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