Stakes advances by Churchill Downs’ publicity department (Coady photo of Tom’s d’Etat)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sunday, June 21, 2020) – G M B Racing’s 2019 Clark (Grade I) winner Tom’s d’Etat will take on Allied Racing Stable’s multiple Grade II winner By My Standards and Rupp Racing’s recent Blame Stakes hero Owendale in Saturday’s 39th running of the $500,000 Stephen Foster presented by Coca-Cola (GII) – the centerpiece of an action-packed program on the penultimate day of Churchill Downs’ 27-day Spring Meet.
The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster is the headliner of a stakes quartet on Saturday’s 11-race program. The day of racing also will feature the $200,000 Fleur de Lis presented by Coca-Cola (GII), $100,000 Regret presented by TwinSpires.com (GIII) and $100,000 Bashford Manor presented by TwinSpires.com (GIII). First post is 1 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Stephen Foster is slated at 5:47 p.m.
The Stephen Foster will be broadcast on NBC as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. The one-hour broadcast, which will begin at 5 p.m., also will include the Fleur de Lis. The winner of the Stephen Foster will get an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) while the winner of the Fleur de Lis will receive a berth to theLongines Distaff (GI). The Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held on Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland.
Combined, the Stephen Foster field has won 41 of their 131 starts (31.2%), including 17 stakes events, and earned more than $5.5 million.
Tom’s d’Etat (17-10-2-1—$1,326,572) has won four of his last five starts including a 3 ¼-length score in last year’s $600,000 Clark (GI). The now 7-year-old son of Smart Strike enters Saturday’s Stephen Foster following a hard-fought victory in the April 11 $150,000 Oaklawn Mile.
“He has a history of running well off layoffs,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “He’s never really left form even after he was freshened at Fair Grounds this winter when we were getting him ready for the second half of the year. We had talked about the (one-mile) Blame as a prep but when the schedule was shuffled around, we just decided to stick with the plan to run him in the Foster.”
With the redesigned stakes schedule at Churchill Downs and NYRA, Tom’s d’Etat will be without his regular pilot Joel Rosario for the Stephen Foster due to his previous riding engagements in New York. Instead, Stall has installed one of his local go-to riders, Miguel Mena, to ride Tom’s d E’tat from post position No. 5.
Even though Stall opted to skip the Blame with Tom’s d’Etat, one of his main rivals in the Stephen Foster,Owendale, took full advantage of the May 23 one-mile race with a hard-closing half-length score under Florent Geroux. Trained by Brad Cox, Owendale (15-6-2-2—$1,129,185) will attempt to get the better of Tom’s d’Etat following his runner-up effort in last year’s Clark. Owendale, a 4-year-old son of Into Mischief, targeted some of the top 3-year-old events last year where he won a trio of Grade III events in the $200,000 Lexington, $500,000 Ohio Derby and $400,000 Oklahoma Derby. Owendale finished third in last year’s $1.5 million Preakness (GI).
“He was impressive coming back at one-turn (in the Blame),” Cox said. “He is a horse who I think will excel at two turns and his last race was just a prep as his first start of 2020. … He ran some tough races last year but appears to have taken a step forward now that he’s older.”
Geroux will be in the saddle on Saturday from post 8.
Another top older horse that entered the Stephen Foster is last year’s $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (GII) hero By My Standards (9-5-2-1—$1,281,910). Trained by Bret Calhoun, By My Standards returned as a 4-year-old in February at Fair Grounds with a convincing three-length victory in the $400,000 New Orleans (GII). By My Standards enters the Stephen Foster following a 1 ¾-length win in last month’s $600,000 Oaklawn Stakes (GII).
Gabriel Saez, who has been aboard By My Standards for all of his nine-career races, was named to ride in the Stephen Foster and drew post 6.
Also entered in the Stephen Foster is By My Standards’ stablemate Silver Dust (28-6-7-3—$787,577). Owned by Tom Durant, Silver Dust is a three-time graded stakes winner including a narrow victory in February’s $200,000 Mineshaft (GIII) at Fair Grounds. Silver Dust finished third, only three-quarters of a length behind Owendale, in the Blame.
Adam Beschizza will be aboard Silver Dust from post 7.
The Stephen Foster field is rounded out by Gulliver Racing, Craig Drager and Dan Legan’s multiple graded stakes placed Pirate’s Punch (14-4-2-1—$197,751), Shadwell Stable’s recent allowance winner Alkhaatam (15-4-0-2—$238,478), China Horse Club and WinStar Farm’s three-time winner Fearless (5-3-1-0—$118,520) and Wachtel Stable, George Kerr and Gary Barber’s Santa Anita Handicap (GI) runner-up Multiplier (28-3-5-4—$492,950), who was beaten on nose on Saturday at Santa Anita.
