Virginia-Certified Coffeewithchris Scores with Stalking Trip in Miracle Wood Stakes

The following appeared in February 18 and was written by Dan Illman. Coffeewithchris is Virginia Certified and spent his residency at Horseshoe Hill Farm in Ashland.

LAUREL, Md. – Coffeewithchris earned his second stakes victory when upsetting odds-on favorite Prince of Jericho in the Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds at one mile on Saturday at Laurel Park.

The Miracle Wood was one of four $100,000 undercard stakes races on the Winter Spectacular program co-headlined by two $250,000 stakes, the Grade 3 General George and Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie.

The Miracle Wood was the third meeting between Coffeewithchris and Prince of Jericho, with Coffeewithchris kicking off the rivalry with a 2 1/2-length win in the Heft traveling seven furlongs on Dec. 30.

Prince of Jericho gained revenge on Coffeewithchris when they met in the Spectacular Bid on Jan. 21. In that race, also at seven furlongs, Prince of Jericho swept by Coffeewithchris on the turn, then drew off to win by four lengths.

“What really screwed me up more in the [Spectacular Bid] was that they canceled a week,” trainer John Salzman Jr. said regarding frigid temperatures that forced local horsemen to adapt their training schedules.

“We had to get him ready off his biggest race of his life getting back to running another big race in three weeks, and that’s hard to do when a horse gives his best effort.”

“I got too confident with him on the turn,” winning rider Jaime Rodriguez said about the Spectacular Bid. “When he made that move, Carol [Cedeno, Prince of Jericho’s jockey] attacked me early.”

It was a different scenario in the rubber match as Coffeewithchris settled just off pacesetter Feeling Woozy through fractions of 23.79 seconds and 46.79 while Prince of Jericho raced in and among horses in midpack.

Rodriguez made the first move with Coffeewithchris, and they took over the lead turning into the long stretch after six furlongs in 1:11.69.

Cedeno wheeled Prince of Jericho to the far outside and seemingly had all the momentum, but Coffeewithchris always had a little bit more.

At the wire, it was Coffeewithchris by 1 1/4 lengths over Prince of Jericho, with Feeling Woozy another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. Then came B West, Riccio, We Dont Need Road, and Seven’s Eleven.

Coffeewithchris completed the distance in 1:37.54 and returned $9.40 as the second choice in the betting.

Salzman told Daily Racing Form earlier this week that he was worried about the distance, and Rodriguez echoed the sentiment.

“I was a little bit,” he said. “I let him break and get comfortable. Today, he surprised me, because I literally asked him, and he responded right away. He never gave up.”

Coffeewithchris was bred in Maryland by Dr. Thomas Rooney.  A son of Ride On Curlin, he was purchased by Salzman for $2,000 as a yearling.

“I bought him off Shamrock Farm,” Salzman said. “I saw him, and I liked him, and he wasn’t bringing no money. It scared me when I bought him. For $2,000, I figured he had a broken leg or something. Knock on wood, he’s okay and he’s been very nice for me.”

Coffeewithchris is owned by Salzman in partnership with Fred Wasserloos and Anthony Geruso. He has won 3 of 10 starts and earned $201.850

Trainer Brittany Russell was pleased with Prince of Jericho’s effort.

“Carol said he wasn’t necessarily comfortable down inside,” Russell said. “He was jostled around a bit on the backside. She had to get him out and get him running. He galloped out good.”