In the Buddy Dilberto, also at Fair Grounds, the top three finishers came from off the pace, including Melnyk Racing Stables’ Sterwins, who ranged up late to prevail by just a length over hard-charging Optimer and Save Big Money. All three are back for the Colonel Bradley, a 1 1/6-mile test for older horses on the turf.
Also entered in what should be an evenly-matched event are Storm Treasure and Got the Last Laugh, the respective fifth and sixth-place finishers in the Buddy Dilberto. In addition, multiple graded stakes winner Silverfoot makes a return from a nearly 14-month layoff.
Sterwins is a 5-year-old gelding by Runaway Groom, out of the Wild Again mare Sweet Vale. Originally trained by Todd Pletcher, he won three of eight starts on the dirt before being redirected to the grass by trainer Malcolm Pierce, who took over conditioning duties in June 2007.
Since making the switch to grass, Sterwins is 2-for-5, both victories coming in stakes, with two other place finishes. One of those second-place efforts came in the Sky Classic Stakes (Can-IIT) at Woodbine Sept. 23, where he just missed to Canadian male turf champion Cloudy’s Knight.
“He came to me from Todd Pletcher and he was already freshened up,” said Pierce, who noted that Sterwins was off for the first half of 2007. “He’s a Canadian-bred and Mr. Melnyk wanted to race him at Woodbine more.
“He’s got a bit of a pedigree for the grass, but it was more good luck than good management. The first race we could get for him happened to be on the grass so we thought we’d try him there. It turned out to be a good move because he has been a nice horse. But he’s the type of horse that can run on grass or dirt without a problem.”
Bred in Ontario by Melnyk, Sterwins has earned $432,326 from 13 starts. He will break from post four with Miguel Mena aboard.
Bred in Argentina, Optimer raced 10 times in 2007, finishing second on seven occasions, most in allowance competition. A 6-year-old by Incurable Optimist, he has been runner-up in his last three efforts for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. The Buddy Dilberto was Optimer’s first stakes try.
Hilbert Thoroughbreds’ Kentucky homebred Save Big Money won four of 10 starts in 2007, all of them in allowance competition. The 5-year-old Storm Cathorse tried graded stakes company twice last year, both times finishing out of the money. Trained by Neil Howard, Save Big Money will be making just his third career start on turf, where he has a win and a show. Robbie Albarado will ride.
Sidelined since his ninth-place finish in the November 2006 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), Stephanie Clark’s Silverfoot will be looking for his first victory since May 2006 when he won the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) for the third consecutive time. An 8-year-old gelding by With Approval, Silverfoot certainly has a class advantage over his rivals, having run in some of the nation’s biggest turf events. Sixth in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Turf, he also made two attempts each at the United Nations Stakes and Sword Dancer Invitational, both grade I events.
"He was just kind of banged an bruised up and needed some rest," trainer Dallas Steward said of the long layoff. "We X-rayed him and nothing was broke. He just needed time off. He's been back in training since the spring and he's pretty fit. I'm not sure how he'll do his first time back, but we'll see. He's a pretty good horse."
A four-time graded stakes winner, Silverfoot has won nine of 24 career starts.
$100,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 5, 2:26 p.m.), Four-Year-Olds & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Storm Treasure (KY), 114, Shaun Bridgmohan
2. Silverfoot (KY), 119, Julien R. Leparoux
3. Gold Sound (FR), 115, Jamie Theriot
4. Sterwins (ON), 118, Miguel Mena
5. Major Rhythm (KY), 117, Ramsey Zimmerman
6. Sidcup (ON), 114, Jesus Lopez Castanon
7. Got the Last Laugh (KY), 115, James Graham
8. Save Big Money (KY), 116, Robby Albarado
9. French Beret (ON), 115, Emma-Jayne Wilson
10. Optimer (ARG), 116, Corey J. Lanerie
MTO Prom Shoes (KY), 114, John Jacinto