Three-year-olds return in the Jimmy Winkfield
By Matt Shifman
The seven-furlong $150,000 Jimmy Winkfield for 3-year-olds drew a field of seven which includes three impressive maiden winners and a few who have already raced on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Jerome.
The Jimmy Winkfield was named for James Winkfield in 2005. He was the last black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby and he won it twice: in 1901 with His Eminence and with Alan-a-Dale in 1902.
Recent maiden winners Haikal, Joevia, and Tikhvin Flew will step up to stakes company to see if they may fit on the Kentucky Derby trail. A good run in the Jimmy Winkfield may lead to a try in the one-mile Grade 3 Gotham on March 9, which carries a total of 85 Derby points.
Haikal [PP 3 – ML 9-5] is a home-bred Shadwell run who is a half-brother to the speedy sprinter Takaful. The son of Daaher, who is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, has shown a fast closing move in both of his starts, including a flashy rail move to get his initial victory on December 15.
“He’s made some good progression since his last race,” said McLaughlin. “In each of his starts, he’s closed well. He’s a little more relaxed than Takaful, who was extremely talented and a bit difficult to train in the mornings, but we’re still trying to figure out how far Haikal can go. Depending on how he performs on Saturday, we’ll keep the Gotham in consideration going forward.”
Tikhvin Flew [PP 4 – ML 5-2] was heavily bet in his debut for the Steve Asmussen barn. Under the care of assistant trainer Toby Sheets, he trained at Belmont Park to win that start by more than a length in 1:24-2, a respectable time for seven-furlongs at Aqueduct. The third-place finisher came back to win his next start.
Joevia [PP 2 – ML 15-1] was a debut winner at Monmouth Park in the summer. From the Greg Sacco barn of Jerome winner Mind Control, he has also been training at Belmont.
“He was Mind Control’s workmate when they first came up from Ocala,” said Sacco. “I thought those two were at the top of our group as far as our 2-year-olds when we first got them. Following that maiden win he suffered a minor setback with a hyperextended knee injury. We backed off of him and let him fully recover a full 90 days and he’s continued to show good works in his return. We know it’s a tall order to come back in a stakes race, typically we’d look for an allowance to come back in, but he’s training well so we figured we’d take our shot.”
The field includes three horses who finished behind Mind Control in the Jerome and will be looking to take advantage of the cutback in distance. Direct Order [PP 5 – ML 6-1] was sixth after having won his prior two starts for Jason Servis. Family Biz [PP 6 – ML 6-1] earned two Kentucky Derby points when he ran third. Gates of Dawn [PP 7 – ML 9-2] is also trained by Servis was fourth.
Parx Racing based runner Jump for Alex [PP 1 – ML 8-1] completes the field. He is a recent allowance winner who has hit the board in five of six career starts.
The Jimmy Winkfield is carded as race 8 of 9 and with post time scheduled for 4:34 pm ET, it is leg 2 of the NYRA Cross-Country Pick 5.