06/16/2012 8:44PM

Churchill Downs: Neck n’ Neck calms down, dominates Matt Winn


LOUISVILLE, Ky. –  Neck n’ Neck had little right to dominate the Grade 3, $107,100 Matt Winn Stakes, the first or four stakes Saturday evening at Churchill Downs. Wound up in the paddock, he required a shoe repair, and then found himself having to rally from behind a slow pace set by favored Right to Vote.

But dominate his rivals four rivals he did, rallying from third with a wide trip to register a 7 1/4-length victory over Stealcase.

The ease of his victory hinted he may have a future in races against the elite of the 3-year-old division. But trainer Ian Wilkes cautioned that Neck ‘n Neck still has some growing up to do, noting his horse weaved greenly through the stretch.

“If I can get him to cut out the mistakes then we can take on the big boys,” he said. “But I have to get those mistakes out of there and get him executing 100 percent right.”

A  3-year-old son of Flower Alley owned by A. Stevens Miles Jr. and ridden by Leandro Goncalves, Neck n’ Neck won the first stakes race in taking the Matt Winn and improved his record to 3 for 10. All of his victories have come at Churchill Downs. He raced 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.73, paying $10.

Stealcase, rank behind horses as Right to Vote set a slow pace of 48.97 seconds and 1:13.12, made a mild, non-threatening rally to grab the runner-up position, edging third-place Macho Macho by a neck.

Right to Vote, the 9-5 public choice and the only horse racing without the anti-bleeding medication Lasix, faded to be a distant fourth, 6 ½ lengths behind Macho Macho. Previously Right to Vote had been second in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont May 12.

He was followed across the wire by Master Rick, a half-length further back, in last.