Favorites and Second Choices Dominate Saturday’s Stakes at Churchill Downs
A big day of racing Saturday at Churchill Downs featured five graded stakes races including two Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win and You’re In’ races. A brief highlight of each Saturday stakes winner is below, along with video replay links as available.
Saturday, June 17
Race 5 – $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) – 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds
McCraken bounced back from his 8h place finish in the Kentucky Derby to triumph in the Matt Winn Stakes. He was the heavy 1-5 favorite in a field of six, and McCraken paid $2.40 after finishing in 1:42.84 over a fast track.
Trainer Ian Wilkes said before the Matt Winn that if all went well, he would target the July 29 Jim Dandy at Saratoga as the next start for McCraken.
Race 6 – $200,000 Wise Dan Stakes (G2) – 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds and up on Turf
Kasaqui stormed down the stretch under the TwinSpires night lights to win the Wise Dan Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths. The big gray made a sweeping move to inhale front-running Chocolate Ride’s advantage at the furlong marker and finished in 1:40.26 on the firm turf. Kasaqui paid $8.40 to win as the 3-1 second choice.
Race 7 – $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) – 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ Race
Favored at 6-5, Forever Unbridled surged down the stretch with a late rally under Joel Rosario to earn an automatic Breeders’ Cup berth to this year’s Longines Distaff at Del Mar via the Breeders Cup Challenge. Forever Unbridled had not raced since finishing 3rd in November’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and she’ll return for another shot at Songbird.
Race 8 – $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) – 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up
Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ Race
Gun Runner became the first domestic horse to secure a ‘Win and You’re In’ spot in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The 4-year-old was a heavy favorite in the field of 8, and jockey Florent Geroux sent Gun Runner to the front and he never trailed even with fast fractions of 23.59, 47.23, 1:10.69, and the mile in a very quick 1:34.86. Gun Runner rolled home a seven-length winner in a final winning time of 1:47.56. Gun Runner paid $3.00 to win and improved to 8-3-2 in 15 starts with earnings of $4,638,500 .
Race 9 – $100,000 Regret Stakes (G3) – 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-old fillies on Turf
The Saturday stakes nightcap went to Sweeping Paddy, who rated early more than 7 lengths behind the leader. But the daughter of Paddy O’Prado, also trained by Dale Romans, was patient under Luis Saez and collared the leader in the stretch before pulling away to win her first stakes race by 3 ½ lengths. Sweeping Paddy raced 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.62, paying $9.20 as the second favorite behind Proctor’s Ledge.
A trio of $100,000 stakes races conclude the month of June at Churchill Downs beginning with the 7 furlong Chicago Handicap (G3) on June 24. On Friday, June 30 a pair of 6 furlong sprints for 2-year-olds are featured in the Debutante Stakes and Bashford Manor Stakes (G2).