|WOODFORD RESERVE MANHATTAN H.|
2nd at 5WOODFORD RESERVE MANHATTAN H.
(gr. IT , 10f , to Winchester, defeating Expansion, Take the Points, Just as Well, Court Vision, Grand Couturier (GB), Pinckney Hill, Interpatation, Strike a Deal, Jet Propulsion ).
When Bertram and Diana Firestone bred Theatrical, a foal of 1982, at their Gilltown Stud in Kilcullen, County Kildare, Ireland, they didnÕt realize the impact the future 1987 champion turf male would have on generations of turf runners to come.
On June 5, that impact came back to the Firestones full-circle, as their homebred Winchester, a 5-year-old son of Theatrical, captured the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at 11Ú4 miles over Belmont ParkÕs inner-turf course.
ÒI thought it would be a very good match when we sent this mare (the Spectrum mare Rum Charger) to Theatrical. And I think weÕve proved that today,Ó said Bertram Firestone, after leading his horse into the winnerÕs circle.
Trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Winchester was outrun early, racing in ninth and 10th positions in the field of 11 runners, for the opening mile clocked in 1:36.46. But at the quarter pole, Winchester was swung six-wide by Velasquez, beginning a furious rally down the middle of the track.
Clement also trains Castleton LyonsÕ even-money favorite Gio Ponti, last yearÕs champion older horse and turf male, who had to steady sharply in traffic on the turn before moving back to the rail beneath jockey Ramon Dominguez in upper-stretch. Finally, Gio Ponti split horses nearing the eighth pole and showed good acceleration to gain a slim lead in deep stretch. Winchester, however, who had clear sailing through the lane, displayed a tremendous turn of foot to get up in the final strides to win by a half-length on the wire.
ÒBoth of my horses finished up very well, very fast,Ó said Clement of the pair that had trained five furlongs remarkably well together six days earlier.
The final time was 1:59.46 over the firm turf, with Winchester carrying 116 pounds, six pounds less than the high-weight Gio Ponti.
Bred in Virginia, Winchester won for the fourth time from 16 starts, boosting his earnings to $652,898.
ÒI just love him (Winchester). HeÕs a homebred, and he likes to travel a distance of ground, just like his dad, Theatrical,Ó beamed Diana Firestone.
Finishing a length back in third position was Gary and Mary WestÕs Expansion, from the barn of trainer Chad Brown.
Theatrical, the sire of Winchester, is represented by 82 stakes winners. Having begun his stud career at Allen PaulsonÕs Brookside Farm near Versailles, Ky., in 1990, he moved to John SikuraÕs Hill ÔnÕ Dale Farms near Lexington in 2001. He was pensioned following the 2009 breeding season.ÑP.V.
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