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Woody Stephens next step for Undefeated Everyday Heroes

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Tim Ritchey knows what it takes to win the Belmont Stakes, which he did in 2005 with Afleet Alex. He also knows that you can’t just go into a race like that without the properly prepared horse.

So, while he won’t be involved in the “Test of the Champion” on Saturday afternoon, he still will saddle a major, upcoming star on the biggest racing stage in New York when he sends out Cash Counter Stable’s undefeated Everyday Heroes in the 24th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens for three-year-olds at seven furlongs on the dirt. The Woody Stephens is race 8 (3:59 p.m. EDT) on the 13-race live card that begins at 11:35 a.m. and it will be the first leg of a guaranteed $1 million Pick 4 on races 8-11, ending with the Belmont Stakes (6:27 p.m.).

A son of Awesome Again, Everyday Heroes did not begin his career until February, promptly winning his first three starts at Oaklawn Park.

“Those races at Oaklawn are kind of deceiving,” Ritchey said. “Two of them were against older horses, and for a three-year-old to be taking on those kind of horses early on really is saying something. Plus, some of those horses he faced were placing in stakes races.”

After a brief rest, Everyday Heroes became a graded stakes winner when he went to Pimlico on Preakness Day, May 16, and won the Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs, his fourth straight win at six furlongs.

“Four or five steps out of the gate, the outside horses came over on him and the jockey (Jose Caraballo) really had to grab hold of him,” Ritchey said. “He had to check hard, but when he got clear, he passed those horses pretty easily.

“I’ve always liked this horse. He has natural speed, and I believe he will stretch out eventually. He had some issues as a two-year-old, and we had to stop on him a couple of times. I personally believe that if you are going to run in the Classic, you need to earn graded stakes money as a two-year-old or else you are really behind the 8-ball. When we realized he wouldn’t make the Classic, we just took our time with him and let him develop. He’s done everything right, and a Grade 2 at seven furlongs at Belmont Park is the next logical step.”

Jose Caraballo has the mount on Everyday Heroes, who is coupled with Godolphin Stable’s Regal Ransom in the nine-horse field. Both horses, along with This Ones for Phil and Hull, will carry top weight of 123 pounds.

Regal Ransom, eighth in the Kentucky Derby, won the nine-furlong, Group 2 UAE Derby in Dubai in March with Alan Garcia up. Garcia again has the call in the Woody Stephens.

Triumphant Flight has three wins and three seconds in six starts, and all but one of those starts was on synthetic surfaces. He won his lone start on dirt, cruising to a three-length win at Fairplex Park in the Barretts Juvenile last September.

Hull is undefeated in three starts for trainer Dale Romans. The Holy Bull colt was a four-length winner of the Grade 3 Derby Trial at seven and a half furlongs at Churchill Downs on April 25.

This Ones for Phil ran second in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2, seven-furlong Swale, but was placed first by disqualification. He enters the Woody Stephens off a troubled second to Mr. Fantasy in the Grade 3 Withers at a mile at Aqueduct on April 25.

Derby Trial runner-up Kensei, stakes-placed Munnings, Gone Astray, third in the Withers, and Hello Broadway, fourth in the Grade 2 Peter Pan behind Belmont Stakes contender Charitable Man, complete the field.

Hello Broadway will race without blinkers.


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