2024 Woody Stephens Stakes Contenders & Odds

Horse Betting Online

NYRA Press Release
Updated: June 02, 2024

Book'em Danno headlines a strong G1 Woody Stephens

Book'em Danno (Atlantic Six Racing) headlines a speedy 12-horse field in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes, a seven-furlong main track test for sophomores, on Belmont Stakes Day, at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, June 8.

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which spans Thursday through Sunday, is highlighted by the 156th edition of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8. The four-day Festival will include 24 stakes races with purses totaling $10.25 million, the highest purse levels and number of stakes offered since the launch of the multi-day Festival in 2014.

Trained by Derek Ryan, Book'em Danno is returning from an over three-month respite dating to a close second in the one-mile Group 3 Saudi Derby on February 24 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Saudi Arabia. There, he stalked-and-pounced to the lead in the stretch under returning pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. before being beaten a head by Forever Young, who exited the race to win the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby at Meydan Racecourse and run third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

2024 Woody Stephens Stakes Field & Odds

Race 8 at Saratoga on Saturday, June 8 - Post 3:22 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Book'em Danno 9-2 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
122 Lbs
Derek Ryan
2 Barksdale 20-1 Tyler Gaffalione
118 Lbs
William Walden
3 Imagination 10-1 Lanfranco Dettori
124 Lbs
Bob Baffert
4 Valentine Candy 6-1 Ricardo Santana, Jr.
122 Lbs
Steven Asmussen
5 Frost Free 15-1 Jose Ortiz
124 Lbs
Brett Creighton
6 Reasoned Analysis 15-1 Eric Cancel
122 Lbs
Chad Brown
7 Prince of Monaco 7-2 Flavien Prat
124 Lbs
Bob Baffert
8 Vlahos 6-1 Edwin Maldonado
118 Lbs
Doug O'Neill
9 Nash 6-1 Florent Geroux
122 Lbs
Brad Cox
10 Nutella Fella 15-1 Junior Alvarado
124 Lbs
Gary Contessa
11 Maximus Meridius 15-1 Joel Rosario
118 Lbs
Robert Reid, Jr.
12 Be You 15-1 John Velazquez
118 Lbs
Todd Pletcher

"We deliberately gave him the time off for a summer campaign. We won't over race him and hopefully we can get back out to the desert next year," Ryan said. "This is a logical spot coming off that race and we are good to go. I'm not really worried about what the others do. I'll leave it up to Irad."

The Bucchero gelding made the journey overseas after capping his juvenile campaign with an eye-catching 12 1/2-length romp, coming from fifth and over three lengths back in the seven-furlong Pasco to beat eventual Kentucky Derby-contestant West Saratoga on January 13 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Book'em Danno's 2-year-old ledger was equally as impressive, taking six-furlong stakes in the off-the-turf Listed Futurity at Belmont at the Big A and the Smoke Glacken at Monmouth Park, in September and October, respectively. He stretched out to a one-turn mile for the Listed Nashua on November 5 at Aqueduct Racetrack, setting the pace before being outdueled late to finish second to Where's Chris.

"He likes to sit, that's his style," Ryan said. "The day he got beat in New York, he only ended up on the lead due to circumstances, we didn't want him there. The only speed fell and we ended up on the lead, which is the only reason he got beat."

The New Jersey-bred flashed his potential first-out with a 9 1/2-length score sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs versus fellow state-breds in August at Monmouth. He received year-end honors as New Jersey's 2023 Horse of the Year, Champion Sprinter, and Champion 2-Year-Old Male.

Bred by Gregory Kilka and Bright View Farm, out of the unraced Ghostzapper mare Adorabella, Book'em Danno is a half-sibling to multiple dirt stakes-winner Girl Trouble.

Ortiz, Jr. retains the mount from post 1.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will have two chances for a title-defense with Imagination [post 3, Frankie Dettori] and Prince of Monaco [post 7, Flavien Prat] after securing last year's edition with Arabian Lion. If successful, Baffert would notch his fourth victory in the event, adding to wins with Bayern [2014] and American Anthem [2017].

Greyhound Betting

Both contenders are owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Diane Bashor, Robert Masterson, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, and Tom Ryan.

Imagination, a $1,050,000 Into Mischief bay from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, was a distant seventh in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1 Preakness on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course. There, he tracked Seize the Grey from second position and weakened after about three-quarters over the muddy and sealed going.

Prior, Imagination won the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 San Felipe ahead of a close second in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby beaten a neck by Kentucky Derby-starter Stronghold, in March and April at Santa Anita Park, respectively.

Baffert entertained the idea of Imagination contesting the 10-furlong Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, but opted for a cutback in distance.

"I probably could have run him in the Belmont, but the race didn't go like we sort of thought it would go last time. He's probably more of a miler, so we backed him up," said Baffert. "I didn't feel comfortable running him a mile and a quarter after that effort last time. We learned a lot about him from that race and I think we've just got to use different tactics."

