Connections Enjoy Haynesfield Win
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Connections enjoy Haynesfield's Empire Classic
Grade 1-winning millionaire Haynesfield added a second Empire Classic victory to his resume on Saturday at Belmont and appeared to emerge from the 1 1/8-mile race in good order, assistant trainer Toby Sheets reported Sunday.
"He's doing very well," Sheets said. "We're just going to enjoy this for a while. Having him back is nice. A mile and an eighth off five months off? We're happy with that."
The son of Speightstown -- who sandwiched an upset victory in last year's Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational between his Empire Classic triumphs -- has run just three times in 2011. This spring, he finished fourth in the Grade 3 Westchester and fifth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap before going to the sidelines with foot issues.
Saturday's Empire Classic was the horse's first win since he stunned Blame in the 2010 Gold Cup. Blame would go on to defeat Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic and earn champion older male honors.
Owned by Turtle Bird Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen, Haynesfield now claims a record of 10-2-1 from 18 starts with more than $1.3 million in career earnings.
Trainer Bruce Brown has never been to Louisiana, but that will all change this December when he takes Compliance Officer, a five-length winner of Saturday's Mohawk, to the Fair Grounds for the Claiming Crown Emerald. After that, Brown and owner La Marca Stable will have to figure out a winter plan.
"(The Claiming Crown is) still the plan, and then we'll decide after that what we want to do with him for the winter," Brown said. "A lot of times with a New York-bred turf horse you'd just give them the winter off.
"We could, maybe, take him to Gulfstream and not necessarily run him a lot down there, but spot him and run him once or twice to keep his form. I don't know if I want to let him out of my sight because he's doing so well. There are perfectly good farms, but he's doing so well that I'd like to keep an eye on him and keep him peaking."
Compliance Officer, a five-year-old gelding, has now won five straight. His last two have come by handsome margins, since he captured the Ashley T. Cole by 3 1/2 lengths on September 11 at Belmont.
"In stakes races like that, usually it's pretty evenly matched and you don't see that," Brown said. "In the last race and this race, he really drew off easily."
Jockey Alex Solis was also impressed.
"Alex was in here this morning, and he loves him," Brown said. "The Claiming Crown race is on opening day at Gulfstream (December 3). He said he'd go anywhere to ride him."
Earlier on New York Showcase Day, Brown had to settle for second in the Empire Classic with Green Monster and in the Hudson with Dr Disco.
In the Empire Classic, Ernest J. Dahlman and Eugene E. Hauman's Green Monster set the pace under Solis through a half-mile in :47 1/5 before Haynesfield and Johannesburg Smile swept to the lead on the upper turn. Green Monster came back to threaten in the stretch, however, as Haynesfield was all out to prevail by one length and Johannesburg Smile yielded to finish third.
"Alex said they really caught him off guard," Brown said. "You don't expect that move at that point in race. Usually they'll wait for you to straighten away. It's hard to knock Ramon (Dominguez aboard Haynesfield) because he won the race. Obviously, he did something right. It was definitely something you don't see. At the top of the stretch, I was just hoping (Green Monster) would be able to hold on for third with the way those horses blew by him. Alex was still waiting."
Joseph DiRico's Dr Disco led in midstretch of the Hudson but was unable to hold off General Maximus, who won the race for the second consecutive year.
"He's as honest as they come," Brown said of Dr Disco. "He's only been off the board once, and that was a fourth, so he's just very, very honest. I almost forget he's only three because he's run so many times. For him to run that kind of race against that type of horse, if he improves like most horses do from three to four, we should have a good winter and a nice four-year-old year."
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