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