03/06/2013 5:45PM

Aqueduct: Whiskey Romeo to challenge Clawback in Fred Capossela

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Whiskey Romeo wins the Marylander Stakes.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Clawback will be a deserving favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct, but the 3-year-old will not lack for serious competition.

Among the more interesting opponents is Whiskey Romeo, who went 3 for 3 last year and makes his 3-year-old debut in the Capossela Stakes at six furlongs.

Trained by Tony Dutrow, Whiskey Romeo won a maiden race at Parx Racing last September followed by stakes victories at Laurel Park in November and December.

In winning the $102,000 Marylander Stakes at Laurel on Dec. 1, Whiskey Romeo stumbled badly at the break and tore off a piece of his right front foot, known as a grabbed quarter, according to Dutrow. He has spent the winter at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida, where he has worked six times in preparation for his return.

“He seems like a useful horse,” Dutrow said Wednesday by phone from Florida. “He did show some class when he fell on his head and tore half his foot off when he still won going seven-eighths of a mile in his last start. He’s somewhat to be respected.”

Dutrow has been pleased with how Whiskey Romeo has trained for this race, but doesn’t believe he has him fully cranked for Saturday.

“I don’t expect him to run his very best race Saturday,” Dutrow said. “But the horse is in excellent shape.”

Whiskey Romeo, who figures to be on or close to the lead, will break from post 3 under Cornelio Velasquez. He is the highweight at 122 pounds.

Clawback, installed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite, will break from post 5 under Irad Ortiz Jr. and 120 pounds. Clawback, who finished second to Vyjack in a Nov. 10 maiden race at Aqueduct, has since won two straight races, including the Jimmy Winkfield on Jan. 21.

Trainer Rick Violette gave serious consideration to stretching Clawback out in the Gotham at 1 1/16 miles, but ultimately decided he has a potentially graded stakes-winning sprinter in the barn and waited for this.

Weekend Hideaway, who won two New York-bred stakes in his juvenile season, returns to New York after wintering in south Florida. He finished fifth, beaten three lengths by Honorable Dillon, in the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream last out.

Maleeh, Tenango, Silver Morgan, and Rubysandpearls complete the field. The Capossela will go as race 9 on a 10-race card.