06/15/2013 8:59PM

Churchill Downs: Code West outfights Uncaptured in Matt Winn


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – At times this spring, trainer Bob Baffert viewed Code West as his Belmont horse, but ultimately, he chose to not run Code West in the race.

Instead, Code West turned into his Matt Winn horse, winning the Grade 3, $113,100 race Saturday evening at Churchill Downs on the Stephen Foster Handicap undercard. The win gave Baffert his fourth victory in the race and his 100th win at Churchill Downs.

Well positioned by Rosie Napravnik, Code West stalked the pace in second early as Dewey Square spurted to the lead with fractions of 24.67 seconds, 48.96, and 1:13.57 in the 1 1/16-mile contest.

Turning for home, he took command from a weary Dewey Square, but the lead looked like it would be short-lived, as Uncaptured, who had stalked the pace in third for much of the race, angled out in early stretch and came charging. The two battled for the length of the stretch before Code West inched away late to prevail by a head.

“He got a nose in front, and I really thought that he had me,” Napravnik said of Uncaptured. “But my horse just didn’t want to lose. It was all the horse.”

The winner, a 3-year-old ridgling by Lemon Drop Kid owned by Gary and Mary West, finished in 1:43.37 on a fast track. He paid $6.20 as the favorite in the field that was reduced to 10 with the early scratch of Ruler of Love.

Abstraction, the second choice in the wagering at 5-2, rallied to be third but was never a threat to the top two, 5 1/4 lengths behind Uncaptured.

Baffert, reached by telephone in California, said he believes Code West will appreciate longer distances than the 1 1/16 miles of the Matt Winn. He was noncommittal on a next start, other than to say that Code West would be “on the summer Derby trail.”