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O’Neill and Gutierrez Join the 2012 Haskell Field

The original Haskell headliners of Bodemeister and Union Rags are out, but the $1,000,000 purse has quickly attracted a new cast of characters.
Bob Baffert has simply switched which Zayat Stable star will show up on New Jersey racing’s biggest stage. Baffert will be expecting a great performance from Paynter as he goes for his sixth Haskell victory and his third in a row.  Paynter has been brilliant in his California rehearsals. He has fired off three straight bullet works with the most recent coming on July 19th at Del Mar when he went six furlongs handily in 1:13.20.  On Sunday Paynter was seen schooling between races in the Del Mar paddock. Paynter last raced in the Belmont Stakes when he was caught at the wire by Union Rags.
Dale Romans has had Dullahan on the path to the Haskell for the past two months.  Dullahan has been training extremely well with his most recent bullet work of :59.80 happening on the dirt at Churchill Downs.  Romans feels his horse is ready, “He’s going to be very live in there (the Haskell).”  Regular rider Kent Desormeaux will be returning to the saddle.
The recent addition of Handsome Mike to the Haskell field will bring the I'll Have Another team back to the East. Handsome Mike is owned by J. Paul Reddam and trained by Doug O'Neill.  Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Mario Gutierrez will be the rider. Handsome Mike has not raced since March 24, when he finished fourth in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.
On the heels of a Hollywood Park bullet work of 1:11.80, O’Neill commented, “It was a great, great work. He’s fantastic. Handsome Mike is a very versatile colt.  He’s got speed and he’s also got the ability to track if need be. I expect him to run very well.  Both Mario and Handsome Mike are ready and raring to go. We are really looking forward to this race at Monmouth.”
Also coming in from the west coast is the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee, Nonios. Nonios has run only four times with three wins including the grade three Affirmed Stakes at Hollywood Park in June, where he defeated Liaison and Holy Candy. On July 4th, he finished second in the grade two Swaps behind Bob Baffert’s Blueskiesnrainbows.
Trainer Mark Casse has made a commitment to the Haskell for his owner John Oxley, but those connections have to decide whether they will send Prespective or Stealcase to the Jersey Shore. “We still haven’t decided,” said trainer Mark Casse. “Mr. Oxley is here and we will talk it over to decide which one will run.”
Prospective has won his last two starts in the Victoria Park Stakes at Woodbine and the Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Stealcase was a troubled second in the grade three Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 16.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has confirmed the entry of Darley’s Le Bernardin in the Haskell.  The horse’s name comes from his sire Bernardini and honors the famous New York City restaurant of celebrity chef Eric Ripert. Le Bernardin won his most recent race at Monmouth Park in the grade three Pegasus.
The connections of Wood Memorial winner Gemologist have yet to make their decision between the Haskell and the Jim Dandy.  Pletcher has been dominating stakes races at Monmouth. “We haven’t decided yet,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “It’s the same thing that goes into every racing decision; where you think you have the best chance to win. We are considering entering both spots.”
Gemologist, who won his first five races, has not run since a foot bruise was discovered after his disappointing finish in the Kentucky Derby. This son of Tiznow has been training brilliantly in Saratoga. After two recent bullet works Pletcher said, “I thought he breezed as well this morning as he’s ever breezed. He’s always been a good work horse, but he was exceptionally good this morning.”
Also considering the Haskell are Kelly Breen’s My Adonis and Michael Maker’s Hansen.  At this point both of those Triple Crown participants seem to be unlikely entrants.
Final entries and the post position draw for the July 29th Haskell will take place at noon on Thursday.  I will be on Twitter to report the field, so be sure to follow me @AndyScoggin. Let’s end by watching Bob Baffert’s 2011 Haskell victory with Coil. 


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Older Comments about O’Neill and Gutierrez Join the 2012 Haskell Field...

I think Handsome Mike is going to at least show
I don't think so... Handsome Mike only one one race in his life.
Well we can see if the I'll Have Anoither connections can win another big race! Love the story on Gutierrez!
Thought the Hansen people decided on the Haskell too?????
Trainer Mark Casse has announced that Stealcase will go in the Haskell. He finished a neck behind Paynter in the Derby Trial (G3).
I can't wait, I am rooting for this guy to win the Haskell.
Looking forward to placing a few dollars on the nose of Mr. Hollendorfer's charge!

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