Sunday, February 08, 2009


HAYNESFIELD ACES ANOTHER TEST UNDER RED-HOT DOMINGUEZ


By Francis LaBelle Jr.

Turtle Bird Stable’s Haynesfield continued on his steady course of improvement Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack as he overpowered five other three-year-olds en route to a 6 ¼-length victory in the 30th running of the $107,600 Whirlaway.

It was the fourth consecutive victory for the New York-bred Speightstown colt who will now likely run here in the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham, also at a mile and a sixteenth on March 7.


Haynesfield also completed a five-win day for Dominguez, Aqueduct’s leading jockey. It was the first five-victory day by a jockey in New York since Cornelio Velasquez accomplished the feat on November 1, 2007.

““It was very professional, very nice,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, of Haynesfield. “He ran the mile and a sixteenth faster than he ran the mile and 70 last time (1:44.67 in the Count Fleet on January 3). 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.

“The 40 or 50 yards more doesn’t seem to matter. He does everything right. He’s very easy to deal with, he does the right thing. He’s very determined. When horses get away from him, his ears come right up.

Despite brushing with another horse at the break, Haynesfield straightened himself out quickly and used his position at the rail to get the lead on the fast inner dirt track. Pressed early by Maryland invader Peace Town through splits of 23.83, 47.81 and 1:11.86, Haynesfield simply ran away from them all in the stretch to win in 1:44.48. The favorite of the crowd of 3,995, he paid $2.90 to win.

“I really was going to play it by ear whether to go to the lead or not,” Dominguez said. “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]. He’s got a great mind. I don’t want to compare him to Old Fashioned. I’m just very excited and fortunate to be able to be on both of them at this point.”

Dominguez extended his meet-leading total to 58, 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.”

Cellar Dweller rallied for second, followed by Mike from Queens, Hehasnosay, Peace Town and Zooger.


WHIRLAWAY QUOTES

Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen of favorite Haynesfield (No. 1): “It was very professional, very nice. He ran the mile and a sixteenth faster than he ran the mile and 70 last time (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.

“The 40 or 50 yards more doesn’t seem to matter. He does everything right. He’s very easy to deal with, he does the right thing. He’s very determined. When horses get away from him, his ears come right up.

“We’ll have to see how he comes out of it. [The Gotham, March 7] is a likely distance, likely race, but we’ll see how he’s doing over the next few days and weeks.”

Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez (fifth winner of the day; see NOTE below): “I really was going to play it by ear whether to go to the lead or not. 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]. He’s got a great mind. I don’t want to compare him to Old Fashioned. I’m just very excited and fortunate to be able to be on both of them at this point.”

(On riding five winners): “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. It was icing on the cake.”


NOTE: Ramon Dominguez, Aqueduct’s leading jockey, posted the first five-win day in New York since Cornelio Velasquez accomplished the feat on November 1, 2007.


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