10/25/2011 11:15AM

Cigar Mile could be next target for Haynesfield

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Haynesfield won Saturday's Empire Classic at Belmont by a length.

Now that Haynesfield has returned to form, his connections may be eyeing a return to Grade 1 competition for his next start.

With limited options remaining this year, Haynesfield is likely to make his next start in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 26. Nothing has been specifically picked out, assistant trainer Toby Sheets said Monday, but he called the Cigar Mile “a logical spot.”

Last year, Haynesfield won the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then rebounded from an 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic by finishing second, beaten a head, to Jersey Town in the Cigar Mile.

“I don’t think he ever saw Jersey Town in the middle of the racetrack,” Sheets said, recalling the race.

On Saturday, Haynesfield repelled the challenge of a resurgent Green Monster in the stretch to win the Empire Classic by one length. Haynesfield was making his first start in five months in the Empire Classic and had a right to get tired as he did in midstretch of the 1 1/8-mile race.

Sheets said Haynesfield came out of the race “a little tired, but nothing major. He ate up, that’s the main thing.”

The other main thing is that Haynesfield’s sometimes troubled feet survived the race unscathed as well. Haynesfield missed a good chunk of this year due to foot issues, but the fact those were taken care of made Sheets feel “comfortable” heading into the Empire Classic, a race Haynesfield also won in 2009.

“His feet were doing so much better and that removes a little bit of the pressure,” Sheets said. “He was training well, that relieves some pressure. It was a matter of him doing good and everything coming together at the right time.”

Haynesfield ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.08 and earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

Trainer Bruce Brown said that Empire Classic runner-up Green Monster would likely point to an overnight stakes for New York-breds on Nov. 20 and then the Alex M. Robb on Dec. 31.