Wentz the horse, not the quarterback, is heading to Baltimore for the 33rd edition of Saturday's $150,000 ClearSpan Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3), one of eight stakes, four graded, on the undercard of the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
The 3-year-old chestnut colt is owned by Pennsylvania-based Main Line Racing Stables, which named the horse for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. The ownership group includes John Servis, the trainer of 2004 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winner Smarty Jones.
In March, Servis handed over training duties of Wentz to his 28-year-old son, newly licensed trainer John Tyler Servis. Success came quickly. Sending out the first starter of his new career, Servis wound up in the winner's circle at Keeneland after Wentz nosed out 3-5 favorite Curate in an $85,000 optional claiming race.
“Winning my first race and at Keeneland? That was awesome,'' said Servis, adding that the colt's owners have named other horses for Philly athletes, such as Embid (76ers Joel Embiid) and Hoskins (Phillies Rhys Hoskins). “I was in the winner's circle with my groom and exercise rider and we just celebrated. Dad touched based at some point later. What a great experience.”
Onward to the six-furlong Maryland Sprint and Wentz's first shot at a graded-stakes victory after going two-for-two this year and four-for-nine with and second and two thirds overall for earnings of $174,330. Servis' father trained Wentz through his first eight races.
The son of 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver, out of Snicker Belle, Wentz was purchased for $45,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“I was a hot walker for six years and my dad's assistant for 10 years, so I pretty much grew into this role,'' said Servis, who also has two uncles who are trainers, Jason Servis and Eddie Plesa, Jr. “I've been around horses all my life, and grateful that I've been able to ask questions and learn so much from my family.”
Wentz is learning, too. John Servis had high hopes for Wentz as a 2-year-old, but as his son says, it's taking a while for him to grow up.
“I think he is, and by adding a shadow roll and blinkers, I think that's happening,'' he said. “I think he fits well in this race. I feel like he's improving.”
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