Friday, February 3, 2012 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Feb. 3, 2012 – Mr. Prankster will try for his second stakes win in a row when he lines up for the $50,000 WEBN Stakes Saturday at Turfway, but he faces tough competition in Phantom Fury and his own stablemate, Magical Season. Those three and the other seven 3-year-olds in the race will be asked to answer questions that determine where they go from here.
Run at a mile, the WEBN Stakes is the second local prep for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) on March 24. Mr. Prankster closed to win the first prep, the 6 1/2 furlong Turfway Prevue Jan. 7. He was soundly beaten in his only race beyond sprint distance, the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill at a mile-and-a sixteenth, but it remains to be seen whether that defeat was a question of distance or level of competition. He posted a bullet five-furlong work at Turfway Jan. 28, the best of 22, and trainer Mike Maker has owned Turfway for four straight meets. John McKee rides.
Unraced as a 2-year-old until December, Phantom Fury will make his fourth career start in the WEBN Stakes. He comes in off two straight romps at Turfway, including a nearly 11-length win in an optional allowance at the WEBN distance Jan. 13. He set all the pace in that race and did nearly the same in his previous start, an eight-length win at sprint distance. With the distance question answered, the step up to stakes competition is the unknown. Rodney Prescott rides for trainer Mike Lauer.
Maker's other entry in the WEBN, Magical Season, ran into traffic in the shorter Turfway Prevue, was forced to go wide, and still made a strong late run to be second. He has already raced routes, and while he was out of the money in both, both came over the Churchill Downs turf. With sufficient speed in the WEBN to set him up, Magical Season may need only a cleaner trip this time. Victor Lebron, far and away the meet's leading rider, has the call.
Tiz Tee Time, also a closer, makes his first start of the year in the WEBN. He won at first asking in a maiden special at Keeneland in October but a poor break took him out of his next start, a mile-and-70-yards event at Fair Grounds in December. He posted two bullets in January and Phil Sims has him ready, so the question for this 3-year-old is which previous race was the real Tiz Tee Time. Ben Creed rides.
The field for the WEBN Stakes from the rail out: Sunday Mass (jockey Perry Ouzts); Phantom Fury; Texas Josh (Thomas Pompell); Antique Wedding (Marcelino Pedroza Jr.); Hand I Was Dealt (Luis Martinez Jr.); Magical Season; Tiz Tee Time; Tigerdude (Constantino Roman); Frankie is Rock (Julio Felix); and Mr. Prankster.
The WEBN Stakes has been sponsored since 2002 by Cincinnati rock radio station WEBN (102.7 FM). The race will go as the 10th of 11 races on Saturday. First post is 1:10 p.m.
The third and final local prep for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes is the 1 1/16-mile John Battaglia Memorial Stakes on March 3.