01/19/2013 2:59PM

Aqueduct: Clawback sticks to sprinting in Jimmy Winkfield

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Unable to find a suitable two-turn race, Clawback will run in Monday's six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – After seriously considering stretching out recent maiden winner Clawback in distance, trainer Rick Violette ultimately opted to keep the 3-year-old sprinting. Thus, Clawback will make his stakes debut in Monday’s six-furlong, $75,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct.

Clawback will take on only four rivals in the Winkfield, including the multiple stakes-winning West Virginia-bred In the Fairway and the stakes-winning New York-bred Meeker Avenue. Multiple winner Rubysandpearls and the Todd Pletcher-trained Winning Cause complete the field.

Violette said he chose to run in the Jimmy Winkfield because he couldn’t get a two-turn allowance race to fill and didn’t want to wait another 12 days for the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 2.

Clawback, a son of Put It Back, didn’t get as much attention as other Violette-trained juveniles Spurious Precision and Carried Interest, who were debut winners last summer.

In his debut, on closing day at Saratoga, Clawback was bothered badly at the break yet still rallied to finish second, beaten a half-length by Always in a Tiz. His second start came two months later at Aqueduct, where Clawback finished second behind Vyjack, who has since won two stakes, including the Grade 2 Jerome.

On Dec. 13, Clawback won a six-furlong maiden race over the inner track by three lengths on the front end. He ran his first half-mile in 47.40 seconds and got his final quarter in 22.81.

“That was a pretty cool race,” said Violette, who trains Clawback for Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables and Bill Lawrence. “It showed how manageable he is for the rider. He’s very handy. He’ll do what the rider wants.”

Clawback will break from post 3, between other speed horses Rubysandpearls and In the Fairway. Violette said he would let jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. decide how to ride the race off the break.

“We’ll leave running, and wherever we are easily, we’ll end up being,” Violette said.

In the Fairway, riding a four-race winning streak, ships in from Charles Town for trainer Jeff Runco. In the Fairway hasn’t run since Nov. 10, owing to a sickness that prevented him from coming to Aqueduct for a stakes race in December, according to Runco.

The connections of Winning Cause will be hoping for a speed duel to materialize. Winning Cause, a son of Giant’s Causeway, will be making his first start on dirt after running twice on turf and winning a seven-furlong maiden race over Keeneland’s synthetic surface in October. This will be his first start at six furlongs.

“I don’t think sprinting is going to be a problem,” said Michael McCarthy, the New York-based assistant for trainer Todd Pletcher. “He seems to have a nice enough turn of foot.”

Meeker Avenue returns to sprinting after finishing last in the Damon Runyon run over a sloppy track. Trainer Dominick Schettino adds blinkers to Meeker Avenue’s equipment Monday.