Haynesfield Returns in Westchester

10 02 2010: Haynesfield & Ramon Dominguez win the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup by 7 lengths, at 1 1/4, 3-year olds & up, Belmont Park, Elmont, NY. Trainer Steve Asmussen. Owners Turtle Bird Stable
Haynesfield, 2010’s New York-bred Horse of the Year, returns to the site of his greatest triumph Saturday when he faces five foes in the 83rd running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Westchester, Belmont Park’s opening weekend feature for the 56-day spring/summer meet.


The son of Speightstown, who defeated the eventual Top Older Male, Blame, in Belmont’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup last October, will be making his 5-year-old debut in the Westchester, which serves as a traditional prep for the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Memorial Day. Haynesfield’s connections, however, are focusing strictly on Saturday’s one-mile race and in getting his 2011 campaign underway.


“We’re looking ahead to the Westchester, getting back in the groove and running,” said Toby Sheets, trainer Steve Asmussen’s New York assistant. “Especially with the severe winter we’ve had, you want everything to go according to Hoyle. Hopefully, we’ll have some luck Saturday.”


Owned by Turtle Bird Stable, Haynesfield has compiled an impressive record at his home track, winning five of six starts and finishing second in the other. Along with the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Haynesfield posted victories in the 2010 Grade 2 Suburban and the 2009 Empire Classic, along with wins in his maiden race and an optional claimer.


Regular rider Ramon Dominguez is aboard Haynesfield, the 9-5 morning-line favorite from post position 5.


One with an eye on the Met Mile is Ol Memorial Stable’s Soaring Empire, who most recently posted a pair of seconds to Tackleberry in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship. Winner of the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope in his 2011 debut, the 4-year-old Empire Maker colt will be making his second appearance at Belmont in the Westchester, having finished fourth behind Fly Down, eventual Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer, and Remand in the Grade 2 Dwyer a year ago.


“He’s matured,” said trainer Cam Gambolati of Soaring Empire. “He’s becoming really consistent. It just took some time; unfortunately, instead of from age 2 to age 3, it was from age 3 to age 4. But he galloped like a million bucks here at Monmouth Park this morning, and I think Belmont is more his kind of racetrack.


“We are looking ahead to the Met Mile; it’s the race you want to win if you have an older horse,” added Gambolati. “The Westchester is coming up really tough race for a Grade 3, but I think Soaring Empire is a tough horse.”


Jose Lezcano, who has ridden Soaring Empire in all three of his starts this year, will ride the 2-1 morning-line second choice from post position 4.


Trainer Todd Pletcher will play a strong hand in the Westchester with Christmas for Liam and Caixa Eletronica, both of whom come into the race off victories.


Christmas for Liam, owned by the Estate of Edward P. Evans, will be making his stakes debut in the Westchester, having won three of his last four starts by a combined margin of 15 ½ lengths.


“His two allowance races this year have been impressive,” said Pletcher of Christmas for Liam, who drew post position 6. He’s the complete package as he is a horse who can carry his speed over a distance of ground. Everything he has done in those allowance races has indicated that he’s ready to run in a graded stakes.”


Javier Castellano will ride the 4-year-old Saint Liam colt, 4-1 on the morning line.


Caixa Eletronica will be making his first start for Pletcher, who claimed the 6-year-old son of Arromanches on behalf of Repole Stable for $62,500 out of a winning effort at Gulfstream Park on March 9. Third behind Tackleberry and Soaring Empire in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship and fourth to Soaring Empire in the Hal’s Hope, Caixa Eletronica’s other 2011 victory came in a one-mile optional claimer at Gulfstream Park in January.


Cornelio Velasquez, leading rider at the recently concluded Aqueduct spring meet, will ride the 8-1 morning-line choice from post position 2.


Returning for another try at the Westchester is Centennial Farms’ Convocation, who was second to Le Grand Cru in last year’s edition. The 5-year-old Pulpit horse, who was 2-2-0 from six starts in 2010, was a troubled third in his first start this year and trainer Jimmy Jerkens is hoping for a better trip.


“It was a good race for his comeback,” said Jerkens. “Hopefully he’ll have some better racing luck.”


Alan Garcia will ride Convocation, 6-1 on the morning line, from the rail.


Completing the field is Schoolyard Dreams, who was fourth to Eskendereya in the 2010 Grade 1 Wood Memorial, his only other New York appearance. Trained by Derek Ryan for Eric Fein, the Stephen Got Even colt is 1-0-1 from three starts at Tampa Bay Downs this year and is making his first graded stakes start since finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth Park last June.


The field for the Grade 3, $100,000 Westchester:











Alan Garcia


James Jerkens




Caixa Eletronica

Cornelio Velasquez


Todd Pletcher




Schoolyard Dreams

Rajiv Maragh


Derek Ryan




Soaring Empire

Jose Lezcano


Cam Gambolati





Ramon Dominguez


Steve Asmussen




Christmas for Liam

Javier Castellano


Todd Pletcher






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Older Comments about Haynesfield Returns in Westchester...

I got Haynesfield for 2011 H.O.Y Love this guy hopefully he stays sound all year.
lol.. i meant draw em out of a hat...i swear i havent had a margarita yet..its only 6:20 am here...lol
Can't wait for this one..Haynes, Dream and Empire with some spoilers throw in..wow..love the ml, could be making some margarita $ for Sat nite if I pick right:) On second thought, maybe I should just 'em draw out of a hat...

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