Whiskey Romeo, Clawback Head Capossela Field of Seven

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4:12 pm EST

Whiskey Romeo, unbeaten in three starts last year, and Jimmy Winkfield winner Clawback will clash in Saturday’s six-furlong Fred “Cappy” Capossela at Aqueduct.

The Capossela will be Whiskey Romeo’s 2013 debut and first start in New York. After breaking his maiden by 2 1/4 lengths in September at Parx Racing, Whiskey Romeo won a pair of stakes races at Laurel Park: the six-furlong James F. Lewis III in November and the seven-furlong Marylander on December 1.

In the Marylander, Whiskey Romeo stumbled badly at the start and nearly lost his rider. The colt quickly recovered, rushing up the inside to claim the lead and maintaining a safe advantage under a drive in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Since the Marylander, Whiskey Romeo has turned in six workouts at Palm Meadows in Florida.

“He’s a boy who definitely who wants to go to the lead, that’s for sure,” said trainer Tony Dutrow. “That was a good effort last time. He stumbled and recovered and was able to get the seven-furlong distance. They usually quit when that happens, so that shows he’s a horse with some quality.”

So will Whiskey Romeo be stretched out? Probably only to a point.

“This race is a starting point, and we’re excited to get him started on his 3-year-old season,” said Dutrow. “There will be plenty of opportunities for him once he gets going. I don’t think he’s limited to six furlongs by any means, but we’ll probably keep him around one turn.”

Cornelio Velasquez has picked up the mount aboard Whiskey Romeo, who drew post 3 and was installed as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.

Pre-race favoritism goes to Clawback at 6-5. Clawback has won two straight on the inner track at the Big A, including the Jimmy Winkfield at the Capossela distance on Jan. 21.

In his debut, Clawback finished second, beaten a half-length by Always in a Tiz in September at Saratoga. The third-place finisher, Revolutionary, went on to win the Grade III Withers. Clawback also finished second in his second start, reporting home 1 1/4 length behind Vyjack, winner of last Saturday's Grade III Gotham.

After breaking his maiden by three lengths in December, Clawback registered a 5-length win in the Winkfield.

“He’s obviously a very talented horse, and he’s been surrounded by good company ever since he debuted at Saratoga,” said trainer Rick Violette, Jr. “We decided to stick with sprinting for now, although we might want to stretch him out later in the year. He’s a horse who can set the pace or stalk. When you’re not one dimensional, it’s an asset. If the race is loaded with speed, he can sit off, and if the race has no speed, he can take over.”

Clawback will depart from post 5 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.

Gary Barber’s Rubysandpearls, third in the Winkfield after dueling with the winner, returned to win the Java Gold overnight stakes by a half-length in front-running fashion on Feb. 10. He’s one of two horses entered in the Capossela by trainer David Jacobson, who will also send out Tenango, a 4 1/4-length winner of a maiden claimer on Feb. 10 at Santa Anita. The Capossela will be Tenango’s first start for Jacobson and new ownership.
David Cohen has the assignment aboard Rubysandpearls, 12-1, from post 7, with Mike Luzzi named to ride 30-1 Tenango from post 2.

Maleeh, a half-length debut winner on Jan. 6 at Aqueduct, will face winners for the first time in the Capossela. In his lone race, Maleeh broke on top before settling in third, dropped back briefly to fourth on the far turn, commenced a rally with three-eighths to travel, and was never asked for his best when he ran down the pacesetter in the stretch.

“Irad rode him very confidently,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “It was nice to see on a first-time starter. He let him fall in where he wanted to be, which was nice to see. Win or lose, it’s always good to have a good experience first time out. He had a blowout this morning and is training well.”

With Ortiz on Clawback, Eddie Castro will ride Maleeh, a son of top sprinting mare Gold Mover. He drew the rail post was installed at 5-1.

The field also includes Weekend Hideaway, the 2012 Bertram F. Bongard winner. He was fifth in the Grade II Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park.

Silver Morgan, who captured an optional claimer on Feb. 16 at Laurel, rounds out the field.

The Capossela does not carry Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

Edited NYRA release with additional content by Dick Downey


Saturday, R9
Fred "Cappy" Capposela Stakes
Six Furlongs
Post Time: 4:52 ET

Post   Horse ML Jockey Wt Trainer
1 Maleeh (VA) 5-1 E. Castro 116 K. McLaughlin
2 Tenango (KY) 30-1 M. Luzzi 116 D. Jacobson
3 Whiskey Romeo (KY) 5-2 C. Velasquez 122 A. Dutrow
4 Weekend Hideaway (NY) 6-1 J. Ortiz 120 P. Serpe
5 Clawback (FL) 6-5 I. Ortiz Jr. 120 R. Violette Jr.
6 Silver Morgan (KY) 12-1 R. Maragh 118 G. Preciado
7 Rubysandpearls (FL) 12-1 D. Cohen 120 D. Jacobson

All run with Lasix except 1 - Maleeh

Owners: 1 - Shadwell Stable ; 2 - Roman, Lawrence, P. ; 3 - Bailey, Morris ; 4 - Red and Black Stable ; 5 - Klaravich Stables, Inc. and Lawrence, William H. ; 6 - Brooks, Gina ; 7 - Barber, Gary

Breeders: 1 - Edward P. Evans; 2 - Bill Vanlandingham; 3 - Mr. & Mrs. John Williams; 4 - Flying Zee Stables; 5 - Loren Nichols; 6 - Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd.; 7 - David Cassidy