Ten days ago, trainer Papa Clem wanted no part of Rachel Alexandra in next Saturday’s $1.25 million Haskell Invitational Handicap at Monmouth Park. But in a 180-degree turn, Stute has decided to run his talented 3-year-old colt in the Haskell. It might not hurt that the purse was increased $250,000 a few days ago.
“She’ll lose one of these days, and I’m hoping my horse will do it,” Stute said from his headquarters at Del Mar.
Stute had hoped to reunite Papa Clem with Rafael Bejarano, who rode the colt when he won the Arkansas Derby in April. But with Bejarano sidelined indefinitely because of multiple facial fractures suffered in a riding accident on opening day of Del Mar on Wednesday, Stute will stick with Elvis Trujillo, who rode Papa Clem to a third-place finish in the Long Branch Stakes on July 11.
Stute was also considering the Jim Dandy Stakes on Aug. 2, but that’s a $500,000 purse. Makes more sense to run for $750,000 more. Even a second-place finish in the Haskell would mean $250,000 — or only $50,000 less than the first-place check for winning the Jim Dandy.
The hike in the Haskell purse did not lure Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird away from the West Virginia Derby on Aug. 1.
Stute reiterated this weekend what he told me two weeks ago — if Papa Clem runs well in his next start, he’ll likely return to California and run in either the $350,000 Del Mar Derby or $1 million Pacific Classic on Sept. 6.