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Undefeated Woodwin W Tepid Choice in Penn Mile

Undefeated Woodwin W Tepid Choice in Penn Mile: Cheap horses that rise and become successful always make for a good article subject, and Woodwin W fits the category. Purchased for 12k at OBS Fall Mixed Sale last October, Woodwin W made his debut on a sloppy track a few months later in February at Tampa Bay Downs and won. He won three turf races after that, including an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park during their “good” meet and the ungraded James W. Murphy at Pimlico. Owned by Woody Weeks and trained by Jamie Ness, Woodwin W has earned over $114k overall, which is not terrible for a cheap horse (relatively speaking). This three-year-old gelding is the top pick for the Penn Mile (GIII), and the next few paragraphs will explain further why.

Woodwin W Penn Mile 2015

Purchased for 12k at OBS Fall Mixed Sale last October, Woodwin W made his debut on a sloppy track a few months later in February at Tampa Bay Downs and won. He won three turf races after that, including an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park during their “good” meet and the ungraded James W. Murphy at Pimlico.
Photo: Coglianese

Cross out the debut since Woodwin W won on a sloppy track, and that has little relation to how a horse performs on turf. The forecast calls for some rain, although Penn National is unlikely to take the race off turf because of the graded status of this event. Moving one race ahead to his March 18 effort at Gulfstream, Woodwin W ran great winning a 7.5 furlong route race on turf.

Some might think “What, how is 7.5 furlongs not a sprint? That sounds strange.” At Gulfstream Park, races at the distance are around two turns and there is a healthy run-up involved.

Woodwin W backed up the Gulfstream win by taking an allowance event at Pimlico. The comments on the side indicate he was on the rail and dueled, which is always a tough scenario. He won by over a length, a good sign on turf despite the short margin because races tend to end up clustered. Plus, the field size was 11, and defeating a large allowance field is great because they offer more legitimate challengers.

Finally, Woodwin W won his stakes debut at Pimlico impressively while racing wide and making an early move. Sure, fellow Penn Mile competitor Force the Pass came at him late, but Woodwin W worked harder through the far turn and had a right to fade slightly. According to BRIS, jockey Jevian Toledo wins at a 19% rate on turf and he should secure a decent position from post position two.

Force the Pass might pick up the win if a hot pace develops up front and he makes first run from the clear. He had three lengths over the third place finisher at Pimlico and previously won two different turf races at Gulfstream Park. In his career debut, which came at Gulfstream too, he finished a good second. Jockey Joel Rosario will want want to secure a decent position from post eight in order to avoid being caught wide.

Of course, no turf analysis of an important race is complete without a Chad Brown-trained horse, and Night Prowler might make Brown supporters happy if he duplicates his winning Transylvania Stakes (GIII) form. From post position six and with Javier Castellano aboard, he will make his presence felt somehow. The speed figures using BRIS do not indicate this horse is better than Woodwin W or Force the Pass, but speed figures for turf races tend to be useless in most instances anyway.

Readers will take issue with that statement as well. Everyone uses their own methods to pick winners and that is fine. Can a final turf speed figure mean something though? The races are fundamentally different than dirt races, with bunched fields and horses spending more time inside a box or behind a wall than actually running. Compare turf races to dirt races, where those races result in a separation on the far turn and the horses run harder for longer periods of time.

Granny’s Kitten takes up the fourth preference slot in this analysis, and the Michael Maker-trained colt sired by Kitten’s Joy certainly looks impressive on paper. His debut came in a turf sprint at Belmont Park last summer and he won by over four lengths, the equivalent of romping in a dirt race. In Granny’s Kitten’s next start, just a few weeks ago at Churchill Downs, he won by over two lengths in a turf allowance. From the rail, Jose Ortiz hops on board. Ortiz’s presence gives some room for pause, as he tends to not win turf races.

Turf races are difficult because of the nature of the surface and how they play out. More troubled trips occur with all the boxing and blocking that happens. Horses fail to “wire” the field from start to finish as often because horses cannot slide through grass as easily. Certain fans prefer this style of racing, and that is understandable as they provide for exciting finishes. Box Woodwin W, Force the Pass, Night Prowler and Granny’s Kitten. Use them in horizontal wagers such as the pick 3 or 4 too. Hopefully, they each avoid an insurmountable amount of trouble.

The Penn Mile Stakes takes place at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pennsylvania on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The Penn Mile is the fourth race of the day with a 7:22 post time. 

Penn Mile Stakes 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race 4 7:22 PM ET
1 Granny’s Kitten 6-1 Ortiz/Maker
2 Woodwin W 6-1 Toledo/Ness
3 Papacoolpapacool 4-1 Trujillo/D’Amato
4 Ocho Ocho Ocho 5-1 Smith/Cassidy
5 Comanche’s Storm 15-1 Homeister, Jr./Bush
6 Night Prowler 3-1 Castellano/Brown
7 High Noon Rider 15-1 Castro/Weaver
8 Force the Pass 6-1 Rosario/Goldberg
9 My Point Exactly 15-1 Leyva/Kaplan
10 Tuba 20-1 Clark/Smith
11 Gallery 30-1 Lezcano/Dini

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