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Keeneland: Woodford has tough bunch assembled
By Byron King
Though Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Woodford is a rare Keeneland stakes race not designated as a Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup prep, it doesn’t show in the quality of horses entered in the 5 1/2-furlong turf race.
Five of the seven entries are stakes winners, led by Chamberlain Bridge, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, and Bridgetown, a multiple stakes winner who ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2009.
Bridgetown, favored at 7-5 as the morning line, has hit the board in all of his races this year, capped by a front-running victory in the Aug. 15 Troy Stakes at Saratoga. Though he hasn’t run since, he is a horse who has run well with time between races, such as when second in the Grade 3 Churchill Downs Turf Sprint May 5 on Derby Day, his first start of the year.
He is also proven to be consistently the fastest horse in the race, having run Beyer Speed Figures of between 94 and 100 this year.
Yet the complexion of the race seemingly works against him because of the presence of other speed, most notably Great Mills, who ran third in the Turf Monster at Parx on Sept. 3 after leading for much of that race.
Should a speed duel develop, it would play to the strength of 2-1 second choice Chamberlain Bridge, who has shown new life over the second half of 2012 after a lackluster spring in Kentucky. Since July he has run second in the Arlington Sprint, first in the My Frenchman at Monmouth, and second, beaten a head by Ben’s Cat, in the Turf Monster.
In the Turf Monster, “everything went right, except for winning,” trainer Bret Calhoun said.
Indeed, with the Turf Monster being a Win and You’re In race, a victory would have likely assured Chamberlain Bridge’s participation in the Breeders’ Cup this year. Now, Calhoun calls him unlikely for the race, citing the entry fees and his horse’s unfamiliarity with Santa Anita’s unique downhill course.
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