Turfway Park, as part of its first Saturday night program in decades, will feature a deep, full field of 3-year-olds in the $50,000 WEBN Stakes Feb. 5, one of the local preps for the $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) in late March.
First post time moves to 5:30 p.m. EST for all Saturday programs except the March 26 Vinery Racing Spiral card, which will be held in the afternoon as usual. The Kentucky track is offering various food and beverage specials and entertainment as it has for years on Friday nights.
Despite static purses the local 3-year-old contingent appears somewhat stronger than in recent years. The WEBN, at one mile on Polytrack, will mark the first start around two turns for many of the entrants. A field of 12 was entered, with two on the also-eligible list.
Favoritism could fall to several horses, including Kenneth Ayres’ Banjammer (by Candy Ride ), who flew home in the Jan. 8 Turfway Prevue at 6 1/2 furlongs and lost a head bob to Inhisglory, who was sold after the race and is entered Feb. 5 in the Black Gold Stakes on dirt at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Banjammer is 4-1 on the morning line.
Clovertowne Farm’s Taptowne (by Tapit ), who romped in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight test at Turfway Dec. 31; Alpha Stables, Skychai Racing, and Sand Dollar Stable’s Twinspired (by Harlan's Holiday), a Keeneland maiden winner that returns from a Jan. 16 start on the turf at Gulfstream Park in Florida; and WinStar Farm’s Bluegrass Dreamer (by Bluegrass Cat ), third in the Prevue, should attract attention as well.
Twinspired is the 5-2 morning-line choice.
Four horses exit a Jan. 23 entry-level allowance test at 6 1/2 furlongs at Turfway: L.A. Racing Inc.’s Paige Me (by Shaniko), who won the event, and Krazy VIII Racing’s Cuvee's Image (by Cuvee), Faisal Seddiq Al Mutawa’s Faisal Prince (by Officer), and Elias Lubbat’s Champion Kid (by Aragorn), who finished second, third, and fourth respectively. All four will try two turns for the first time in the WEBN.
An unusual and definitive inside speed bias Jan. 23 appeared to aid Paige Me, who won by a length in wire-to-wire fashion in solid time at 39-1. Of the others, favored Faisal Prince may have gotten the worst of it, racing wide throughout before accelerating late to make up almost five lengths on the leader.
Eric Reed, who trains Banjammer, also entered Marvin Little Jr.’s debut winner Drifting Wind (by Saarland), who overcame trouble to break his maiden comfortably at six furlongs at Turfway Jan. 14.
The next local prep for 3-year-olds is the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at 1 1/16 miles March 5.
$50,000 WEBN Stakes (Race 10, 9:51 p.m. EST), 3YO, One mile PP.Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Faisal Prince (KY) S Gonzalez Jr. 118 T Bergin
2. Banjammer (KY) B Creed 118 E R Reed
3. Cuvee's Image (KY) R Mojica, Jr. 116 S J Cain
4. Champion Kid (KY) R L Knott 116 P Darjean
5. R Fast Cat (KY) G Kuntzweiler 118 M J Maker
6. Drifting Wind (KY) S Spieth 118 E R Reed
7. Bluegrass Dreamer (KY) J McKee 118 R Budge
8. Paige Me (KY) T L Pompell 118 C M Godsey
9. Military Jewel (KY) P W Ouzts 118 E P Retamoza, Sr.
10. Grandpa Gibby (KY) A Canchano 118 C W Rosin
11. Taptowne (KY) R A Prescott 118 W D Mogge
12. Twinspired (KY) J Z Santana 118 M J Maker
13. Practical Justice (KY) C Orm 116 T R Mills
14. Sir Rudy (IN) N DeSouza 116 L McVicker