The Wine Steward Returns to the Work Tab

February 23, 2024

The Wine Steward (outside) captures the Funny Cide Aug. 27 at Saratoga (NYRA/Coglianese)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Grade 1-placed The Wine Steward returned to the work tab at Gulfstream Park Saturday for trainer Mike Maker after a four-month respite. The New York-bred son of Vino Rosso covered three furlongs in 36.06 seconds, the bullet for that distance with 25 works that day.

The sophomore bay colt has not raced since finishing a gutsy second to Locked in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity on October 7 at Keeneland where he was defeated a half-length after pouncing from off the pace under Luis Saez. The Wine Steward was previously undefeated through three starts, including an open-company stakes triumph in the Bashford Manor at Ellis Park and a head score in the state-bred Funny Cide presented by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in August at Saratoga Race Course.

Peter Proscia of Paradise Farms Corp. said he is excited for the year to come for The Wine Steward, who was scratched from the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November.

“We’ll take it slow with him and I’m hoping for good things,” said Proscia. “Hopefully he’s on an ‘every Saturday’ work schedule now and we’ll keep an eye on him. He’s a New York-bred that has really shown himself and we’re hoping for good things as a three-year-old.”

Bred by Sequel Thoroughbreds, Lakland Farm and Mark Toothaker, The Wine Steward was a $340,000 purchase by Maker at last year’s OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training where the colt breezed an eighth of a mile in 10.2 seconds. He is out of the To Honor and Serve mare Call to Service, a half-sister to graded stakes-winners Giant Game and Isotherm, as well as Grade 1-placed Gio Game and the unraced Adande, the dam of Grade 3-winner Skelly.

Proscia said The Wine Steward has already provided him with plenty of thrills as a juvenile.

“Last year was great,” said Proscia. “He’s just a real, honest horse. A couple races he got squeezed on the rail and he [overcame it]. It’s very fun to have a horse like that. We’ll take it easy and when he gets up to a couple of half-mile works, we’ll strategize where we want to go with him.”

Maker’s Candy (inside) ups his win streak to three Jan. 27 at Aqueduct (NYRA/Coglianese)

Proscia and Staudacher’s stakes-winner Maker’s Candy, who is also co-owned by Maxis Stable and John Huber, will look to keep his recent win streak afloat in Saturday’s $100,000 Haynesfield, a one-turn mile for older New York-breds.

Also trained by Maker, the 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt has won his last three starts – all at the Haynesfield distance under Manny Franco with prominent efforts, taking a state-bred optional-claimer in November ahead of open-company scores versus winners in December and January.

“Half of me is mad because I can’t be there for the race, but that’s OK. He can win without us – that’s just fine,” Proscia said, with a laugh.

Bred by Newtownanner Stud, the $200,000 purchase at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training sale captured the state-bred Mike Lee in May at Belmont.

Maker’s Candy is out of the winning Bluegrass Cat mare Purple Cat, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Sky Diva and multiple graded stakes-placed Quick Little Miss.

The Maker barn has seen great success at the Big A so far this year, including with William J. Butler’s talented homebred My Mane Squeeze, who registered a career-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure when notching her third consecutive stakes score in Sunday’s $100,000 Maddie May, a one-turn mile for New York-bred sophomore fillies.

The Audible dark bay proved much the best with a stalking trip under Jose Lezcano as she reeled in Landed and powered through the wire a 4 3/4-length winner. The victory added to state-bred stakes scores here in the one-mile Maid of the Mist in October and the 6 1/2-furlong Franklin Square in January.

Nelson Donis, Maker’s Belmont Park-based assistant, said My Mane Squeeze has continued to train well following her latest score.

“She’s doing good, and does well every time she runs,” said Donis. “She does good with more distance.”

My Mane Squeeze could try to stretch out in open company in the nine-furlong Grade 3, $200,000 Gazelle on April 6, offering 100-50-25-15-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points.

My Mane Squeeze has banked $293,960 in total purses through a record of 6-4-0-2. A second-generation homebred, she is out of the three-time winning Speightstown mare In Spite of Mama and is a half-sister to the Maker-trained Butler homebred Rotknee, who is graded stakes-placed with five stakes victories.

Rotknee, a 5-year-old Runhappy horse, is pointing to a start in the Grade 3, $175,000 Tom Fool Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for older horses on March 2 here as part of the lucrative Gotham Day card.

“He’s good, too,” said Donis. “He’s looking good and maybe he’ll race on the second.”

Rotknee has breezed back five-eighths twice over the Belmont Park dirt training track, posting a 1:01 flat bullet last Saturday and an easy 1:04 flat Monday.

@jonathanstettin with another winner for @AmWager customer as Creative Courage surges back to take GP6

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