|WOODY STEPHENS S.|
Won at 3WOODY STEPHENS S.
(gr. II , 7f , defeating Everyday Heroes, Kensei, Hull, This Ones for Phil, Gone Astray, Hello Broadway, Triumphant Flight ).
Perhaps patience is a horsemanÕs biggest asset. And in the $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds June 6 at Belmont Park, the patience of trainer Todd Pletcher was amply rewarded when Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick SmithÕs Munnings put a string of disappointing finishes behind him and inhaled a field of seven quality rivals en route to an eye-catching 51Ú4-length victory.
ÒHeÕs (Munnings) been promising something like this for a while. He kicked big time today,Ó said Pletcher. ÒWe felt like heÕd be sitting just off the leaders in the pocket. A couple of the horses in the race have a tendency to drift a little bit, so we thought we might get lucky and get through on the inside. We had to wait longer than we anticipated, but when it did open up he really accelerated.Ó
After tracking a fast opening half-mile of :45.01 from the rail in fourth position beneath jockey John Velazquez, Munnings, a son of Speightstown out of the Holy Bull mare La Comete, found a seam in the two path, charged to the lead at the eighth pole, and drew off.
ÒHeÕs more mature now. He knows what to do,Ó said Velazquez. ÒHe was ready to roll. He saw daylight and he exploded, like he had just started to run.Ó
Munnings clocked the seven-furlong distance in 1:20.63, running the final furlong in :11.74.
Bred in Kentucky by Dan Tayloe and Glencrest Farm, Munnings, who was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale last year for $1.7 million by Demi OÕByrne from Leprechaun Racing, agent, recorded his second win from six starts, increasing his earnings to $302,240.
ÒThe mare (La Comete) was a little bit tricky to breed, because she was a big heavy mare,Ó said co-breeder John Greathouse Jr. of Glencrest Farm. ÒSpeightstown was a fast horse with a lot of pedigree. He was a good-looking horse and small enough that I wasnÕt too worried about ending up with a big coarse-looking offspring.Ó
Pletcher is pointing Munnings towards the seven-furlong NetJets Kings Bishop (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 29, with the possibility of a stop first in the 11Ú16-mile Dwyer (gr. II) July 4 at Belmont.
Darley StableÕs Everyday Heroes, who was involved in the early pace battle, finished second. Stonestreet Stables and Gulf Coast FarmsÕ Kensei closed through the stretch for third.
Champion sprinter Speightstown is the sire of seven stakes winners, including additional 2009 added-money winners Gemswick Park (gr. III) and Despite the Odds, winner of the June 5 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont. The 11-year-old son of Gone West stands at Bill Casner and Kenny TrouttÕs WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., for a fee of $35,000.ÑP.V.
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