03/05/2009 12:00AM

Wintergreen favorites clash in David vs. Goliath match


It's difficult to figure why Turfway Park would have one of its longstanding stakes for fillies and mares named for Wintergreen, the fine Ohio-bred son of Dick Welles who drew clear to a four-length victory under Vincent Powers in the Kentucky Derby 100 years ago this May.

What is easier to determine is which of the nine fillies and mares entered Saturday in the 25th running of the $50,000 Wintergreen Stakes stand a fighting chance.

Unspoken Word and Kiss With a Twist, winners of the last two races in the category at Turfway, are the obvious favorites in the Wintergreen, which is set for one mile over the Polytrack.

Unspoken Word, winner of the Feb. 7 Likely Exchange by five lengths, drew post 8, one slot outside of Kiss With a Twist, winner of the Dec. 6 My Charmer by 2 1/4 lengths. The 5-year-old mares did not face each other in either race.

Unspoken Word is trained by Mike Maker, the former D. Wayne Lukas assistant whose 19-for-44 mark at the Turfway winter-spring meet was easily tops in wins and percentage and whose far-flung stable also is prominent at the Gulfstream Park and Aqueduct meets. In stark contrast, Kiss With a Twist is trained by Jose Fernandez, whose small stable is tucked away at the training center located on the grounds of Calumet Farm, next to Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky.

Victor Lebron, easily the leading jockey at the meet, will be back aboard Unspoken Word, while Bill Troilo has the call aboard Kiss With a Twist.

If neither of the favorites is up to duplicating her powerful last race, the most logical upsetter is De Star Express (post 4), a south Florida shipper trained by Ken McPeek. De Star Express ran third twice in recent starts at Gulfstream, most recently in a one-mile turf allowance on Feb. 18. Leandro Goncalves has the call.

From the balance of the field, Marquee Delivery (post 2) and Valentine Fever (post 3) both have the back-class to merit respect.

The Wintergreen, which was canceled last year because of weather, is the ninth of 10 races on a card that starts at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.