LOUISVILLE, KY – Thomas Conway’s King Zachary blew the doors off of his competition down the stretch on Saturday en route to crushing his foes in the Grade 3, $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Matt Winn was race 5 on the Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser program.
Breaking well under Robby Albarado, King Zachary was content to stalk in third early. Just ahead of him, his fellow Dale Romans stablemate, Tiz Mischief, got the inside jump on the 1-2 favorite Ax Man and led by no more than a head through opening splits of :24.55, :48.08, and 1:12.15. As the pace-setting duo began to tire in the far turn, Albarado swung King Zachary out three-wide and shot past them with a strong turn of foot. Kept under a brisk drive for the length of the stretch run, King Zachary drew off convincingly to win by 4 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:42.86 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“This horse keeps getting better with each start,” Albarado said. “I can’t thank Dale and Mr. Conway enough for letting me ride this horse. I think we are setting ourselves up for a big year with this horse. Dale gave me a lot of confidence this week. When (jockey Corey Lanerie) went to the lead with Tiz Mischief, I just settled and sat right off the pace. It worked perfectly.”
Though no match for the winner, Tiz Mischief was able to outrun Ax Man and take second, giving Romans the exacta. Ax Man faded badly in the stretch and just barely hung on to take third by a neck over Funny Duck. Further behind them, Combatant and Home Base completed the order of finish. Navy Armed Guard was scratched.
King Zachary’s win was his second straight under the Twin Spires, following an optional-claiming victory here on Kentucky Derby Day, and was his first career stakes score. The 3-year-old son of Curlin now holds a record of 6-3-0-2, with his lone off-the-board performance a sixth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes, and increased his career earnings to $172,650.
“What a race,” Romans said. “King Zachary just keeps getting better every time we see him. I was confident entering the race that he’d run a big effort. I know Ax Man was the horse to beat but was confident with my horses.”
King Zachary returned $26.60 to win, $10 to place, and $4.40 to show. Tiz Mischief brought back $12.40 to place and $4.40 to show, while Ax Man paid $2.10 to show.