Haynesfield made a triumphant return to the winner’s circle at Belmont Park on Saturday afternoon, taking the
lead at the top of the stretch and holding off a resurgent Green Monster to win
the 36th running of the $200,000 McMahon
Adena Empire Classic on New York Showcase Day.
It was the first victory in three starts this year for Haynesfield, who
had not run since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on
May 30. Owned by Turtle Bird Stable, the 5-year-old son of Speightstown won the
2009 Empire Classic as a 3-year-old and had an outstanding year in 2010,
winning the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap and
finishing second in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year,” said
Toby Sheets, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. “His feet have
bugged him a lot. We finally got it back together and he’s been training
really well. We’re happy to have him back.”
Ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Haynesfield settled in third as Green
Monster took the field of eight New York-breds through a quarter-mile in 24.05
seconds and a half in 47.38. Moving up in tandem with Johannesburg Smile, the
duo blew past the pacesetter on the turn and Haynesfield straightened for home
with a clear lead. Green Monster battled back to challenge in deep stretch, but
Haynesfield dug in to hit the wire a length in front.
“He got a little tired the last eighth,” said Dominguez of
Haynesfield, who completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.08. “Just when [Green
Monster] came to him, for a second I thought he was going to go by him. [My
horse] kept sticking his neck out in front, and I felt he wasn’t really
too happy about letting him go by.”
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Haynesfield returned $3.70 for a $2 win
bet as he lifted his career record to 10-2-1 from 18 starts. The winner’s
purse of $120,000 extended his earnings to $1,306,981.
Johannesburg Smile finished third, another 1 ½ lengths back, with
Icabad Crane fourth.