The complete field for the Stephen Foster (with jockey and trainer): Fearless (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher); Pirate’s Punch (Mike Smith, Grant Forster); Alkhaatam (Declan Cannon, Danny Peitz); Multiplier (Tyler Gaffalione, Peter Miller); Tom’s d’Etat (Mena, Stall); By My Standards (Saez, Calhoun); Silver Dust (Beschizza, Calhoun); andOwendale (Geroux, Cox).
The Stephen Foster has had a strong influence on the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Horse of the Year honors. Four horses used victories in the Stephen Foster as part of their résumés in Horse of the Year campaigns: Black Tie Affair (1991), Saint Liam (2005), Curlin (2008) and Gun Runner (2017). In addition, two runner-ups were crowned Horse of the Year: Mineshaft (2003) and Wise Dan (2012). Also, Awesome Again (1998) and Blame (2010) completed same-year Foster-Classic doubles. Fort Larned won the Classic in 2012, and won the Foster the following year prior to a fourth-place run in his bid for a second Classic win.
Champion Victory Gallop owns the stakes and track record for 1 1/8 miles of 1:47.28, which was established in 1999.
Free Brisnet past performances will be available at www.churchilldowns.com/handicapping.
CHAMPION MIDNIGHT BISOU TAKES ON KENTUCKY OAKS WINNER SEREGETI EMPRESS IN $200,000 FLEUR DE LIS
Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing’s 2019 Champion Older Female Midnight Bisou is set to return against Joel Politi’s speedy 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winner Serengeti Empress in Saturday’s 45th running of the $200,000 Fleur de Lis presented by Coca-Cola (GII) at Churchill Downs.
For the sixth year in a row, the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In”stakes event, which means the winner will be guaranteed a berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GII) on Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
The Fleur de Lis – which means “Flower of the Lily” and honors the French symbol that is incorporated into the city of Louisville’s Flag – will be run as Race 9 at 5:15 p.m. (all times Eastern). It will be televised live on NBC from 5-6 p.m.
Midnight Bisou (20-12-5-3—$7,250,000), trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, has been nothing short of spectacular throughout her 20-race career. The now 5-year-old mare began her career on the 2018 Road to the Kentucky Oaks with victories in the $200,000 Santa Ynez (GII), $100,000 Santa Ysabel (GIII) and $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (GI) with previous trainer Bill Spawr. Midnight Bisou finished third behind Monomoy Girl in the 2018 Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Under the care of Asmussen, Midnight Bisou reeled off victories in the $250,000 Mother Goose (GII), $1 million Cotillion (GI), $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (GIII), $350,000 Azeri (GII), $750,000 Apple Blossom (GI), $700,000 Ogden Phipps (GI), $150,000 Molly Pitcher (GIII), $700,000 Personal Ensign (GI) and $300,000 Beldame (GII).
Earlier this year on Feb. 29, Midnight Bisou was beaten just three-quarters of a length by Maximum Security in the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup, which featured a field of 14 at 1 1/8 miles in the world’s richest horse race at KingAbdulaziz Racecourse.
“Her training before we went to Saudi was just mindboggling,” Asmussen said. “It’s just like it is now. We still wonder how she’s able to do it so easily and so consistently. Her works at Churchill have been beautiful. I was very tempted to run her in the (June 13) Ogden Phipps and leaving She’s a Julie for the Fleur de Lis. I feel like with what she’s done – traveling to Saudi, taking on older boys and everyone knows the trip she got and knows the circumstances… how do you have an adjective for what she is and what she means to racing? Coming back, the next race isn’t the goal for this year. The Breeders’ Cup is. She is arguably the best horse in the world.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be in the irons from post No. 5.
Serengeti Empress, the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Oaks, will attempt to get the jump on Midnight Bisou as the Tom Amoss trainee will likely be the speed of the race from post 4 under Joe Talamo.
“We have all the confidence in the world of our filly,” Amoss said. “We know how she likes to go and that’s to be on the lead. It’s a tough matchup against a champion but the way our horse has prepared for this race has us very confident she’ll put in a great performance.”
Serengeti Empress (15-6-3-1—$1,732,853) led every step of the way in last year’s Kentucky Oaks. The daughter of Alternation’s 3-year-old campaign included a narrow runner-up effort in the $500,000 Test (GI) and third-place finish in the Longines Distaff. In her 4-year-old campaign, Serengeti Empress was a convincing 6 ¼-length winner of the March 14 Azeri (GII).
The Fleur de Lis field also will include Jay Em Ess Stable’s multiple Grade III winner Go Google Yourself (20-7-5-3—$640,959), Abbondanza Racing, Mark DeDomenico and Medallion Racing’s stakes winner Motion Emotion(14-3-5-0—$454,196), Debby Oxley’s recent Shawnee Stakes runner-up Chocolate Kisses (13-3-3-2—$310,910), Calumet Farm’s three-time winner Red Dane (Ity) (27-3-3-4—$181,644) and Farfellow Farm’s multiple graded stakes placed Another Broad (17-4-3-2—$332,605).
