2021 Woodward Stakes Quick Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Honor Code, Mayfield, and Art Collector (left to right) headline Saturday’s Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park. (Eclipse Sportswire/Eclipse Sportswire/Coady Photography)

Saturday’s feature race at Belmont Park is the $500,000 Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. After more than a decade at Saratoga, the Woodward returns to Belmont, where it was a staple of the fall meet for decades. Although the Woodward is not a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, five horses have parlayed a Woodward win into a Classic triumph later in the year: Alysheba in 1988, Cigar in 1995, Ghostzapper in 2004, Saint Liam in 2005, and Gun Runner in 2017.

The Woodward will be run at 1 ⅛ miles around one turn on dirt. It’s scheduled as the 10th race, with post time set for 5:45 p.m. ET. “America’s Day at the Races” on FS2 will feature coverage of the Woodward and the entire Saturday card at Belmont Park.

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Let’s meet the field for this year’s Woodward Stakes.

Janet Garaguso/NYRA Photo

1. Dr Post

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: St. Elias Stable

Career record: 10 starts – 4 wins – 1 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $820,635

Earnings per start: $82,064

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Quality Road – Mary Delaney, by Hennessy

Age: 4

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After a few near-misses in major stakes in his 3-year-old season, Dr. Post has begun to put it all together as a 4-year-old. He started his season with a graded stakes win over this track, taking the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes by 1 ½ lengths on May 1. After a non-threatening fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Mile, Dr. Post bounced back with a 1 ¼-length win in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup. Most recently, he finished third in the Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic, closing good ground after making a wide move in the stretch. He’s been in consistently good form all year, and returns to a track where he’s already enjoyed success this year. He should sit a good trip rating just off the pace and will be in prime position to make a winning move. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Woodward three times: Lawyer Ron in 2007; Quality Road in 2010; and Liam’s Map in 2015.

Eclipse Sportswire

2. Maxfield

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Owner: Godolphin

Career record: 9 starts – 7 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $1,450,902

Earnings per start: $161,211

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115

Pedigree: Street Sense – Velvety, by Bernardini

Age: 4

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Maxfield entered the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes on Aug. 7 at Saratoga as a major Horse of the Year contender. After being beset by injuries as a 3-year-old, he rattled off three graded stakes wins in the first six months of his 4-year-old campaign, including a sharp 3 ¼-length win in the Stephen Foster Stakes in June. As the second betting choice in the Whitney, he chased the speedy Knicks Go around the track and finished second, 1 ¾ lengths in front of third-place Silver State. It was a fine performance, but Maxfield enters the Woodward with a slightly diminished reputation. However, he should get a more honest pace to run into Saturday. While there’s some fast horses in the race, no one is as imposing as Knicks Go. Maxfield has proven several times over that he has a powerful closing kick, and that will play well on Belmont’s sweeping turns. If he shows up with the best version of himself, he’s going to be very tough to beat, and will thrust himself back into the Horse of the Year conversation. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s Godolphin won its lone Whitney to date in 2013 with Alpha.

Coady Photography

3. Art Collector

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owner: Bruce Lunsford

Career record: 14 starts – 7 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $1,260,305

Earnings per start: $90,022

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115

Pedigree: Bernardini – Distorted Legacy, by Distorted Humor

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Art Collector looked like a serious Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve contender last year, scoring prep wins in the Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and the Ellis Park Derby. Unfortunately, a foot injury knocked him out of consideration for the run for the roses, and he ended his 3-year-old season unplaced in two races. His 4-year-old campaign did not start until late June, but he’s more than made up for lost time, posting wins in the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Charles Town Classic. He won both of those races while sitting on or near the early lead, and it’s likely he’ll try that strategy again. He’s improved with every race this year, including earning a career-best Equibase Speed Figure last out. It’s very possible that we haven’t seen the best of him yet, and if an even better version of Art Collector shows up, he’s going to be a serious contender. Bill Mott shares the record for most Woodward wins by a trainer at four with Robert Frankel and Elliott Burch. He won with Cigar in 1995 and 1996, To Honor and Serve in 2012, and Yoshida in 2018. Luis Saez won this race last year aboard Global Campaign.

4. Mo Gotcha

Jockey: Jalon Samuel

Trainer: Naipaul Chatterpaul

Owner: Knight R.B. Stables

Career record: 21 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 6 thirds

Career earnings: $291,724

Earnings per start: $13,892

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Pedigree: Uncle Mo – Tie Dye, by Hard Spun

Age: 5

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding is a three-time winner this year, with all of those wins coming in claiming races. He stepped up in class for the Sept. 18 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational Stakes at Belmont last out and almost pulled off the 18.60-1 upset. Mo Gotcha set the early pace before tiring in the late stages of the 1 ⅝-mile contest. He held on to finish third, beaten 3 ¾ lengths by upset winner Locally Owned. While he’s in career-best form, having run back-to-back lifetime top figures, he’ll still have to improve a few points to contend in this race. Jockey Jalon Samuel looks for his first graded stakes win on Saturday. Naipaul Chatterpaul has won two graded stakes races, with his lone Grade 1 stakes victory coming in the 2011 Manhattan Handicap with Mission Approved.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

5. Code of Honor

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Trainer: Shug McGaughey

Owner: Will Farish

Career record: 17 starts – 7 wins – 4 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $2,881,320

Earnings per start: $169,489

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 120

Pedigree: Noble Mission – Reunited, by Dixie Union

Age: 5

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After a very successful 3-year-old season (which included a pair of Grade 1 wins) and an up-and-down 4-year-old year, Code of Honor has raced just twice as a 5-year-old. He started 2021 with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational and then went to the sidelines for several months. Code of Honor returned in late August with a win in the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park, where he rated off the pace and coasted by in the stretch. He earned a career-high Equibase figure of 120 in that race, which is the highest mark anyone in the Woodward has earned at any point in their careers. Code of Honor returns to a track where he’s enjoyed success, having not missed the board in six races at Belmont. Making his second start off a long break, he’s a candidate to take a big step forward. Shug McGaughey has won the Woodward twice, with Polish Navy in 1987 and Easy Goer in 1989. Paco Lopez, coming off a dominant season at Monmouth Park, rode Code of Honor to victory in the Iselin and keeps the mount Saturday. He won the Woodward in 2014 with Itsmyluckyday.

Adam Coglianese/NYRA

6. Forza Di Oro

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owner: Don Alberto Stable

Career record: 7 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $309,375

Earnings per start: $44,196

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 113

Pedigree: Speightstown – Filare l’Oro, by Hard Spun

Age: 4

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Although he’s had some trouble staying on the track, Forza di Oro has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career. Last year, he won the Grade 3 Discovery Stakes in his fifth career start on Nov. 28, which instantly stamped him as a major prospect for major older horse races this year. Unfortunately, he went on the sidelines after the Discovery and did not return to the races until July 21 at Saratoga. On the strength of an impressive allowance optional claiming win, he was the post-time favorite in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga on Sept. 4. He set the pace and held well, but faded in the last eighth and ended up third. Saturday, he’ll make his third start off the layoff and cut back in distance. He’s still very lightly raced for a horse of his age, and has the potential to take more steps forward. A front-runner like Forza Di Oro has an advantage in 1 ⅛-mile races at Belmont which feature a long straightaway. He’ll be able to set the early pace at his own tempo without any turns to worry about, and that may enable him to sneak away. Junior Alvarado won the Whitney in 2019 aboard Preservationist.

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