New York-bred Haynesfield won his fourth consecutive race and notched the biggest victory of his career when he took over turning for home en route to a convincing 2 3/4-length score in the $300,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO) July 3 at Belmont Park.
Owned by Turtle Bird Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen, the 4-year-old son of Speightstown has been nearly unstoppable since last fall. A narrow defeat in the Sir Keys Stakes at Belmont in October is the only blemish on the colt’s record in his last five starts. That was also the only time Haynesfield has been defeated at Belmont, where he has won four times on his home racetrack.
Haynesfield pressed Suburban pacesetter Regal Ransom through splits of :24.10, :46.87, and 1:11.17 in the Suburban, which was shortened from 10 furlongs to nine for the first time this year. Well held by Ramon Dominguez, Haynesfield took over from Regal Ransom approaching the quarter pole and opened up a two-length lead with a furlong to go. I Want Revenge, the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) morning-line favorite before being scratched the day of the race, loomed as the only threat at the top of the stretch in his first race back from a leg injury.
But Haynesfield extended his advantage by mid-stretch and was never seriously challenged when hitting the wire comfortably in front. The final time was 1:48.52 over the fast dirt.
Convocation rallied from well off the pace to get up for second under Kent Desormeaux, 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place I Want Revenge.
“This is a horse who always felt like he had more potential there as a 3-year-old, that he was going to develop into a nicer horse," Dominguez said. "But today he really surprised me, especially the second quarter when we picked it up, he was just there for me. Around the three-eighths pole we made the lead, which seemed a little early, but he did everything in hand.”
Haynesfield notched his first graded win in the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct in November and has won both starts as a 4-year-old. He took an optional claiming event at Belmont in his season debut June 13 when returning from a nearly seven-month layoff. Overall, he is an impressive 8-1-1 from 11 starts.
“(At the half), I loved where we were at,” said Asmussen's assistant, Toby Sheets. “The post position helped us, I think, and Ramon did a great job. When he took the lead at the three-eighths pole, Ramon was just sitting on him. He did it the right way. We’ll see how he comes out of it and go from there.”
Haynesfield, an earner of $629,481, was bred Barry Weisbord and Margaret Santulli. He is out of the Tejabo mare Nothing Special.
The winner paid $9.90, $4.40, and $2.70 as the third choice. The exacta (6-3) returned $38 and the trifecta (6-3-1) was $90.50.
I Want Revenge, last year’s Wood Memorial winner (gr. I) who was making his first start for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. after a 15-month layoff, looked like he tired in the final furlong.
"Our horse ran well; it looks like he needed a race,” Dutrow said. “(Jockey) Joe (Talamo) said he got a little tired. I thought he ran big. We’ll see what happens next time.”