winchill’s first winner is spectacular

By Dick Jerardi

It was the first race at Parx on Feb. 11, a six-horse field of Pennsylvania-bred maidens. There was nothing to indicate anything unusual was about to happen.

Then, Word on a Wing happened. Making the second start of his career, the three-year-old got the lead at the start and just kept going and going and going, finally winning by a spectacular 16 1/2 lengths and getting an 84 Beyer Speed Figure.

Racing for the Pewter Stable of Kate and Greg DeMasi and trained by Parx Hall of Famer Kate DeMasi, Word on a Wing also happened to be the first winner for Pennsylvania stallion Winchill, a mainstay in the DeMasi barn from 2011 to 2014.

Purchased for $53,000 at a 2011 dispersal sale, Winchill, originally trained by Dale Romans, had four wins and four seconds from 17 starts for his new owners, Pewter Stable and the late, great Bob Levy. Winchill won the 2013 First Responder Stakes at Parx and placed in three other stakes before being retired. His final start was June 16, 2014 at Parx.

As a son of North America’s greatest living stallion, Tapit, and out of Exclusive Hold, twice stakes placed at Saratoga during her two-year-old season, Winchill had some potential stallion value.
“He’s kind of a neat horse; we thought we’d take a shot, breed him and see what happens,” Greg DeMasi said. “He didn’t get a large group of mares. I think he got 30, 35 mares. Son of Tapit, taking a shot.”

Word on a Wing is out of the DeMasi’s mare Merry’s Pegasus so he is owned and bred by Pewter and trained by DeMasi. Thus, this is all very exciting.

“I think he’s got talent,” Greg said. “I think he’s probably good enough to win a stake. We’re kind of excited.”

Winchill stands at Timber Ridge Farm in Felton, Pa., not far from Gettysburg.

“Since Monday, I’ve had numerous phone calls about breeding to him,” Greg said. “It’s all about getting mares to him. Hopefully, this horse sparks interest. People around here breed late anyway. It’s not like Kentucky. In Kentucky, they’re already booked. You try to get a stallion that’s popular now; (there’s a good chance) you’re not going to get him. We’ll see what happens. It’s a good start.”

Winchill won $288,294 on the track, almost all of it on fast dirt surfaces where he had six wins and four seconds from 15 starts.

Trish Bowman began working for the DeMasi barn in 2012 and was often around Winchill. A Bensalem native, a graduate of the Godolphin Flying Start Program and now a racing official at Laurel Park, Trish remembers Winchill well.

“He was like a golden retriever,” she said. “That horse, he was like my best friend. I taught him how to do different tricks. I remember I would get alfalfa and hold it in my hand and tell him to speak and he would.”

What did he say?

“He would just let out a nicker, it was pretty cool,” Trish said. “He was the smartest horse I’ve ever been around by far.”

She would sit down in his stall after training and Winchill would fall asleep on her.

“You would never meet another horse like him,” Trish said. “He has the biggest personality. I’ve been around hundreds of horses and nothing will ever come close to him.”

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