March to Arch Could Turn From “Barn Favorite” Into “Fan Favorite” in G3 Commonwealth Turf Today

(Churchill Downs will host the G3 Commonwealth Turf today / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

(Trainer Mark Casse / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team:

Trainer Mark Casse’s locally-based assistant Nick Tomlinson is eagerly awaiting Saturday’s $100,000 Commonwealth Turf (Grade III) as his “barn favorite” March to the Arch tries for his first graded stakes win at Churchill Downs.“He’s been one of those horses that I absolutely love to be around at the barn,” said Tomlinson, 24, who oversees about 36 horses for Casse at the historic Louisville oval. “He’s doing really well leading into this race and I’m hoping we can get him his first graded stakes victory. He came back to Churchill in October and he’s just a really fun horse to be around.”

March to the Arch, a homebred from Charlotte Webber’s Live Oak Plantation, has reeled off three victories through nine starts in his career, including a 1 ¾-length score in the $100,000 Toronto Cup at Woodbine in late July.

Jockey Julien Leparoux has the call on the gelded son of Arch in the Commonwealth and will break from post position No. 4 as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line odds.

March to the Arch began his career in South Florida at Gulfstream Park where he broke his maiden at second asking. The Florida-bred most recently finished fourth in the Hill Prince (GII) at Belmont Park and third in the Saranac (GIII) at Saratoga.

The Commonwealth, run at 1 1/16 on the Matt Winn Turf Course for 3-year-olds, is carded as Race 10 of 11 with a post time of 5:36 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post Saturday is 1 p.m.

The complete Commonwealth Turf field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Reride (Florent Geroux, Steve Asmussen, 4-1); Marzo (Albin Jiminez, Ben Colebrook, 12-1); Sniper Kitten (Tyler Gaffalione, Mike Maker, 7-2); March to the Arch(Leparoux, Casse, 5-2); Year of the Kitten (Corey Lanerie, Maker, 15-1); Zero Gravity (Adam Beschizza, Joe Sharp, 8-1); and Hot Springs (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 2-1).

CHURCHILL DOWNS RACING CLUB BACK IN WINNER’S CIRCLE WITH RARE FORM – The Churchill Downs Racing Club silks were donned in the winner’s circle for the 10th time Thursday when 3-year-old Rare Form recorded a front-running 2 ¾-length score in a 6 ½ furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs.

“It was great to see so many people happy after that win,” trainer Dale Romans’ assistant Baldemar Bahena said. “We had to be patient with this horse with a couple of issues that popped up but I’m glad everyone was finally rewarded.”

Rare Form, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $16 for his victory and earned $45,600 in purse earnings.

Rare Form was donated to the Churchill Downs Racing Club by Spendthrift Farm’s B. Wayne Hughes and the majority of his purse earnings will be donated to the City of Hope Pediatric Cancer Research Hospital in Los Angeles.

Hughes also set up a similar structure with the Fair Grounds Racing Club and more than $100,000 was donated to City of Hope, according to Racing Club Manager Gary Palmisano.

The Churchill Downs Racing Club was inaugurated in 2016 to give horse racing fans an insider’s look at horse ownership. To date, more than 50 club members have joined other ownership groups, according to Palmisano.

The eight horses that have competed under the Churchill Downs Racing Club banner have earned $995,366, led by Grade III winner Warrior’s Club’s $724,104.

DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing at Churchill Downs continued Friday with a first post of 1 p.m. (all times Eastern). There is an $81,493 carryover in the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot that begins in Race 5 at 3:03 p.m. … Join Churchill Downs Racetrack’s Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein for “Inside Churchill Downs” Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7. The one-hour penultimate show of the year will feature NBC’s Randy Moss to look back at last weekend’s memorable Breeders’ Cup World Championships. To listen live, visit … There will be a Veterans Day celebration Sunday at Churchill Downs where active and retired military members are invited to enjoy a day at the races with free general admission or a discounted $29 ticket price for Millionaires Row. To purchase tickets, contact or call 502-636-4450. … The first 5,000 fans on Sunday will receive a free 2019 Churchill Downs wall calendar sponsored by Humana. For more information, visit: … Churchill Downs all-time leading trainer Dale Romans is on the cusp of 2,000 career wins. The South Louisville native entered Friday with 1,995 wins and has six entries on Friday-Sunday.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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