Likely Haskell favorite hits MonmouthJul 24, 2012 - 8:17 PM Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Trainer Dale Romans takes another shot at Monmouth Park's premier race Sunday one year after seeing his horse lose at the wire. The Haskell Invitational offers another chance for Romans to get the better of Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert.
In 2011, Romans saw his Shackleford get caught at the wire by Baffert's Coil and lose by a neck. This weekend Dullahan will represent the Romans' barn versus Paynter from Baffert's.
"I am a huge fan of Paynter's," Romans said during a Tuesday conference call with national media. "He's the horse to beat and will be out there running. We'll have to run him down."
Paynter set the pace in the Belmont Stakes seven weeks ago, before being caught himself at the wire by Union Rags. Dullahan was the favorite for the race, but could only finish seventh.
"The track at Monmouth is not as near as deep, sandy and cuppy as Belmont," said Romans. "The track at Monmouth is a lot more like the one at Churchill, and he likes that one."
Dullahan arrived at Monmouth Park late Monday for the $1 million Haskell. The three-year-old colt has been stabled at Churchill Downs since the Belmont Stakes and working consistently.
"I kept him on one track," said Romans. "I didn't see any sense in shipping him to New York (with a contingent of his other top horses) and training him there on that track and shipping him to Monmouth to run on a different track,"
Dullahan was third in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Blue Grass Stakes. Owned by Donegal Racing, the colt has earned $1,072,091 in 10 lifetime starts with two wins, two seconds and a trio of thirds.
Joining Paynter from California will be Nonios from the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Unraced as a two-year-old, Nonios will be making his first start outside California in the Haskell.
"We're coming into the Haskell with an improving horse," said Hollendorfer. "We didn't want to run him on the turf and I think he'll handle the dirt track at Monmouth just fine."
With five starts, all on synthetic tracks, Nonios has three wins, a second and third for $129,000. The colt, owned by G.B. Smith Jr., won the Affirmed Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 3 at 15-1 and is coming off a second-place finish to Baffert's Blueskiesnrainbows in the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood.
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