Turfway Path to Spiral Begins Feb. 20
Photo: Coady Photography
Banree is the morning-line favorite for the WEBN Stakes.

A full field of 3-year-olds will line up for the $50,000 WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park Feb. 20 for the 30th renewal of the 6-1/2 furlong race. 

The sprint is the first of two local preps for the Northern Kentucky racetrack's Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, the $500,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. II) April 2.

One of two fillies in the race, Mark Dodson's Banree, is the morning-line favorite at 5-2 and the top earner in the field. The WEBN will be her first start of 2016. She finished third in her previous outing, the mile Tempted Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack in November. Two starts back she won an allowance sprint at Keeneland in October, defeating the eventual runner-up in the Silverbulletday Stakes, Midnight On Oconee

Trained by Wesley Ward, Banree has run against males twice before, including her debut win at Keeneland last spring, but the WEBN will be her first attempt on Polytrack. Ward likes the surface for his young horses and has been training her at Turfway. He calls in Edgar Prado to ride. Banree had been entered in the Feb. 13 Cincinnati Trophy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies (where she was 7-2 on the morning line) but that race was called off when racing was canceled because of winter weather.

Oh Oz comes in to the race off three straight sprint wins, the last two by significant margins at Turfway in December and January. Turfway has been kind to frontrunners, and with the exception of his debut, the gelding has led the way at nearly every call. Two races back he showed he can sit off the lead if asked. Rodney Prescott, who regularly finds the winner's circle in Turfway stakes, has the call for trainer Chuck Peery. 

Since winning the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) on Polytrack as a 2-year-old, Shogood has struggled in mile ungraded stakes on dirt, first at Churchill Downs in November and again at Oaklawn Park in January. His winning form has meant speed, which may be hampered by his post 11 draw. Shogood returns to Polytrack and cuts back to sprinting in the WEBN for trainer Scott Becker, with Chris Emigh in to ride. 

The second local prep for the Spiral, the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, runs March 12.

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