Willcox Inn, away from competition since finishing third in the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $60,000 Grindstone Stakes at Fair Grounds.
The third renewal of the Grindstone, named in honor of the 1996 Louisiana Derby/Kentucky Derby winner, is restricted to 3-year-olds and will be contested at about 7 1/2 furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course.
Prior to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Willcox Inn ran third in the Grade I Breeders Futurity at Keeneland Oct. 9. The son of Harlan’s Holiday broke his maiden at first asking last Sept. 18 at Arlington Park.
Willcox Inn, trained by Mike Stidham and owned by All In Stable, breezed a half mile in :49.20 Wednesday at Fair Grounds and will be ridden by leading jockey Rosie Napravnik Saturday.
Capable of providing strong competition for Willcox Inn in the Grindstone is Aces N Kings, owned and trained by Caroline Dodwell. In his last start Jan. 22, the Texas-bred gelding won the restricted $50,000 Groovy Stakes at Sam Houston Park. Before that, he ran third in the $250,000 Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington. Pegged as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line, Aces N Kings also captured the $50,000 Minstrel and $50,000 Sunny’s Halo stakes over the grass course at Louisiana Downs last summer. Eddie Martin Jr. is named in the irons.
Not to be discounted in the Grindstone is Wyn Stable’s British-bred Cafe Elektric, who will be making his first start in this country after finishing second in an English allowance race Oct. 2 at Epsom Downs. Before that, Cafe Elektric won an allowance race in Scotland over Ayr’s grass course Sept. 16. Canadian trainer Roger Attfield is the conditioner, and jockey John Jacinto will be in the saddle aboard the 9-2 third choice.
Completing the Grindstone field are Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Action Ready, Miguel Mena up; Team Block’s Mavericking, Shaun Bridgmohan; Steve Mongerson’s Moobie, James Graham; Millennium Farms’ Great Mills, Shane Sellers; William Farish and Skara Glen Stable’s Close Ally, Jamie Theriot; and Carolyn Friedberg and Jeff Larson’s Tragic Magic, Marlon St. Julien.
--Edited track release