The Road to the Kentucky Derby is back open with a field of 12 three-year-olds going in the $150,000 Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
The race marks the return of the Brendan Walsh trained Maxfield, an early favorite for the Run for the Roses last year after his victory in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last October. An ankle injury ended his bid for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and he now returns off a 7 ½ month layoff and is the 5-2 morning line favorite.
“The biggest difference we have all noticed with him from last year to this year has been his physicality,” Walsh said. “We never really questioned what he was like mentally, but you can tell when we got him back to training, he’s really filled out physically.”
The Matt Winn offers up 50-20-10-5 Derby points to the top four finishers in a now revamped Road to the Kentucky Derby points series.
Among his foes are the Louisiana Derby (G2) runner up Ny Traffic and fourth place finisher Major Fed and the undefeated Pneumatic, who makes his stakes debut for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Saturday’s 11-race card at Churchill Downs features four supporting stakes—the $100,000 War Chant at a mile on turf for three-year-olds, the $100,000 Blame at one mile on the main track for four-year-olds and upward, the $100,000 Tepin for three-year-old fillies at a mile on turf and the $100,000 Shawnee at 1 1/6 miles on the main track for fillies and mares.
There is plenty of coverage on national television. FS2 covers the action from 1:00 to 2:30 ET, then switching to FS1 from 2:30 to 6:30 ET. The NBC Sports Network will simulcast the TVG Network from 4:00 to 8:00 ET.
In addition, horseplayers can stream all the horse racing action using the Watch TVG App. The horse betting company is offering a $300 Risk Free Bet for new players.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Churchill Downs and Santa Anita.
Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Churchill Downs Race 10 The Matt Winn (G3) Post time 5:44 ET
6 Ny Traffic 10-1
10 Maxfield 5-2
11 Attachment Rate 4-1
2 Pneumatic 4-1
This colt came up short in two Derby preps in New Orleans, checking in third in the Risen Star (G2) and second in the Louisiana Derby (G2). The colt dueled for the early lead in the Risen Star and finished up well, beaten 1 ¼ lengths at nine furlongs. Two came out of that race to win next out including fifth place finisher Mr. Big News, who came back to win the Oaklawn Stakes. Last out he chased the early pace and could not get to the loose on the lead gate to wire winner, coming up 1 ½ lengths back of Wells Bayou. Note the cut back in distance here to 1 1/16 miles which should suit him and there is not much early zip signed up to go here. The colt should be on or close to the lead here with his two main foes drawing tough posts. Decent value if this guy goes off near his 10-1 morning line.
The Walsh trainee is making his belated three-year-old debut. He was going to be a threat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but had to scratch after an ankle issue. He broke his maiden in his debut here going a mile and then won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, becoming one of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1). The delay of this year’s Run for the Roses certainly has helped this guy. The barn is 11% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. Solid works at Keeneland and he looks fit and ready to go off the bench. The post is not great, and his price could end up on the light side.
The colt draws just outside of the favorite. He broke his maiden in the slop at Gulfstream Park in his third career start and then landed in the money in a couple of stakes. The colt made a mild late rally to finish third in the Gotham (G3) going a one turn mile, beaten two lengths. Last out in the Unbridled in his first start around two turns he stalked the early pace while wide, exchanged a few bumps with the winner and could not match strides with the winner late, beaten 1 ½ lengths. He has shown some tactical speed and Johnny V. may use him early from the outside so this guy could be more forwardly placed. He looks as if he may still have some upside.