CHESTER - Mountaineer Racetrack is familiar territory for Whiskey Rebellion. Earlier this season, he won a trio of allowance races at the Hancock County oval. And he's shipping from Kentucky to West Virginia's upper panhandle once again, to run in Tuesday's $85,000 Sophomore Sprint Championship Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Whiskey Rebellion has drawn the No. 1 post in the six-furlong event, and is the morning line 3-1 second choice in the field of eight.
"He likes Mountaineer's dirt surface," said his trainer, Akiko M. Gothard. "A synthetic surface, like the one at Turfway Park, doesn't suit Whiskey Rebellion.
FAVORED? — Whiskey Rebellion, after winning an allowance race at Mountaineer in April.
-- Coady Photography
"And, most recently, he's been running against older horses. But on Tuesday, Whiskey Rebellion will be back against his own age group. That's definitely to his favor."
In early June, Whiskey Rebellion finished third against older horses in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs. He is the only horse is this year's Sophomore Sprint Championship with graded stakes experience. His career record now includes 10 starts, four wins, a pair of placings and purse earnings of $73,862.
When he broke his maiden in his career debut at River Downs in June of last year, Whiskey Rebellion charged from seventh position to prevail by 3 lengths.
"But he prefers to go to the front early - we've learned that we can't rate him," said Gothard.
The first two victories by Whiskey Rebellion at Mountaineer were achieved in front- running style. In his third win, on April 24, he stalked the early pace, drove to the front approaching the furlong grounds and then drew off to prevail by 1 lengths.
Whiskey Rebellion is a gelded son of Forestry. Handicappers will note that of the ten editions of the Sophomore Sprint Championship run to date, eight have been won by geldings.
Forestry was quite a speedster in his own right - at age 3, he was victorious in the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga. Whiskey Rebellion's dam, Running Debate, was a good sprint and middle distance runner. She won the 2003 OBS Championship Stakes in Florida, and also placed in a half-dozen stakes at Calder Race Course.
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet, the nom de course of the late Jess Jackson, Whiskey Rebellion was purchased by Preston Madden for $15,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Madden is a student of history. Whiskey Rebellion was named for a taxpayer insurrection that occurred west of the Appalachian Mountains in 1791.
Gothard, age 82, is headquartered at the Thoroughbred Center (a Keeneland affiliate) near Lexington. She's originally from Japan, and has vivid memories of the later years of World War II in her homeland, "when we went through bombing raids every night and strafings the following mornings," she said.
In 1956, Gothard relocated to the United States and she became a citizen two years later. She has been training thoroughbreds for the past two decades, and has a career resume that includes 1,962 starts and 342 wins, for a strike rate of 17.4 percent.
Her most noteworthy training achievement to date came in 2000, when Gothard sent out K One King to win the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Gothard has also won 10 other black-type events, including the 2008 Autumn Leaves Stakes at Mountaineer with Champagne Taste.
Saddling chores for Whiskey Rebellion in the Sophomore Sprint Championship will be handled by Gothard's assistant trainer, Paul Garcia. The gelding will be ridden by Crystal Carman, who is originally from Dover Plains, New York, and is a graduate of the North American Riding Academy headed by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.
Carman has been riding races for two years and has yet to win a stakes.
Her quest to do so could be fulfilled aboard Whiskey Rebellion on Tuesday.
NOTES: The track will conduct 210 days of live racing in 2013. The season will commence on March 1 and will conclude on Dec. 20. The 44th running of the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby will be Aug. 3.