But a $900,000 first prize to the owner, the Thoroughbred Corp., and its connections failed to disguise hostilities between winning trainer Bob Baffert and his Hall of Fame jockey, Gary Stevens.
"He rode him terribly," Baffert said before Stevens returned to the winner's circle.
Baffert said Stevens moved Point Given too early in the run down the backstretch, a three-wide rally into the hottest part of the race.
Stevens was visibly upset about instructions he received three minutes before entering the starting gate for the Grade I 1 1/8 -mile classic.
"I was given some instructions from an outrider about three minutes to post," Stevens said. "I was told they were from Bob, but I couldn't be sure. I'm just trying to get my game face on for a $1.5 million race, and this guy is trying to give me instructions and upsetting my horse.
"I know how to ride this horse. I know to have the stick in my left hand turning for home. I don't need to be told three minutes to post that we're changing the game plan."
Stevens didn't stop there.
"I've been riding for 22 years, and I know how to ride this horse," he said. "It [upsets me], things like this."
Baffert softened his stance at a post-race news conference.
"Once I saw the replay I felt better," he said. "The track is speed-favoring and Gary didn't want to get too far out of it."
Point Given paid $2.60 to win and raced the distance in a surprisingly slow 1 minute, 49 3/5 seconds over a fast track.
Soon after the finish, jockey Corey Nakatani pulled up Jamaican Rum, who was taken away in a horse ambulance. The colt was believed to be suffering from heat prostration.
On the Haskell undercard, Normandy Beach ($24.80) won the Teddy Drone, Sea Of Tranquility ($13.20) won the Salvator Mile Handicap, Cousin Gigi ($52) upset the Eatontown Handicap, Spruce Run ($10.40) captured the Restoration Stakes, Miss Linda ($12.40) took the Lady's Secret, and Key Lory ($29.20) wired his field in the Oceanport Handicap.
Craig Donnelly's e-mail address is cdonnelly phillynews.com.