Forty Under returns in Saturday's $100K Woodhaven
by Keith McCalmont
August Dawn Farm's Forty Under will make his first appearance since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in Saturday's $100,000 Woodhaven, on Closing Day of the spring meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Forty Under wintered at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Florida, where he has trained steadily since mid-January. The Uncle Mo grey shipped to New York last week and posted an easy four-furlong breeze in 50.88 seconds over the Belmont Park dirt training track in preparation for the Woodhaven, a 1 1/16-mile test for sophomores over the Big A inner turf.
"He's been training real well in preparation for this race," Englehart said. "I'm excited to see him run again. It's great to see him back out there."
Bred in Kentucky by Cedar Hill, Forty Under debuted in July on the dirt at Saratoga Race Course, finishing ninth, but graduated stylishly in August at second asking when switched to turf.
The well-bred individual, out of the stakes-winning Black Tie Affair broodmare Argent Affair, captured the Grade 3 Pilgrim in his next outing over a yielding Belmont Park turf with a strong stretch kick under regular pilot Manny Franco.
Franco retains the mount from post 3.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a pair of contenders, led by stakes winner Empire of War and impressive two-time winner Clint Maroon.
Three Diamonds Farm's Empire of War graduated at third asking, in his turf debut, when making all the running in a 1 1/16-mile maiden event on a Belmont turf rated good.
"He had always trained well, and we decided to change things up on him and it worked out," said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher.
Empire of War proved his class next time out with a rallying effort to win the Awad over a yielding Aqueduct turf, besting a field that included A Thread of Blue, who is undefeated in three starts since, including wins in the Dania Beach and Grade 3 Palm Beach on the Gulfstream Park turf.
"He ran very well that day. We'd breezed him over the turf and thought he was going to put in a big effort," said Hughes.
The well-bred Declaration of War bay, out of the Empire Maker broodmare Shehadmefromhello, is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winner Separationofpowers, who captured the 2017 Frizette and 2018 Longines Test on the dirt.
Jose Lezcano will pilot Empire of War for the first time from post 6.
St. Elias Stable's Clint Maroon arrives at the Woodhaven from a two-race win streak on the Gulfstream Park turf, where he broke his maiden traveling 1 1/16 miles on February 6 and followed up with a prominent score on March 10 in a one-mile optional claiming tilt that earned a field-best 84 Beyer Speed Figure.
"Both horses were breezing very well down at Palm Beach and shipped up here together. They shipped well and hopefully they'll both put in a good effort on Saturday," said Hughes.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will guide Clint Maroon from post 4.
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing's Five Star General will look to finally make his turf debut after winning a pair of off-the-turf events including his graduation day at Laurel in October and follow-up victory in the Central Park at Aqueduct.
The Distorted Humor bay has strong turf breeding to his credit as his dam, Party of Interest, is a half-sister to multiple graded-stakes winning grass specialist Criminologist.
Five Star General made his first two starts of 2019 on the Kentucky Derby trail finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs and fourth last time out in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on the Turfway Park synthetic.
Joe Bravo will pilot Five Star General for the first time from post 8.
Completing the field are Calumet Farm's homebred English Bee for trainer Graham Motion; Danny Chen, James Cestaro and Campbell Road Stables' Family Biz for trainer Ed Barker; and Tybalt for trainer Claudio Gonzalez and owners BB Horses and MCA Racing Stable.
Entered for main-track only is Alpha Delta Stables' Mount Travers, who ran third in last weekend's Bridgetown for Linda Rice.
The Woodhaven is slated as Race 6 as one of three features on the closing day card including the Park Avenue and Times Square divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes Series. First post time on Saturday's nine-race card is 1:30 p.m.