News & Barn notes

Orseno Expecting Big Effort From Hades In Saturday’s NYRA Bets Pegasus Stakes On Haskell Preview Day

June 13, 2024

After a promising start to Hades’ career, followed by a disappointing spring, trainer Joe Orseno is convinced that the 3-year-old gelding will again live up to the lofty expectations he has for him in Saturday’s NYRA Bets Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The Pegasus Stakes, the final local prep for the Grade 1 NYRA Bets Haskell Stakes on July 20, is one of four stakes on Haskell Preview Day, with the 12-race card also featuring the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes, the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes and the Grade 3 Salvator Mile.

The Pegasus, which drew a field of eight 3-year-olds, offers the added inducement of free start fees and entry to the top two finishers for the $1 million Haskell Stakes.

That’s Orseno’s goal for the Florida-bred son of Awesome Again.

“We were thinking something special with him early in his career and we’re back to thinking something special,” said Orseno. “I believe that this horse is as real a 3-year-old as I have had in quite a while.”

After winning his first three starts, highlighted by a two-length score in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, Hades faltered in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, finishing fifth. Orseno wheeled Hades back two weeks later in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes, but the veteran conditioner excused the seventh-place finish that day to an issue he did not specify.

“After the Lexington Stakes we found that he had a minor issue that was easily correctible,” said Orseno. “So we gave him a little time off and worked on him. We believe we have him where we want him again. I’m pretty excited about seeing him race again.

“We’re hoping this is a good prep for the Haskell.”

Hades has not raced since the Lexington Stakes on April 13 but his work tab suggests the horse is eager to go. Stabled at Monmouth Park, Hades’ four furlong-work on June 2 was the best of 139 horses at that distance.

Paco Lopez, Monmouth Park’s leading rider, has the mount.

“I open galloped him a mile last Sunday,” said Orseno. “He did exactly what we wanted. He went the mile in 1:46. It was perfect. He’s ready.”

Following the Lexington Stakes, Orseno said he “decided to pass up the Triple Crown races and work on the second half of the year.”

“We’re excited where he is now,” he added. “He’s training fantastic. Our plan was to bring him to Monmouth Park to train and the Haskell was our summer goal. I don’t have anything mapped out after that.”

Owned by D J Stable and Robert Cotran, Hades figures to face stiff challenges from Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby winner Domestic Product and Grade 3 Withers winner Uncle Heavy. New Jersey-bred Sea Streak also looms as a threat following his 7¼-length romp in the Long Branch Stakes on May 11 at Monmouth Park.

All four stakes races on the card carry a purse of $150,000.

First race post time is 12:50, with the four stakes races comprising the final four races on the card.