Thursday, March 8, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 8, 2007 . . . The $50,000 Wintergreen Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday sets up a best-two-of-three scenario for recent Turfway stakes winners Ella Belle and Half Heaven. The two will line up with 10 other rivals in the 25th running of the Wintergreen, a one-mile contest for older fillies and mares.
Exactly a month ago Saturday, Ella Belle drew away decisively to win the one-mile Likely Exchange Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths over Half Heaven, who was favored in that race. In December, Ella Belle's rider lost his whip late in the 1 1/16-mile My Charmer Stakes, and after leading into the stretch the filly finished fifth, 3 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Half Heaven.
Ella Belle likes the lead, and with the speedy Sanguinity, Daring Julie, and Tru Attitude also in the race, Half Heaven's patience may work in her favor. Ella Belle has been training beautifully over the Polytrack, however, including a best-of-17 work a week ago. William "Buff" Bradley trains Ella Belle and has named Phil Teator to ride.
Before her runner-up finish in the Likely Exchange, Half Heaven picked up consecutive wins by overtaking leaders late, stalking in the My Charmer and coming from mid-pack in the River Memories Stakes at Woodbine last fall. Miguel Mena will be back aboard Half Heaven for trainer Dale Romans.
One to watch is No Reason, who won four stakes for New York-breds last year. She was sixth behind Ella Belle in the Likely Exchange, her first race off a 2 1/2-month layoff and her first on Polytrack. She has won from just off the pace, from mid-pack, and from far back, and that versatility gives her a lot of options Saturday. Bill Troilo rides for trainer John Langemeier.
Completing the field for the Wintergreen are Ballad of Bertie (jockey Dean Butler); Wrapped Up in You (Victor Lebron); Sanguinity (Rodney Prescott); Daring Julie (Orlando Mojica); Country Fair (UAE) (Alonso Quinonez); Rashaund (Julio Felix); Hayden Valley (Rafael Mojica Jr.); Hurricane Isabel (Mathieu Adam); and Tru Attitude (Eddie Zuniga). Tazotee is on the also-eligible list.
The Wintergreen Stakes is named for the 1909 Kentucky Derby winner, the only Ohio-bred horse to win the roses. The Wintergreen is the 11th of 12 races on Saturday's card. First post is 1:10 p.m.
Also on Saturday, the first 1,500 fans through the gates will receive a free 2007 Lane's End Stakes hat. Gates open at 11:15 a.m.