10/06/2011 11:43AM

Keeneland: Great Attack returns in deep Woodford Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Great Attack will return from a nearly six-month break in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Woodford Stakes.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – When last seen in the spring, right here at Keeneland, Great Attack was a close third in the Shakertown, that meet’s biggest race for turf sprinters. Off for nearly six months since then, Great Attack returns Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Woodford Stakes, the biggest race of the fall meet for turf sprinters and this track’s major prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in four weeks.

Great Attack finished sixth in this race last year, but he is a far better horse now. He needed time off this summer to address lingering foot problems, but his trainer, Wesley Ward, thinks he’s ready to go off the layoff. And he had better be, because this Woodford is wide-open, a race that could fall to any number of runners in the overflow field.

“He’s training great,” Ward said Thursday morning while watching his horses train at Keeneland. “He’s had some fantastic works. He’s a quality sprinter. He had some issues, so we gave him time off over the summer to get over them. He had some foot issues to work through.” One of the remedies, Ward said, is glue-on shoes.

Ward also entered the lightly raced Magoo, who won a turf sprint at Del Mar last month, but he may instead send that horse to Woodbine for next week’s Nearctic Stakes.

“I’ll only run here if it looks like I can’t get into the Nearctic,” Ward said.

Fourteen horses, including two also-eligibles, were entered in the Woodford, at 5 1/2 furlongs on what promises to be a very firm course.

Havelock figures to be one of the main players in the race. He scored upset wins in a pair of turf sprint stakes at Arlington and Woodbine this summer before a dull effort on Polytrack at Turfway in his last start.

Country Day looms large in his third start following a lengthy vacation. He finished just a neck behind Havelock in his comeback race at Arlington on July 16, then had a tough trip in the Turf Monster at Parx Racing last time out. That race’s winner, Ben’s Cat, came back to capture the Maryland Million Turf Sprint last week.

“He had a rough trip, and Shaun Bridghoman, who rode him that day, said he didn’t like the course either,” Steve Margolis, the trainer of Country Day, said Thursday morning. “He’s got a big chance, if he can step up to his Arlington race. He’s training awfully well.”

Perfect Officer was a late-running second in the Turf Monster, and in a race loaded with speed, he might have the right style.