A field of a dozen 3-year-olds clash in Saturday’s Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The lukewarm 5-2 favorite is Maxfield, making his seasonal debut. Unbeaten in two starts, Maxfield missed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to ankle surgery. He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last September and followed up with a win in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in early October.
Pneumatic, at 4-1, is also unbeaten in two starts, both at Oaklawn. Unraced at two, he won a six-furlong maiden by a neck and then a one-mile optional claimer by 2 ½ lengths. The step up in trip shouldn’t be a problem.
There is a chance of rain on Saturday. Attachment Rate and Necker Island have both won on sloppy tracks, the latter at Churchill Downs.
Maxfield has a lot of questions to answer after a long layoff, so the selection here is Pneumatic.
Charles Whittingham Is Santa Anita’s Saturday Feature
The Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes is Santa Anita’s Saturday feature. Named for the two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer, it will be contested over a mile and a quarter on the turf.
United, the 6-5 favorite, won the Grade 2 San Marcos over course and distance in his last start. Prior to that he was second in both the Hollywood Turf Cup over a mile and a half at Del Mar and the Breeders’ Cup Turf over this course. He looks the best here, and trainer Richard Mandella puts up Flavien Prat, a hot rider at the moment.
There are only two others in the field who look to have a chance of beating the favorite.
Rockemperor tries the Santa Anita lawn for the first time. Originally raced in France, he has two thirds from three US starts. He was third in his US debut, the Belmont Derby over this trip in July, then sixth in the 1 3/16 miles Saratoga Derby in August. In his only start this year, he was third in the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial at Fair Grounds over 1 1/8 miles. He could get the job done for trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz.
Originaire hasn’t run since winning an optional claimer over 1 1/8 miles here on February 29 by 5 ¼ lengths. He looks capable of a good showing. However, United is the horse to beat and he is the selection.