A field of 12, plus a pair of also-eligibles, was drawn for the Oct. 8 Woodford Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland. The $150,000 race, at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, is a key prep for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs.
While Havelock will start as the 124-pound highweight based on the allowance conditions of the race, David Ross’ Perfect Officer appears to be the one to beat.
A 5-year-old gelding by Officer, Perfect Officer has done little wrong since being claimed for $50,000 this spring at Gulfstream Park by Ross and trainer Michael Pino. In five turf sprints Perfect Officer has two wins, a second (by a half-length), and third- and a fourth-place efforts that both came in blanket finishes.
In his latest effort he was second to Ben's Cat in the Turf Monster Handicap (gr. IIIT) Sept. 5 at Parx Racing. Considered the leader in the turf sprint division, Ben’s Cat came back to win the Maryland Million Turf Sprint Handicap Oct. 1 at Laurel Park under highweight of 123 pounds. Third in the Turf Monster was Chamberlain Bridge, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner.
Havelock returns to turf sprinting following a seventh-place finish in a stretch-out attempt in the Kentucky Cup Stakes (gr. II) on Turfway’s Polytrack Sept. 24. A homebred for Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton’s Silverton Hill, Havelock has won his last three turf sprints this year at Keeneland, Arlington, and Woodbine.
The 4-year-old gelding by Great Notion , out of the Spectacular Love mare Piconeach, is trained by Darrin Miller.
An important key to winning over the Keeneland course is to have some prior experience with the surface. Kenny Desormeaux’ Goldzar has not had much success in two previous starts over the Keeneland turf, but those came on courses labeled “soft” and “yielding.” Based on the weather forecast, the turf Oct. 8 should be fast and firm.
The 6-year-old Goldzar was third in the 2009 Woodford over soft going and was a non-factoring seventh this spring in the Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) at the same trip while on a yielding surface. He comes back to Keeneland off a win in the 5 1/2-furlong Ecclesiastic Stakes Sept. 5 at Saratoga.
A perfect three-for-three turf sprinter is Ro Parra’s Millennium Farms’ Great Mills. The son of hot-sire War Front won back-to-back races at Fair Grounds, then added Saratoga’s Quick Call Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs. In his last effort, he tired late behind Havelock in the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT) Aug. 28 at Woodbine.
The Woodford, the first of five graded stakes on Keeneland’s program, has a 3:27 p.m. EDT approximate post.
Woodford Stakes (gr. IIIT), Keeneland, $150,000, 3-year-olds and up, 5 ½ furlongs, turf, Race 5, approx.post 3:27 p.m. EDT.
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight., Trainer
1. Goldzar, S. Sellers, 120, R. Granger
2. Country Day, J. Graham, 118, S. Margolis
3. Streakin’ Mohican, J. Rosario, 118, D. O’Neill
4. Great Attack, J. Sanchez, 118, W. Ward
5. Havelock, R. Albarado, 124, D. Miller
6. Uno Ducksy, M. Guidry, 118, A. Box
7. Varsity, G. Gomez, 118, C. Clement
8. Great Mills, J.Leparoux, 120, S. Asmussen
9. Perfect Officer, K. Carmouche, 118, M. Pino
10. Magoo, J. Garcia, 116, W. Ward
11, A Diehl, F. Leclud, 118, G. Arnold II
12. Despite the Odds, R. Dominquez, 118, M. Trombetta
(AE), Hail to Shiloh, L. Goncalves, 118, R. Underwood
(AE), Taproot, R. Morales, 118, J. Gaver III