Catching My Eye: The Matt Winn (G3) and weekend racing at Ellis Park

June 13th, 2023

Racing analyst Kevin Kilroy looks back at the Matt Winn (G3) won by Disarm on Sunday, along with impressive performances from a handful of runners over the weekend at Ellis Park.

The $400,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3)

Sunday’s Matt Winn was Disarm’s first run since finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Winchell Thoroughbreds’ colt took another modest step forward to get his first win as a three-year-old. Going 1 1/8 miles at Ellis Park, Disarm took down Verifying’s best effort to date, while flaunting new tactics, staying within a length of the impressive frontrunner Bo Cruz throughout most of the race. Previously, he has relied on his late run to put himself in contention.

A well-spaced field of seven, no one had a bad trip, including Disarm, who stalked along the rail as Bo Cruz set unpressured fractions and Verifying stalked him to his outside. It was the Brad Cox trainee who got the first jump on the leader and in full stride seemed like he was the certain winner, but Disarm danced off the rail and showed his nimble turn of foot to get by Verifying at the wire. Then he proceeded to gallop out ahead of the field by a pole. Look at this pace line in the Matt Winn: 98 / 101 /102 with a career-best 104 Brisnet Speed figure.

Of all the three-year-olds, give me Disarm going forward. Steve Asmussen has always said his Gun Runner three-year-old was a race or two behind being in top form for the Kentucky Derby, and each race we have seen him continue to take gradual steps forward. He is my early pick to win the Travers (G1).

Saturday, June 10

Winning by over six lengths over Tall Boy, who was 17 lengths clear of third-place finisher Classic Legacy, it’s obvious that Extra Anejo didn’t beat much in Saturday’s one-mile first-level allowance. Nonetheless, it's exciting to see him back on track. Training very much the part of an Asmussen stand-out this winter, we didn’t get to see the ultra-impressive two-year-old make his sophomore debut until the Derby Day undercard. That day, he broke in and spotted the field four lengths, forced to claw back into the 6 1/2-furlong race to finish second behind a worthy foe in Federal Judge.

He stretched out on Saturday and clocked a 94 Brisnet Speed figure. Nothing to write home about, but he made just about every move on his own, and geared down across the wire; he could have run a bigger number if asked. Definitely a meaningful step in the right direction.

Race 9 on Saturday’s card brought together a field of nine males three years old and up. A first-level allowance going 1 1/8 miles, the race shape mostly held up in carousel fashion as Tiwanaku got away with slow fractions to lead throughout and held on by a nose over Saqeel. Trained by Tom Amoss, earning a 91, the winner didn’t reproduce his top Brisnet Speed figure (98) but he did cook up a 100 Late Pace figure, his best to date.

Ten Gauge, who finished last, about six lengths behind the winner, earned an 85. I think this could be a key race going forward, and the winners will likely have value, as their running line doesn't tell the entire story.

Sunday, June 11

Cutting back from 1 1/4 miles to one mile at Ellis Park, Loved dominated again to keep her streak of four-year-old perfection alive. Having put 28 lengths between her and her foes, Godolphin’s half to Maxfield trained by Brendan Walsh should certainly have enough confidence and foundation to step up to stakes company in her next start.

Race 1 on Sunday was quite the coming-out party for the Accelerate colt Hurry Hurry. Out of Grassy Nellie, a productive dam with 21% winners, he is a half to graded stakes sprinter I Will Score. Looking at Hurry Hurry’s first three races, trainer Matt Simms might have an unsuspecting router in his barn.

After breaking his maiden on debut at Turfway then trying allowance ranks at the same one-mile distance, Hurry Hurry stepped forward in a big way in his third start. With a 93 Brisnet Speed figure, the three-year-old dueled through the early stages to lay it on the field late, pulling away by nearly six lengths at 27-1.