October 20, 2021

Cowan tops William Walker on Churchill’s opening night program

Cowan (Dubai Racing Club/Neville Hopwood)

Live racing returns to Churchill Downs Saturday night with a 12-race program. The spring meet at Churchill Downs starts fast, with the 147th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 1 highlighting 18 stakes during the opening week, and Saturday’s opener features the $150,000 William Walker S.

Post time for the first race is 6 p.m. ET.

The William Walker is carded as the 9th race, and 12 three-year-olds are entered for the 5 1/2-furlong turf affair, including a pair of also-eligibles. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) second Cowan looks like the one to beat for Steve Asmussen.

The five-time stakes runner-up finished a close second in the Saudi Derby overseas two back, and Cowan is eligible to rebound after an unplaced effort against elders in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on the March 27 Dubai World Cup undercard. Luis Saez will be up.

Kasim and Field Day, second and third in the March 20 Texas Glitter S. at Gulfstream Park, are contenders for Mike Maker and Brad Cox. Gerardo Corrales picks up the mount on Kasim, and Tyler Gaffalione takes over on Field Day.

Next and Roderick are in the main body of the field for Wesley Ward. A turf maiden winner sprinting, Next will make his first appearance since finishing last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Roderick concluded his juvenile season with an allowance win on Churchill’s main track, and he will switch surfaces for his second start this year after weakening to last as the odds-on choice in the Hutcheson S. at Gulfstream.

Stakes-placed Into Sunrise, unraced since an unplaced effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, must draw into the field from the also-eligible list to start for Ward.

Unitedandresolute merits respect after a third in the Palisades Turf Sprint S. on the April 2 opening-day card at Keeneland. Florent Geroux will guide for Tom Amoss. Juvenile stakes winner Bodenheimer, sixth when returning from a layoff in the Palisades, is another possible player. The Valorie Lund-trained Washington-bred retains the services of Brian Hernandez Jr.