Carl Spackler Returns to Action in Opening Verse

April 25, 2024

Carl Spackler wins the Saranac (G3) Sep. 1 at Saratoga (Chelsea Durand)

Shoot It True Gives Ward Shot for Third Kentucky Juvenile Victory

Bango Goes for All-Time Churchill Downs Wins Record in St. Matthews Overnight

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Churchill Downs Press Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— E Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ Carl Spackler (IRE), a two-time graded stakes winner in 2023, will make his 2024 debut when he headlines a field of 12 for the 19th running of the $350,000 Opening Verse for 4-year-olds and up going a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course to highlight the 11th edition of Thurby presented by Old Forester at Churchill Downs.

The Opening Verse is one of three stakes on the 12-race program on Thursday, May 2. Other stakes are the 30th running of the $250,000 Kentucky Juvenile for 2-year-olds going five furlongs on the main track and the third running of the $200,000 St. Matthews for 4-year-olds and up going six furlongs on the main track.

Trained by Chad Brown, Carl Spackler won the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (GII) and the Saranac (GIII) last summer at Saratoga as the favorite. Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for those victories, has the mount from post 9.

The field for the Opening Verse, with riders from the rail out, is: Ah Jeez (Antonio Fresu), Churchtown (Luis Saez), Quality G (Frankie Dettori), Smokin’ T (John Velazquez), Harlan Estate (Declan Cannon), Ice Chocolat (BRZ) (Jose Ortiz), Skyro (Junior Alvarado), Accredit (Luan Machado), Carl Spackler (IRE) (Gaffalione), Talk of the Nation (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Stitched (Florent Geroux), Tiverton (GB) (Axel Concepcion).

Shoot It True Gives Ward Shot for Third Kentucky Juvenile Victory

Shoot It True impressive on debut (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

Ice Wine Stable and Smart Choice Stable’s Shoot It True, a 7 ½-length winner on the opening day of the Keeneland Spring Meet April 5, heads a field of nine for the Kentucky Juvenile.

The daughter of Munnings will be attempting to give trainer Wesley Ward a third victory in the race. Ward’s previous victories came with fillies against the boys, Silvertoni in 2016 and Aegean in 2009.

Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for the debut victory, has the mount from post 7.

The field for the Kentucky Juvenile, with riders from the rail out, is: Tuxedo Park (Joseph Bealmear), Akinmusire (Joel Rosario), The Queens M G (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Strummin (Victor Lebron), Jet Sweep Joe (Luis Saez), West Memorial (Rey Gutierrez), Shoot It True (Gaffalione), Turnbuckle (Julien Leparoux), Mensa (Jose Ortiz).

Bango Goes for All-Time Churchill Downs Wins Record in St. Matthews Overnight

Bango ties Churchill Downs win record, Jenny Photo, Past the Wire
Bango ties the Churchill Downs win record in the Louisville Thoroughbred Society Sep. 16 at Churchill Downs (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)

Tamaroak Partners’ Bango, an 11-time winner at Churchill Downs from 21 starts, will face six rivals as he goes for a repeat victory in the St. Matthews Overnight Stakes.

Trained by Greg Foley, the $1.5 million earner won last year’s race by five lengths under Tyler Gaffalione, who will be aboard again next Thursday. Bango will exit post 5.

Should Bango win the St. Matthews Stakes, he’d become the all-time winningest horse beneath the historic Twin Spires. His 11 wins is tied with Ready’s Rocket.

The field for the St. Matthews, with riders from the rail out, is: Necker Island (Jose Ortiz), Surveillance (James Graham), Richiesonaroll (Emmanuel Giles), Manny Wah (Flavien Prat), Bango (Gaffalione), Bourbon Bash (Keith Asmussen), O Besos (Irad Ortiz Jr.).

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