Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s multiple stakes-winning homebred colt McCraken is the odds-on 4-5 favorite against five other 3-year-olds in Saturday’s 20th running of the $100,000 Matt Winn (Grade III) at Churchill Downs as the son of Ghostzapper attempts to rebound from a disappointing eighth-place finish in the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
McCraken was the Derby’s 6-1 third betting choice following a pair of graded stakes wins on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He followed a Street Sense Overnight Stakes win at Churchill Downs last fall with victories in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), also at Churchill Downs, and Sam F. Davis (GIII) at Tampa Bay before finishing third in Keeneland’s Blue Grass (GII) prior to the Derby.
McCraken (6-4-0-1—$410,848), trained Ian Wilkes and regularly ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., emerged from the May 6 Derby with cut on his left hind leg that likely occurred during a bumping incident shortly after the start of the 1 ¼-mile Classic, won by Always Dreaming.
“He’s been doing great,” Wilkes said. “It was very frustrating with the cut he suffered in the Derby. It took a long time to heal and get him back to where he’s comfortable. It’s still not completely healed but it doesn’t bother him at all to run. We were once at the top of the 3-year-old list but now we need to prove ourselves again.”
The Matt Winn field from rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Excitations (Miguel Mena, 9-2); McCraken (Brian Hernandez Jr., 4-5); Colonelsdarktemper (Jon Court, 4-1); Mo’s Mojo (Julien Leparoux, 10-1); Aquamarine (Florent Geroux, 5-1); and Society Beau (Robby Albarado, 12-1).
McCraken will carry 123 pounds, while all others tote 118.
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 8:03 p.m. (all times Eastern). Winn will be elected into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame as a “Pillar of the Turf” on Aug. 4.
BREEDERS’ CUP BETTING CHALLENGE QUALIFIER ON STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP NIGHT – Some of the nation’s elite horseplayers will descend upon Churchill Downs on Saturday night and attempt to secure seats at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge as they pit their handicapping skills against the best Louisville has to offer.
Churchill Downs’ Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Live Bankroll Qualifier is a “real money” handicapping tournament with a $2,000 buy-in, of which $1,500 will be used by participants to wager on Saturday night’s 11-race Stephen Foster Handicap card with the other $500 going toward the entry fee and prize pool. Wager types permitted are Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta and Daily Double only.
The top two finishers in the satellite tournament will receive $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seats for the Nov. 3-4 event at Del Mar plus a $1,000 travel voucher. The third-place finisher will receive a $2,500 partial BCBC entry and $500 travel voucher.
Saturday’s prize pool is based on 50 entries. All entry fees will be paid back to prize pool should more than 50 entries participate. Horseplayers can register by emailing Gary Palmisano at Gary.Palmisano@KyDerby.com.
Same as the qualifier, the BCBC is a “real money” handicapping challenge. Players will required to deposit $10,000, of which $7,500 will be the players’ bankroll for wagering during the tournament. Of the $10,000 buy-in, $2,500 will be placed in the prize pool. If 400 players enter the tournament, the cash prize pool paid will be $1 million.
ALL-STAKES PICK 5 TO BE OFFERED SATURDAY NIGHT – Churchill Downs will make it a special night for bettors at Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” as the track offers an all-stakes Pick 5 as part of its special wagering menu.
The all-stakes Pick 5 will cover Races 5-9 starting at 8:03 p.m., which will encompass the Matt Winn (Race 5), Wise Dan (Race 6), Fleur de Lis Handicap (Race 7), Stephen Foster Handicap (Race 8) and Regret (Race 9). There also will be an all-stakes Pick 4 on Races 6-9.
All told, there will be three Pick 5s (Races 2-6, Races 5-9 and Races 7-11) and three Pick 4s (Races 1-4, Races 6-9 and Races 8-11) on the night.
Both the Pick 4 and Pick 5 are 50-cent minimum bets.
The 20-cent minimum Single-6 Jackpot will cover Races 4-9. The jackpot carryover for a lone winning ticket was $96,299 entering Thursday’s eight-race program, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.