Thursday, January 01, 2009
HAYNESFIELD TAKES NEXT STEP IN COUNT FLEET
Aqueduct Racetrack in January might not be where one would expect to find the next Kentucky Derby winner, but it was just five years ago that a Pennsylvania-bred colt named Smarty Jones took the first step on the road to winning the Derby when he took the Big A’s Count Fleet Stakes, the first three-year-old stakes of the year in New York.
On Saturday, trainer Steve Asmussen finds out if Turtle Bird Stables’ Haynesfield can take that same step as he faces six other sophomores in the 34th running of the $65,000-added Count Fleet. The one mile, 70 yard race is included on the resumes of 1993 Preakness winner Prairie Bayou and 1992 Travers winner Thunder Rumble and was won last year by Giant Moon, who went on to complete in the Preakness, finishing eighth behind Derby winner Big Brown.
“It’s a process,” said Asmussen. “He wound up in the Damon Runyon when an allowance race for New York-breds didn’t go, and now he’s in the Count Fleet off a very good race.”
The 2-1 favorite in the Damon Runyon, Haynesfield led gate-to-wire, covering the mile and 70 yards in 1:42.95, having broken his maiden in similar front-running fashion. In his first start at Saratoga Race Course on August 29, the chestnut colt finished a non-threatening third against state-breds, an effort Asmussen said was “disappointing.”
“But he redeemed himself in his next start, and honestly, we were very pleasantly surprised with his last race,” said the trainer, adding with a laugh: “You go through the steps and try to keep your mouth shut, one way or the other.”
Haynesfield, under 118 pounds, will be ridden again by Ramon Dominguez as he breaks from post No. 4.
Joining Haynesfield in the Count Fleet are a pair of sophomores from New York’s leading trainer of 2008, Gary Contessa. Winning Move Stables Pitched Perfectly, a maiden winner at third asking, and Sanford Robbins’ Bad Action, fourth in an optional claimer at the Count Fleet distance in December, will run as an entry from the rail and the outside under Pablo Morales and Eddie Castro, respectively.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has entered Shadwell Stables’ Aswaaq, a son of Empire Maker out of the Seattle Slew mare Queen Mama who also broke his maiden in his third start, covering the nine furlongs in 1:54.24. Jeffrey Sanchez had the mount from post No. 2.
Repole Stable’s Mike >From Queens, with two victories in his last three starts, breaks from post No. 5 with Rajiv Maragh aboard.
Augustin Stables’ Smart Bid, a recent maiden winner at Philadelphia Park, leaves from post No. 6 with Jeremy Rose up, and Robert J. Koones’ Jess Not Jesse, a maiden winner on the turf at Saratoga in August, drew post No. 3 under Channing Hill.
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