- Churchill Downs features two Breeders Cup “Win and You’re In” Races on Saturday’s card
- Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards battle for a Classic berth in the Stephen Foster Handicap
- See odds and picks for all of Saturday’s races at Churchill Downs within the story below
Because it is a Triple Crown race, the hype surrounding last Saturday’s Belmont Stakes was significant. However, three year old horses are still growing and maturing. Generally speaking four, five and six year old’s are quicker than their younger counterparts. Saturday’s Churchill Downs card features some high end older horses.
The feature race is the mile-and-an-eighth Stephen Foster. Named for the composer of My Old Kentucky Home, four horses have won the Stephen Foster and gone on to be Horse of the Year. Five times the Stephen Foster winner has also crossed the finish line first in the Breeders Cup Classic, and this year’s Foster winner will earn an automatic berth into that championship race in November.
In addition to the Foster, the Fleur de Lis Handicap will earn the winner a berth in the Breeders Cup Distaff, the Classic for female horses. Two other stakes are on the card too, the Regret Stakes for three year old fillies on the turf, and the Bashford Manner Stakes for two year olds.
2020 Stephen Foster Stakes Odds
|By My Standards||+250|
Odds taken June 24th
Tom’s d’Etat a Worthy Favorite
As a six year old in 2019, Tom’s d’Etat had his best year. Running against top tier competition, he won just one of his first five races, but romped in Keeneland’s Fayette Handicap and returned to dominate grade one foes in Churchill’s Clark Handicap.
After resting for more than four months, Tom’s d’Etat returned to the track and made his seven year old debut a winning one, taking the Oaklawn Park Mile in April.
He is five for eight at this distance, but will have a new rider Saturday as Miguel Mena gets the assignment.
It is hard to be too critical of four year old By My Standards. A winner in five of his last six races, his lone loss in that stretch is a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby. He is three for three this year including a gutty win in May’s Oaklawn Handicap.
While Tom’s d’Etat will likely do his best running down the stretch, By My Standards should be forwardly placed, with a great chance to have the lead in the final eighth of a mile. Nobody has been able to pass him in that position in more than a year.
Owendale Ready to Breakout?
Owendale was a well beaten second to Tom’s d’Etat in the Clark, and then took time off, but his four year old debut was a dandy on May 23rd. In Churchill Down’s Blame Stakes his late move paid off.
Horses improve from the age of three to four, and perhaps Owendale, who wasn’t good enough to compete against top Kentucky Derby horses last year, is going to be a factor against the top tier this year.
If you are looking for a longshot, Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher and Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez are stepping Fearless up in class. The four year old has never faced horses of this caliber, but has three wins in five tries and cost $725,000.
On paper Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards look a couple steps quicker than their competition. Though By My Standards has done nothing wrong, he will need to run his A-race to beat the consistently fast Tom’s d’Etat. If the odds made By My Standards a great value, we’d go in that direction, but at +150 we’ll side with the proven favorite.
Sunday’s Other Stakes Races:
Fleur de Lis Handicap
This is really a co-feature race with the Stephen Foster, and it likely is a two horse race between Midnight Bisou and Serengeti Empress.
Midnight Bisou is returning from Saudi Arabia where she earned $3.5 million finishing second to Maximum Security in the richest race in the world, the $20 million Saudi Cup.
Finishing second against the boys is incredibly impressive, and she had won seven straight top end races before finishing runner up in the Breeders Cup Distaff and then heading to the Middle East.
However, horses often do not run their best the first time they return after such a long trip. Serengeti Empress won the Kentucky Oaks last year and was third in the Breeders Cup Distaff. She has just one win in three races this year, but will be on the lead and catching her is no bargain. She’ll provide value against arguably the top female horse in the country.
A large field of three year old fillies going a-mile-and-an-eighth on the sod feels fairly open. Five of the competitors were in May’s Tepin Stakes at Churchill Downs. Of that group Pass the Plate, who finished third had the best result, though In Good Spirits was fourth and set the pace.
Micheline was an upset winner of the Honey Ryder Stakes at Gulfstream Park last month, finishing just ahead of Stunning Sky who also returns. One other option is Crystal Cliffs. Her American debut was a winning one in a low level allowance race at Churchill on May 31, but she beat 14 horses breaking her maiden in France in December.
Bashford Manor Stakes
Seven horses who each won their debut and now are looking to make it two-for-two go at it over six furlongs in the Bashford Manor. The sprint for babies, two year olds, may come down to Pletcher’s Hyperfocus, a $100,000 purchase for owner Mike Repole, who won his debut at Gulfstream Park, and Cazadero, an eight length winner for trainer Steve Asmussen at Churchill Downs on May 29.
Herd Immunity invades from the west coast after winning June 6 at Santa Anita as a heavy favorite.
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