Coffeewithchris Brews up Another Stakes Score in $100K Miracle Wood

February 18, 2023

Coffeewithchris crosses the wire 1 ¼ lengths in front (Maryland Jockey Club)

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release

LAUREL, Md.— John Salzman Jr., Fred Wasserloos and Anthony Geruso’s Coffeewithchris, given a perfect trip from jockey Jaime Rodriguez, got the jump on favored Prince of Jericho and held off his rival in deep stretch to capture Saturday’s $100,000 Miracle Wood by 1 ¼ lengths at Laurel Park.

The 28th running of the one-mile Miracle Wood and 30th edition of the Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs led of a lineup of six stakes worth $900,000 in purses on a Winter Carnival program headlined by the $250,000 General George (G3) and $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3).

Coffeewithchris ($9.40), sent off as the 7-2 second choice in a field of seven, completed the distance in 1:37.54 over a fast main track for his second stakes win in three races following a 2 ½-length triumph over Prince of Jericho in the Dec. 26 Heft. Coffeewithchris ran second to Prince of Jericho in the Jan. 21 Spectacular Bid.

The Miracle Wood is the second of Laurel’s series of stakes for 3-year-olds leading up to the 148th Preakness (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course. It is followed by the $100,000 Private Terms March 18 and $125,000 Federico Tesio April 15, the latter a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness.

“I didn’t think he’d go a mile. I had to take the chance. There was nowhere else to run him unless I wanted to ship him,” Salzman said. “He ran a big race.”

Feeling Woozy, exiting a one-mile optional claiming allowance victory Jan. 29 at Laurel, broke sharply from the rail and led through a quarter-mile in 23.79 seconds and a half in 46.79, while Rodriguez pressed in second. Multiple stakes-placed Ricco and Triple Crown-nominated Seven’s Eleven and B West comprised the second flight with Price of Jericho in the clear outside.

Coffeewithchris pounced on Feeling Woozy approaching the stretch and took over the top spot once straightened for home as Rodriguez set down for a drive to the second finish line. Jockey Carol Cedeno swung Prince of Jericho widest of all off the turn and made a determined run at the leader but could not get by.

“He’s a tough horse to ride. If it was a mile to the first wire, I wouldn’t have been as concerned as I was a mile to the second wire. I told Jaime that in the paddock, and he saved a little bit and got him to the second wire,” Salzman said. “It worked out. I really didn’t think [Feeling Woozy] would be in front of me but we had talked about taking a little hold of him and just laying a little off the pace to try to get him to get the mile.”

Feeling Woozy was 2 ½ lengths behind Prince of Jericho in third, with another 3 ¼ lengths back to B West in fourth, followed by B West, We Don’t Need Roads and Seven’s Eleven. Salzman, who trains Coffeewithchris, also won the Miracle Wood last year with Local Motive.

“I told John I’m just going to let him break, get comfortable, and I’m going to ask him once I get to the quarter pole, I’m going to ask him if I got something left,” Rodriguez said. “Today, he surprised me because when I asked him he responded right away. He never gave up.”

Bred in Maryland by Thomas Rooney, Salzman purchased Coffeewithchris for $2,000 as a yearling in October 2021. The Ride On Curlin gelding graduated in his second start last May, a maiden claimer at historic Pimlico Race Course where he was promoted to first following a troubled trip. He became a stakes winner in the Heft, and was clearly second best in the Spectacular Bid 22 days later.

“Last time he was pressed the whole way. They were running and [Prince of Jericho] was sitting right behind him, kind of stalking, and didn’t give me a breather. The girl rode a smart race. As soon as my horse made a move, she made a move, and she was right on him,” Salzman said. “What really screwed me up in that race was we canceled a week, so we had to get him ready off the biggest race of his life, get him back to running another big race in three weeks, and that’s hard to do when a horse gives his best effort.”

The Miracle Wood was Coffeewithchris’ first race beyond a sprint. The Private Terms, at about 1 1/16 miles, is contested around two turns.

“Sometimes that’s easier for a speed horse, at least the first time. It’s not out of the question, but I want to see how this works out,” Salzman said. “I’ll talk to Jaime a little more and I’ll watch the replay a few more times. He got the mile. I want to see how he comes out of this. Knock on wood he’s been very sound, no issues. I’ll have to talk and think about it a little bit whether I want to go the next sixteenth or not.”

At ages 2 and 3, Maryland-bred Miracle Wood won or placed in 13 stakes including seconds in the Jim Beam (G3) and Woodlawn (G3) prior to a fifth behind Snow Chief as the longest shot on the board (20-1) in the 1986 Preakness Stakes (G1). He was retired in 1992 after winning 14 of 117 starts and nearly a half-million dollars in purse earnings.

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