09/30/2009 11:00PM

Haynesfield makes return in sprint stakes

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Haynesfield, whose winter exploits at Aqueduct had some thinking Kentucky Derby until his eighth-place finish in the Gotham Stakes, makes his first start in seven months in Friday's $65,000 Sir Keys Stakes for New York-breds at Belmont Park.

Haynesfield heads a field of five entered for the 6 1/2-furlong race. The Sir Keys shares billing with the Shopping for Love, a New York-bred stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the Widener Turf.

Haynesfield reeled off four consecutive victories, beginning with a maiden victory here going 6 1/2 furlongs last September before adding the Damon Runyon, Count Fleet, and Whirlaway - all over Aqueduct's inner track - to his resume. His Derby dreams were shattered when he finished eighth, beaten 26 1/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes on March 7.

Haynesfield was given several months off before he returned to the work tab on July 29.

"We just let him grow up," said Toby Sheets, the assistant trainer for Steve Asmussen. "He's huge. He really grew up. He's a big, big boy. He's a May foal, that's one of the reasons we stopped on him."

Sheets said Haynesfield has been ready to run for several weeks. A couple of races he had entered Haynesfield in did not fill.

"I've breezed him four times since we've been ready to run," Sheets said.

Haynesfield will break from the rail, which can sometimes be a compromising slot in sprint races.

Legal Consent turns back to a sprint after finishing fourth in the New York Derby and the Albany Handicap, both around two turns. Legal Consent has won his last two sprints, both at Belmont Park, including the Mike Lee Handicap at seven furlongs.

Be Bullish, Smokin Hero, and Mr. Windjammer complete the field.

* Mother Russia, Akilina, and Exclusive Scheme were separated by a length in the Peerless Spring Stakes at Saratoga. Friday, the three meet again in the $65,000 Shopping for Love Stakes.

Mother Russia was allowed to dawdle on the lead in the Peerless Spring, something that is unlikely to happen Friday with the presence of High Cry in the field. Akilina, who had won a seven-furlong allowance race at Belmont prior to the Peerless Spring, figures to benefit from a contested pace.

Our Golden Dream, who won a one-mile overnight stakes in her last start at Belmont, also will benefit from a lively pace. Alan Garcia rides her from the rail.