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Derby Trial Kicks Off Churchill Downs Meet


Tonight’s 88th running of The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial Stakes (G3) is the featured race on opening night of the Churchill Downs stand.

A competitive field of 11 promising 3-year-olds is slated to contest the $250,000, one-mile fixture, including Paynter, Bourbon Courage, Hierro and Saint of Saints.

Paynter, a son of Awesome Again, broke his maiden first time out at Santa Anita for Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert. Thrown into Grade 1 company in only his second lifetime start, Paynter finished a credible fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Jockey Martin Garcia is slated to ride the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

Bourbon Courage, a Fair Grounds shipper for trainer Kellyn Gorder, is perfect in two career starts. Owned by Bourbon Lane Stable and Wayne Lynn, the son of Lion Heart won his debut by 4 ½ lengths and returned to capture an optional claiming event by nearly seven lengths.

Hierro, a Stonestreet Stables colorbearer, broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last year at age two for trainer Steve Asmussen. The son of Hard Spun finished fifth in this year’s Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita and most recently finished fourth in an optional claiming race at Santa Anita.

Saint of Saints, owned by Dream Team One Racing Stable, was impressive in breaking his maiden last time out at Gulfstream Park for trainer Dale Romans. The Florida-bred son of Saint Anddan will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard the Florida-bred for the maiden score.

“We’re excited,” said Kostas Hatzikoutelis of Dream Team One Racing Stable, a partnership group that is co-owner of Mucho Macho Man. “We will have about 60 friends and partners represented at the race tonight. The great part about tonight is that a lot of the partners in this group are not part of the ownership of Mucho Macho Man, and the Derby Trial will be their first opportunity to experience a graded stakes race.

“We just want a good race from him,” Hatzikoutelis added en route to Louisville, Ky. “It’s obviously a step up for him. The feeling all along from those close to him is that he is a graded stakes-type horse. Everything is good heading into the race. We’re quietly optimistic.”

Rounding out the field for tonight’s feature are: Tarpy’s Goal, The Black, Nonios, Quick Wit, Seve, Stealcase and Motor City.

Post time for the Derby Trial is 9:39 p.m.

Paynter/Benoit photo

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