05/27/2011 3:21PM

Met Mile: Four New York-breds entered - and one could be favored

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Barbara D. Livingston
Haynesfield is expected to improve in his second start of the year and could be the Met Mile favorite.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Not too long ago, handicappers would have scoffed upon learning there were four New York-breds entered in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. But not only is one of the New York-breds the potential favorite for Monday’s 119th renewal of the Met Mile, but it’s difficult to readily dismiss any of the quartet’s chances in the race.

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Haynesfield, Stormy’s Majesty, Ibboyee, and Yawanna Twist were four of the 11 horses entered for Monday’s $500,000 Met Mile, which appears to be one of the more wide-open editions of this prestigious dirt race. The quartet has combined to win 14 stakes – four of them graded – and have placed in nine other graded events. The Met is also the first “Win and You’re In” race in North America this year. The Met Mile winner earns an automatic bid into the $1  million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Churchill Downs, which includes having their pre-entry and entry fees paid as well as receiving $10,000 in travel expenses.

Despite his fourth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the Westchester here on April 30, Haynesfield could go off a lukewarm favorite in the Met Mile. In the Westchester, his first start in five months, Haynesfield raced too close to a hot early pace and retreated late, finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind upset winner Caixa Eletronica.

Still, Haynesfield is 5 for 7 over Belmont’s main track, including wins in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and Grade 2 Suburban last year. Haynesfield will break from post 8 under Ramon Dominguez.

Ibboyee and Yawanna Twist are the only two horses in the field not to have won a graded stakes. But Ibboyee, a son of multiple stakes winner Medallist, enters off narrow losses in the Sir Shackleton Handicap at Gulfstream in April and the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on May 7.

“He’s a horse that we’ve always liked,” said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Ibboyee as well as Met Mile contenders Aikenite and Caixa Eletronica. “Both of his races were very good this year. We’re taking a shot, but we’re taking a shot with a horse that’s in good form and training really well.”

Stormy’s Majesty won the Grade  3 Discovery last fall at Aqueduct. He has run two of his best races in one-turn mile races, including a restricted stakes victory on April 22 at Aqueduct in his first race in five months.

“He’s matured very nicely, he’s very strong right now,” said trainer Dominic Galluscio, whose horse will break from post 2 under Edgar Prado. “That little break was very good for him. He filled out so nicely.”

Yawanna Twist has never won a stakes, but he has placed in four graded events, including a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Carter last month at Aqueduct.

The Met Mile field, from the rail out, is: Soaring Empire, Stormy’s Majesty, Rodman, Aikenite, Caixa Eletronica, Yawanna Twist, Ibboyee, Haynesfield, Kensei, Tackleberry, and Tizway.

Winter Memories tops Sands Point

The three-time stakes winner Winter Memories looms a short-priced favorite against five rivals in the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf course.

Winter Memories, who won the Miss Grillo here last October, meets Naples Bay, who is 2 for 2 for Christophe Clement, and Arch Support, who finished second to her in the Miss Grillo. Mystical Star, Celestial Kitten, and Parting Words complete the field.