An hour before Kentucky Derby champ Big Brown tries to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive in Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes, another IEAH Stables’ 3-year-old will attempt to land the $100,000-added Matt Winn at Churchill Downs.
Inner Light, an impressive first-level allowance winner at Gulfstream Park in March for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, is one of seven 3-year-olds scheduled to compete in the six-furlong sprint – the first post-Derby stakes event under the historic Twin Spires. Zayat Stables’ Swale Stakes (Grade II) winner Eaton’s Gift, conditioned by eight-time Churchill Downs training champ Dale Romans, heads the field as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
The seventh running of the Matt Winn highlights a 10-race live program that will precede a simulcast of the 133rd Preakness Stakes from Pimlico Race Course. Churchill Downs’ first race Saturday is 1:15 p.m. (all times Eastern), while the finale is set for 5:51 p.m. The Preakness, headed by dominant Kentucky Derby 134 winner Big Brown, will run as Pimlico’s 12th race and has an approximate post time of 6:15 p.m.
Inner Light, listed at 5-1 on the morning line with jockey Larry Melancon in the saddle, returns to a sprint after a last place effort in the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial in April. Prior to that effort, the Songandaprayer colt scored his second career win with a two-length tally over Jockey Ridge and Samba Rooster in a March 7 one-turn mile allowance at Gulfstream.
Meanwhile, Eaton’s Gift, who garnered headlines in February with a 3 ½-length romp in the 6 ½-furlong Swale in South Florida, will attempt to rebound from a seventh place finish in the $100,000 Derby Trial on April 26. He’ll break from post 3 under Elvis Trujillo.
Here’s the complete Matt Winn field from the rail out (with jockey and morning line odds): St. Joe (Tracy Hebert, 8-1), Georgetown (Calvin Borel, 4-1), Eaton’s Gift (Elvis Trujillo, 5-2), Saratoga Seven (Miguel Mena, 10-1), Inner Light (Larry Melancon, 5-1), Devereux (Shaun Bridgmohan, 9-2), and Ling Ling Qi (Jesus Castanon, 3-1).
Churchill Downs admission gates will open Saturday at 11:30 a.m. General admission is $3 ($1 for senior citizens and Twin Spires Club members), but will be free to all UPS employees with proof of identification in honor of Big Brown.
In addition to the 10-race live program and simulcast of the Preakness Stakes, Churchill Downs will host the inaugural “Brassapalooza.” Track bugler Steve Buttleman and Dr. Michael Tunnel, the University of Louisville trumpet professor, have organized what would be the world’s largest “Call to the Post” for Race 8 at 4:49 p.m. Approximately 50 buglers are expected to perform.
Also, the Derby City Brass Band, the University of Louisville Trumpet Ensemble and registered participants will entertain patrons with a free concert after the Preakness simulcast near Gate 17.
Brassapalooza is being staged as a fundraising effort to benefit a trip to Europe for the U of L Trumpet Ensemble. Each bugler will donate $20 to participate in “The World’s Largest ‘Call to the Post’”.