Gemologist will be in the starting gate for the 45th
running of the Grade 1 $1 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday.
“He is going to run. He’s definite,” said trainer Todd
Pletcher when reached by phone at Saratoga
on Wednesday morning. “He has been training extremely well and we are very
pleased with how he is coming into the race.”
Javier Castellano, the only rider to have been aboard the
son of Tiznow in all six of his starts, will partner with him again in the
WinStar Farms’ Gemologist went into the Kentucky Derby with
an unblemished 5-for-5 record that includes a win in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial
in April and a victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes as a
2-year-old. Although he finished a disappointing 16th as one of the
favorites in the first leg of the Triple Crown, it was discovered that he had
bruised his foot. Consequently, he was sidelined for the Preakness and the
Belmont Stakes and this will be his first race since the first Saturday in May.
Gemologist is giving his connections every indication that
he is ready. In his last two works at Saratoga,
he fired bullets and his drill on Sunday morning was particularly impressive.
Working in company with 2011 Dwyer Stakes winner Dominus, he traveled five
furlongs in 58.40 under Castellano and the move was the fastest of 43 horses at
the same distance.
“I thought he breezed as well this morning as he’s ever
breezed and he’s always been a good work horse,” Pletcher said afterward. “But
he was exceptionally good this morning.”
WinStar Farm and Pletcher won back-to-back editions of the
Haskell in 2006-07 with Blue Grass Cat and Any Given Saturday.
In related Haskell news, J. Paul Reddam’s Handsome Mike
arrived on a flight from California
on Tuesday night and the Doug O’Neill charge was out on the track for a one
mile gallop on Wednesday morning. Also on Wednesday, Donegal Racing’s Dullahan,
who arrived in trainer Dale Romans’ barn on Monday night, galloped 1 ½ miles
under his regular exercise rider.
The other confirmed starters for the Haskell are Paynter,
Nonios and Stealcase. Paynter, trained by five-time Haskell winning trainer Bob
Baffert, and Nonios, conditioned by 1989 Haskell winner Jerry Hollendorfer, are
scheduled to share a flight from Southern California and be on the backside on
Thursday. Stealcase, who will give trainer Mark Casse his first entry in the
Haskell, will be vanned from Saratoga.