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Awesome Again's Sir Winston The Hero of 151st Belmont Stakes

06.09.2019 -

Tracy Farmer's homebred Sir Winston got through a hole on the rail and then split horses to grant Mark Casse a second American Classic victory just three weeks after War of Will landed the Canadian Hall of Fame trainer his first.

“He's an amazing little horse. I'm very proud of him because he's kind of what our operation represents, and that is I feel like we develop horses,” Casse said. “I have this philosophy. I start every horse out thinking that they are going to win the Kentucky Derby, or the Oaks. That's what I do. And I will try different surfaces; I will try different methods. With a horse like Sir Winston, you know, it paid off there.”

A 3-year-old son of Awesome Again, Sir Winston defeated 9-5 favorite Tacitus by a length at the wire and completed 1 1/2 miles over Big Sandy's fast main track in 2:28.30. Jockey Joel Rosario crafted a beautiful trip to win his second Belmont Stakes, following a victory with Tonalist in 2014.

“He's a very nice horse and you have to let him do this thing. I'm really happy,” said Rosario, who also won the Belmont when Tonalist ended California Chrome's Triple Crown bid in 2014. “It seemed like he didn't mind [being] inside. I just took my time with him. For the distance, he broke very good. Today, he was a little closer, so I let him be where he was comfortable.”

Joevia left his inside post position with good speed and made the lead, tracked by Tax through moderate early fractions of :23.92 and :48.79. Spinoff was up close as well, with a wide War of Will flanking him in fourth through the sweeping clubhouse turn. Everfast kept pace along the rail there, with Tacitus behind him and between horses. Meanwhile, Sir Winston had a good position at the rail in third-last down the backstretch, saving ground and staying relaxed about seven lengths behind the early leaders.

After three-quarters in 1:13.54, Rosario gave Sir Winston his cue to move up the rail from seventh. He eased inside of Everfast and took up running in fourth position, but still found himself behind a wall of frontrunners rounding the last bit of the far turn.

Joevia and Tax had come head-and-head by the top of the lane, and with Sir Winston garnering the golden rail, the favored Tacitus was forced to take the overland route. The big gray was sent about six wide around the turn while second choice War of Will was five wide, but each was moving well and appeared to have every chance at the head of the lane.

Sir Winston saw daylight to the outside of Tax, and Rosario guided him over about four paths to take the opening just ahead of War of Will. The colt's turn of foot put him on the lead at the eighth pole, and his ground-saving trip left Rosario enough in the tank to fend off the late challenge from Tacitus.

At the wire, Sir Winston was a length ahead of Tacitus to win the Belmont. Joevia ran on near the rail to hold third over a hard-trying Tax, while Master Fencer didn't find his best stride until the final eighth of a mile but was absolutely flying to gain fifth.

Casse said War of Will and Sir Winston could both target the 10-furlong Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course.

“I tell you what, they all better watch out going to a mile-and-a-quarter because Sir Winston will come running, too. Sir Winston is a pretty serious horse, so don't count him out,” Casse said.

“Again I'll talk to Mr. Farmer but I don't think there's much out there he would enjoy more than winning the Travers, so I'm sure he'll be all for that,” he added.

Foaled on his owner's Shadowlawn Farm in Midway, Ky., Sir Winston is a second-generation homebred out of the Grade 3 winner La Gran Bailadora (Afleet Alex). Farmer purchased Sir Winston's granddam, Affirmed Dancer (Affirmed), as a weanling at Keeneland for $150,000, and raced her to a listed stakes win and graded placing.

Sir Winston's career began with a pair of off-the-board finishes at Churchill and Saratoga before the colt broke his maiden in his third outing at Woodbine. He followed that up with a third in the G3 Grey Stakes and win in the listed Display Stakes, but as a 3-year-old he was unable to earn enough points to contest the Kentucky Derby. His best finish this year before the Belmont came in a runner-up effort to Global Campaign in the G3 Peter Pan Stakes. Overall, Sir Winston has won three of his 10 starts to earn over $900,000.

-edited from www.paulickreport.com

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