Today’s Churchill Downs media notes by Kevin Kerstein (Coady Photography photo of Tom’s d’Etat winning last fall’s Grade 1 Clark Handicap:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, June 25, 2020) – G M B Racing’s 2019 Clark (Grade I) winner Tom’s d’Etat was installed as the even-money morning line favorite for Saturday’s $500,000 Stephen Foster presented by Coca-Cola (Grade II) – a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).
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.
Along with the spectacular action on the racetrack, bettors will have large wagering pools to tackle including a$250,000-guaranteed Late Pick 5 pool. The 50-cent bet will begin in Race 7 (4:12 p.m.) – a 5 ½ furlong turf allowance event. The next four races will be the Bashford Manor, Fleur de Lis, Stephen Foster and Regret, respectively. For free past performances, visit www.churchilldowns.com/handicapping.
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.
“I’m not worried about he’s going to show up in the Foster; he runs very well fresh,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “This race will feed us into the rest of the year, which looks like it’s setting up well with the schedules in New York and elsewhere. … This is his home track and has a visual of it in front of his stall, sort of like Blame did.”
Stall is not a stranger to success in the Stephen Foster. He won the race in 2010 with the aforementioned Blame prior to his victory over Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Blame would go on to become the 2010 Champion Older Male.
“We’re trying to get (Tom’s d’Etat) to the Blame level,” Stall said. “Both of these horses have a ton of class and ability.”
One of the challenges facing handicappers for Saturday’s Stephen Foster is the probable pace scenario. The likely frontrunner in the race could be the graded stakes placed Pirate’s Punch. Ridden by Mike Smith, Pirate’s Punch has secured the early lead in nine of his last 11 races. A horse that could be tracking from just off the early lead could be Allied Racing Stable’s multiple Grade II winner By My Standards.
“It’s going to be an interesting setup,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “Pirate’s Punch looks like he could be the controlling pace of the race. What’s interesting is the horse from the rail (Fearless) who has shown speed back in his form in his maiden race and second start. Since then, he’s sort of been relegated off the pace.
“(By My Standards) has shown every positive development from his three-year-old season to this year. He’s a very talented racehorse and we saw that with his strong campaign last year. He’s just bigger and stronger this year.”
The complete field for the Stephen Foster (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Fearless (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 12-1); Pirate’s Punch (Mike Smith, Grant Forster, 15-1); Alkhaatam (Declan Cannon, Danny Peitz, 30-1); Multiplier (Tyler Gaffalione, Peter Miller, 10-1); Tom’s d’Etat (Mena, Stall, even-money); By My Standards (GabrielSaez, Calhoun, 5-2); Silver Dust (Beschizza, Calhoun, 10-1); and Owendale (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 4-1).
Both the Stephen Foster and the Fleur de Lis will be broadcast live on NBC from 5-6 p.m.
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.
SERENGETI EMPRESS ‘UP FOR THE CHALLENGE’ VERSUS MIDNIGHT BISOU IN FLEUR DE LIS –Dr. Joel Politi’s Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winner Serengeti Empress is ready for her showdown versus 2019 champion Midnight Bisou in Saturday’s $200,000 Fleur de Lis presented by Coca-Cola (GII) at Churchill Downs – a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Distaff Division” race.
“If you want to talk about a challenge, this is it,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “We face a challenge with champion Midnight Bisou. We have great respect for her but we also have a ton of confidence in our filly. Her preparation has been great for this race and we’ll be ready.”
The speedy Serengeti Empress 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 from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Go Google Yourself (Brian Hernandez Jr., Paul McGee, 8-1); Another Broad (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 12-1); Chocolate Kisses (Declan Carroll, Mark Casse, 12-1); Serengeti Empress (Joe Talamo, Amoss, 2-1); Midnight Bisou (Mike Smith, Steve Asmussen, 3-5); Red Dane (Corey Lanerie, Charlie LoPresti, 50-1); and Motion Emotion (Julien Leparoux, Richard Baltas, 15-1).
All horses will tote 120 pounds except Midnight Bisou and Serengeti Empress who will carry 124.
