LOUISVILLE — Remarkable fortune had already smiled down on owners Winchell Thoroughbreds earlier in the card at Churchill Downs Saturday night.
When their homebred colt Tapiture channeled his old form and dispatched of his rivals in the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes, it became the latest highlight in what has been a string of grateful moments.
Two races after Winchell's 5-year-old graded stakes winner Sabercat gave them a scare by going down in the fourth race, Tapiture helped ease the stress of the evening and ended his own brief funk. The son of Tapit took command of the Matt Winn around the final turn and kicked on handily under jockey Rosie Napravnik to capture the 11⁄16-mile race by two lengths over Ulanbator.
The $109,400 Matt Winn was one of three graded stakes on the undercard of the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap Saturday night.
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Sent off as the even-money favorite, Tapiture ended a three-race losing skid that featured a 15th place finish in the Kentucky Derby which was preceded by a fourth-place effort in the Arkansas Derby. The chestnut colt put himself back in the discussion to be part of the top summer races for 3-year-olds this season as he rated kindly in fourth before moving on the outside past eventual third-place finisher Almost Famous on the far turn en route to covering the distance in 1:43.99.
"I think the last couple times he just got his feelings hurt," said David Fiske, manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds, whose stallion Tapit notched his first classic winner last weekend when Tonalist captured the Belmont Stakes. "I'm glad he's back. He was a little disadvantaged in his last two races, wide on both trips, lost a shoe in the Derby.
"I'm just happy to have him running the way he is supposed to run."
Fiske added that Sabercat was reported by trainer Steve Asmussen to be "fine" after going down near the head of the lane and being vaned off in the fourth race.
"He grabbed a quarter, went down and I think his girth slipped and when he fell over it probably knocked the air out of him," Fiske said. "When they undid his girth, he jumped up and walked on the ambulance."
In the day's other graded stakes, Dale Romans trainee Molly Morgan got a perfect rail-skimming ride from jockey Corey Lanerie to upset the field in the Grade II Fleur de Lis at 10-to-1.
Coming into the final turn, multiple Grade I winner On Fire Baby and 2-to-1 second choice Fiftyshadesofhay were all in the battle for the front when Molly Morgan slipped through and drew off to score by four lengths over Flashy American for her first graded stakes win in 21 career starts.
The Grade III Regret Stakes later in the card saw Aurelia's Belle get elevated to the victory when A Little Bit Sassy, who crossed the wire in front, was disqualified to fourth for interference in the stretch.