Hal and Patti Earnhardt III’s impressive Sir Barton Stakes winner Ax Man will attempt to land his first graded stakes triumph as he faces six rivals in Saturday’s 21st edition of the $100,000 Matt Winn (Grade III), a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, Ax Man cruised to an impressive 6 ¾-length win in the May 19 Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico in his last start. The 3-year-old son of Misremembered has only one blemish in his four-race career when he finished fourth in the Feb. 10 San Vicente (GII) at Santa Anita.
“He’s a fun horse to have since he’s by Misremembered, who Bob (Baffert) owned himself,” assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said. “It’s also special that he’s a homebred for our longtime owner Hal Earnhardt who’s been with us for many years. He ran incredible in the Sir Barton. It looks like he’s going to be a nice 3-year-old to have this summer.”
Baffert is currently tied with Steve Asmussen for the most wins in the Matt Winn with four victories.
Ax Man (4-3-0-0—$138,000) will be ridden by Mike Smith and break from Post 7.
Among Ax Man’s rivals are Calumet Farm’s Funny Duck, who rallied to a 4 ¾-length victory at odds of 39-1 in the Pat Day Mile (GIII) on Kentucky Derby Day for trainer Rusty Arnold II; Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton’s multiple stakes placed Combatant for Asmussen; and Tom Conway’s improving allowance winner King Zachary for Churchill Downs’ all-time leading trainer Dale Romans.
The Matt Winn field from the rail out: Navy Armed Guard (ridden by Alex Canchari, trained by Joan Scott, 118 pounds); Home Base (Joe Rocco Jr., Mike Tomlinson, 118); Funny Duck (Brian Hernandez Jr., Arnold, 120); King Zachary (Robby Albarado, Romans, 118); Combatant (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen, 118); Tiz Mischief (Corey Lanerie, Romans, 118); and Ax Man (Smith, Baffert, 120).
The Matt Winn, which goes as Race 5 Saturday with a post time of approximately 7:57 p.m. (all times Eastern), was named in honor of the famed Churchill Downs president that served as the driving force in the development of the Downs and his beloved Kentucky Derby.