06/18/2011 6:15PM

Churchill Downs:McPeek sweeps Regret, Matt Winn with Bizzy Caroline, Scotus

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Scotus, a horse that trainer Ken McPeek considered scratching in favor of an easier spot on Sunday's card, rewarded his connections by taking the Matt Winn.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Ken McPeek didn’t have a starter in Saturday’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster Stakes – lucky for those owners and trainers who  did have horses compete in the race.

McPeek was that hot Saturday at Churchill Downs, winning two stakes on the Foster undercard, taking the Grade 3 Regret with Bizzy Caroline and Grade 3 Matt Winn with Scotus in the races immediately before the Foster.

Although McPeek’s big-name filly, Kathmanblu, ran a flat fourth in the $138,125 Regret, he won the race with the rapidly improving Bizzy Caroline, who notched her third straight victory in taking the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Under a ground-saving ride from jockey Manny Cruz, Bizzy Caroline received a favorable stalking trip, sitting in fifth early, four lengths off a slow pace of 49.19 seconds and 1:12.87 set by Bouquet Booth.

Coming into the stretch, Cruz angled her just outside the leaders, and Bizzy Caroline made it look easy from there, blowing past runner-up Excited to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

Bouquet Booth just held third, a half-length behind Exciting, who held the show position by a head over 9-5 favorite Kathmanblu.

Bizzy Caroline, a 3-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex owned by Catesby Clay, raced 1 1/8 miles on firm turf course in 1:49.73. She paid $10.20.

The Regret marked the third stakes victory of the meet for Cruz, who shifted his tack from his longtime base at Calder to ride at Churchill this spring.

“I’m very happy and very excited to be in Kentucky,” said Cruz, who came to Kentucky with encouragement from McPeek.

Gamble with Scotus pays off in Matt Winn victory

A race earlier, McPeek’s Scotus was a similar perfect-trip winner of the $138,500 Matt Winn under jockey Alan Garcia.

Interestingly, his connections were on the fence even about running Scotus. He had also been entered in a Sunday starter allowance race at Churchill Downs in which he would have been a heavy favorite, but McPeek and owner Peter Callahan opted for the higher reward option of the Matt Winn.

Scotus proved up to the challenge in the Matt Winn, taking the lead from Illinois Derby winner Joe Vann in deep stretch and prevailing by a length over late-running Infrattini.

“We were agonizing all morning whether I should run him here or there, wondering if he was good enough,” McPeek said. “Me and the owner talked and I told him that these are the kind of races we like winning and running in – we might as well go.”

Scotus was well placed from the start, settling right behind early leaders Wilburn and Joe Vann, who set a moderate pace of 48.27 seconds and 1:12.45 in the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn.

With neither horse able to get a breather up front, they proved vulnerable to the stalking rally of Scotus, who raced the distance in 1:44.12 over a drying-out track labeled good. He paid $18.40.

Infrattini closed belatedly for second, unable to seriously challenge the winner. He finished three-quarters of a length in front of third-place Joe Vann.

The favored Wilburn ran fourth in a field reduced to seven by the scratch of Chalice.