Seven-time stakes winner Mr. Buff has asserted dominance against his Empire State-bred counterpart having won his last four stakes efforts against New York-breds and will attempt to keep his winning ways afloat when cutting back to a one-turn mile in the $100,000 Haynesfield Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday, February 22.
The main track event is named in honor of Turtle Bird Stables' eight-time stakes winner who captured the 2010 renewal of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the son of Speightstown was honored as New York Horse of the Year from 2009-10.
|John Terranova II
||I Love Jaxson
Owned and bred by Chester and Mary Broman of Babylon, NY, Mr. Buff arrives off a wire-to-wire win against open company in the Jazil, which he captured for the second straight year and registered a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for the five-length triumph.
Trainer John Kimmel initially planned on entering the appropriately named son of Friend Or Foe in the 1 5/16-mile $100,000 Bernardini on February 29 at the Big A, but called an audible when his regular jockey Junior Alvarado would be unavailable.
Alvarado, who has won six times aboard Mr. Buff, will be at Gulfstream Park that day for a card that includes nine graded stakes.
"We were contemplating running in the Bernardini, but Junior has been his pilot and knows the horse well and wouldn't be able to ride in the Bernardini," Kimmel said. "That was a big factor and I want his regular rider aboard."
The 17.2 hands tall Mr. Buff owns stakes victories against New York-breds in the Alex M. Robb, which he won back-to-back years, as well as the Evan Shipman, Saginaw and the Empire Classic. Boasting $992,411 in lifetime earnings, a victory in the Haynesfield would put Mr. Buff above the million dollar mark.
The cutback in distance is not a concern for Kimmel.
"Obviously, he's doing quite well," Kimmel said. "He's run pretty well at a mile, too. I think he'll handle the mile just fine."
Mr. Buff has a record of 8-1-3-1 when running at one mile.
Alvarado will attempt his fourth stakes victory of the meet, guiding Mr. Buff from the rail.
Honor Up will be attempting to protect his title in the Haynesfield for trainer Michelle Nevin.
Owned by Saratoga Seven Racing Partners, the son of To Honor and Serve will be seeking to make amends following a disappointing sixth against allowance company on December 30 in an event run over sloppy going at the Big A.
Following his win in last year's Haynesfield, Honor Up was a close third beaten 1 ¾ lengths to World of Trouble in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April.
Honor Up boasts a consistent record at Aqueduct having won four of eight starts at the Queens County oval. Jockey Manny Franco, who guided Send It In to victory in the 2017 Haynesfield, will be aboard from post 3.
Trainer John Terranova will saddle Syndergaard for his first start since May 27, where he was fourth in the Commentator at Belmont Park.
Owned by Eric Fein in partnership with Christopher McKenna, Harris Fein, Guri Singh and Jerry Walia, the chestnut son of Majesticperfection was second beaten a nose to Honor Up in last year's Haynesfield and seeks his first victory since December 15, where he defeated a field of eight other New York-breds, including eventual stakes winner Arthur's Hope.
Named in honor of the New York Mets' starting pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, he will receive the riding services of Jose Lezcano, a seven-time stakes winner this meet, from post 2.
Completing the field are I Love Jaxson [post 4, Eric Cancel], Twisted Tom [post 5, Dylan Davis], and Fleet Irish [post 6, Manny Franco].