Ten turf sprint specialists are entered for the six-furlong event.
The 6-year-old Heros Reward, racing for Rob Ry Farm and Jayne Marie Slysz, deserves strong consideration after shipping in from Maryland last October to capture the Nearctic (Can-II) at Woodbine. He won in front-running fashion at odds of 13-2 by three-quarters of a length over Highlander foe Quietly Mine. A year ago, Heros Reward made the same trip and nearly pulled off the upset, finishing second by a half-length to Smart Enough in the 2007 edition of the Highlander.
Heros Reward, a Partner's Hero gelding bred in Maryland, appears to be in sharp form after returning from a six-month layoff in late April. He won the five-furlong Turf Sprint at Pimlico on the Preakness under-card last time, coming from slightly off the pace to win with determination by a neck. Regular rider Javier Castellano has the mount on Heros Reward, who breaks from post five under high weight of 123 pounds.
Heros Reward comes off his best season in 2007, a year in which he won five of 10 starts with four seconds and earned $507,810. Overall, he owns an 8-6-2 mark in 23 races and has banked $617,600.
Quietly Mine has a six-race losing streak for trainer Christophe Clement but has been close each time. Most recently, the 4-year-old gelding by Belong to Me ran third as the favorite in a six-furlong turf stakes at Belmont Park May 21. The chestnut, with three wins in 12 tries, is looking for his first stakes win.
Southern California-based trainer Barry Abrams ships in with Unusual Suspect, upset winner of the Hollywood Turf Express (gr. IIIT) last fall but winless in five starts since. The California-bred 4-year-old by Unusual Heat was most recently third in a one-mile allowance race at Hollywood Park June 5, but was moved up to second via disqualification.
Awesome Action, with 10 wins in 45 starts, leads the field in earnings with $700,391. Trained by Sue Leslie, the 8-year-old Awesome Again gelding returned from a seven-month absence June 1 to run fifth in a high-priced allowance race at six furlongs on the Woodbine lawn.
Wollemi Pine, who won that key race and has back-to-back allowance level victories at Woodbine for trainer Ian Black, is entered in the Highlander, as is the second-place finisher, Ontario-bred Gantu.
Indian Ashton steps up for trainer Wesley Ward after a gate-to-wire win as the favorite in a five-furlong turf sprint May 25 at Churchill Downs.
The Great Caruso has consecutive wins for trainer Malcolm Pierce, winning last time out on the Woodbine Polytrack surface April 5.
$200,000 Scotts Highlander Stakes (gr. III, Race 5, 2:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Wollemi Pine (KY), 115, Emma-Jayne Wilson
2. Silver Strip (FL), 115, Tyler Pizarro
3. Awesome Action (ON), 117, Robert C. Landry
4. The Great Caruso (FL), 115, Patrick Husbands
5. Heros Reward (MD), 123, Javier Castellano
6. Unusual Suspect (CA), 121, Chantal Sutherland
7. Gantu (ON), 115, Emile Ramsammy
8. Indian Ashton (CA), 115, Elvis Trujillo
9. Santana Strings (FL), 115, James McAleney
10. Quietly Mine (KY), 115, Ramon A. Dominguez