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Woodchopper Preview: Pixelate Shortens Up
Pixelate winning the Del Mar Derby (Credit: Benoit Photo)

Woodchopper Preview: Pixelate Shortens Up

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Godolphin homebred Pixelate, already a graded stakes champion going slightly longer, shortens up for Saturday’s $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes at Fair Grounds.

The Woodchopper is a mile-long turf route restricted to 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the ninth event on a 12-race card and has a local post time of 4:52 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Woodchopper:

1. Pit Boss 20/1 – His current connections claimed him for $75k out of his maiden-breaking effort going 7 furlongs on the Keeneland dirt and saddled him to a first-level allowance score next out at Churchill Downs. Purchased for $250k as a yearling, he’ll take his first steps on turf in this spot. Trainer Matt Shirer has a 24% success rate when making such surface changes.

2. Bodecream 7/2 – The morning line favorite cuts back slightly after losing a dirty bob in the 1 1/16-mile Gio Ponti Stakes at Aqueduct last time out. He’s finished second or third in 3 starts since Mike Maker took over training duties and has won twice at this approximate distance, including January’s Texas Turf Mile Stakes at Sam Houston. 

3. Jack the Umpire 20/1 – He reverts back to turf still seeking his first victory on the surface after finishing sixth in a sloppy edition of the Delta Mile Stakes. A 2-time dirt stakes winner at Delta Downs, his best turf effort saw him finish second by a 1/2-length in the 5 1/2-furlong My Frenchman Stakes at Monmouth Park.

4. Spanish Kingdom 8/1 – He stays at the stakes ranks after finishing 11th (beaten just 3 lengths) in the Bryan Station at Keeneland on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard. The first of two Joe Sharp trainees cuts back to a mile for the first time since crossing first over this course on March 21 as a maiden (though he was later disqualified from purse money). 

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5. Pixelate 4/1 – The first of two runners from the Mike Stidham barn has brought his best effort to several big dances this year, compiling an 8-1-3-2 record that includes winning the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Derby (G2). He’s never missed the board at this distance and earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure – the best turf number in this field – for finishing second in the War Chant Stakes.

6. Dynadrive 12/1 – He returned to the Maker barn after getting claimed back for $50k out of a 1 1/16-mile score over the Belmont Park inner turf in October; he put together a 4-2-2-0 record with Maker earlier this year before getting tagged for $40k. He finished last of 12 in the 1 5/16-mile Dueling Grounds Derby, his lone prior stakes try.

7. Top Draw 20/1 – He makes his turf debut after putting together a 13-2-1-2 record on dirt that includes winning the 1 1/16-mile Charles Taylor Stakes at Albuquerque. He’s a son of Into Mischief, who consistently produces winner on every surface, and he should run better in his second start back after a 3-month layoff; he was ninth in the Delta Mile upon return.

8. Doc Boy 12/1 – The second Stidham trainee is undefeated when going a turf mile, having broken his maiden at Laurel Park in 2019 and rallying to take the Columbia Stakes this past March. Though he was a well-beaten eighth in the Gio Ponti last time out, that was his first start in nearly 7 months; Stidham hits at 13% second off of extended layoffs.

9. Blackberry Wine 9/2 – The second Sharp entry has crossed the wire first 4 times in his career, though he was later disqualified from winning his first 2 “triumphs” due to positive drug tests. He finished third in each of his 3 prior turf tries, all occurring last year and exits a dominating 5 1/2-length optional claiming score going 1 1/16 miles over the local dirt 2 weeks ago.

 

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10. Telephone Talker 12/1 – Maker’s third prospect returns to the turf after finishing second in a sloppy mile-long optional claiming event at Churchill Downs. He’s never finished off the board in 8 starts (including 4 on the lawn) and has won 2 of his 3 grass tries since changing to his current barn over the summer. Maker wins 17% on turf historically.

11. Stanford 20/1 – The Irish-bred makes his second stateside start in his American stakes debut after finishing a flat sixth against first-level allowance rivals going 1 1/16 miles on the Belmont Park inner turf. He put together a 6-2-3-1 record while racing in Great Britain and current trainer Wayne Catalano succeeds at 20% on grass, so improvement is possible.

12. Victory Boulevard 20/1 – Claimed for $20k out of a mile-long Churchill Downs event in the slop, his first start for new trainer Bobby Barnett will mark his turf debut. He gave a 4-furlong best-of-24 bullet work in :48 flat as his final timed trial for this event, and though he’s mostly faced claiming rivals in his career, he has a nose for the wire, winning 5 of 12 career starts.

13. Oak Hill 6/1 – He finished last of six in a 1 1/16-mile dirt route at Churchill Downs after running rank early and had nothing left when it mattered. He’s won 2 of his 3 turf mile attempts, but he ran quite green and bolted in the far turn during his lone loss in that span, so bettors must decide the right price to play a horse who may or may not listen to his rider.

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