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Jimmy Winkfield Preview: Return the Ring Steps Up
Return the Ring (Credit: NYRA)

Jimmy Winkfield Preview: Return the Ring Steps Up

OZONE PARK, NY – Iris Smith Stable’s Return the Ring steps up to the big leagues for the first time in Sunday’s $100,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct.

The Jimmy Winkfield is a 7-furlong dirt sprint restricted to 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on a 9-race card and has a local post time of 3:50 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Jimmy Winkfield:

1. Hello Hot Rod 7/5 – Trainer/co-owner Brittany Russell sends this Maryland-bred to New York for his next test after winning 2 straight at Laurel Park including a one-turn dirt mile against optional claimers last time out. Along with earning a strong 74 Beyer Speed Figure, three of the six horses he beat that day won their next starts and Russell hits at 25% with last-out winners.

“We considered a couple of different spots for him, but he’s been touting himself and worked really well last week, so we thought the time was now,” Russell said. “Hopefully, he shows up and runs as well as he’s been training.”

2. Magnificent Chrome 20/1 – He takes the big step up from to the stakes level after facing maiden claiming company in his past 3 starts and winning the most recent one, a local 6-furlong sprint while in for a $40k tag. Trainer/co-owner Randi Persaud has just 6 wins from her last 97 starts here, but those came at odds high enough that betting her has a positive ROI of $2.50.

1a. Scotch Rock’s 7/5 – He takes a second shot at the stakes ranks after finishing seventh in the 7-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes at Laurel Park, though in his defense, he didn’t have the cleanest of trips. He broke his maiden going 6 1/2 furlongs over a muddy (sealed) Parx main track in late December, so he could step forward with a cleaner trip on a dirtier track.

“Last out, he got a little bit of trouble coming around the turn,” Wyner said. “He got checked, and once that happened, it was more or less over. It was just one of those things with racing luck. He got bumped a bit and the race was over then.”

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3. Weyburn 2/1 – He broke his maiden at third asking last time out while covering this distance over a sloppy (sealed) local main track while leading at every point of call. That was also his second time wearing blinkers for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who’s begun this meet well (15-3-1-3 record through Friday). Jockey Jose Lezcano remains the only one to ride on race day.

“He should be ready,” Jerkens said. “The track is a lot different here than it is at home (Belmont Park). It’s been a little slower here; I hope he handles it.”

4. Return the Ring 3/1 – He steps up to the stakes ranks after breaking his maiden in gate-to-wire fasion on debut, which came in a local 6-furlong sprint in late November. The runner-up that day broke his maiden next time out and he should sit in a perfect position as the outside speed in this short field. Jockey Dylan Davis retains the mount.

5. Pico d’Oro 7/2 – Trainer Billy Morey sends him to New York after he defeated first-level allowance rivals while going 6 furlongs over the Turfway Park synthetic main track. The most experienced runner in this field (he made 7 starts in 2020), he broke his maiden going this distance in the Runhappy Juvenile Stakes at Ellis Park last August.

“He’s training great and we’re excited to come up,” Morey said. “He’s improving; he’s a colt that’s bred to get better as he ages, so let’s hope that’s the case. He’s trained well over the (synthetic) surface at Turfway.”

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