Belmont Stakes Winner Sir Winston Set to Square Off Versus Full Field in Saturday’s Woodchopper at Fair Grounds


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Belmont Stakes Winner Sir Winston Set to Take On

Full Field in Saturday’s Woodchopper at Fair Grounds

 Full gate on program for two-turn turf test for 3yo’s; two other stakes on the Saturday docket


Tracey Farmer’s homebred Sir Winston, who won the Belmont Stakes (G1) over 1 ½ miles of dirt in June, is set to make his first start since in Saturday’s $75,000 Woodchopper at Fair Grounds. The about one mile turf race run over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course is restricted to 3-year-olds.

After running a game second in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct in early May, Sir Winston entered the final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown as a fresh horse. The beneficiary of a brilliant ride from Joel Rosario, Sir Winston saved ground and got the jump on the favored Tacitus, who was forced to race wide. He held off that foe by a length in the 1 ½ mile marathon.

After that signature victory, the Mark Casse trainee was sent to the sidelines, spending time at the Casse Training Center in Ocala, Florida. Starting on October 23, he posted six published works there prior to arriving at Fair Grounds, where he’s breezed three times leading up to Saturday’s return run.

In a ten-race career, the 3-year-old son of Awesome Again has only one other time on grass, but he does have two wins over Woodbine’s synthetic Tapeta surface.

“It (the Woodchopper) is (restricted to) 3-year-olds and we need to get him started somewhere,” assistant trainer on the grounds David Carroll explained earlier this month. “That’s the most logical spot to get him back. He’s not the easiest work horse in the morning, so sometimes he needs some racing to get back into form.”

Tabbed at Mike Diliberto’s 7/2 morning line favorite, Sir Winston drew post 11 and Miguel Mena has been named to ride.

Also entered in the Woodchopper is Hog Creek Hustle, the 18/1 upset winner of the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont, but according to the Foley family (trainer Vickie Foley), he will be scratched and pointed elsewhere.

Of the 13 horses in the body of the Woodchopper (there are three also eligibles), two are graded stakes winners on turf – Calumet Farm’s Flying Scotsman (trained by Jack Sisterson at 12/1) won the Cecil B. Deville (G3) at Del Mar on November 25, 2018 and August Dawn Farm’s Forty Under (trained by Jeremiah Englehardt at 20/1) won the Pilgrim (G3) at Belmont on September, 29, 2018.

A horse for the course is Rick Awtry, Donna Awtry and Jeff Awtry’s Marquee Prince (8/1), who won both the Lloyd Captain Maestri Memorial on the turf and the Black Gold (off the turf) at Fair Grounds early in his 3-year-old season.


The Woodchopper field (jockey/trainer) with morning line odds


Flying Scotsman (B. Hernandez, Jr./Sisterson) at 12/1
Irish Heatwave (Santana, Jr./Sisterson) at 20/1
Forty Under (Bridgmohan/Englehart) at 20/1
Marquee Prince (Geroux/Cox) at 8/1
Rijeka (IRE) (C. Hernandez/Cox) at 15/1
Empire of War (G. Saez/Maker) at 20/1
The Last Zip (Murrill/Stidham) at 6/1
Louder Than Bombs (Gilligan/Fawkes) at 12/1
Clint Maroon (GB) (Pedroza/Catalano) at 15/1
Spectacular Gem (Graham/Baker) at 8/1
Sir Winston (Mena/Casse) at 7/2
Hog Creek Hustle (Lanerie/Foley) 9/2 (will scratch)
Tracksmith (Beschizza/Sharp) at 6/1
Tiz Plus (AE) (Elliott/Asmussen) at 15/1
Uncapped (AE) (Pedroza/Walsh) at 20/1
Vivid Verse (Beschizza/Sharp) at 20/1


Fresh off her second-level allowance win here on December 15, Roddy Harrison’s Change of Control has been installed as Mike Diliberto’s lukewarm 4/1 morning line favorite against ten female rivals for Saturday’s $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes, scheduled to be run at about 5 ½ furlongs on turf.

Trained by Michelle Lovell, Change of Control has won three times this year, with a 35/1 upset of the Mamzelle Stakes at Churchill also on her resume. The 3-year-old daughter of Fed Biz stormed home from off the pace to take a turf sprint less than two weeks ago as the 2/1 second choice. Gabriel Saez has the return call.

