July 25, 2024

Disarm apprehends Verifying in Matt Winn

Disarm wins the Matt Winn Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

At one stage of Sunday’s $400,000 Matt Winn (G3) at Ellis Park, 1.12-1 favorite Disarm appeared to inherit sire Gun Runner’s distaste for the slop. Jockey Joel Rosario had to stoke him up for a while, but the Steve Asmussen pupil responded generously down the stretch and ran down Verifying.

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Disarm was emulating his sire in a more significant respect. Gun Runner, who was third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1), rebounded with a vengeance in the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn at its regular home of Churchill Downs. Disarm, coming off a fourth in the Kentucky Derby, found this a congenial spot in its adjusted 1 1/8-mile format at Ellis.

Verifying was likewise turning the page on a Derby loss, although he had fared far worse when 16th in the pace collapse. The Justify half-brother to champion Midnight Bisou went off as the 2.26-1 second choice in anticipation of a more straightforward trip here. He got it, and nearly delivered.

The progressive Bo Cruz splashed to the lead through fractions of :24.46 and :48.73, with Verifying just a length away in a monitoring second. Disarm was tucked behind them on the inside in third, but briefly dropped to fourth as the flanking Raise Cain advanced on the far turn.

Meanwhile, Verifying ratcheted up the pressure through six furlongs in 1:13.05 and took over from Bo Cruz entering the stretch. Raise Cain’s bid stalled, opening the door for Rosario to angle Disarm to the outside.

Once in the clear, Disarm leveled off and gained irresistible momentum. Nabbing Verifying by a half-length, the chestnut clocked 1:49.59 to earn his first stakes win.

“It was a little wet today, which is always concerning to see how horses would like it,” Rosario said. “(Disarm) seemed to like it and got over the track well. It was a very good performance.

“Steve (Asmussen) told me to get him into position after we broke from the gate and just let him handle things on his own. At the three-eighths pole, I had to start to ride him a little bit to keep position, but he responded very nicely after that and continued to do so down the lane.”

Verifying, still a stakes bridesmaid whose turn will come, pulled 4 3/4 lengths ahead of Bo Cruz. Raise Cain settled for fourth, indicating he’ll likely cut back in trip. Denington, Go Soldier Go, and King Russell never factored in the back of the pack.

Disarm’s resume reads 7-2-2-2, $720,700. The chestnut was a promising juvenile who was third on debut to Mo Strike, the next-out Sanford (G3) winner. Disarm himself starred in his follow-up at the Spa, rolling to a 6 1/4-length maiden win over Arthur’s Ride. But he wasn’t seen again for more than six months.

Runner-up in his Oaklawn allowance comeback Feb. 19, Disarm was a rallying second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) to loose-on-the-lead Kingsbarns. His Kentucky Derby spot wasn’t assured, so he wheeled back for the Lexington (G3), picked up a few more points in third, and put himself in the starting gate. Disarm trained sharply coming out of that mere prep, and he closed for an honorable fourth behind Mage, Two Phil’s, and Angel of Empire.

The Matt Winn should set Disarm up for a productive second half. Gun Runner himself used it as a springboard to the Haskell (G1), where he was a subpar fifth on a sloppy track, and the July 22 Monmouth feature could be in the target mix for Disarm. Considering that Gun Runner reached another level at four, Disarm has plenty of scope for further development.

The Kentucky-bred is out of Easy Tap, a daughter of Tapit who’s helping in the mud department. Easy Tap is also the dam of Tap Daddy, a Grade 3-placed stakes winner in the U.S. and subsequently champion stayer in Venezuela. This is the family of Arkansas Derby (G1) hero Angel of Empire, the dead-heat fourth in the Belmont (G1).

Earlier in the $173,050 Leslie’s Lady Overnight S., Unifying scored a breakthrough stakes victory for herself and young trainer Riley Mott. Hall of Famer Bill Mott’s son, and erstwhile assistant, just set out on his own in 2022.

Unifying raced within striking range of early leader B G Warrior through splits of :21.99 and :44.94. Under Cristian Torres, the 4.95-1 chance improved position on the rail rounding the far turn, switched out swinging for home, and drove three lengths clear. Unifying negotiated seven furlongs in 1:23.64.

Topsy, the 9-5 favorite who was always in the stalking group, kept on well for second. B G Warrior outperformed her 42-1 odds in third, while the 2.81-1 Condensation wound up a non-threatening eighth of nine.

Campaigned by Sheri Greenberg, Staghawk Stables, Tom Reiman, and Ronald Johnson, Unifying increased her earnings to $294,076 from her 8-3-3-1 line. The Union Rags filly was second to Defining Purpose in the Year’s End S. at Oaklawn in her only prior stakes attempt. Unifying recently cleared her entry-level allowance condition at the same track May 5.

The bargain $32,000 Keeneland September yearling was bred by Lynn B. Schiff. Unifying’s dam, the Arch mare Monarchia, is a descendant of unbeaten Hall of Famer and Broodmare of the Year Personal Ensign.