Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, Three Chimneys Farm LLC and Besilu Stables’ Gun Runner, winner of the Louisiana Derby (Grade II) and Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds before finishing third behind Nyquist and Exaggerator in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), heads a field of seven 3-year-olds for Saturday’s 19th running of the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII).
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 7:57 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Trained by soon-to-be-inducted Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Gun Runner is using Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile race as a springboard to the $1 million Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park that will be run six weeks later on Sunday, July 31.
“I think he’s proved his worth with what he’s done this year with the Louisiana Derby win and the third in the Kentucky Derby, and I think that this is a very good bridge for him to get to the Haskell,” Asmussen said.
Overall, Gun Runner, a Kentucky-bred son of Candy Ride (ARG) out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Quiet Giant, has a record of 6-4-0-1—$1,106,920.
Asmussen, who collected his first Belmont Stakes win with Creator last weekend, will vie for his fourth triumph in the Matt Winn. He previous won the race with Compendium (2001), Pyro (2008) and Tapiture (2014).
The Matt Winn field from the rail out: Illinois-based Yo Carm, who won a first-level allowance-optional claiming race by 6 ¼ lengths this winter at Tampa Bay Downs (to be ridden by Robby Albarado); Gun Runner (Florent Geroux); Rushaway runner-up Virtual Machine (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Cutacorner, who participated in three Road to the Kentucky Derby races at Oaklawn this winter (Gary Stevens); the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Gray Sky (James Graham); Texas Chrome, 10 ½-length winner of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park on May 15 (Ricardo Santana Jr.); and Unbridled Outlaw, last year’s Iroquois (GIII) third who was runner-up to up-and-comer The Player in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race on June 3 (Corey Lanerie).
Gun Runner will carry 123 pounds, while all others tote 118.
Kay Stillam’s Cutacorner, trained by Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg, was supplemented to the race for $3,000.