Haynesfield Eyes BC Classic
HAYNESFIELD EYES BC CLASSIC
Haynesfield came out of his upset victory over Blame in Saturday’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational “in very good order,” according to assistant trainer Toby Sheets, who added that the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs will definitely be considered for the New York-bred colt’s next start.
Sheets, the Belmont Park-based assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said a final decision on the Breeders’ Cup would not be made until after he speaks with owner Harvey Weinstein of Turtle Bird Stable this week. Sheets added that the decision would be based more on how Haynesfield is doing than the competition, which is expected to include, among others, the undefeated mare and defending Classic winner Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road, and Lookin At Lucky, who won Saturday’s Indiana Derby in the slop at Hoosier Park.
“I’ve never looked to see who’s in there or said we’re not running because so-and-so is in there,” Sheets said Sunday morning.
Though Haynesfield has had success in one-turn races, Sheets was not keen on the idea of backing up to a race like the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
“After going a mile and a quarter, I don’t know that I’d want to back up,” Sheets said.
Haynesfield, a son of Speightstown who is 9 for 13 in his career, certainly did not back up Saturday, taking the lead early and easily under Ramon Dominguez and cruising to a four-length victory over Blame. Haynesfield ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.48 and earned a lifetime-best Beyer Speed Figure of 107.
Success in the Gold Cup has not necessarily translated to success in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Only three of the previous 21 Gold Cup winners to try the Classic have won, the most recent being Curlin in 2007. The others were Cigar (1995) and Skip Away (1997).
Sheets said Haynesfield would get three days off and go back to the track Wednesday. Sheets added that if the decision is made to run in the Classic, he would like to ship Haynesfield to Kentucky well in advance of the race because “he’s got a few little antics.”
Haynesfield, who has not run outside of New York, broke through the starting gate prior to the official start of the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 7, a race in which he finished fourth to Blame.
Blame, who suffered his first defeat of the year and first since last September when he finished second to a loose-on-the-lead Regal Ransom in the Super Derby, remains on target for the Classic, according to trainer Al Stall, who said his horse came out of the race fine.
“Disappointed that you didn’t win, you can’t win them all,” Stall said upon arriving home in Louisville. “That was a quirky race. It wasn’t what too many people expected.”
Stall decided to accentuate the positive, noting that the horse was running in the stretch and galloped out well.
“He got quite a bit of fitness out of it, he was going forward not going backward,” Stall said. “In retrospect, we might say he was the only one who did any closing. We’ll be all excited in a few more days when we get back in the routine.”
Blame was scheduled Monday to fly to Keeneland, where he will have three works prior to vanning to Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. Blame is 3 for 4 at Churchill Downs, where he won the Clark last fall and the Stephen Foster this spring.
by David Grening
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