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Gone Astray, Haynesfield highlight Discovery

Gone Astray will attempt to continue his winning ways in the Discovery (Alyssa Spakowski/Equi-Photo)

Six three-year-olds, including multiple Grade 2 winner GONE ASTRAY (Dixie Union) and hometown favorite HAYNESFIELD (Speightstown), are set for Saturday's 65th running of the $100,000 Discovery H. (G3) over the main track at Aqueduct.

The Shug McGaughey-trained Gone Astray is the top draw in the 1 1/8-mile event. A 9 1/4-length winner of the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) two back, the dark bay colt exits a 2 1/4-length score in the Ohio Derby (G2).

"He's changed since we started running him two turns," McGaughey said. "I really thought he was a come-from-behind sprinter, but I thought I'd try and ease him into a softer spot around two turns at Monmouth (in the June 20 Coronado's Quest S.) and he ran great that day (second by a head). Then he came back in the mile and an eighth at Saratoga (in the August 2 Curlin S.) and I thought he ran great there, too (second by three-quarters of a length). After the Pennsylvania Derby, I worried I was running him back a little quick (off a 26-day rest in the Ohio Derby), but now he's had his time and he's training good."

Installed as the even-money favorite on the morning line, Gone Astray will return from a 49-day freshening on Saturday. The 122-pound highweight will retain the services of Eddie Castro.

It was over the inner track last winter that Haynesfield established himself as a horse to watch, and the Steve Asmussen trainee will be looking for his first graded stakes win in the Discovery. The New York-bred colt assembled three straight stakes wins at the Big A beginning with the Damon Runyon at the end of his two-year-old season in December, followed smartly by the Count Fleet and the Whirlaway, all races the colt won by open lengths.

After a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Gotham S. (G3) at Aqueduct in March, his first start in graded company, Haynesfield was given nearly seven months off. He returned to the races in the Sir Keys S. at Belmont on October 2, finishing second by a head, then won the $250,000 Empire Classic in state bred company three weeks later.

"It's the next step, and we'll see how it goes," said Toby Sheets, assistant to Asmussen. "He worked well on Monday and we know he likes Aqueduct."

Jockey Ramon Dominguez, aboard for all of Haynesfield's previous stakes victories, has the return call aboard the 5-2 second choice on the morning line, who will tote 117 pounds.

Darley Stable's PRECURSOR (A.P. Indy) is also looking to step up in the Discovery following a win in the Proud Truth S. in the slop at Aqueduct on October 28.

"He's coming off a nice win," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He took advantage of the fact that there was no pace in that race, and he does like the mud. We hope he can take the next step up from overnight stakes to graded stakes."

BAD ACTION (Brahms), winner of the November 6 Pegasus S. (G3) at the Meadowlands in his last outing, is also entered, and last-out allowance winners BIRDRUN (Birdstone) and REDDING COLLIERY (Mineshaft) round out the field.


 


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