12/08/2008 12:00AM

Haynesfield a standout in outstanding barn


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - About one-quarter of trainer Steve Asmussen's record 583 victories this year have come with his 2-year-olds. Still, one would be hard-pressed to identify which of his young horses is his best prospect moving forward into 2009.

Haynesfield put in his bid for that moniker with a devastatingly easy 5 1/4-length victory in Sunday's $83,775 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-breds at Aqueduct. Granted, Haynesfield was facing restricted company, but he did manhandle his opponents with an early turn of foot that enabled him to control the race, and he still had something left to finish when two rivals tried to challenge him at the quarter pole. Jockey Ramon Dominguez hit Haynesfield once in upper stretch, then spent the last eighth of a mile looking behind him to see if anyone was coming.

Haynesfield, an eye-catching chestnut son of Speightstown, covered a mile and 70 yards in 1:42.95 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for the effort. That figure is the only triple-digit Beyer recorded by a 2-year-old in a race beyond one mile this year. The final time was a full second faster than that recorded by another Asmussen 2-year-old, Professor Z, who won a first-level allowance race by 5 3/4 lengths in Sunday's second.

"I thought he ran an excellent race - benefited from a great draw the way the racetrack was playing yesterday. Ramon took advantage of it," Asmussen said Monday from New Orleans, where he had watched the race.

Haynesfield, owned by Harvey Weinstein's Turtle Bird Stable, was making his first start since winning a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race at Belmont on Sept. 25. He had been entered several times in allowance races that did not fill.

"I guess I'm glad the a-other-than New York-bred didn't go, " said Asmussen.

The trainer said that Haynesfield and Professor Z will both remain in New York for the time being and either one or both could run in the Count Fleet Stakes for 3-year-olds here on Jan. 3.

Like Haynesfield, Professor Z showed good early speed, outdueled Land Grant, and drew clear while receiving a busier ride from Dominguez. Someone told Asmussen after the race that Professor Z might have distance limitations, but the trainer said Dominguez told him he thought "the horse could run all day."

Professor Z, a son of Grand Slam owned by Zayat Stables, has now won two straight races. He earned a Beyer Figure of 91 for his win.

Giant Moon prepping for return

Last year's Damon Runyon winner, Giant Moon, is back on the work tab, preparing for a return to the races.

Giant Moon, away since an eighth-place finish in the Preakness in May, worked four furlongs in 49.87 seconds on Saturday over Belmont Park's training track. On Nov. 22, he breezed three furlongs in 36.75 seconds.

Trainer Richard Schosberg said Giant Moon came out of the Preakness with an injury to his right front foot, which required giving him plenty of time on the farm.

"He had an old injury in a foot from when he was a 2-year-old, which caused a weakening of the hoof wall. It debilitated the whole foot," Schosberg said. "It kind of came to a head after the Preakness. . . . We let it grow out, tried different shoes on him, but time off is what healed him up.

"He's doing well. He looks great, he's hitting the ground really well. His feet problems seem to be behind him," Schosberg added. "I'd say we're probably looking at three more works [before running] if everything goes well and the weather cooperates."

Schosberg said he hasn't targeted a return race for Giant Moon, but said he felt the Alex M. Robb Handicap on Dec. 28 was doubtful.

"That would be a tough race to bring him back, although he's not eligible for anything easy, is he?" Schosberg said. "I'm very happy with the way he came back form the farm."

Schosberg also trains a 2-year-old half-brother to Giant Moon named Samurai Moon. Schosberg said he could be ready to run by the end of the month or the beginning of January.

Coa, Velazquez take their days

Jockeys Eibar Coa and John Velazquez will get a head start on their winter vacations, as both dropped appeals of careless riding suspensions from earlier in the year and will take their seven days this week.

Apprentice Maylan Studart, however, will be able to ride this week, as she appealed a careless-riding suspension handed her by the stewards for careless riding on Friday. Studart, as was the case with Coa and Velazquez, will serve her days at a more convenient time.

* Wednesday starts the final full week of racing for 2008 on this circuit. Following next Sunday's card, Aqueduct is dark through Christmas and reopens on Friday, Dec. 26. The Big A will be open for simulcasting during the dark days, however, with the exception of Dec. 24 and 25. Admission and parking are free for dark-day simulcasting.