Thoroughbred racing fans attending the 76th edition of the Aiken Trials on Saturday might get to see last year’s winner of the City of Aiken Trophy compete in the race again at the Aiken Training Track.
Woodbridge is entered in the Trials’ 4½-furlong main event. But because there is strong possibility of wet weather for the first leg of the Aiken Triple Crown, his status is uncertain.
“If it rains and we have an off racetrack, I won’t be running him,” said the 4-year-old gelding’s trainer, Mike Keogh.
As of Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Columbia was calling for a 50 percent chance of precipitation in Aiken on Saturday. According to the Weather Channel, the chance will be 80 percent and there could be a "rumble of thunder" in the morning.
“I don’t like running horses on a muddy or sloppy track,” Keogh said.
In 2017, Woodbridge easily defeated his three City of Aiken challengers while turning in a winning time of 54 1/5 seconds.
“He was a little antsy in the starting gate, and he didn’t want to settle,” said Woodbridge’s jockey, Kaitlan Montgomery, afterward. “When we got out of there, we were a little crooked, but then we just kind of took off and it went smoothly.”
Woodbridge, who had been a winner at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada as a 2-year-old in 2016, returned to Woodbine after last year’s Aiken Trials and finished third in the Charlie Barley Stakes.
He also ran in two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, finishing fourth in the Prince of Wales Stakes and fifth in the Breeders’ Stakes.
Lately, Woodbridge has been “training good,” Keogh said. “He’s happy, and he’s healthy.”
If Woodbridge competes in the City of Aiken on Saturday, Montgomery will be aboard again.
Gustav Schickedanz bred the bay gelding and owns him in partnership with Don Howard.
Woodbridge has the No. 1 post position in the field of four.
Also entered in the 2018 City of Aiken are Terry Hutto’s Color Me Sexy, Quiet Winter Farm’s Sassy Silk and the Estate of R. W. Knowles’ Southern Soul.
“I’m not trying to win the race,” said Sassy Silk’s trainer, Glenn Thompson. “For me, it’s just about participating and her having a nice experience.”
Sassy Silk, who is a 5-year-old mare, captured a 5½-furlong maiden claiming race at Monmouth Park in New Jersey last September.
Color Me Sexy, another 5-year-old mare, is a three-time winner at tracks in Maryland and West Virginia.
Southern Soul, a 5-year-old gelding, finished second in a maiden-special-weight event at Ellis Park in Kentucky last July.
The other races for thoroughbreds on the Aiken Trials program are the Gaver Trophy for 2-year-old fillies, the Coward Trophy for 2-year-old colts, the von Stade Trophy for maiden fillies 3 years old and older and the Iselin Hall of Fame Trophy for maiden colts and geldings 3 years old and older.
There also will be a 300-yard race for horses involved in fox hunting.
In addition, before the Trials begin, there will be several races for ponies conducted by a Maryland-based organization, U.S. Pony Racing.
Gates will open at 10 a.m. at the Aiken Training Track at 538 Two Notch Road S.E.
The first pony race will be held at 1:05 p.m.
The post time for the first Aiken Trials race, the Gaver Trophy, will be 2 p.m.
The other Aiken Triple Crown events are the Aiken Spring Steeplechase on March 24 at the Aiken Horse Park Foundation’s Bruce’s Field and Pacers & Polo on March 31 at the Powderhouse Polo Field.