What to watch for: Full Stephen Foster field possible at Churchill

June 11, 2019 12:23pm

If the probables hold up for Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Stephen Foster — no longer called a handicap, by the way — we’re looking at a full field under the lights at Churchill Downs.

Not a bad way to rebound from Triple Crown season…

Three Grade 1 winners are expected with the California shipper Gift Box joining Seeking the Soul and Yoshida, who have both raced on the Churchill dirt. But none from that trio won his previous start.

The last out stakes winners include Exulting (Oaklawn Mile), Quip (Oaklawn Handicap), Runaway Ghost (Sunland Park Handicap) and Tenfold (Pimlico Special).

And then there are those stepping up in the 1 1/8-mile “Downs After Dark” feature awarding a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

King Zachary and Draft Pick, both Grade 3 winners at age 3, will return to stakes. Now trained by Graham Motion, King Zachary was fourth at Churchill Downs in a Derby day allowance. Peter Eurton-trained Draft Pick hasn’t run since second in last August’s West Virginia Derby (G3).

Others of note with 14 said to be under consideration include graded winners Silver Dust and Rated R Superstar, with Tom’s d’Etat having run at the highest level in this year’s Pegasus World Cup (G1).

The Stephen Foster, Race 8 of 11 on a stakes-laden Saturday card, goes at 9:47 p.m. ET on 
TVG and NBC Sports Network.

With the draws set for Wednesday, here’s a run down the other fields, and note that Churchill will include an all-stakes Pick 5 sequence encompassing all races mentioned here…
Race 5: Matt Winn (G3)

The Pat Day Mile (G3) winner Mr. Money, also seen on this year’s Kentucky Derby trail, will stretch back out to 1 1/16 miles with his main competition Signalman, the Grade 2 winner last season who ran in the Preakness Stakes. Winless at age 3, the Grade 1 winner Knicks Go is also expected in what appears to be a compact field.

Race 6: Wise Dan (G2)

Formerly known as the Firecracker and run at the close of the meet, this 1 1/16-mile race on the turf lacks star power but returns its defending winner, Mr. Misunderstood. The 5-year-old will be making his season debut against Bourbon Resolution, winner of the Ben Ali (G3) two back on Keeneland’s dirt, while Jeff Mullins has worked the former California standout Itsinthepost all spring in Kentucky toward this spot.

Race 7: Fleur de Lis (G2)

Similar to the Stephen Foster, this race is a “Win and You’re In” toward the Breeders’ Cup Distaff going nine furlongs. The probables don’t disappoint. Defending race winner Blue Prize will be joined by Grade 1 winners Elate and She’s a Julie. Additionally, the Fleur de Lis should mark the return of the speedy Red Ruby, a 4-year-old who missed the second half of last season due to injury.

Race 9: Regret (G3)

Winter Sunset looked like she had huge potential when beginning her career 2-for-2 at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds. After consecutive graded stakes defeats, she’ll look to do a bit better in the Regret going 1 1/8 miles on turf. Princesa Carolina is a consistent performer for Kenny McPeek, while Motion will send out the French-bred La Feve, formerly trained by Chad Brown.


Seeking the Soul  |  Yoshida  |  Gift Box  |   |   | 
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