ELMONT, N.Y. – The connections of Haynesfield (Speightstown) found out Saturday what they were hoping to learn eight months earlier – that their New York-bred colt is indeed Grade 1 material.
Haynesfield’s four-length, gate-to-wire victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park may have been the product of a quality speed horse getting loose on the lead. But it was also the product of a pattern of patience displayed by owner Harvey Weinstein and Toby Sheets, Steve Asmussen’s Belmont-based assistant trainer who has overseen the colt’s training throughout his career.
As a 3-year-old, Haynesfield flirted with the Triple Crown trail before he suffered a 26 1/4-length loss in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct in March. Tough there was nothing significantly wrong with Haynesfield, the horse was given plenty of time to grow up and mature.
The freshening paid off as Haynesfield, after losing a sprint stakes restricted to New York-breds on Oct. 2, 2009, came back to win the $250,000 Empire Classic against older horses and then the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap versus open company 3-year-olds.
After that, Haynesfield was being pointed to the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream in early February. A prep race in the restricted Robb Handicap for New York-breds at Aqueduct in late December would likely have been used as a prep for the Donn.
But in his last major work before the Robb, Haynesfield suffered a foot injury, known as a grabbed quarter, which kept him off the work tab for three months.
“He grabbed a quarter really bad, it ended up becoming bigger than it should have been,” Sheets said Monday morning in his Belmont Park office. “The weather didn’t help, winter-time stuff. Then we just took it slow. We were pointing for the Gulfstream Park race, he had the foot. There wasn’t a whole bunch of spots right away so we just gave him the time, brought him back for the summer and fall.”
In his first start off a seven-month layoff, Haynesfield came back with a New York-bred allowance win on June 13, followed by a victory over Convocation and I Want Revenge in the Grade 2 Suburban here on July 3.
Haynesfield made his Grade 1 debut in the Whitney at Saratoga. But Haynesfield broke through the starting gate prior to the race. It definitely affected him, as he did little running in the race and finished fourth. Back at Belmont, Sheets was hoping to run Haynesfield in a New York-bed stakes on Sept. 11, but the race wasn’t used until Sept. 17, a time frame that didn’t work out for him making the Jockey Club.
While it is likely that Haynesfield will move on to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs, his connections will, as they always have, exercise patience making that decision.
Beldame top three to Ladies’ Classic
Life At Ten, Unrivaled Belle, and Persistently – the top three finishers from Saturday’s Grade 1 Beldame Invitational – are all expected to move on to the $2 million Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.
Life At Ten, who won the Beldame by two lengths over Unrivaled Belle, will have to be supplemented to the race for a fee of $160,000 by owner Cynthia DeBartolo, but the decision to do that had been made even before Saturday, trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Life At Ten bounced back from a third-place finish to Persistently in the Personal Ensign – a race in which she set the pace – with an off-the-pace victory in the Beldame, her fifth win from six starts this year.
“I was very pleased, good effort,” Pletcher said.
Shug McGaughey, trainer of third-place finisher Persistently, said his filly should benefit from the two-turn configuration at Churchill in the Ladies’ Classic.
“I think she’s better around two turns,” McGaughey said.”I think she’ll like Churchill. If the weather’s inclement, she’d like that. I also think she’ll get more of a pace.”
McGaughey will have two Breeders’ Cup starters as he will also send Air Support to Churchill for the Juvenile Turf following his 1 1/4-length victory in Sunday’s Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont.
Winter Memories aimed at Juvenile Fillies Turf
There were no turf races exclusively for fillies and mares when the Grade 1-winning mare Memories of Silver was racing in the mid 1990s. That’s why her one Breeders’ Cup start came against males in the 1996 Mile at Woodbine, where she finished fifth to Da Hoss.
But 14 years later, Winter Memories, the eighth foal produced by Memories of Silver, will have a big chance to win a Breeders’ Cup race when she runs in the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. She earned her spot in that race with an impressive 5 1/4-length victory in Sunday’s Grade 3 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont.
Winter Memories made a spectacular and wide move approaching the quarter pole, passed eight horses in front of her by the eighth pole, and powered home an easy winner despite switching to her wrong lead. Her final time of 1:45.69 for 1 1/8 miles over a yielding Widener turf course was 2.18 seconds faster than that of Air Support’s time in the Pilgrim though that race was run on the inner.
Trainer Jimmy Toner, who won the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 1999 with Soaring Softly, said Monday that Winter Memories came out of the race very well and that she would do the bulk of her training in New York before shipping to Kentucky.
“She’s sort of a mature 2-year-old, that’s a bit of an advantage for her right now,” Toner said.
Bond eyes Dirt Mile for Tizway
Tizway was back in Saratoga on Sunday night following his five-length victory in Sunday’s Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont a few hours earlier and Saratoga is where he will prepare for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill on Nov. 6.
A horse with a history of foot issues, Tizway “looked very, very good this morning,” trainer James Bond said Monday from Saratoga. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Tizway, making his first start since running third to Quality Road in the Met Mile on May 31, ran mile in 1:34.42 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105. He sustained a broken wing bone in his left front foot preparing for the Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 7.
Bond said Tizway would have two or three breezes over the Oklahoma training track before shipping to Kentucky around Nov. 1.
Vineyard Haven likely for Dirt Mile
Given the results of the weekend, Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing is now likely to supplement Vineyard Haven for $90,000 to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Rick Mettee, the New York-based assistant for Godolphin, said head trainer Saeed bin Suroor told him Monday that it looked like Vineyard Haven would be nominated to the Mile along with Gayego. Vineyard Haven has not run since finishing third in the Grade 1 Forego.
That decision was made after Regal Ransom finished sixth in the Kelso, ending his chances of running in a Breeders’ Cup race. Depending on how he trains moving forward, Regal Ransom could run again later this year.
Meanwhile, Girolamo, winner of Saturday’s Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational, will represent Godolphin in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Mettee also said that Sara Louise, third in the Gallant Bloom in her seasonal debut, would be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.