Maddy's Lion roared to a decisive 6 1/4-length victory over More Smoke in the Jan. 17 running of the $80,400 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct.
Formerly run as the Best Turn Stakes, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature was named in honor of Hall of Fame jockey Jimmy Winkfield, a leading African-American jockey in the early 1900s.
Carrying 116 pounds and jockey Pablo Fragoso, Maddy's Lion set fractions of :22 2/5; :46, and :58 2/5 before pulling away under a drive to win the six furlong stake in 1:11 2/5 over the fast inner dirt track, earning $48,240 for owner-breeder Dennis J. Federico. The Maryland-bred son of Lion Hearted
remained undefeated in two starts this year and ran his record to three wins in five starts with earnings of $109,510.
The winner returned $8.20, $3.20, and $2.30. More Smoke, made the 3-2 favorite by the crowd of 3,071, paid $2.60 and $2.30, and Lieutenant Danz was third, another 4 1/2 lengths back, paying $4.
"We had the one-hole and had no choice but to try and leave there," said winning trainer John Pregman. "We didn't want to give up good position. Pablo (Fragoso) rode him very nicely. He proved today that he is a really nice horse. Now, we're going to try to stretch him out. He trains like he can go a distance. He's kind of a push-button horse."
Pregman said the Whirlaway Stakes, a $75,000 stake at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 12, would probably be the colt's next start.
Commenting on the race being named after her father, Lillian Winkfield Casey, said: "We really appreciate everything that has been done in his name. It is really, truly an honor. It was a great occasion and a beautiful race. And, I bet on the winner. We're going to try to come out every year. This is really something special. The first time we heard about the race, it was beyond words. This was his life. Later on, he trained horses because he loved horses."
Yvonne Cooper, Winkfield's granddaughter, said: "When my mother got the letter, we said, `We must go.' We didn't know what to expect in terms of bad weather, but we didn't want to miss this."