Webslinger Gives American Turf His All for D. J. Stable
With a packed Kentucky Derby Day crowd cheering him forward May 6 at Churchill Downs, Webslinger gave it all he had in the final moments of the $500,000 American Turf Stakes (G2T) to secure the first graded win of his career and hand his owners what trainer Mark Casse said is their 2,500th win.
“It’s funny because he’s the only horse we had running today and it’s the most relaxed I’ve been (with no) Derby horses. (But) you always want Derby horses,” said Casse, who spoke with a hoarse voice caused by his enthusiastic reaction to the weekend’s events.
Campaigned by the husband and wife team of Leonard and Lois Green under D. J. Stable, the couple was not there in person to see the victory after spending all of Friday at the Louisville oval for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) where they started champion Wonder Wheel.
“This is 2,500 (wins) for the owner. …They have become such big owners for us,” Casse said. “We started out three years ago with one horse and now we’ve been to the Derby, we’ve won the Breeders’ Cup. They’re getting stronger and stronger, and they’re wonderful people and deserve it.”
The 3-year-old gelded son of Constitution raced in the middle of the nearly packed 13-horse field under Javier Castellano, while Mo Stash set much of the pace over the 1 1/16 miles with Desert Duke and Carl Spackler following in second and third, respectively, in:23.81 and:47.97. Down the backstretch and around the final turn it was still all Mo Stash who kicked forward with Luis Saez at the helm in 1:11.52 and 1:35.45. As the stretch disappeared and the finish approached, Mo Stash’s hopeful wire-to-wire win was quickly squashed by a demanding Webslinger, who soon hooked up with Far Bridge and Major Dude, both of who had slid past Mo Stash and were making their own late charges to the wire. A stubborn Webslinger prevailed, crossing the wire a nose in front of Far Bridge in 1:41.54.
Favorite Major Dude, who bypassed the Derby after not gaining enough qualifying points, was third. Mo Stash finished a respectable fourth.
Webslinger ($47.34), making his first start since a third-place effort last out in the Transylvania Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland on April 7, improved his record to 3-2-1 from eight starts and increased his earnings to $723,800.
“I think he improved from the last race at Keeneland. He broke so well out of the gate today from the 14 (hole). I took advantage to settle the ground the best I could in the first turn and let him develop himself,” Castellano said. “I like the way he ran today and the way he finished today. I’m very pleased and blessed and thankful for Mark that he gave me the opportunity to ride the horse.”
The $50,000 purchase for his owners from Blue River Bloodstock’s consignment at the 2022 Ocala Breeders’ Sales June 2-Year-Olds in Training and Horse of Racing Age Sale finished 11th in his first trip against graded company in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) last fall when he was not able to break out of traffic.
“He just needed to be a little closer to the pace. He’s a neat horse; he had a really tough trip in the Breeders’ Cup or he would’ve been right there,” Casse said.
The trainer added that future starts for the gelding will likely be another try at the grade 1 level later this year and mentioned the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby (G1T) as a target.