The Fleur de Lis field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Go Google Yourself (Brian Hernandez Jr., Paul McGee); Another Broad (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher); Chocolate Kisses (Declan Carroll, Mark Casse); Midnight Bisou (Smith, Asmussen); Red Dane (Corey Lanerie, Charlie LoPresti); and Motion Emotion (Julien Leparoux, RichardBaltas).
All horses will tote 120 pounds except Midnight Bisou and Serengeti Empress who will carry 124.
TWO-TIME STAKES WINNER MICHELINE SEEKS FIRST GRADED STAKES SCORE IN SATURDAY’S $100,000 REGRET
Godolphin’s two-time stakes-winning filly Micheline will be in search of her first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s 51st running of the $100,000 Regret presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade III), a 1 1/8-mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies.
The Regret, part of a stakes quartet on Saturday, was carded as Race 11 with a post time of 6:20 p.m. (all times Eastern). The other stakes on Saturday are the $500,000 Stephen Foster presented by Coca-Cola (GII), $200,000 Fleur de Lis presented by Coca-Cola (GII) and $100,000 Bashford Manor presented by TwinSpires.com (GIII). First post is 1 p.m.
Micheline (8-3-1-1—$147,578), trained by Mike Stidham and ridden by Joe Bravo, scored a 2 ¼-length victory in last month’s $75,000 Honey Ryder Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 3-year-old filly by Bernardini broke her maiden in her second-career start last year in the $106,000 Sorority Stakes at Monmouth. Following an unsuccessful try on dirt in the $400,000 Alcibiades (GI) and an enigmatic eighth-place effort in the $100,000 Chelsey Flower Stakes at Aqueduct, Micheline returned to form in a first-level allowance race at Tampa and a near miss in the $100,000 Sweetest Chant (GIII).
Micheline drew post No. 6 for Saturday’s Regret.
Among her rivals in the 13-horse field is The Estate of Harvey Clark and Paul Braverman’s $100,000 BusandaStakes winner Harvey’s Lil Goil (4-2-0-0—$97,489); Stonestreet Stables’ undefeated Hendy Woods (2-2-0-0—$54,600); Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Wonder Stables’ recent allowance winner Crystal Cliffs (FR) (3-2-0-1—$41,543); and Don Alberto Stable’s stakes winner Dominga (6-3-1-0—$137,220).
The Regret field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Dominga (Shaun Bridgmohan, Brad Cox); His Glory(Brian Hernandez Jr., Joe Sharp); Stunning Sky (Tyler Gaffalione, Mike Maker); In Good Spirits (Miguel Mena, Al Stall Jr.); Crystal Cliffs (John Velazquez, Graham Motion); Micheline (Bravo, Stidham); Edgee Angel (Corey Lanerie, Garry Simms); Wexx (Adam Beschizza, Larry Jones); Eve of War (Florent Geroux, Todd Pletcher); Harvey’s Lil Goil(Martin Garcia, Bill Mott); Witez (Chris Landeros, Ian Wilkes); Pass the Plate (Julien Leparoux, Paul McGee); and Hendy Woods (Declan Carroll, Mark Casse).
All fillies will carry 118 pounds.
EYE-CATCHING 8 ¾-LENGTH MAIDEN WINNER CAZADERO TOPS BASHFORD MANOR
Stonestreet Stables’ eye-popping 8 ¾-length maiden winner Cazadero leads a field of seven promising 2-year-olds in search of graded stakes glory in Saturday’s 119th running of the $100,000 Bashford Manor presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade III).
The six-furlong Bashford Manor will go as Race 8 of 11 with a post time of 4:43 p.m. (all times Eastern). The race shares the spotlight on Saturday with the $500,000 Stephen Foster presented by Coca-Cola (GII), $200,000 Fleur de Lis presented by Coca-Cola (GII) and $100,000 Regret presented by TwinSpires.com (GIII). First post is 1 p.m.
Cazadero, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, dazzled in his debut on May 29 at Churchill Downs underRicardo Santana Jr. Cazadero, a 2-year-old homebred son of Street Sense, sported an impressive work tab entering his maiden race which included a swift half-mile move in :46.40 from the gate at Keeneland. Since his debut, Cazadero has been stabled with Asmussen’s string at Churchill Downs.
Santana will have the call from post No. 6.
Also entered in the race is Cazadero’s stablemate Hulen, who recently bested seven rivals by 1 ½ lengths in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight on June 12. Owned by Asmussen’s longtime owners Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt along with Madaket Stables and Spendthrift Farm, Hulen was bred in Texas by the Asmussen family and was sold at the Fasig Tipton October Yearling Sale for $50,000.
Corey Lanerie will be in the irons from post 2.=
The Bashford Manor field, which features all first-out maiden winners, from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Crown and Coke (Miguel Mena, James Lawrence II); Hulen (Lanerie, Asmussen); Gatsby (Tyler Gaffalione, Juan Alvarado); Hyperfocus (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher); Herd Immunity (Brian Hernandez Jr., Peter Miller); Cazadero(Santana, Asmussen); and County Final (James Graham, John Ennis).