05/29/2012 1:10PM

Churchill Downs: Stealcase prepping for higher level

Tom Keyser
Stealcase is being pointed for the Matt Winn.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Lacking many opportunities to race on dirt beyond the Churchill Downs spring meet, Stealcase will prep Thursday for what his connections hope will be a berth in the June 16 Matt Winn Stakes.

“That’s the thinking, anyway,” said Norm Casse, who oversees the Churchill string trained by his father, Mark Casse. “We know it’s back fairly quick, but there’s really nothing for him after this. So we’re probably going to try for these two in a row and regroup after that.”

Stealcase, briefly considered for the Belmont Stakes until being withdrawn last week, was assigned post 5 with Shaun Bridgmohan to ride as the morning-line favorite in the eighth of nine Thursday races, a $59,800, first-level allowance for 3-year-olds. First post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern, with the one-mile feature going at 4:29.

Stealcase earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 100 when he finished third behind Hierro and Paynter in a tough renewal of the Derby Trial here opening night, April 28. Mark Casse has called the colt “our best 3-year-old,” one reason he has kept him in such good company despite remaining eligible for this allowance condition. Before the Trial, Stealcase ran in the Gotham and Vinery Spiral.

This race could have come up easier, but with several capable challengers entered against him, Stealcase may well have to run another big one to earn his way to the $100,000 Matt Winn, a 1 1/16-mile race on the Stephen Foster undercard. Among the opposition is Agent Di Nozzo, a Ghostzapper colt named for a character on the popular television series “NCIS”; Morgan’s Guerrilla, runner-up in the Illinois Derby; Beer Garden, an improving Tapit colt trained by Steve Asmussen; and Seven Lively Sins, runner-up in the Iroquois Stakes here last fall.

Two other allowances also are part of a solid Thursday program.

The fourth race is a $62,500, second-level race for fillies and mares, with Burban likely to come favored in seeking her third victory in a row for trainer Eddie Kenneally. Eight are entered in the seven-furlong race.

The seventh race is a $70,100, classified allowance scheduled for a mile on turf. Strike Impact, with Miguel Mena riding for trainer Pat Dupuy, is listed as the morning-line favorite in a field of older horses that includes such familiar names as Guys Reward, A Diehl, Furthest Land, and Crimson China.

There are carryovers in both the $2 pick six ($53,530, races 4-9) and $1 super high five ($8,802, race 9) after neither was hit Monday.