Out of the graded stakes-winning Empire Maker mare Magical Feeling, Imagination is a full-brother to graded-stakes winning filly Occult.

Prince of Monaco, a $950,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, will make his sophomore bow off a layoff since a fifth to eventual Champion 2-Year-Old Fierceness in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November at Santa Anita Park.

The effort was his lone defeat of the year after successfully graduating first out in July at Los Alamitos Race Course and capturing the Del Mar's Grade 3 Best Pal and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in the following two months- at five, six, and seven furlongs, respectively.

After a six-furlong work Saturday over the Santa Anita dirt in 1:11.20 and a bullet five-eighths in 58.80 seconds there on May 26, Baffert said Prince of Monaco is ready to roll.

"He worked really well and after Saturday, I think he's ready for that," said Baffert. "It's going to be tough. It's an exciting race. It's one turn and I think that's what he wants to do."

Baffert said Prince of Monaco, who is out of the unraced Medaglia d'Oro mare Rainier, and earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure in his Best Pal triumph, is quite a promising colt.

"Coming off a layoff it's tough. It would have been nice to get a race into him, but I feel good," Baffert said. "He's a top-caliber horse. He's a really talented colt."

Bell Gable Stable's Grade 1-winner Nutella Fella [post 10, Junior Alvarado] also returns from an extended respite for trainer Gary Contessa. The Runhappy bay has not raced since springing a 54-1 upset in the Grade 1 Hopeful in September at Saratoga, after breaking a beat slowly under Junior Alvarado.

Nutella Fella has worked extensively for his return over the Oklahoma dirt training track, completing a series of three weekly six-furlong works in 1:14.65 on May 28 before a three-furlong tune-up on Sunday in 36.65.

"He's really been good about everything. I'm very comfortable with him," said Contessa. "I'm a guy that will work a horse a mile or seven-eighths or three-quarters, I believe they need to work. And they need to work the distance they are going to run, so he is certainly fit."

Keene Thoroughbreds' Frost Free [post 5, Jose Ortiz], a $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association 2-Year-Old in Training Sale purchase, enters off a 1 1/2-length victory in the six-furlong Grade 3 Chick Lang on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course. Trained by Brett Creighton, who won his first graded stakes there, the Frosted colt made every pole a winning one under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. to power home a 1 1/2-length winner over the muddy and sealed going.

Frost Free maintained a perfect in-the-money record this year of 5-2-1-2, including Oaklawn Park efforts when winning a six-furlong optional-claimer on March 1 along with a third-place finish in the one-mile Hot Springs three weeks later with blinkers off. He returned to the blinkers when second to returning rival Valentine Candy on April 27 in the six-furlong Listed Bachelor.

The gray breezed a bullet half-mile in 47 flat Sunday over the Saratoga main track.

LC Racing, Cash is King and trainer Butch Reid, Jr.'s dual stakes-placed Maximus Meridius [post 11, Joel Rosario] enters off consecutive seconds sprinting at Aqueduct Racetrack in the Listed Bay Shore in April and Gold Fever in May, the latter of which was won by Doncho.

The Reid, Jr.-trained Maximus Mischief has sported blinkers for his last four efforts, including a prominent 3 1/2-length score in January at Parx Racing before a pacesetting fourth in the Grade 3 Gotham at the Big A in March.

"We're taking a shot in here, but he's been a horse where I never felt he was giving everything he has. Joel [Rosario] kind of took him back and he made the lead in the Bay Shore and hung a little and waited on horses," said Reid, Jr. "We were a little disappointed, and last time we took him back and gave him a little something to run at.

"He really was closing ground on that horse at the end, and seven-eighths is the perfect distance for him. Hopefully, he'll be really tough in there," Reid, Jr. added.

Rounding out the field are dual graded-stakes placed Nash [post 9, Florent Geroux] for trainer Brad Cox; graded-stakes placed Vlahos [post 8, Edwin Maldonado] for trainer Doug O'Neill and Be You [post 12, John Velazquez] for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher; Listed stakes-winners Valentine Candy [post 4, Ricardo Santana, Jr.] for Hall of Famer Steven Asmussen and Reasoned Analysis [post 6, Eric Cancel] for conditioner Chad Brown; and last-out optional claiming winner Barksdale [post 2, Tyler Gaffalione] for trainer Will Walden.

The Woody Stephens is slated as Race 8 on Saturday's lucrative 14-race Belmont Stakes Card, headlined by the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes in Race 12. The card will also feature seven additional graded events in the Grade 1, $1 million Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan Handicap in Race 10; the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes in Race 11; the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes presented by Ford in Race 7; the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur Stakes presented by Resolute Racing in Race 9; the Grade 2, $350,000 True North presented by F.W. Webb in Race 4; the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban in Race 6; and the Grade 3, $350,000 Poker in Race 5. First post is 10:45 a.m. Eastern.

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