight entering the lane.

Roman Ruler took the lead inside the eighth pole and was clearly in front in the final sixteenth of a mile.

"He acts like he's going to go off and win by 10 but he does just enough to win by a couple," Bailey said. "That's probably good for later on."

Baffert said the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga will be Roman Ruler's next target.

Sun King easily held second over the New Jersey-bred Park Avenue Ball.

"I had a perfect trip," Castellano said. "It was like a dream. He made the lead easily and relaxed nicely on the backside. When I asked him, he responded but Jerry had a lot of horse left."

Golden Man was an early scratch, reducing the field to seven.