A gutsy Island Town held off a late bid from overwhelming 1-2 favorite Fame and Power to take the 18th running of the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) by a half-length.
Island Town, a 3-year-old gelding who added a third career victory at Churchill Downs, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:37.18. Jockey Julien Leparoux scored his second stakes victory of the evening, the first with Prado’s Sweet Ride in the $100,000 Regret (GIII). Trainer Ian Wilkes scored his second Matt Winn victory, his first being with Neck n’ Neck in the 2012 edition of the race.
The Matt Winn was the first stakes victory for Island Town who stretched out to two turns for the first time in his career. Last time out, he triumphed in a seven-furlong allowance race on Derby Day. His victory in the race pushed his career earnings to $133,440 and his record to 6-3-1-0.
“He ran a tremendous race that day [Derby day],” Wilkes said. “I thought this would be a good spot at his home track. He’s won here twice and we can stretch him out and try him around two turns.”
Six Column Stables’ Island Town broke sharply and went straight to the lead and set a slow quarter and half in :24.73 and :48.92, respectively. His lead began to diminish at the top of the stretch as Fame and Power, who was slow at the break, began closing in and put a head in front. Island Town fought the overwhelming favorite every step of the way and held off Fame and Power’s late charge. Private Prospect was third beaten 3 ¾ lengths.
Following the race, Channing Hill, jockey of Private Prospect, claimed foul against Fame and Power’s jockey Victor Espinoza for interference in mid-stretch, however the stewards ruled that there was no change in the order of finish.
Bold Conquest, Henry Jones, Nileator, and Phenomenal Phoenix completed the order of finish.
Island Town paid $13.60, $3.80 and $3.40, as the third-choice in the field of seven. Fame and Power returned $2.40 and $2.20. Private Prospect returned $39.60.
Island Town is a son of Hard Spun out of a Distorted Humor mare Humorous Gal and was bred in Kentucky by Randal Bloch.
IAN WILKES, trainer of Island Town (winner): “Naturally off the race on Derby Day, he ran a tremendous race that day and I thought this would be a good spot at his home track. He’s won here twice and we can stretch him out and try him around two turns. He’s a seriously talented horse; we always thought that. He just took a long time to come around. I never rushed him and he’s one that’s found his way along. He’s seriously talented. We don’t know how good this horse is yet. He showed a new dimension today. He laid on the front end and they went really slow and to so that coming away where he closed a few times is tremendous. I’m going to enjoy this but the Indiana Derby is a logical spot for him.”