Haynesfield made a triumphant return to the winner’s circle at Belmont Park on Oct.22, taking the lead at the top of the stretch and holding off Green Monster to win the $200,000 Empire Classic on New York Showcase Day. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown has now won $1,306,981 in his career.
Ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Haynesfield settled in third as Green Monster took the field of eight New York-breds through a quarter-mile in 24.05 seconds and a half in 47.38. Moving up in tandem with Johannesburg Smile, the duo blew past the pacesetter on the turn and Haynesfield straightened for home with a clear lead. Green Monster battled back to challenge in deep stretch, but Haynesfield dug in to hit the wire a length in front.
This was the first victory in three starts this year for Haynesfield, who had not run since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan H. on May 30. Owned by Turtle Bird Stable, Haynesfield won the 2009 Empire Classic as a 3-year-old and had an outstanding year in 2010, winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and the Suburban H. (G2) as well as finishing second in the Cigar Mile H. (G1).
"We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year," said Toby Sheets, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. "We finally got it back together and he’s been training really well. We’re happy to have him back."
"Thanks to (owner) Mr. Weinstein’s patience, he gave us every bit of time we needed and it worked out," added Sheets. "Just to get back and go a mile and an eighth off that long a layoff was pretty big. He saw that other horse and dug in. Ramon (rider Ramon Dominguez) said he wasn’t letting that other horse go by him."
Haynesfield could start next in the Cigar Mile H. on Nov. 26 at Aqueduct.