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Jul 27, 2012

Derby Trial foes to meet in Haskell


Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Two of the top three finishers in this year's Derby Trial Stakes are slated to meet again in Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. This will be the 45th running of the 1 1/8 mile race for three-year-olds.

On the last Saturday in April, Paynter and Stealcase finished second and third, respectively, behind Hierro. Now the two colts will be part of the field for the Haskell.

Paynter will be representing trainer Bob Baffert in the stakes, filling in for Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister who is recovering from illness. Paynter, also owned by Zayat Stables, was himself second to Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes.

The colt has banked $352,224 with two wins in five starts, all as a three- year-old.

Stealcase, trained by Mark Casse, was just a neck behind Paynter in the mile stakes at Churchill Downs on April 28.

"He should have beaten Paynter that day," said Casse. "He lugged in (in the stretch) and right after the wire, was ahead of Paynter. Next out, he won an allowance race at Churchill by four lengths. Last out (In the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill) he got into all kinds of trouble and still finished second. With the tough trip he had, I don't even know how he managed to get second."

Owned by John Oxley, Stealcase has won two of eight lifetime starts for $117,702.

Earlier this year the chestnut colt was sixth to Hansen in the Gotham and fifth in the Spiral Stakes behind Went the Day Well.

Although I'll Have Another is retired, the colt's connections will have a starter in the Haskell. J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill will start Handsome Mike in the stakes.

Also set to ride the colt is Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Mario Gutierrez. The Haskell will mark the first time Gutierrez will pilot Handsome Mike.

"Both Mario and Handsome Mike are ready and raring to go. We are really looking forward to this race at Monmouth," said O'Neill

Handsome Mike last raced at Turfway Park on March 24 when he finished fourth in the Spiral Stakes. Previously, he was fourth in the Sham Stakes and third in the El Camino Real Derby.

"Handsome Mike is a very versatile colt," O'Neill said. "He's got speed and he's also got the ability to track if need be. I expect him to run very well."

Reddam's colt will be making his eighth career start in the Haskell. Overall, he has won once in seven starts for $104,280.

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