Updated on 09/17/2011 9:56AM

Is it finally Windsor Castle's year?

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Windsor Castle's victory in the Hal's Hope last month at Gulfstream has his connections hoping that the 5-year-old colt will finally reach his potential in this, his fourth season of racing. He runs next in Saturday's Donn.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - This meeting has already seen the renaissance of the 5-year-old mare Harmony Lodge, who has recorded two graded stakes victories after having been somewhat of a disappointment earlier in her career.

The connections of Windsor Castle hope the same rejuvenation is in store for their 5-year-old colt, who will attempt to build on a victory in last month's Hal's Hope Handicap when he runs in Saturday's Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Like Harmony Lodge, Windsor Castle has been hit with nagging injuries at the most inopportune times. But also like Harmony Lodge, Windsor Castle has apparently put those problems behind him and is in career form.

"This might be his year, he might be just improving," Frank Alexander, the trainer and part-owner of Windsor Castle, said Saturday after watching his colt put in a bullet five-furlong workout in preparation for the Donn.

After Windsor Castle won the 2000 Remsen at Aqueduct, it looked like he might develop into a contender for the 2001 classics. Alexander, who purchased the colt for $45,000 for himself in March of 2000, sold controlling interest to Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable. A previous deal with Michael Tabor fell through, in part because Alexander wanted to remain Windsor Castle's trainer.

"I asked what the chances were that I could remain the trainer and [Tabor's camp] said absolutely not," Alexander recalled. "I liked the horse."

Dogwood owns 35 percent of Windsor Castle, The Vinery and Sez Who Thoroughbreds each own 20 percent, and Alexander has 20 percent. Pat Correa, who is Windsor Castle's exercise rider, purchased 5 percent from Alexander before the colt ever ran.

Windsor Castle's status as a Kentucky Derby contender in 2001 was short-lived. He developed an abscess on his lung while in Florida and didn't make his 3-year-old debut until May 23 at Belmont. After running second in that allowance race, fourth in the Riva Ridge, and second in the Dwyer, Windsor Castle was getting ready for the Jim Dandy, which in 2001 was given Grade 1 status.

Alexander was supremely confident the week of the Jim Dandy. But the morning of the race, Windsor Castle was diagnosed with a pulled muscle in his back. No Jim Dandy. No more 3-year-old season.

"I thought he was going to win the Jim Dandy; he was really training good," Alexander said. "We went to pony him that morning, we came back and he would walk fine, but when you went to jog him he was off. He pulled his sacroiliac and it took him a long time to get over that."

Windsor Castle had a relatively pain-free 4-year-old season, but was able to win only one allowance race from 11 starts. He came close in a couple of stakes, but hung badly after making the lead in the Grade 3 Excelsior Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct and again when trying to run down Snake Mountain in the Stuyvesant.

Windsor Castle also finished third in the Meadowlands Cup behind Burning Roma and Volponi, a race in which Alexander felt his horse was compromised by a troubled trip. Windsor Castle ended his 4-year-old season with a sixth-place finish in the Cigar Mile.

Windsor Castle almost had to miss the Hal's Hope when he developed a quarter crack 10 days before the race. Though he had missed a little training time, Windsor Castle took advantage of a hot speed duel to win the Hal's Hope going away.

There will be those who will dismiss Windsor Castle on Saturday because the Donn doesn't appear to have the same pace scenario as the Hal's Hope. Alexander said that might be a mistake.

"The race sets up very good for him because he is a closer, but he doesn't have to be that far back," Alexander said. "If the pace is a fast pace, sure, he's going to be back there and just plod along like he did in that race. But if they're going 47 and three-quarters in 1:12, he's going to be crawling up their rear end, and he's still going to have a kick left."

Because at age 5, Windsor Castle isn't getting older, he may just be getting better.