05/16/2008 11:00PM

Romans repeats in Matt Winn


For the second straight year, Dale Romans trained the winner of the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs, winning Saturday with Eaton's Gift after taking the race last year with Spin Master.

Rebounding from a seventh-place finish in the Derby Trial, Eaton's Gift proved ultra game in defeating Devereux in the $108,800 Matt Winn.

Well handled by jockey Elvis Trujillo, who won with all three of his mounts at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Eaton's Gift settled just off the early pace of St. Joe, who came out firing for the lead with a hot opening quarter-mile of 21.43 seconds in the six-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

With St. Joe weakening on the turn, Eaton's Gift made his move to the lead with a half-mile in 44.48 seconds, and after being joined on his outside by Devereux in the stretch, pulled away to score by 1 1/2 lengths.

Ling Ling Qi, the 9-5 favorite, ran third, three-quarters of a length behind runner-up Devereux, after stalking the pace four wide on the backstretch and turn.

Eaton's Gift, a 3-year-old son of Johannesburg owned by Zayat Stables, raced six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.48, paying $6 as the second choice in the field of seven.

Even though Eaton's Gift had won all of his prior races on the lead, including the Grade 2 Swale on Feb. 2 at Gulfstream Park, Trujillo chose to rate Eaton's Gift when St. Joe was intent on making the front.

"I didn't want to go head to head," he said.

That decision left Eaton's Gift with something left for the stretch.

"He's a game horse - one of the best in my barn," Romans said.