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Eightyfiveinafifty Woody Stephens Target

Eightyfiveinafifty, electrifying winner of the Bay Shore on April 3 at Aqueduct, will seek to flash his abundant speed and run away from a select field Saturday in the 25th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens presented by Emirates Airline on Saturday at Belmont Park.


The seven-furlong dirt sprint for 3-year-olds is one of five graded stakes on the undercard of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, the final jewel in racing’s Triple Crown.


The narrow 9-5 choice on the morning line, Eightyfiveinafifty, a son of Forest Camp owned by Moirano, Lerner and Team Stallion Racing, grabbed the notice of the racing world with a blazing and nearly effortless 17¼-length maiden victory on  January 9 at Aqueduct. After a troubled trip in his next start, Eightyfiveinafifty regrouped and ripped through the Bay Shore, running seven furlongs in 1:21.89 and winning by 2½ lengths over subsequent Derby Trial winner Hurricane Ike.


Trainer Gary Contessa exuberantly talked of getting his speedy star to the Kentucky Derby via the Derby Trial, but the colt didn’t handle the muddy track that day at Churchill Downs and now returns to New York to get back on course.


“I honestly didn’t know what his limitations might be, and he ran like a horse that didn’t like that muddy, deep track,” Contessa said of Eightyfiveinafifty’s effort in the Derby Trial.


Chief rivals D’ Funnybone, 2-1 on the morning line, and Discreetly Mine, 5-2, are terrifically fast, too, with D’ Funnybone winning the seven-furlong Hutcheson and Swale this past winter at Gulfstream Park. In the one-mile Withers on April 24 at Aqueduct, D’Funnybone dueled with Eightyfiveinafifty’s stablemate Castaneda through fractions of 45.64 seconds and 1:09.27 for six furlongs before both horses tired turning for home.


Owned by Paul Pompa, D’ Funnybone, who won the Saratoga Special and Futurity last summer and picked up two more Grade 2 victories in the Florida races, puzzled trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. in the Withers.


“He’s coming into this race good, and I don’t know how to explain his last race,” Dutrow said. “I didn’t change anything with his training [for the Woody Stephens]. He’s been training good. Our horse doesn’t want to go to the lead, so he loves to have a target; and he likes Belmont.”


Indeed, D’ Funnybone won the seven-furlong Futurity on the Belmont main track by 4¾ lengths over Discreetly Mine. He also is undefeated in three starts at the distance.


Discreetly Mine, trained by Todd Pletcher for E. Paul Robsham Stables, has three seconds in three starts at Belmont Park, all as a 2-year-old.

Pletcher believed the son of Mineshaft, out of a Private Account mare, might be perfectly bred for the Classics and sent Discreetly Mine to Louisiana to get on the Derby trail. The colt responded with a gate-to-wire victory in the Risen Star and then finished fourth as the favorite to another Pletcher runner, Mission Impazible, in the Louisiana Derby.


Sent on to Kentucky, Discreetly Mine made a good middle move before being bumped and tiring to 13th in the Kentucky Derby.


Now, he returns to sprinting.


“He’s training great,” said Pletcher assistant Jonathan Thomas. “It’s a good fit for him. He’s run some very good races over this track as a 2-year-old. He bounced out of the Derby in a very good shape. He went right back into training. He’s able to adapt to different distances but seems to excel to shorter distances.”


Kramer Stables and Will Rosenfeld’s Thank U Philippe appears to be the wildcard in the Woody Stephens. While the son of Proud Accolade has just two wins in 11 starts, and his lone stakes victory came in Florida-bred company at Tampa Bay Downs, he has run several very competitive races.


Thank U Philippe has finished second to Jackson Bend, Buddy’s Saint and Wood Memorial winner Eskendereya — all top-class 3-year-olds.


“He was second to Eskendereya in a real good effort,” said trainer Martin Wolfson, who will ship Thank U Philippe to Belmont from his base in Calder with a battalion of horses for the Belmont card. “I tried to stretch him out, not to see if he was a Triple Crown horse but see if he was a stretch-out horse. Throw out his route races, and his seven-eighth races are huge.”


Thank U Philippe’s two victories both came at the Woody Stephens distance. Garrett Gomez picks up the mount.


“They’re going to really be rolling, and Garrett’s a really good finisher,” Wolfson said.


Sovereign Stable’s Remand, trained by John Terranova, completes the field. The son of Successful Appeal finished third in the Bay Shore and third in the Dwyer.


The field for the Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens:








Eightyfiveinafifty (KY)

R. Dominguez


G. Contessa



Remand (KY)

J. Velazquez


J. Terranova



Discreetly Mine (KY)

J. Castellano


T. Pletcher



Thank U Philippe (FLA)

G. Gomez


M. Wolfson



D Funnybone (FLA)

E. Prado


R. Dutrow Jr.






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