08/19/2009 12:00AM

Stolis Winner returns in derby trials

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Stolis Winner, the reigning world champion Quarter Horse, will make his first start at 3 on Friday at Ruidoso Downs during trials for the Grade 1, $625,000 All-American Derby. He will start in the fourth race, from the rail in a field of Grade 1 performers that includes champion Brenda Beautiful.

"We'll check his oil pretty quick," said Heath Taylor, who trains Stolis Winner for Jerry Windham.

Stolis Winner has not seen action since Nov. 15, when he won a trial for the Grade 1 Texas Classic Futurity. He did not go back in the finale after an X-ray revealed a suspicious spot on his right front ankle. For his return, he has been working sharply at Ruidoso.

"He had some arthroscopic surgery, a clean-up type of deal," Taylor said of the layoff. "We wanted to do what was best for the horse and have given him plenty of time."

Taylor said he had hoped to start Stolis Winner prior to the trials, but races for him did not fill.

"I thought one of his key attributes last year was his maturity level, mentally and physically," Taylor said. "He raced with the physical and mental attributes of a 3-year-old against 2-year-olds."

Stolis Winner captured the Heritage Place and Rainbow in 2008 and also finished first in the All-American Futurity. However, he was disqualified from the latter win for a caffeine positive in a decision that has been appealed and will move into an administrative hearing on Dec. 1.