Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton's ultra-consistent Combatant will try for just his second-career victory as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line in Saturday's $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
“He needs to get over the hump,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I think he needs a little more time between races so hopefully the rest from the Derby he'll come back stronger. He just needs a little spark and hopefully he'll get that in the Matt Winn.”
Combatant, a 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy, began his 2017 campaign at Oaklawn Park with runner-up finishes in the Jan. 15 Smarty Jones and Feb. 1 Southwest (GIII). The bay colt then finished third in the March 17 Rebel and fourth in the April 14 Arkansas Derby (GI) before an 18th-place finish in the May 5 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI).
“He's a very talented horse that hasn't had many things go his way,” Asmussen said. “Most notably the draws have not been in his favor. One thing's for sure, he didn't draw worse than he did in the Derby (post 20).”
The Matt Winn field from the rail out: Navy Armed Guard (ridden by Alex Canchari, trained by Joan Scott, 118 pounds, 20-1 morning line odds); Home Base (Joe Rocco Jr., Mike Tomlinson, 118, 10-1); Funny Duck (Brian Hernandez Jr., Rusty Arnold II, 120, 5-1); King Zachary (Robby Albarado, Dale Romans, 118, 10-1); Combatant (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen, 118, 4-1); Tiz Mischief (Corey Lanerie, Romans, 118, 8-1); and Ax Man (Mike Smith, Bob Baffert, 120, 4-5).
The Matt Winn goes as Race 5 with a post time of approximately 7:57 p.m. (all times Eastern).
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