Entering off a seventh-place finish in the June 29 Irish Derby (Ire-I), Winchester earned his first graded stakes score while making his initial start on American soil. The lightly-raced Virginia-bred colt had only a maiden victory to show for five lifetime efforts, but was highly thought of based on two consecutive group II starts in Europe.
Owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, and trained by Dermot Weld, Winchester completed 10 furlongs on ‘firm’ turf in 2:01.76. Another European invader, Plan, rallied under Johnny Murtagh for second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Tizdejavu and Garrett Gomez.
Tizdejavu, who entered off three consecutive turf wins, including the July 12 American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington, was sent off as the even-money favorite. Prime Realestate was fourth.
Winchester was never far off the pace set by Tizdejavu, saving ground while in fourth through most of the backstretch. Sr. Henry and Secret Getaway were closest to Tizdejavu, who posted easy fractions of :25.38, :49.64, and 1:13.84 for six furlongs.
While Sr. Henry and Secret Getaway had enough by the time they came out of the final turn, Winchester was just getting revved up. He moved up to even terms with Tizdejavu nearing the quarter-pole, and seconds later sailed right on by. When Douglas asked the colt for more with a furlong remaining, Winchester easily drew away from the field with a devastating stretch run.
“I put the blinkers on him and that helped," Weld said. "Rene has beat me a couple of times in other races so when I had the chance to get him on this horse so I took it. Don’t be surprised if you see him back for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The horse will be going back to Ireland and will have there before going to Santa Anita.”
The winner paid $ 17, $7.60, and $3.80. The exacta (2-3) returned $62, while the trifecta (2-3-6) was worth $148 with the top three choices.
Winchester, who raced just once as a 2-year-old and broke his maiden at second asking June 20 at Leopardstown in Ireland, has now earned $274,684. She is out of the Spectrum mare Rum Charger.
Straight of Mewsina finished fifth, followed by Your Round, Snoose Goose, Secret Getaway, and Sr. Henry.