“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.”
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.
The Haskell is slated as the 13th race on a 14-race program with an estimated post of 6:17 p.m. The Haskell Day card will get underway at noon, with gates opening at 10 a.m. A limited number of reserved seats are still available and can be purchased by calling 732-571-5563, visiting the ticket booth sales office on the second floor of the Grandstand on any live race day or by visiting http://www.ticketmaster.com.