Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s multiple stakes-winning homebred colt McCraken was installed as the 4-5 favorite against five other 3-year-olds in Saturday’s 20th running of the $ 100,000 Matt Winn (Grade III) at Churchill Downs. The son of Ghostzapper will attempt to rebound from a disappointing eighth-place finish in the $ 2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
McCraken was the Derby’s 6-1 third betting choice following a pair of graded stakes wins on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He followed a Street Sense Overnight Stakes win at Churchill Downs last fall with victories in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) and Sam F. Davis (GIII) at Tampa Bay before finishing third in Keeneland‘s Blue Grass (GII) prior to the Derby.
McCraken (6-4-0-1—$ 410,848), trained Ian Wilkes and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., emerged from the Kentucky Derby with cut on his left hind leg that likely occurred during a bumping incident shortly after the start of the 10-furlong classic.
“He’s been doing great,” Wilkes said. “It was very frustrating with the cut he suffered in the Derby. It took a long time to heal and get him back to where he’s comfortable. It’s still not completely healed but it doesn’t bother him at all to run. We were once at the top of the 3-year-old list but now we need to prove ourselves again.”
The Matt Winn field from rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Excitations (Miguel Mena, 9-2); McCraken (Brian Hernandez Jr., 4-5); Colonelsdarktemper (Jon Court, 4-1); Mo’s Mojo (Julien Leparoux, 10-1); Aquamarine (Florent Geroux, 5-1); and Society Beau (Robby Albarado, 12-1).
McCraken will carry 123 pounds, while all others tote 118.
The Matt Winn, which honors the famed Churchill Downs president and general manager that served as the driving force in the development of Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby, will go as Race 5 on Saturday at approximately 8:03 p.m. (all times Eastern). Winn will be elected into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame as a “Pillar of the Turf” on Aug. 4.
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