Normally the Matt Winn (G3) is a target for horses seeking a rebound from losses in the Kentucky Derby (G1), or for 3-year-olds who didn’t make the Run for the Roses. In our unprecedented time of COVID-19, with the Derby delayed to Sept. 5, Saturday’s $150,000 renewal of the Matt Winn now serves as an opportunity for Derby contenders to score points – on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Thus the 1 1/16-mile feature has attracted a fine field of 12, including several well-bred types for the classics.
Unbeaten Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Maxfield
, the 5-2 morning-line favorite in his comeback from injury, is a case in point. By 2007 Kentucky Derby champion Street Sense, the Godolphin homebred is out of a mare by champion Bernardini, whose major victories include the 2006 Preakness (G1) and Travers (G1). Maxfield’s dam, Velvety, is a half-sister to 2002 Hopeful (G1) and Breeders’ Futurity hero Sky Mesa, now a successful sire. For a more detailed tour of his ancestry, check out the “Pedigree fun facts” on Maxfield
Fellow Godolphin homebred Mystic Guide, who makes his stakes debut off a maiden romp at Fair Grounds, is a son of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper and five-time Grade 1 queen Music Note. She is in turn by Hall of Famer A.P. Indy, himself the sire of Bernardini, so the two Godolphin runners have a nearby pedigree connection. Music Note is a half-sister to French classic winner Musical Chimes, and they descend from champion filly It’s in the Air.
Ghostzapper is the sire of another prime contender, Major Fed, who likewise burst onto the scene at Fair Grounds. Runner-up in the second division of the Risen Star (G2) and a sneaky-good fourth from a poor start in the Louisiana Derby (G2), Major Fed is a full brother to Grade 3-placed turf runner Zapperini. Indeed, his female line is turf-oriented. Further back in the family, one finds two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) star Treve.
Hard Spun, runner-up to Street Sense in the 2007 Derby, has two sons in the Matt Winn as well as a grandson. His best chance is son Attachment Rate, the third-placer in the Gotham (G3) and most recently second in the Unbridled S. at Gulfstream Park. His dam is by Afleet Alex, the 2005 Preakness and Belmont (G1) champion, and from the maternal line of Grade 1 scorers Hymn Book, Data Link, and champion Caledonia Road. The other Hard Spun colt, Necker Island, has finished behind Attachment Rate in the same stakes. Since his dam is a full sister to stakes-winning sprinter Greeley’s Rocket, by Mr. Greeley, he might have distance limitations.
Longshot Informative, out of a mare by Hard Spun, is also by a Derby runner-up in Bodemeister who was second to I’ll Have Another in 2012. But Bodemeister has sired a Derby winner in Always Dreaming (2017). This is the same sire line as American Pharoah, tracing to 1990 Derby champ Unbridled. Informative shares the same female line as Grade 1 stars Roman Ruler and El Corredor, but his pedigree looks better than his race record so far.
Also coming from the Unbridled male line is Louisiana Derby runner-up Ny Traffic. His sire is Cross Traffic, a son of Unbridled’s Song. On his dam’s side, Ny Traffic descends from Chilean classic winner Quilma, who scored a couple of her U.S. graded wins on the Churchill Downs dirt and set a course record on the Matt Winn turf.
Leading sire Tapit, a scion of the A.P. Indy line, has two grandsons in the field, both produced by his daughters. Up-and-coming Pneumatic, by champion Uncle Mo (sire of 2016 Derby victor Nyquist), tackles stakes company after winning both career starts at Oaklawn Park. The Winchell homebred is the first foal from the stakes-placed Tapit mare Teardrop, who is a full sister to Grade 3 winner War Echo and closely related to Grade 1 hero Pyro, the 2008 Louisiana Derby scorer.
Arlington-Washington Futurity winner Flap Jack is himself out of a stakes-placed Tapit mare, Synkros, from the family of 2005 Kentucky Oaks (G1) vixen Summerly. Flap Jack’s sire is 2013 Preakness scorer Oxbow (who is by Awesome Again, also the sire of Ghostzapper). He has yet to build on his promising juvenile campaign this season, winding up sixth in the Gotham and fading in the sloppy Oaklawn S.
Harlan’s Holiday is the paternal grandsire of two entrants. Shake Some Action is by leading sire Into Mischief, while Crypto Cash is by another son of Harlan’s Holiday, the sprinter Majesticperfection. Both were sixth in major Derby preps last out, Shake Some Action turning in a better-than-appears result in the Louisiana Derby and Crypto Cash filling that spot in Charlatan’s division of the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Shake Some Action has the stronger family. His dam, by Hall of Famer Tiznow, is a full sister to Grade 2 winner Tizahit, who herself produced current Grade 1 star Come Dancing. Also in the female line are champions Folklore and Contrail, the one to beat in the May 31 Japanese Derby (G1), as well as 2004 Triple Crown near-misser Smarty Jones.
Rounding out the cast is Celtic Striker, a son of the A.P. Indy stallion Congrats. From the family of 2013 Belmont hero Palace Malice and Grade 1-winning millionaire Rail Trip, Celtic Striker has been well beaten in his stakes tries in the Jerome and Gotham.