The Preakness winner is not heading to the Haskell.
Monmouth Park officials were informed Saturday morning that trainer Chad Brown will not ship Early Voting to Monmouth Park for the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes next Saturday. Brown had been deciding between the Haskell and the Grade 2 $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 30.
The presence of Early Voting, coming off a 1 1/4-length win over Epicenter in the second leg of the Triple Crown, would have added luster to what is already shaping up as an ultra-competitive race. Brown made the decision after Early Voting worked four furlongs in 49.25 at Belmont Park Saturday.
It would have been the first appearance by a Triple Crown race winner in the Haskell since Preakness winner Exaggerator won in 2016, with Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in the field. Maximum Security, the 2019 winner, was disqualified for interference after winning the Kentucky Derby, while 2020 champion Authentic used the Haskell as a stepping-stone to a Derby win during the pandemic-impacted season.
Brown and Early Voting's owner, Klaravich Stable, each would have received a $50,000 bonus for running in the Haskell.
Brown, the No. 2 trainer in the nation based on earnings, who won the Haskell with Good Magic in 2018, will be well represented, with multiple Grade 1 winner Jack Christopher likely to go postward as the favorite. Jack Christopher comes off a 10-length score in the Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
In all, four Grade 1 winner are expected to be in the starting gate for the 55th renewal, including Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba, trained by nine-time Haskell winner Bob Baffert, Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife, coming off a win in the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, and Florida Derby winner White Abarrio, trained by Saffie Joseph.
Also expected to run is Howling Time, beaten a nose in the Matt Winn, and Benevengo, a recent winner in allowance company last out for the locally-based trainer Jesse Cruz..
Baffert, who returned July 4 from a 90-day suspension for Medina Spirit failing a drug test after winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby, announced Taiba would ship from Southern California after the son of Gun Runner worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds. Taiba is expected to arrive at Monmouth Park Tuesday.
Taiba has not run since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby, with the colts last two starts coming for trainer Tim Yakteen while Baffert was suspended.
Cyberknife, trained by Brad Cox, who won last year’s Haskell with Mandaloun after Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified for interference, is owned by Al Gold, a longtime Monmouth Park regular and Ocean Township resident who now spits time between Saratoga and Florida.
Cox also nominated Home Brew, winner of the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park last month.
From Friday - Haskell 2022: Embattled trainer Bob Baffert sending Taiba to take on Jack Christopher
The national spotlight is now squarely on Monmouth Park, with trainer Bob Baffert sending Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba to the Jersey Shore for the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes.
The track announced Friday that the nine-time Haskell winner, who recently returned from a 90-day suspension, would ship his 3-year-old star to face multiple Grade 1 winner Jack Christopher, coming off a 10-length victory in the Woody Stephens Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard for trainer Chad Brown.
The national spotlight is now squarely on Monmouth Park, with embattled trainer Bob Baffert sending Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba to the Jersey Shore for the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Stakes on July 23.
It’s unclear if Taiba's presence will have an impact on Brown’s decision to run Preakness winner Early Voting in the Haskell or the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 30. Brown has indicated he’ll decide after Early Voting’s workout Saturday at Belmont Park.
If Brown does elect to run Early Voting, it would set up one of the most competitive Haskell's in recent memory. Also expected to run are Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife, coming off a win in the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, and Florida Derby winner White Abarrio.
Taiba was in the barn of trainer Tim Yakteen for his last two races, while Baffert was sidelined for Medina Spirit testing positive after winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Baffert is currently suspended by the New York Racing Association and Churchill Downs Inc.
Monmouth Park officials had said Baffert would be welcome to run horses at the track after his suspension ended on July 3.
Taiba, 12th in the Kentucky Derby last time out in just his third career start, worked five furlongs in a quick 59.40 seconds at Santa Anita Friday morning. It comes eight days after Taiba had a six-furlong workout, going the distance in 1:12.
A $1.7 million purchase as a 2-year-old by Zedan Racing, both Taiba and Cyberknife are sons of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith gets the mount on Taiba seeking his fourth Haskell win, having hit the wire first with Authentic (2020), Coronado’s Quest (1998) and Holy Bull (1994).
“It’s going to be a tough race, but it’s supposed to be a tough race,” said Baffert, who will ship Taiba in Tuesday morning. “I hope he runs well. I think he will.”
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Haskell 2022: Preakness winner Early Voting to bypass Haskell at Monmouth Park