Belmont or G1 Woody Stephens on the Table for The Wine Steward

May 26, 2024

The Wine Steward prevails in the Funny Cide Aug. 27 at Saratoga (Susie Raisher)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Grade 1-placed New York-bred The Wine Steward is under consideration for both the 10-furlong Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and the seven-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun, both slated for Saturday, June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Mike Maker, the son of 2019 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic-winner Vino Rosso was last seen finishing a close second to Belmont Stakes contender Antiquarian in the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 11 at Belmont at the Big A.

The Wine Steward has finished second in each of his last three outings, including in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity in October at Keeneland, and in the Grade 3 Lexington to kick off his sophomore campaign in April over the same course.

The Wine Steward had his first work since the Peter Pan yesterday at Churchill Downs, covering a half-mile in 48 seconds flat.

“I was there and he worked pretty easy and looked good,” said Staudacher. “Mike is going to have to decide on which race in the next week or so. We’re still undecided. He had a couple tough races, so we’ve got to make sure he bounces back right.”

The Wine Steward graduated on debut sprinting five furlongs last May at Belmont Park ahead of an open-company stakes win in the six-furlong Bashford Manor at Ellis Park. He followed with a head triumph over multiple graded stakes-placed El Grande O in the state-bred Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital sprinting six furlongs at Saratoga en route to his two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Futurity.

“It depends on the trip, but I think he can get it [the distance]– he’s bred to get it and should be able to,” Staudacher said regarding the 10-furlong Belmont Stakes distance. “I think he likes the track up there, so we’ll see what Mike decides to do. We just have to see how the horse is doing. He’s a really nice horse and we don’t want to rush him. We’d love to be in the Belmont, so we have our fingers crossed.”

In addition to The Wine Steward, Paradise Farms Corp. and Staudacher are also considering graded stakes-winner Sugoi and graded stakes-placed Really Good for either the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan or the two-mile Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup, which will be a ‘Golden Ticket’ event offering the winner an automatic berth into the Group 1, AUD$8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup.

“It will just depend on who goes where,” said Staudacher.

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