STAR EMPIRE RETURNS IN WEBN STAKES
Prep for JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes Draws a Dozen
FLORENCE, Ky. (Feb. 9, 2017) – Star Empire (GB) heads a dozen 3-year-olds set to contest the $50,000 black type WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, a six-and-a-half furlong race that serves as the first local prep for the JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes (G3) March 25.
Although Star Empire (GB) was distanced in his last start, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in November, he entered that race off two Grade 3 placings, a second in the Futurity at Belmont in October and a third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington in September. The WEBN Stakes will be the first start of his sophomore season but several strong five-furlong breezes over Turfway’s Polytrack going back to December indicate trainer Wesley Ward has him ready. Breaking from post 10 should not hamper his off-the-pace style. Star Empire’s regular rider, Eclipse Award-winner Tyler Gaffalione, leaves Gulfstream to ride.
Also trained by Ward, Bound for Nowhere was an impressive maiden winner on his debut and only start, getting the first jump, leading every step and cruising to an easy six-length, six-furlong win at Turfway Jan. 25. If he proves to need the lead, however, breaking from post 11 in the WEBN could be a factor. Julio Garcia rides.
A son of Juvenile champ Hansen, En Hanse has speed aplenty, routinely breezing bullet works at Turfway for trainer Mike Maker. His two wins in six starts—one by more than seven lengths at Turfway and one by a hard-fought neck on the dirt at Churchill Downs—were both pace-setting victories. He was well beaten, however, in his most recent start, his only foray outside Kentucky, the Space City Stakes at Sam Houston. He breaks from the rail under Abel Lezcano.
Other Turfway winners look to step up, including Sailin’ Shoes, a Jeff Greenhill trainee who comes in off a mile optional allowance win against a short field. His two wins in three starts have come from off the pace. My Foolish Beau won his only start, a maiden special at Turfway Dec. 23, despite wandering in the stretch. Wayne Mackey trains. Trainer Ben Colebrook has had a successful run at Turfway and enters Noshackleshere, who blew away nine rivals in a maiden special two starts back but faltered against five here in his most recent race.
The field from the rail out: En Hanse (Lezcano); Preemptive Strike (Orlando Mojica); My Foolish Beau (Burke); Noshackleshere (Cannon); Sailin’ Shoes (Franklin); Hey Mike (Jack Gilligan); Hunka Burning Love (Albin Jimenez); Hawthorne shipper Party On Dude (Kelly Spanabel); Cake Pop (Rodney Prescott); Star Empire (Gaffalione); Bound for Nowhere (Garcia); and What’s On Tap (T. D. Hougton). Belterra Park stakes winner Cake Pop carries 122 lbs.; all others carry 118.
The WEBN Stakes is the sixth of nine races on Saturday’s card. First post is 6:15 p.m. ET.