VA-BRED WINCHESTER WINS GRADE I MANHATTAN

Former Virginia-bred Horse of the Year Winchester beat Eclipse Award winning champion Gio Ponti by a half length to give trainer Christophe Clement a 1-2 finish in the $400,000 Manhattan Handicap Grade I on the turf, the main attraction Saturday on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Winchester, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, outdueled his more heralded stablemate, the 2009 Eclipse Award winner as the leading grass horse. Gio Ponti, buried in traffic for much of the race, angled to an opening on the rail to launch his stretch run. Westchester, in contrast, had a clear trip on the outside, rallying relentlessly for the $44.80 upset.

Winchester ran the 1 1/4 miles on the firm course in 1:59.46. The 5-year-old got his fourth win in 16 starts.

The now five-year-old Winchester is by Theatrical (IRE) out of Rum Charger (IRE) by =Spectrum (IRE) and was bred here in the Commonwealth by Mr. and Mrs. Bert Firestone.

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