OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Though Haynesfield has won his last three races by an average of more than four lengths, it's still unclear just how good a 3-year-old he is. Even his connections are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
"I think he's pretty nice, I don't know exactly how good he is," said Toby Sheets, the New York assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. "We haven't run against anything major yet."
Haynesfield has been good enough to toy with the competition in both the Damon Runyon Stakes and Count Fleet. And he doesn't meet anything major in Saturday's $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over Aqueduct's inner track. But is it really worth taking 3-5 on him?
Sheets says he's comfortable with where Haynesfield is at coming into this race, adding that the colt had a smoother training schedule leading to this race than he had going into the Count Fleet.
Breaking from the rail under Ramon Dominguez, Haynesfield could revert to the front-running tactics that worked so well in the Damon Runyon. But Mike from Queens, Zooger, and Peace Town don't figure to let Haynesfield get loose on the lead.
Cellar Dweller may fit the bill of a potential off-the-pace upsetter at a price. Cellar Dweller overcame a bumper-car-like stretch drive when he defeated Precursor in a maiden race here Jan. 2. Three weeks later, Celler Dweller had a tough trip when fourth in a swiftly run first-level allowance race.
Cellar Dweller, trained by John Campo Jr., chased a hot pace while racing three to four wide under Chuck Lopez and then tired in the stretch. Saturday, he gets a rider change to Anna Napravnik, whose forte this winter has been getting horses to relax early and explode late.
"If they go 48-and-4 or 49, he's going to be a length off the lead," Campo said, referring to the half-mile fraction. "If they go 46-and-3, 47, she'll tuck him in, and he'll get a nice trip. Take nothing away from Chuckie, we just made a switch."
Cellar Dweller is coming back on just 16 days' rest, but Campo said he is very happy with the way the colt has trained.
Hehasnosay, a son of Harlan's Holiday, is 2 for 2 since being stretched out around two turns, but he has not run particularly fast.
"When you look at his figures, they're not that fast, but I think there's more there," trainer Steve Klesaris said. "It's time to get a better test. We'll get a truer read on what he can do."