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Blog - RACING

Photo of Paynter courtesy of Benoit & Associates

The Woodward Stakes is one of the most important races for older horses in the U.S. and also has been a great source of intriguing stories in recent years, including 3-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra winning the race in 2009 and 4-year-old filly prevailing in 2011.

This year’s race features another compelling, although much different, storyline as Paynter makes his first start on the East Coast since winning the 2012 Haskell Invitational Stakes. Between the Haskell and the 1 1/8-mile Woodward, Paynter survived a life-threatening bout of colitis and laminitis then returned to great fanfare at Hollywood Park 10 ½ months later and won his comeback race by 4 ½ lengths.

“Once we got him at New Bolton [where the surgery was performed], he was 100 percent after the [section of] intestine was removed,” said Paynter’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert. “We went real easy on him when he first came in. Some horses, when they come in off a layoff, pick it up right away. The first 60 days with him were critical.

“Then, all of a sudden,” added Baffert, “he was, 'I'm ready to go full contact.’ ”

After his comeback win, Paynter finished a game second to Kettle Corn in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. The Woodward will be the first Grade 1 test since the Haskell for Paynter, who also finished second in the 2012 Belmont Stakes.

“It’s an incredible story,” Baffert said. “It was so emotional, what he went through for two months. Now that he's back, I really want him to take on the big guys, because he's a big guy himself.”

The Woodward also drew 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned and multiple Grade 1 winners Ron the Greek and Flat Out. Whitney Invitational Handicap runner-up Successful Dan, third-place finisher Mucho Macho Man, and 2012 Travers Stakes winner Alpha round out the seven-horse field.

$750,000 Woodward Stakes

Saturday, Saratoga Race Course, Race 10, 5:45 p.m.

3-year-olds and older, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

Odds

1

Ron the Greek (FL)

Javier Castellano

Bill Mott

12-1 

2

Successful Dan (KY)

Julien Leparoux

Charlie LoPresti

5-2

3

Fort Larned (KY)

Brian Hernandez Jr.

Ian Wilkes

4-1

4

Flat Out (FL)

Junior Alvarado

Bill Mott

7-2

5

Paynter (KY)

Rafael Bejarano

Bob Baffert

3-1

6

Mucho Macho Man (FL)

Edgar Prado

Kathy Ritvo

6-1

7

Alpha (KY)

John Velazquez

Kiaran McLaughlin

15-1

All carry 126 pounds.

FORT LARNED WINNING 2013 BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC

ClassicInside

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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