Gotham Next for Romping Haynesfield
by Jack Shinar
February 8, 2009
Bigger things await Haynesfield after the 3-year-old colt outclassed five rivals in the $107,600 Whirlaway Stakes Feb. 7 for his third consecutive win on Aqueduct's inner track.
The son of Speightstown now has a four-race win streak. The 2-5 favorite shook off Peace Town near the quarter pole and drew off through the lane while geared down late, winning by 6 1/4 lengths. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile event was 1:44.48 on a fast track.
Steve Asmussen trains the New York-bred Haynesfield for Turtle Bird Stable. A $20,000 Keeneland buy last April, Haynesfield began his career with a third-place finish at Saratoga Aug. 29 and is undefeated since while winning by a combined margin of 19 1/2 lengths.
Haynesfield is expected to run in Aqueduct's $250,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles March 7.
Ramon Dominguez won his fifth race of the day at Aqueduct aboard Haynesfield. It was the first five-victory day by a jockey in New York since Cornelio Velasquez accomplished the feat Nov. 1, 2007.
Breaking from the rail, Haynesfield brushed briefly with Hehasnosay, then sprinted clear of second choice Peace Town, who bobbled at the start, and Mike From Queens. Haynesfield, in charge by about a length after a quarter mile, showed the way through fractions of :23.83, :47.81, and 1:11.86.
Without urging, Haynesfield crept away from Peace Town on the turn to lead by about three lengths at the top of the lane when he was roused by Dominguez, who used his whip briefly. The chestnut opened a wide gap on the retreating Peace Town and was never threatened, with Dominguez looking over his shoulder mid-stretch for any sign of a challenge.
“I really was going to play it by ear whether to go to the lead or not,” said Dominguez, who has ridden Haynesfield in each of his Aqueduct wins. “I wanted to take advantage of his natural speed, especially being on the inside, but I would have had no problem taking back. The horse was much the best.
"He doesn’t need to be in front; he’s very versatile. He’s a very talented horse. Once he felt the others coming on, he went on. I didn’t know how much pressure they were going to put on him. But he’s got a lot of stamina. I think he’s up to the test (of facing tougher horses)."
Dominguez said he did not want to compare him to Old Fashioned, a colt he is also riding on the Triple Crown trail.
"I’m just very excited and fortunate to be able to be on both of them at this point,” he said.
Dominguez extended his meet-leading win total to 58, which is 25 wins more than runner-up Rajiv Maragh.
“You know, you come into the day knowing you have good mounts, but you can never take it for granted you’re going to win,” Dominguez said. “It was icing on the cake.”
Haynesfield broke his maiden under Edgar Prado at Belmont Park Sept. 25 and was given a break before returning at Aqueduct in the Damon Runyon Stakes for state breds Dec. 7, which he won by 5 1/4 lengths, and the Jan.3 Count Fleet, where he was best by 3 1/2.
“It was very professional, very nice,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to Asmussen, of Haynesfield's latest effort. “He ran the mile and a sixteenth faster than he ran the mile and 70 last time (1:44.65 in the Count Fleet). There were a bunch of hiccups before his last race – he missed training for weather, typical New York winter stuff, not because of the horse. He’s just a nice horse."
Barry Weisbord and Margaret Santulli bred Haynesfield, who is out of Nothing Special, by Tejabo.
The winner carried top weight of 122 pounds and paid $2.90, $2.50, and $2.10.
Cellar Dweller ($6.80, $4.40), with A.R. Napravnik aboard, rallied mildly for second by 3 1/2 lengths over Mike From Queens ($3), ridden by Maragh. Hehasnosay, Peace Town, and Zooger Hill trailed.