Thursday, January 29, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . January 29, 2004 . . . Silver Minister will try to take the next step toward the Lane’s End Stakes this Saturday when he meets 11 other Kentucky-breds in the $50,000 WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park. His victory in the Turfway Prevue on January 4 makes him the only stakes winner in the crowd, and he has the weight to prove it. Carrying 121 pounds in the WEBN, he gives away five to seven pounds to every rival.
The WEBN Stakes points toward the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes in late February, which in turn leads into the Lane’s End Stakes, a Grade 2 prep for the Kentucky Derby, on March 20.
Greg Foley, Silver Minister’s trainer, hopes to retrace his 2003 steps at Turfway and take at least one more. His charge Champali won the 2003 Turfway Prevue, WEBN, and Battaglia stakes before finishing third in the Lane’s End.
Silver Minister has won two of four starts in nearly identical fashion: get the lead early and add to it. The WEBN will stretch him out to a mile for the first time but he won the 6 1/2-length Turfway Prevue by five lengths under a hand ride by jockey Rafael Bejarano and had plenty left to give. Bejarano will ride again.
The field is a bit more crowded than the seven-horse field in the Prevue, and speed remains a feature. Besides Silver Minister, Peter the Rock is likely to vie for the lead early. He has front-running experience at the mile, winning an allowance race at Turfway two weeks ago by 4 1/4 lengths. Jeff Johnston rides. Also geared to speed is Mister E. K., who jumps to stakes company directly off a mile-long maiden special weight win at Turfway on January 14.
Degenerate Gambler finished second in the Prevue and could use his stalker style to good advantage if the speed wears itself out on the front. He also stretches out to a mile for the first time. Daniel Coa picks up the mount as Tony D’Amico moves to Rubiano Lad, another stalker with two consecutive wins to his credit.
Completing the field are Rayvo’s Beau (Dean Butler) and Dollar a Dip (Mark Johnston), third and fourth in the Prevue, respectively; Kate’s Genius (Mike Rowland), also moving straight from his maiden win to a stakes race; Lost in Transit (Ender Jimenez); Charcot (Rodney Prescott); Commandment (Jason Lumpkins), with six starts and one win as a two-year-old; and Dancefortyniner (Fabio Arguello Jr.), one-for-two lifetime.
Complementing the race is the WEBN Private Party, a ticket-only event hosted by the race’s sponsor, a Cincinnati radio station. Tickets are free but available only through on-air giveaways or at Turfway on Friday night, with 100 held back for random distribution at the track on Saturday. The party begins at noon. Post time Saturday is 1:10 p.m.