A Westchester victory by Unforgettable Max could begin a big week for his parents, Northern Afleet -Maggy Hawk, by Hawkster. Three days after the Westchester, Unforgettable Max's younger brother, Afleet Alex, will run in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.Unforgettable Max is just one for his last 12, but is taking a sizeable drop in class after facing the East's best sprinters and middle distance runners in races like the Cigar Mile and General George and Carter handicaps. Unforgettable Max went off at big prices in all three of those races, but finished fourth in both the Cigar Mile and Carter and was only beaten two lengths by Saratoga County in the General George."He's faced some of the best horses in training and has held his own," said Philadelphia Park-based trainer Guadalupe Preciado. "I'm looking forward to running him, although this isn't an easy spot. I've got a lot of respect for Value Plus and Gygistar. They're both nice horses."Unforgettable Max goes from post 5 with jockey Roberto Alvarado Jr.
Wando has never started at Belmont Park, but his sire, Langfuhr , won the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) there in 1997. Wando won the Canadian Triple Crown – the Queens Plate, Prince of Wales and Breeders – in 2003, but has done nothing more than win a couple of Woodbine allowance races and a restricted stake since then. Trainer Michael Keogh says he wants to win a U.S. graded stakes with Wando before the 5-year-old retires at the end of the season.Most of Wando's races have come in Canada, but he did run twice at Gulfstream Park this winter, finishing fourth in the Mr. Prospector (gr. III) and sixth in a $150,000 optional claimer. Wando ran third in his last start, a minor stake at Woodbine on April 16.Jockey Richard Migliore, who rode Wando to a stake victory in Canada in October of 2002, will reunite with the horse in the Westchester.
Value Plus will be making his first start at Belmont since failing as the 6-5 favorite in last year's Riva Ridge (gr. II) on Belmont Stakes Day. A 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song, Value Plus recently defeated Gygistar in Gulfstream's Artax Handicap on April 2.Value Plus will be ridden by jockey John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher. Pletcher and Velazquez are the defending Belmont spring/summer champions.The 6-year-old Gygistar won the King's Bishop (gr. I) at 3 and is still going strong after winning more than $300,000 last year. Trained by Mark Hennig, Gygistar carries top weight of 118 pounds under jockey Javier Castellano.$100,000-added Westchester Handicap (gr. III), 3 & up, one mile
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Kennel Up, H. Allen Jerkens, Eibar Coa, 112
2. Value Plus, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 117
3. Bahama John, Jimmy Jerkens, Cornelio Velasquez, 113
4. Gygistar, Mark Hennig, Javier Castellano, 118
5. Unforgettable Max, Guadalupe Preciado, Roberto Alvarado Jr., 114
6. Seeking the Glory, Mike Hushion, Fernando Jara, 110
7. Wando, Michael Keogh, Richard Migliore, 115
8. Swingforthefences, Richard Violette Jr., Shaun Bridgmohan, 115 OPENING DAY ANNOUNCER'S LINEUP
RACE 1: Tom Durkin
RACE 2: John Dooley
RACE 3: John Imbriale
RACE 4: Larry Collmus
RACE 5: Marshall Cassidy
Race 6: John Imbriale
RACE 7: Larry Collmus
RACE 8: Tom Durkin
RACE 9: John Dooley