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Winchell, Asmussen Taking ‘Route’ To Triple Crown Success | 2023 Preakness Stakes News
Red Route One (Coady Photography)

Winchell, Asmussen Taking ‘Route’ To Triple Crown Success | 2023 Preakness Stakes News

Red Route One follows the roadmap for Winchell Thoroughbreds’ rise to the top echelon of racing by both breeding and buying outstanding horses.

Now the ownership team is hoping the chestnut colt can show the path to the family’s first victory in the Triple Crown series with Saturday’s 148th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

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The late-running Red Route One, whose name is derived from the Tom Clancy book The Hunt for Red October, is rated fifth at 10-1 on the morning line.

Joel Rosario has the mount as he seeks his first Preakness victory after four seconds.

The Steve Asmussen-trained Red Route One is a son of Gun Runner, in whom the Las Vegas-based entrepreneur Ron Winchell’s Winchell Thoroughbreds purchased half-interest from Three Chimneys farm as a 2-year-old before the horse ever ran. Gun Runner went on to be the 2017 Horse of the Year, and in his first crop as a Three Chimneys stallion, sired Winchell’s unbeaten 2-year-old filly champion Echo Zulu, last year’s Preakness winner Early Voting, and four other Grade 1 winners.

Red Route One also hails from one of racing’s great female families that started when Winchell’s late father, Verne, claimed Carols Christmas for $25,000 in 1981. Carols Christmas, Red Route One’s fourth dam, had the downside of being swaybacked but she possessed the speed Verne Winchell coveted. Other horses whose bloodlines trace to Carols Christmas include Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Untapable and Grade 1 winners Tapizar, Pyro, Paddy O’Prado, Olympio and Cuvee and as well as multiple graded-stakes winners such as Tapiture, Finite and Bien Nicole.

Red Route One’s mom, Red House, did not race. But she is a full sister to Untapable. Red Route One is her second foal to race. The first was the stakes-winning Red Run, who on May 9, 2021 became Gun Runner’s first offspring to win a race.

“Red House was an unknown quantity,” said David Fiske, the long-time racing and bloodstock manager for both Verne and Ron Winchell. “I think we had like four full sisters to Untapable. So it was kind of like, ‘I hope one of them works out.’ Red Run was pretty decent. So when Red Route One was a 2-year-old and training, we thought, ‘Oh, boy. This could be the one.’

“The expectations got a little higher once some of the Gun Runners in the first crop ran,” he added.

With seconds in both Oaklawn’s Southwest (G3) and Rebel (G2) Stakes, Red Route One seemed headed to the Kentucky Derby (G1) before those plans were derailed with his sixth place in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Rerouted to Oaklawn’s Bath House Row Stakes, the colt’s victory there earned him a fees-paid spot in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

Red Route One arrived Tuesday afternoon and has settled into the Pimlico Stakes Barn.

“He settled in nice, jogged a mile this morning on the track, and seemed to do everything right,” said Asmussen’s assistant, Darren Fleming. “Relaxing now.”

Fleming said the plan is for Red Route One to school in the paddock Thursday during the third race.