Bob Baffert’s horses don’t stay long at the Jersey Shore, but when they show up for the $1 million Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park the trainer is usually in for a big payday.
The Hall of Famer has saddled nine Haskell winners, six runners-up, and has collected hefty bonus money from the track owners just for showing up with some of his Triple Crown race winners.
On Saturday, the 70-year-old Baffert seeks Haskell win No. 10 with Arabian Knight, lightly raced as were some of his other winners.
Arabian Knight has two career starts, a maiden victory in November at Keeneland and a 10th-place finish in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park in January. He missed the Triple Crown season after owner Amr Zedan said he was taken out of training because he needed “more time to develop.’’
The son of Uncle Mo, purchased for $2.3 million, has posted weekly workouts since May 29 at Santa Anita, and is scheduled to be entered Wednesday (July 19).
The last time Baffert won the Haskell was 2020 with Authentic, who nosed out Ny Traffic, then went on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced date changes in the Triple Crown series, with the Haskell being run before rather than after the Derby and Preakness (G1).
Baffert’s Haskell runners-up were lightly raced Taiba in 2022 (to Maximum Security), Mucho Gusto in 2019 (to Maximum Security), lightly raced American Freedom in 2016 (to Exaggerator), Power Broker in 2013, Captain Steve in 2000, and Anet in 1997.
“We’ve had a lot of luck there,” Baffert has said of his good fortune at Monmouth. “But the reason that we’ve had a lot of luck is that I’ve taken my best horses there.”
The payoff has been huge. Baffert’s horses have earned around $7 million in purse money. He has also been paid handsome ‘appearance fees’ for running horses who have Triple Crown race wins on their resume.
Here’s a rundown of Baffert’s winners:
Until American Pharoah came along, this was Baffert’s best. The horse created so much buzz with his Preakness and Belmont wins that Monmouth Park officials increased the $1 million purse by $500,000 — and added other incentives — in wooing Baffert back to the Jersey Shore. A then-record crowd of 47,127 turned out as Gary Stevens guided 3-10 favorite Point Given to a tough half-length victory over Touch Tone.
Back again a year later, this time with his Derby and Preakness winner, a front-running colt who stumbled at the start in the Belmont and finished eighth in his Triple Crown bid. Nonetheless, War Emblem went off as the 3-10 favorite and won the Haskell in his usual wire-to-wire style, by 3 1/2 lengths with Victor Espinoza aboard.
With Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex not running, Baffert wound up with the even-money favorite in Roman Ruler. The colt missed the Triple Crown races because of foot problems, but won the Dwyer on July 4, then outdueled Sun King in the stretch and won the Haskell by 1 ¼ lengths under Jerry Bailey. Baffert tied Hall of Famers Warren Croll and Sonny Hine for most Haskell wins at three.
Even with Derby winner Super Saver in the field, it was Baffert’s Preakness winner who was the 6-5 favorite. After a slight bobble at the start, Lookin At Lucky passed Super Saver at the quarter-pole and pulled away for a 4 ½-length win over Trappe Shot. It was the first of three Haskell wins for jockey Martin Garcia (he also won in 2011 and 2014).
Far from Baffert’s most distinguished Haskell entry, Coil pulled off the biggest win of his career in defeating Preakness winner Shackleford by a neck, with Belmont winner Ruler On Ice third. Although Coil was making his first start on a dirt track and surprised even Baffert, it should be noted that he is a son of 2001 Haskell winner Point Given.
Baffert didn’t make the trip from California because his travel was limited after a heart attack earlier in the year. Paynter, though, owned by Ahmed Zayat, did — and came up with the biggest win of a remarkable career. Ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano, Paynter took charge around the far turn and won by 3 3/4 lengths. Two days later, he came down with pneumonia, then developed life-threatening colitis and laminitis. He not only recovered, but returned to racing nearly a year later and won his first time out.
Unraced as a 2-year-old, Bayern first hit the Triple Crown trail in the Preakness, finishing 10th of 11 behind winner California Chrome. But a win in the Woody Stephens on Belmont day, plus the fact Baffert was sending yet another 3-year-old to the Haskell, indicated to bettors this was a horse to watch. Untapable was the favorite, but no one could stick with Bayern, who led from the start and won by 7 1/4 lengths at 9-2 odds.
With a record crowd of 60,983 at the track, Triple Crown champion American Pharoah returned for his first race since sweeping the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. He did not let anyone down, turning on the speed in the stretch as the crowd cheered him on and he won easily under Victor Espinoza. The purse was raised to a record $1.75 million, and the win was worth $1.1 million for owner Ahmed Zayat. Pharoah, sent off at 1-10 odds, won by 2 ¼ lengths.
In a topsy-turvy year of Covid-19, the Haskell ended up being run as a prep race for the Derby … the Haskell on July 18, the Derby on Sept. 5 (not the first Saturday in May), the Preakness on Oct. 3. Authentic ran second in the Santa Anita Derby in June, and was sent off as the 8-1 third choice behind 7-10 favorite and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tiz the Law (the Belmont was run in June as the first leg of the Triple Crown). Authentic took the lead from the start with Mike Smith aboard,, turned back the challenge of Tiz the Law at the three-sixteenths pole and won by 1 ¼ lengths.
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.