Race of the Week 2017

Haynesfield Smokes Blame in JC Gold Cup

New York-bred Haynesfield parlayed his fondness for Belmont Park into a major upset Saturday afternoon, going wire-to-wire to snap Blame’s five-race winning streak with a four-length victory in the 92nd running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational.


Sent right to the front by Belmont’s leading jockey, Ramon Dominguez, the 4-year-old Haynesfield rolled through uncontested fractions of 24.63, 48.74 and 1:13.24 while opening up on Hold Me Back and Rail Trip, with Blame running fourth. Entering the far turn, the second two began cutting into Haynesfield’s advantage, but the son of 2004 champion sprinter Speightstown spurted clear again, swinging into the stretch with a sizeable lead that was never in jeopardy and hitting the wire in 2:02.48 for the 1 ¼ miles.


“It was clear that he was the only speed in the race,” said Dominguez of Haynesfield, who is now 5-1-0 from six starts at his home track. “So, I just did my best to try and slow him down because he was pretty eager.”


Blame, who entered the Jockey Club Gold Cup as the 4-5 favorite off an upset victory over Quality Road in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Race Course on August 7, was along to finish second, two lengths in front of Fly Down.


“There’s not much you can do,” said Al Stall, Jr., trainer of the beaten favorite. “That was another one of those races that was out of control … you can’t win ‘em all. We’re in good shape, though. He’s had quite a bit of time off, so we’ll be okay [for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 6 at Churchill Downs].”


Fly Down, the lone 3-year-old in the field, closed from fifth to finish third, six lengths in front of Hold Me Back, with Rail Trip and Tranquil Manner completing the order of finish. Mythical Power and Dry Martini were scratched.


“Haynesfield is a pretty good horse – he likes this track,” said Hall of Famer Nick Zito, trainer of Fly Down. “If everything goes well, we would like to go to the [Classic]. He’s a mile-and-a-quarter horse.”


It was the first Grade 1 victory for Turtle Bird Stable’s Haynesfield, who was most recently fourth in the Whitney after breaking through the gate before the start. At Belmont Park, the colt won the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 3 and an optional claimer on June 13; took the Empire Classic for New York-breds last fall, and broke his maiden in 2008 as a 2-year-old. He also finished second in the 2009 running of Belmont’s Sir Keys Stakes.



“It means a lot for the horse,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to winning trainer Steve Asmussen. “He goes out every day and puts out his all for us. I wasn’t sure if he would get the 1 1/4 miles, but he’s won at 1 1/8 miles and kept on going. He made it look easy. It was exciting [that] he saved it for home.”

Sent off as the 7-1 fourth choice, Haynesfield returned $17 for a $2 win bet to his backers in the “Super Saturday” crowd of 9,671. Now 9-1-1 from 13 lifetime starts, the colt also became a millionaire with the winner’s purse of $450,000 and earnings of $1,116,981.


“It was a tall task and I’m very proud of the race that he ran,” said Asmussen, who won the 2007 and 2008 Jockey Club Gold Cup with two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, by telephone. “[The Breeders’ Cup Classic] is absolutely under consideration but we’ll have to wait and see how he goes back to the track. I think it’s a huge accomplishment for him today and it’s his first Grade 1 so you can’t sell him short on that.”




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Older Comments about Haynesfield Smokes Blame in JC Gold Cup...

This was as big a story as Z winning her 19th against four rivals. Also, seeing Lucky grind his way to a win in the slop shows he can handle an off-track. The BC races will have some nice betting angles and pay-outs!!

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