06/14/2012 2:23PM

Churchill Downs: Matt Winn Stakes field tough to separate

Tom Keyser
Right to Vote is the only non-Lasix horse in the field for the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Eoin Harty nominated Endorsement to the Stephen Foster Handicap, and he nominated Right to Vote to the Matt Winn Stakes. A quick glance at the Saturday night program speaks to how he followed up.

“The Stephen Foster is about as tough a Grade 1 as I’ve seen in a while, probably tougher than the Breeders’ Cup Classic was last year,” Harty said. “And the other race came up easier than I envisioned.”

Accordingly, Endorsement will be munching on hay in his stall while Right to Vote will be saddled up to take on just four other 3-year-olds in the Grade 3, $100,000 Matt Winn, a race lacking in numbers but not necessarily competitiveness. The morning line on the five starters ranges only from 5-2 to 7-2, which suggests all are very plausible winners.

Harty, for his part, believes Right to Vote will be difficult to deny, if the gelding runs back to his runner-up effort behind the well-regarded Mark Valeski in the Peter Pan Stakes last month at Belmont.

“His last race was a huge improvement, not that he had ever disappointed me,” Harty said. “If he runs back to that, which I think he will, he’ll be double-tough.”

Right to Vote, the only non-Lasix horse in the field, will start from post 3 in the 1 1/16-mile race with Javier Castellano aboard.

Steve Asmussen has an uncoupled pair of bookends in the race in Macho Macho (post 1) and Master Rick (post 5). They come off a disparate set of last outs, with Macho Macho winning a Kentucky Derby Day allowance, and Master Rick clearly running a subpar race in finishing a far-back ninth at just 4-1 in the Peter Pan.

The other two in the field also come off Churchill allowance scores, both as heavy favorites: Stealcase (post 2), a onetime Triple Crown hopeful trained by Mark Casse, and Neck ’n Neck (post 4), a late-running colt trained by Ian Wilkes. Neck ’n Neck was sired by Flower Alley, the sire of 2012 Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another.

The Matt Winn goes as the fifth of 11 races and starts a 50-cent pick four (races 5-8) comprised solely of graded stakes. Post time is 7:57 p.m. Eastern.