Win Star Farm's Gemologist is doing extremely well in his preparation for his first race since coming out of the Kentucky Derby with a minor injury. So much so, that the strapping son of Tiznow must be considered a major player in whichever race he enters. The problem is, we don’t know whether that race will be the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Sunday or the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.
As far as the decision, trainer Todd Pletcher would only say, ““We haven’t decided yet. 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, but we might make a decision prior to that.”
If Gemologist stays at home and runs in the $600,000 Jim Dandy it could serve as a perfect prep for next month’s Travers Stakes, which is still considered the biggest prize of the summer, despite having an equal purse to the Haskell. The Saratoga might be a marginally easier field than at Monmouth, and would offer a race over the track before the Travers, but for less purse money than offered in New Jersey. In the Jim Dandy, Gemologist would likely be the betting favorite. Here is how I project the favorites in the race with Gemologist in it:
Teeth of the Dog 4-1
Neck ‘N Neck 6-1
Fast Falcon 8-1
Meanwhile, if Team Gemologist decides to ship out of town to go after the elusive Haskell-Travers double, he would only merit the second spot on my early odds for favoritism in the million dollar race. Here is what a Gemologist in the Haskell morning line might look like:
Le Bernardin 10-1
These odds are of course assuming that Hansen will use the West Virginia Derby as his Travers prep, rather than a late audible that would send the two-year-old champion to the Haskell, where he would likely be a slight favorite over Paynter and Gemologist.
As for Gemologist, he flashed his talented chops yesterday morning with his second straight bullet work at the Spa. Working in company with the four-year-old grade 2 winner Dominus, Gemologist breezed five furlongs in a sparkling 58.40 on the main track. The move was the fastest of 43 horses at the distance, and clearly left his conditioner pleased.
“He worked super. It was a very impressive work,” Pletcher said of the WinStar colt. “He finished up great, galloped out well, and recovered quickly afterward. I think his conditioning is very, very good. 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.”
The Gemologist decision could well go a long way in deciding the winner of not just one big race this weekend, but two. What’s it going to be, the Haskell or the Jim Dandy?