Most recently fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Disarm will renew rivalry with three other Run for the Roses participants in Sunday’s $400,000 Matt Winn (G3). The change of venue from Churchill Downs to Ellis Park has also prompted a change of distance from 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 miles, to fit the track’s configuration.
The extra sixteenth played a decisive role in luring Raise Cain to Ellis. A troubled eighth in the Derby, he was under consideration for Saturday’s Belmont (G1) until the new Matt Winn conditions were announced. Fellow Derby also-rans King Russell and Verifying likewise hope to rebound here, while up-and-coming Bo Cruz makes his stakes debut.
Disarm could be on the verge of an overdue breakthrough for Steve Asmussen. The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred stamped himself as one to follow with a big Saratoga maiden win, only to be sidelined. Playing catch-up through the spring, Disarm was a rallying second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and a quiet third in the Lexington (G3) to ensure he had enough Derby points. Sire Gun Runner won the 2016 Matt Winn after a third in his Kentucky Derby, and Disarm can do the same for their shared connections. Jockey Joel Rosario maintains the partnership.
Raise Cain has yet to prove his two-turn prowess, with his signature win coming in the one-turn mile of the Gotham (G3). Yet the Ben Colebrook trainee hasn’t been disgraced in his dirt routes, finishing second in the Gun Runner S. at Fair Grounds and a closing fifth in the Blue Grass (G1) prior to the Derby. Out of a Lemon Drop Kid half-sister to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) heroine Unrivaled Belle, the Violence colt is bred to handle the distance. Junior Alvarado picks up the mount.
King Russell and Verifying had placed in in their final Derby preps. The Ron Moquett-trained King Russell rallied for second to Angel of Empire in the Arkansas Derby (G1), and Brad Cox’s Verifying was just edged by Tapit Trice in the Blue Grass. Verifying, champion Midnight Bisou’s half-brother by Justify, was burned up in the frenetic Derby pace, but his tactical speed should be a plus here. Tyler Gaffalione is back aboard Verifying, and King Russell keeps regular rider Rafael Bejarano.
The other stakes veterans are deep-closing Denington from the Ken McPeek barn, third in the Sir Barton S. last out, and Go Soldier Go, a distant fifth in the Peter Pan (G3) in his U.S. debut for Todd Pletcher. Previously in Dubai with Fawzi Nass, Go Soldier Go rallied in time in Super Saturday’s Al Bastakiya but got no nearer than fifth in the UAE Derby (G2).
Bo Cruz, a solid second in his debut sprinting, has wired his ensuing two over a route. The Al Stall Jr. pupil romped by 12 lengths in a Fair Grounds maiden and followed up with a convincing allowance score on Kentucky Derby Day.
One race earlier, the $175,000 Leslie’s Lady Overnight S. has attracted a field of 10 sophomore fillies. Topsy, a closing second to Maple Leaf Mel in the Miss Preakness (G3), meets Honeybee (G3) runner-up Condensation, subsequently fourth in both the Fantasy (G3) and Eight Belles (G2).
Other contenders in the seven-furlong affair include Godolphin’s stakes-placed Padma; last-out Keeneland allowance winner Positano Sunset; Unifying, coming off an Oaklawn Park allowance score; Friendlypersuasion in her sophomore bow for Michael McCarthy; and B G Warrior, winner of the Valdale S. at Turfway Park earlier this season.