Winter Soldier Ready For Battle In Wellwood

Winter Soldier
Published: August 25, 2023 03:59 pm EDT

Winter Soldier is a fighter, which might be the quality driver Andy McCarthy most admires when it comes to the two-year-old male trotter.

“He has the will to win,” McCarthy said. “You don’t really come across many horses that just enjoy picking a target and getting by them. It’s like a game to him. He really enjoys it. It’s a huge asset in a horse when they just want to beat other horses.”

Winter Soldier is the 7-2 morning-line second choice in Saturday’s $620,000 William Wellwood Memorial for rookie trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He is one of two horses in the final for trainer Tony Alagna, who also will send out 9-2 third choice Mars Hill. Both were elimination winners last week.

T C I, who won the last of the three Wellwood elims, is the 9-5 favourite for trainer Ron Burke and driver David Miller.

The winner of the William Wellwood Memorial will receive a free slot in the 2023 Mohawk Million on Sept. 23.

Winter Soldier won his elimination by 2-1/4 lengths over Send It In Hanover in 1:55.2. The son of Face Time Bourbon-Jumalay Mass, purchased under the name Tap Phoned for $140,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, has won two of three career races. His 1:53.4 victory in a division of the Kindergarten Classic Series on July 28 at The Meadowlands is tied for the third-fastest mile of the season by a two-year-old male trotter.

“He’s a really cool horse,” said McCarthy, who drives the colt for owners Peter Alagna and Pryde Stables. “I’ve loved him the whole way through. He’s an absolute professional. I’ve kind of been just tripping him out, but I think he’s getting to be where he’s quite versatile. I think I can do whatever I want with him now.”

In his three races, no horse has come a faster last quarter-mile than Winter Soldier.

“He’s got a lot of go and he did it pretty easily the other night,” McCarthy said. “I just want to make sure I’ve got him close enough at the head of the stretch.”

McCarthy also drove Mars Hill in his elimination (subbing for brother Todd) and posted a three-length victory over Amazing Catch in 1:55.1. Mars Hill, a homebred son of Muscle Hill-Cardinale owned by Willow Oak Ranch, is three-for-four this season. He won two preliminary legs of the New Jersey Sire Stakes before finishing sixth from post eight in the final.

“He just had the misfortune of not getting a good draw for the final…and the trip didn’t work out,” Alagna said. “But he was doing his best trotting at the wire, so we felt confident bringing him up here [for the Wellwood].”

Mars Hill, who will have Todd McCarthy back in the sulky on Saturday, led from the half-mile point in his elimination, displaying an improved temperament in the process.

“The first time we put him on the lead he was way too aggressive, so since then we’ve changed his bridle; he wears an open bridle now,” Alagna said. “He’s been much, much nicer. If anything, he was a little on the lazy side. Andy kind of had to keep him to task on the front, which is exactly what you want.”

In addition to the two horses in the Wellwood, Alagna and Andy McCarthy will team up with Graceful Design in the $425,000 Peaceful Way for two-year-old female trotters. She finished second behind Drawn Impression in her elimination. Drawn Impression, who won by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:54, is the 7-5 morning-line favourite in the final. Graceful Design is 6-1.

Graceful Design, a daughter of Father Patrick-Princess Stephanie purchased for $67,000 at Lexington, has two second-place finishes in three races this season. She is owned by Pryde Stables, Bottom Line Racing, and Coyote Wynd Farms.

In her elim, Graceful Design got away sixth, moved to the outside approaching the half, and picked up cover from Drawn Impression. She followed that filly third-over around the last turn and came home in :27.2 (as did Drawn Impression) to finish second.

“She’s a big, strong girl,” McCarthy said about Graceful Design. “She raced really well. I was quite happy with her. [Drawn Impression] looked like she was under wraps; she looked amazing. It would be nice if I could figure out that kind of trip again and follow her around, I guess.”

Drawn Impression is a homebred daughter of Muscle Hill-Emoticon Hanover owned by Determination and trained by Luc Blais. Determination and Blais campaigned Emoticon Hanover, who was an O’Brien Award winner in 2018 and two-time Breeders Crown champion (as well as two-time Crown runner-up).

Louis-Philippe Roy will be in the sulky behind Drawn Impression, who is two-for-two this season.

“So far, it’s been three times that I’ve sat behind her [including a qualifier] and every time she impresses me more and more,” Roy said. “I hope she keeps impressing me in the [final] and through the summer.

“I just like the fact she does it so easy,” he added. “She made me feel pretty good the whole way (in her elim) because of that.”

Tandem Hanover, who won the other Peaceful Way elimination, is the 3-1 second choice.

Live harness racing begins at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday at Mohawk. To view the entries, click one of the following links: Saturday Entries - Saturday Program Pages (courtesy TrackIT).


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