Dullahan settles in at Monmouth Park.

Dullahan settles in at Monmouth Park.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Dullahan Arrives For Haskell

Blue Grass winner will attempt to land his first grade I stakes victory on dirt

The field for the July 29 Haskell Invitational (gr. I) has undergone a number of changes over the past few weeks, with horses coming and going on a daily basis. But the one constant has been Dullahan, who has been targeting the $1 million race since the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

It therefore did Monmouth Park officials good to see the son of Even the Score  step off the van Monday night July 23 following his trip from Kentucky.

The main reason trainer Dale Romans has been anxiously awaiting the Haskell is to give his colt a chance to earn grade I status on the dirt. Dullahan, owned by Donegal Racing, has won the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) and Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) on Keeneland’s Polytrack and was a fast-closing third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but the Haskell should be his best shot yet following a disappointing effort in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

“He’s already won two grade I's, both on Polytrack, and we feel he needs a big win on dirt to promote his stud career,” Romans said. “The Haskell looks like the logical spot. I’m throwing out the Belmont; that wasn’t his kind of track. Monmouth isn’t near as deep and cuppy as Belmont. It’s more like Churchill and he handled that track well.”

Romans doesn’t hesitate when asked about his main danger in the Haskell.

“I am a huge fan of Paynter ,” Romans said. “He’s the horse to beat and will be out there running. We’ll have to run him down.”

Dullahan is coming into the Haskell off a bullet five-furlong work in :59 4/5 at Churchill Downs July 21.

“I kept him on one track,” said Romans. “I didn’t see any sense in shipping him to New York  for 10 days and training him there on that track and shipping him to Monmouth to run on a different track.”

In addition to Dullahan and Paynter, the Haskell lineup likely will include Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) winner Nonios, second in the Swaps (gr. II); Handsome Mike , Pegasus (gr. III) winner Le Bernardin, and Stealcase, second in the Matt Winn (gr. III).    

Paynter also turned in a bullet work on Monday, going six furlongs in company with Liaison in 1:11 4/5 at Del Mar under Rafael Bejarano, who will be aboard for the Haskell.