06/16/2011 3:22PM

Churchill Downs: Banned should get sufficient pace in Jefferson Cup

Tom Keyser
Banned, winner of last month's American Turf at Churchill Downs, will be a solid field in a field of 3-year-old turf runners in Saturday's Jefferson Cup.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – They will have a very tough time beating Banned in the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs if the colt runs the way he did in winning the American Turf on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Thing is, will things set up for him as nicely Saturday as they did last time?

“It really set up for him perfectly last time, and that always helps you,” said Tom Proctor, who jokingly and aptly calls his budding stable star “Banned on the run” in honor of the 1970s Paul McCartney hit. “But yeah, he can run a little bit.”

Banned, the solid favorite among eight 3-year-old turfers in the $100,000 Jefferson Cup, earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure when blazing home from well back under Garrett Gomez in his 4 1/2-length Oaks Day score. Saturday, Jose Lezcano will replace Gomez, who is otherwise occupied at Hollywood Park.

“Jose and I have a lot of good mojo, so maybe we can get lucky,” said Proctor.

There seems an ample amount of speed in the 1 1/16-mile Jefferson Cup to facilitate Banned’s potent kick. Great Mills likely will sail to the front from his outside post, with Redboard, Perregaux, and perhaps a couple more not too far behind.

For a potential upsetter, Perregaux stands to benefit substantially from his May 27 return from a layoff and could work out a nice trip under Robby Albarado.

The 36th Jefferson Cup starts off an all-graded-stakes pick four as the ninth of 12 races.

Matt Winn: Slight edge to Wilburn

A week ago, the Grade 3, $125,000 Matt Winn was shaping up as one of the best undercard races on Stephen Foster Day. But physical setbacks to prominent nominees Dominus and Bind robbed the race of some of its depth and quality.

Eight other 3-year-olds were at least entered for Saturday’s Matt Winn, which goes as the 10th of 12 on the card, and what is left is a competitive 1 1/16-mile dirt contest. Five horses are between 3-1 and 5-1 on the line, with Wilburn the tepid morning-line favorite after winning an allowance at Churchill Downs May 15.

Two stakes winners are in the lineup: Northern Spur winner Uncle Brent and Illinois Derby winner Joe Vann.

Both ran unsuccessfully most recently in the May 14 Peter Pan at Belmont, with Joe Vann running the better of the two, finishing fourth, beaten seven lengths by Alternation. Uncle Brent was ninth, 16 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

Trainer Lynn Whiting remains at a loss for why Uncle Brent ran so poorly, other than the ship to race at Belmont Park, a track over which his horse had not trained or raced. Nor has Uncle Brent raced at Churchill Downs, though he has breezed here. He went six furlongs in 1:13.60 June 5, and followed that June 12 with a bullet half-mile breeze in 46.80 seconds.

“He may have gone a tad fast,” Whiting said of the half-mile breeze.

Manny Cruz rides Uncle Brent, a private purchase by Charles Cella after a sharp maiden victory at first asking Feb. 26 at Oaklawn Park.

Of the others, Infrattini, a hard-charging second behind Wilburn, rates an upset chance with leading jockey Corey Lanerie aboard.

◗ Before the four graded races end the Saturday card, the novelty of Arabian racing should pique fans’ interest when the $50,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup goes as the sixth race. Grilla, owned and trained by Bill Waldron, will be favored when breaking from the outside post in a field of eight Arabians in the 1 1/4-mile race. Grilla won an installment of the Arabian series last fall at Keeneland.

– additional reporting by Byron King