Older male, dirt horses take the stage in the 1 1/8-mile, $500,000 dollar Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday. In addition to the purse money, the Winner will receive a Win and You’re In spot for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on November 7th.
Here then is a full-field analysis of the Stephen Foster, which is slated as Race 10 on a card of 11, with a scheduled Post Time of 5:50.
FEARLESS [ML 12-1] Trainer: Todd Pletcher . Jockey: John Velazquez. With a mere 5 career starts, he is by far the least experienced horse in this field of older male dirt horses. The 4-year-old is the Winner of three Allowance races with the most recent coming at Churchill Downs at the end of May. Johnny V. travels down from New York to stay on board.
PIRATE’S PUNCH [ML 15-1] Trainer: Grant Forster. Jockey: Mike Smith. This three-time Allowance Winner get the Hall of Fame jockey aboard for the first time. This colt has had two tries in Grade 3 races and finished 3rd both times – the Mineshaft in February at Fair Grounds and last year in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Don’t see Big Money Mike Smith making a difference here.
ALKHAATAM [ML 30-1] Trainer: Daniel Peitz. Jockey: Declan Cannon. Three weeks ago he Won an Allowance at Churchill Downs while stalking the pace in a field of nine. Last year, he ran 11th in the Stephen Foster and is likely to be the long-shot in this year’s field, though he will finish better than 11th place.
MULTIPLIER [ML 10-1] Trainer: Peter Miller. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. In terms of recency he has 2nd-place finish in the 2020 Santa Anita Handicap (G1). He has been facing quality competition, but he has not Won a race since May 2018. As a 3-year-old, he did Win the Illinois Derby (G3) and then ran in the Preakness (G1) and the Belmont Stakes (G1). He was trained by Bill Mott until February of this year.
TOM’S D’ ETAT [ML 1-1] Trainer: Al Stall Jr. Jockey: Miguel Mena. He comes in with a three-race Winning streak that dates back to the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland in October and includes the Clark (G1) at Churchill and the Oaklawn Mile in April. The 7-year-old runs well when fresh and appears to be in the best form of his career. A slight concern might be that regular rider Joel Rosario is not riding him; instead Mena gets on board for the first time.
SILVER DUST [ML 10-1] Trainer: Bret Calhoun. Jockey: Adam Beschizza. He made some noise in the winter at Fair Grounds when he Won two Grade 3’s. When he had to face his stablemate BY MY STANDARDS in the New Orleans Classic, the best he could do was 5th after setting the pace for the first six furlongs or so. Since then, he was 3rd in the Blame behind OWENDALE after having the lead early in the stretch.
OWENDALE [ML 4-1] Trainer: Brad Cox. Jockey: Florent Geroux. Trainer Brad Cox is Winning races all over the country at a very high rate. This horse was an impressive late-running Winner of the Blame at Churchill at the end of May. A hot pace would help his cause when he’s asked to scoot late in the going.
Summary: Can’t see a horse outside of TOM’S D’ ETAT, OWENDALE, or BY MY STANDARDS Winning the 2020 Stephen Foster. Those three have, by far, faced the toughest competition and have the best recent records.
TOM’S D’ ETAT is the probable Winner. BY MY STANDARDS will take the worst of the pace scenario and get passed by OWENDALE as they near the wire.
The Play: The #5 is a must use in all multi-race wagers. But in the Stephen Foster itself, the Daily Racing Blog will try to beat him with #8. We’ll take a flyer with one of the hottest trainers in the country, hoping that he has OWENDALE ready for a big effort.
We’ll put the #8 on top of a Trifecta key using #1-4-5-6 underneath. The ticket will read: 8 with 1-4-5-6 with 1-4-5-6.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.