Monday, November 23, 2009
Haynesfield (by Speightstown), who four weeks earlier scored his richest victory in the $250,000 Empire Classic against older New York-bred rivals, captured his first graded stakes victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $103,500 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds.
Haynesfield broke alertly under Ramon Dominguez and stalked pacesetter Redding Colliery from close range through moderate opening fractions of 24.25 seconds and 48.84. He wrested command approaching the stretch, just after six furlongs in 1:13.46, drew clear through midstretch after a mile in 1:37.51, and was under mild urging to win by 4 1/2 lengths as the third choice in a field of five.
"He was very relaxed," Dominguez said. "When it was time to pick it up, he was there for me. Once he's on his game, he can be in front, or when the pace is right, he can sit just off. He's very versatile."
Bad Action, coming off a win in the Grade 3 Pegasus, finished gamely and edged 3-5 favorite Gone Astray for second by a neck as the longest shot in the field at 14-1. Gone Astray was a bit reluctant to load into the gate, and the 122-pound highweight came up empty when set down at the quarter pole. Redding Colliery faded to fourth. Birdrun, the 5-2 second choice, stumbled badly at the start and trailed throughout.
Haynesfield ($9.90), trained by Steve Asmussen, ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.10 over a fast main track. He improved to 6-1-1 from 9 career starts, including three stakes wins on the inner track last winter.
"He's definitely grown into himself," assistant trainer Toby Sheets said.
* Quality Road had a dress rehearsal Saturday morning for a potential start in the Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile, and the reviews were favorable. He was shipped over from Belmont at about 6 a.m., spent several hours in the receiving barn, was saddled in the paddock, jogged down to the chute under John Velazquez, and loaded into the gate several times without incident under the supervision of former NYRA starter Bob Duncan.
"He handled it the same way he's handled schooling all week - perfectly," trainer Todd Pletcher said.