 “She had a superficial yet somewhat substantial injury, an open wound on a back leg, after the Keeneland race,” trainer Michelle Lovell said. “I thought she was ready to run (in her recent win), but not like that. I wasn’t sure if she was quite fit enough. She can be hard to read. She came out of it great. She’s trained lightly since but has been full of herself.”

Programmed as the co-second choices at 9/2 are Connie and Richard Snyder’s Quebec (trained by Joe Sharp) and Klein Racing’s Play On (conditioned by Brad Cox).

Previously based in Southern California with Richard Baltas, Quebec will be making her first start for Sharp in what will be her Fair Grounds debut. A six-time winner with over $280,000 in the bank, the vast majority of the 5-year-old mare’s recent starts have come around two turns. Adam Beschizza is slated to ride.

 Play On made an excellent impression at Fair Grounds last meet, breaking her maiden and winning a first-level allowance in consecutive sprints, one on turf the other on dirt. A victory in the Melody of Colors Stakes on the Gulfstream grass would follow. She recently returned from a 6 1/2 month layoff to set the pace and finish second in the Richie Scherer Memorial her on November 30. Shaun Bridgmohan, who has been aboard in all seven of her previous starts, has the call.


The Pan Zareta field (jockey/trainer) with morning line odds


Fame Feather (Doyle/Faucheux) at 8/1
Ambassador Luna (Pedroza/Gulick) at 12/1
Miss Bigly (B. Hernandez, Jr./Desormeaux) at 20/1
Ruby Trust (C. Hernandez/Ortiz) at 12/1
A Little Bit Me (Lanerie/Walsh) at 8/1
May Lilly (Murrill/Foley) at 8/1
Quebec (Beschizza/Sharp) at 9/2
Violent Times (Graham/Nicks) at 6/1
Change of Control (Saez/Lovell) at 4/1
Play On (Bridgmohan/Cox) at 9/2
On Probation (Kennedy/Pessin) at 20/1


 Off a narrow miss in the Mrs. Revere (G2) at Churchill on November 29, Bel Mar Equine’s Dalika (Ger) has been designated 3/1 morning line favoritism in the overflow field of 15 (two are also eligible) for Saturday’s $75,000 Pago Hop for 3-year-old fillies to be run at about one mile on Fair Grounds turf.

Imported from Europe following her 2-year-old season and trained by Al Stall Jr., the 3-year-old German-bred daughter of Pastorius has just a first-level allowance win from six starts this season, but she’s been competitive against tough company. Miguel Mena, who as aboard for her lone stateside win, has the call from post five.

“She ran a nice race at Saratoga, just got nipped at the wire by a Chad Brown horse,” Stall said Thursday afternoon. “Just got beat in the last jump in the Mrs.Revere (G2) at Churchill Downs last out. She’s trained great out of that and we’re looking to see if we can get a black type win out of her. We have black type placed but really want a win with her. It’s not an easy race either so it’ll be tough but we expect her to run well.”

Heider Family Stables LLC’s Zofelle (IRE) is the morning line’s second choice at 4/1. Imported from Europe this summer, she has won both of her starts on this side of the pond for trainer Brendan Walsh, taking allowance races at Keeneland and most recently at Fair Grounds over fellow Pago Hop rival Elsa. Florent Geroux has the return call from post 11.


The Pago Hop field (jockey/trainer) with morning line odds


Oxy Lady (Bridgmohan/Sisterson) at 15/1
Elle’s Town (Lanerie/Maker) at 20/1
Boxwood (Graham/Lanerie) at 8/1
Winning Envelope (Santana, Jr./Block) at 6/1
Dalika (Ger) (Mena/Stall, Jr.) at 3/1
Summer in Saratoga (Beschizza/Sharp) at 12/1
Tempers Way (Pedroza/Stewart) at 20/1
Red Rounder (G. Saez/Maker) at 12/1
Russian Mafia (Sanjur/Rodriguez) at 30/1
Isla Road (Albarado/Nicks) at 12/1
Zofelle (Ire) (Geroux/Walsh) at 4/1
Elsa (B. Hernandez, Jr./Stidham) at 6/1
She’sonthewarpath (Sutherland/Margolis) at 15/1
Classic Fit (AE) (C. Hernandez/Stidham) at 8/1
Brunette Princess (AE) (Doyle/Bauer) at 12/1

First post for Saturday’s ten-race card at Fair Grounds will be 12:30 p.m. CT. Post time for the three stakes is as follow – Pan Zareta (Race 5 at 2:26 p.m. CT), Pago Hop (Race 7 at 3:24 p.m. CT) and Woodchopper (Race 9 at 4:22 p.m. CT).



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