Paynter heads $1 Million Haskell
Updated: July 27, 2012, 5:35 PM ETBy Claire Novak | Bloodhorse
The TCI crew talks about the impact of this weekend's Haskell Invitational and Jim Dandy Stakes on the 3-year-old division moving into the second half of the season.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has won the Haskell Invitational a record five times including the past two editions. Ask him the secret to taking home the trophy from Monmouth Park and he'll tell you it's simple: eat a hot dog and send out a good horse. "That's the secret," said Baffert, whose Haskell winners are Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002), Roman Ruler (2005), Lookin At Lucky (2010), and Coil (2011). "I go down to Max's Hot Dog Stand and eat a hot dog every time." Baffert won't chow down on Jersey fare July 29 -- he'll watch the race from his home base in Southern California while delegating saddling duties and hot dog consumption to right hand man Jim Barnes. But he'll definitely send out a good runner in Zayat Stables' Paynter, who starts from post 3 as the 3-2 favorite on the morning line. Rafael Bejarano rides. "I'm just happy enough to have a horse good enough to run and be the favorite," Baffert said when asked his thoughts on the 1 1/8-mile test. Earlier in the month he considered sending Bodemeister, the brilliant runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but that one spiked a temperature and was forced to remain at home. Paynter, a lightly raced son of Awesome Again , set the pace in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes June 9 and almost hung on for victory, getting passed by Union Rags to lose by a neck in the shadow of the wire. His five starts, all in 2012, include a maiden win and allowance score along with a runner-up finish in The Cliff's Edge Derby Trial April 28 at Churchill Downs.
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