Sunday, July 15, 2012
Haskell field taking shape
By Esther Marr and Steve Haskin
Zayat Stables' Grade 1-winning 3-year-old colt Bodemeister has spiked a fever and will skip the July 29 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
Trainer Bob Baffert reported via his Twitter account that the colt's fever had been detected July 14.
"I've had a rash of sickness going through my barn," Baffert later told The Blood-Horse. "It takes a week for it to run its course. I treat them all with penicillin. [Bodemeister] looked good today, though
[his illness] is not serious. I just really jump on them with an antibiotic immediately."
With Bodemeister out, it looks as if Hansen will now join the Haskell field. The son of Tapit was originally scheduled to run the following week in the West Virginia Derby.
Bodemeister would likely have been the favorite in the Haskell. Last week, Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags was declared out of the Haskell with a tendon injury.
Baffert was originally planning to ship Bodemeister to Del Mar July 15, but will now wait a few days due to the colt's temperature. It will probably be a full week before the son of Empire Maker returns to the track for training.
Baffert hasn't decided where he will send Bodemeister next. The colt has a year-end goal of running in the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park.
"[His fever] just happened, so I haven't had a chance to sit down and talk with the owners," Baffert said. "First we've got to get him back going, and then we'll look for something. It won't take long for him to get back because he's so fit."
Justin Zayat of Zayat Stables tweeted July 15 that Paynter, who was second to Union Rags in the June 9 Belmont, is now probable for the Haskell. The son of Awesome Again is also trained by Baffert.
Bodemeister, who will stand at WinStar Farm at the conclusion of his racing career, posted a runaway victory in this year's Arkansas Derby and was a narrow runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
An earner of $1,304,800 to date, Bodemeister has won twice and placed second four times during his six-start career. Bred in Virginia by Audley Farm, he is out of the graded stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent.
Hansen now takes a prominent role in the Haskell picture.
"We're perhaps a 60-70% chance to run at Monmouth," said owner Dr. Kendall Hansen. "Even if Paynter runs that will not affect our decision. We're looking forward to meeting him. Hansen is sitting on his biggest win. He will be a monster in his next race. After running a mile and a sixteenth in 1:42 in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, he acted like it was a work. He has never come out of a race stronger. [Trainer] Mike [Maker] is as confident as he gets. He doesn't think anyone can beat him right now.
"I understand having a chance to win a grade I does not come often in horse racing. We ran second in the grade I Blue Grass Stakes, losing in the final strides to Dullahan when he freaked and ran an 11.88 final furlong. I like Mr. [Jerry] Crawford and several other Donegal owners and it seems like a good idea to renew this friendly rivalry."
Other possible starters for the Haskell include Gemologist, Neck 'n Neck, My Adonis, Unstoppable U, and Le Bernardin.