Team Zayat finished second
in all three jewels of the Triple Crown, with Bodemeister in the Derby and
Preakness, and then with Paynter in
the Belmont Stakes. All it took
was a trip to their home state of New Jersey to get in the winner’s circle for
a major grade one race for the three year-olds.
Owner Ahmed Zayat could not make it to the Haskell but he sent his
children Justin and Ashley to represent the Zayat family. Justin Zayat said, “I
was born and grew up in New Jersey and I have never seen one of our horses win
a really big race. I always had to watch on television from home.”
The Haskell began with Gemologist rushing to the lead on the rail with Paynter sitting to the outside a length behind the lead. Gemologist was running hard the whole way with the first quarter
going in :23.88. Down the backstretch Nonios began to apply some pressure to Gemologist. Three quarters went in 1:11.37 and
Paynter began to make a very relaxed move and at the same time Gemologist began
Midway in the turn Paynter
took control and according to the Daily
Racing Form chart, “responded when roused in the upper stretch and kicked
clear under urging.” The final margin of victory was three and three quarters
lengths and the final time was 1:48.87.
Of course this was trainer
Bob Baffert's sixth win in the
Haskell and his third win in a row.
He has won with Point Given 2001, War Emblem 2002, Roman Ruler 2005,
Lookin At Lucky 2010, Coil 2011, and now with Paynter. Baffert also was not in attendance, as
he has been scaling back on the stresses of travel since his heart attack in
March. Reached by phone Baffert said, “When you win
they always feel like the first one. They’re all exciting and they never get
old. When he turned for home, he (Paynter) just pinned his ears and took off.”
Baffert was asked to compare Paynter’s
Haskell victory to his other winners, “Paynter is one of those horses (who can
handle what happens in the race). They are all different and unique in their
own way. He kind of grinds it out. He can go longer and handle a mile and a
quarter. He’s tough. He can handle what you throw at him. He’s a lot like Point
Throughout the race Justin
Zayat was confident with the way Paynter was running and he thought they were
going to win as their horse took the lead in the turn, but he said that he
couldn’t help but worry about all those second place finishes, “Thinking not
again, not again”.
Sent off as the even money
favorite by the New Jersey crowd of 35,253, Paynter and the Zayat family had the
home field advantage of Monmouth Park.
Finally, it was no more second places for the Zayats thanks to Paynter
and his effortless off the pace run.