Bertram and Diana Firestone’s 5-year-old Winchester will be the favorite and horse to beat in a field of 11 older horses entered in the $150,000 Pan American Stakes (gr. IIIT) March 27 at Gulfstream Park, a race that also will mark the season debut of Fred Bradley’s remarkable 9-year-old gelding Brass Hat.
Jockey Alan Garcia rides Winchester for trainer Christophe Clement in the 1 1/2-mile turf course marathon after a solid runner-up performance last out in the 11-furlong Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIIT) Feb. 28, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Presious Passion. It was his first start since another good try finishing third behind Cloudy’s Knight in the 12-furlong W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Dec. 26.
A Virginia homebred son of the Firestones’ 1987 Eclipse Award-winning turf horse Theatrical, Winchester began his career in Ireland with trainer Dermot Weld and won his American racing debut as a 3-year-old in the 2008 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park.
In two good tries before the W.L. McKnight, Winchester finished runner-up in the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) to Grand Couturier at Belmont Park in September and second again, beaten a head by Cloudy’s Knight in the 12-furlong Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland in October.
Jockey Eddie Castro will be aboard Brass Hat for trainer Buff Bradley as he makes his first start since a game second-place effort last out in the 12-furlong Stars and Stripes Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Arlington Park Sept. 7 to complete a campaign that focused on long distance turf stakes.
Brass Hat is a Kentucky homebred by 1989 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Prized. The biggest victory of Brass Hat’s career was a wire-to-wire victory over a sloppy track in the 2006 Donn Handicap (gr. I). Brass Hat begins another campaign with more than $2 million in earnings.
Two other contenders with credentials in the Pan American are Lotheback Stable’s Bearpath and Gary and Mary West’s Expansion, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Mac Diarmida last out.
Jockey Freddie Lenclud will be in town to ride Bearpath for trainer Ian Wilkes. The 4-year-old Dynaformer gelding made his stakes debut in the Mac Diarmida and was beaten 5 1/4 lengths for it all in his first start since capturing a ‘two other than’ allowance going 12 furlongs at Churchill Downs Nov. 22.
Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez gets the call on Expansion for trainer Chad Brown. The 5-year-old Maria's Mon horse was well-backed at 3-to-1 in the Mac Diarmida as he made his first appearance since capturing the 11-furlong Red Smith Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct Nov. 7 in his stakes debut.
$150,000 Pan American Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 10, 5:43 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Lemon Spice (KY) , P Lopez, 117, B F Stutts, Jr.
2. Winchester (VA), A Garcia, 117, C Clement
3. Brother Nick (KY), C H Marquez Jr., 117, J A Jerkens
4. Expansion (KY), J Sanchez, 123, C C Brown
5. Never On Sunday (FR), J Bravo, 123, P L Biancone
6. Memorial Maniac (KY), E T Baird, 117, D C Kassen
7. Brass Hat (KY), E Castro, 121, W Bradley
8. Silver Mountain (KY), J L Castanon, 117, T F Proctor
9. Uncle Indy (KY), M R Cruz, 117, A J Penna Jr.
10. Bearpath (KY), L F Lenclud, 117, I R Wilkes
11. Gabriel's Hill (KY) (MTO), E Castro, 117, S Benzel