Three-time graded stakes winner Capt Candyman Can looms as the betting favorite in Saturday’s 8th running of the $100,000-added Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs, but that proven veteran could face a major challenge from unbeaten newcomer Cash Refund.
Owned by Joseph Rauch and David Zell, Capt. Candyman Can comes into the seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds off an impressive victory in the $200,000 Bay Shore (GIII) at New York’s Aqueduct. But the intriguing Cash Refund, owned by the Louisville-based stable of Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein, has yet to be tested as while winning his two career starts by a combined margin of 13 ¾ lengths.
Both of the likely favorites for the Matt Winn are geldings, so there’s a chance that the first meeting between the promising young sprinters could be the first chapter in a long rivalry.
The Matt Winn attracted a field of only five horses, which could be attributed to the presence of the accomplishments of Capt. Candyman Can and the promise displayed by Cash Refund, but all five bring solid credentials into the race It is scheduled as the 10th of 11 races on the Saturday’s Preakness Day program at Churchill Downs that begins with a first race post time of 12:45 p.m. (EDT).
The race honors Col. Matt Winn, the legendary general manager and president of Churchill Downs who served at the track from 1902 to 1949. Winn is credited with building the Kentucky Derby (GI) into an international sports icon and leading Churchill Downs to its status as one of America’s legendary sports shrines.
Capt Candyman Can emerged as a star and a potential candidate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands last fall when he scored an impressive victory in the Iroquois (GIII) and followed it with a third-place run in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), both at Churchill Downs. The Ian Wilkes-trained son of Candy Ride started this season with victory in Gulfstream Park’s seven-furlong Hutcheson (GII), but dropped off the Derby Trail following a fourth-place run behind Quality Road in the one-mile Fountain of Youth (GII). The April 4 Bay Shore marked both a return to a shorter distance and the gelding’s top form, and Wilkes plans to keep him running short for the foreseeable future.
“He’s hasn’t been beat a seven furlongs or shorter,” said Wilkes. “He’s only lost at a mile or longer.”
Javier Castellano, who rode Capt. Candyman Can for the first time in the Bay Shore, will travel to Churchill Downs to ride in the Matt Winn. Capt. Candyman Can, a winner of four of his seven races with earnings of $344,145, will carry high weight of 123 pounds and concedes from four to six pounds to his rivals.
Although he is making his stakes debut, Cash Refund could be the most significant threat to Capt. Candyman Can. The homebred son of Petionville romped to a 6 ½-length victory in his debut at Fair Grounds on Feb. 19, and then demolished a field of allowance foes by seven lengths at Churchill Downs on April 25.
Steve Margolis trains Cash Refund, who will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr.
If the favorites should falter, Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Dance Caller or Whispering Oaks Farms LLC’s Zigaree could be there to pick up the pieces.
Dance Caller won the one-mile Northern Spur at Oaklawn Park in his most recent start for veteran trainer Robert Holthus. Prior to that race the son of Concorde’s Tune ran a good fourth as the favorite behind Citizen and Kentucky Derby contender Flying Private in Oaklawn’s Mountain Valley, and finished second to Silver City in Oaklawn’s Dixieland. Larry Sterling Jr. will ride Dance Caller.
Zigaree, a gelded son of Congaree trained by Steve Asmussen, won the Minstrel Stakes on turf at Louisiana Downs, but finished fourth in a return to the dirt in the Inaugural Stakes on April 10 at Evangeline Downs. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride for Asmussen, who won the Matt Winn in 2003 with Posse and Razor two years later.
The remaining member of the Matt Winn field – Savoy Stables LLC’s Conchacer – also brings solid credentials into the race. The Dale Bennett-trained son of Congaree has won two of three starts, all at Tampa Bay Downs, and comes into Saturday’s race off a 7 ½-length romp in a 6 ½-furlong allowance race. Miguel Mena will ride.
The field for the Matt Winn, from the rail out with jockey (and assigned weight) includes: Zigaree, Bridgmohan (119); Dance Caller, Sterling (119); Cash Refund, Hernandez (117); Capt. Candyman Can, Castellano (123); and Conchacer, Mena (117).