One week after dominating the Pacific Classic with Game On Dude, trainer Bob Baffert has shipped 4-year-old colt Paynter east to face the remainder of the nation's best handicap horses in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.
Paynter, owned by Zayat Stables, will be one of seven older thoroughbreds in the 1 1/8-mile Woodward, which also features Breeders' Cup Classic champ Fort Larned.
Paynter has drawn post 5 with Rafael Bejarano also coming in from California to ride the colt. The Woodward will be Paynter's first start on the east coast since winning the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park 13 months ago.
The 4-year-old is coming off a second-place finish in Del Mar's San Diego Handicap as the 3-5 favorite.
"He never seemed comfortable out there," Bejarano said. "I felt like I had plenty of horse, but he just wasn't liking what he was doing. He was right there on the turn, but he didn't have enough at the end."
He won his return start on June 14 at Hollywood Park after being sidelined nearly 11 months. Paynter has won half of his eight career starts and $1,029.424.
Fort Larned, fifth in the Whitney, will be ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr. from post 3. Trained by Ian Wilkes, the 5-year-old is owned by Janis Whitham.
Winner of last year's Whitney and the Stephen Foster in June, Fort Larned skipped the Woodward in 2012 to prepare for the Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he finished third.
"I feel this year he needs more racing. After this, we're definitely going to look at the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Sept. 28)," Wilkes noted.
The Foster is the only victory for the 5-year-old in 2013. In his first start of the year, Fort Larned lost his rider at the break of the Gulfstream Park Handicap. He followed with a disappointing fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap before posting a 6 1/4-length win at Churchill Downs.
Fort Larned has banked $4,053,917 with nine wins in 23 lifetime starts.
Successful Dan comes out of the Whitney where he finished second to Cross Traffic, less than a length from winning. On Saturday, the 7-year-old gelding will again have Julien Leparoux in the saddle and leave from post 2.
"He ran his race the way I thought he'd run," trainer Charles LoPresti said of the Whitney. "He was really running at the end. I told my nephew around the three-eighths pole he was picking up horses left and right. I knew he was going to run his race, and he did."
Owned by Morton Fink, Successful Dan won first time out this season in the Ben Ali at Keeneland and was fourth in the Stephen Foster.
The gelding has won eight of 14 career starts for $923,154.
Here is the full field in post position order for the Woodward: Ron the Greek, Javier Castellano; Successful Dan, Julien Leparoux; Fort Larned, Brian Hernandez Jr.; Flat Out, Junior Alvarado; Paynter, Rafael Bejarano; Mucho Macho Man, Edgar Prado and Alpha, John Velazquez.
The Woodward has an approximate post-time of 5:45 p.m. (ET).