OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Haikal will be given every opportunity to prove to his connections that he’s worthy of being considered for the Kentucky Derby. That process starts Saturday, when Haikal makes his 3-year-old debut in the $150,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct.
Haikal, a son of Daaher and a half-brother to the Grade 1-winning sprinter Takaful, is coming off a neck victory going six furlongs here on Dec. 15. The seven-furlong Winkfield made more sense to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin than running him in the 1 1/8-mile Withers here last week.
“I wish he would have broke his maiden earlier so we could have done other things,” McLaughlin said. “Right now, seven-eighths fits.”
A good performance in the Winkfield could lead to a start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham going a mile on March 9 and then the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 6.
“We don’t know how far he’ll go,” McLaughlin said. “He’ll let us know soon enough.”
Haikal actually debuted at seven furlongs, finishing a neck behind Family Biz here on Nov. 10. He broke slowly but made a strong rally and just fell short. In his maiden win, Haikal was again far back early but rallied resolutely along the rail under Rajiv Maragh to nail American Mandate, who came back to win his next start.
Haikal, who will break from post 3 under Maragh, will likely need some pace to be most effective. Tikhvin Flew and Gates of Dawn may supply the speed.
Tikhvin Flew won his Jan. 4 debut by 1 3/4 lengths, pressing the pace in a seven-furlong race. Gates of Dawn showed good speed in winning his maiden at Parx in November going seven-eighths before finishing fourth in the Jerome Stakes at a mile.
Joevia, Jump for Alex, Direct Order, and Family Biz complete the field.
Haikal, by Daaher
◗ Made up 6 1/2 lengths in the final furlong to beat American Mandate, who came back to win his next start with an 85 Beyer Speed Figure.
◗ Spun to Run, third to Haikal, recently won a maiden race at Parx, while Pickle Rick and Loverboy Lou both came out of Haikal’s maiden win to record career-high Beyers in their next out.
Tikhvin Flew, by Street Sense
◗ Showed good speed and responded well when challenged at the quarter pole of his solid maiden victory.
◗ Has come back with a solid work tab.
Jump for Alex, by Jump Start
Last 3 Beyers: 77-76-56
◗ Has improved with the addition of blinkers and is coming off a first-level allowance win going 6 1/2 furlongs at Parx.
Joevia, by Shanghai Bobby
◗ Won his debut in July at Monmouth in a race that proved to be productive.
◗ Missed the rest of his 2-year-old season due to a hyperextended knee.
◗ Has worked very well lately, including an in-company move Sunday after which he galloped out extremely well.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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