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.
GRAHAM BELIEVES DISTANCE, SWITCH OF SURFACE NO PROBLEM FOR PRECOCIOUS COUNTY FINAL IN BASHFORD MANOR – John Ennis, Hayden Noriega and 47 Roses’ eye-catching debut winner County Final will switch surfaces from turf to dirt in search of graded stakes glory in Saturday’s $100,000 Bashford Manor presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade III), a six furlong-event for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
“This horse should absolutely love the slight stretch out in distance,” said jockey James Graham, who was aboard for the colt’s four-length maiden victory June 5. “We opened up by three-to-four lengths mid-stretch on everyone but what was really impressive was how he extended his stride past the wire. He’s a bigger colt with a really long stride. He’s got a great mind, too, which is always nice for a younger horse.”
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.
County Final, trained by Ennis, has been based at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington. The $9,500 Keeneland September Yearling buy drew the outside post No. 7 in the Bashford Manor.
“I really like that we’ll be the last horse to load in the gate,” Graham said. “If he breaks well, we’ll be able to see what the other horses to our inside are doing in the early stages. He has speed and he trains well on the dirt. So, the switch from the turf to the dirt should be no problem either.”
The Bashford Manor field, which features all first-out maiden winners, from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Crown and Coke (Miguel Mena, James Lawrence II, 30-1); Hulen (Corey Lanerie, SteveAsmussen, 5-1); Gatsby (Tyler Gaffalione, Juan Alvarado, 4-1); Hyperfocus (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 4-1); Herd Immunity (Brian Hernandez Jr., Peter Miller, 9-2); Cazadero (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen, 8-5); and County Final(Graham, Ennis, 6-1).
RECENT ALLOWANCE WINNER CRYSTAL CLIFFS TABBED AS 3-1 CHOICE IN ULTRA-COMPETITIVE REGRET – Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Wonder Stables’ recent allowance winner Crystal Cliffs (FR) was made the 3-1 morning line favorite against 12 rivals that were entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Regret presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade III).
The French-bred Crystal Cliffs, trained by Graham Motion, made her stateside debut May 31 at Churchill Downs with a 1 ¾-length allowance victory. The 3-year-old filly broke her maiden by eight lengths in France prior to arriving at Motion’s Fair Hill string in early 2020.
The Regret, run at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course for 3-year-old fillies, 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.
The Regret field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds): Dominga (Shaun Bridgmohan, Brad Cox, 5-1); His Glory (Brian Hernandez Jr., Joe Sharp, 30-1); Stunning Sky (Tyler Gaffalione, Mike Maker, 20-1); In Good Spirits (Miguel Mena, Al Stall Jr., 8-1); Crystal Cliffs (John Velazquez, Motion, 3-1); Micheline (Joe Bravo, Mike Stidham, 8-1); Edgee Angel (Corey Lanerie, Garry Simms, 20-1); Wexx (Adam Beschizza, Larry Jones, 20-1); Eve of War (Florent Geroux, Todd Pletcher, 12-1); Harvey’s Lil Goil (Martin Garcia, Bill Mott, 5-1); Witez (Chris Landeros, Ian Wilkes, 12-1); Pass the Plate (Julien Leparoux, Paul McGee, 6-1); and Hendy Woods (Declan Carroll, Mark Casse, 15-1).
All fillies will carry 118 pounds.
BELMONT STAKES WINNER TIZ THE LAW MADE 7-2 FAVORITE IN POOL 5 OF KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGER – Sackatoga Stable’s $1 million Belmont Stakes (Grade I) winner Tiz the Law has been made the 7-2 morning line favorite in Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) that will run Friday-Sunday.
With the postponement of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) to Sept. 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Churchill Downs has announced three additional pools for the KDFW and an extra pool for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. In addition to this weekend’s Future Wager, Pool 6 of the KDFW will span Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19 while Pool 7 will run Friday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 9. Pool 2 of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager will run concurrently with KDFW Pool 6.
Tiz the Law, the multiple Grade I-winning son of Constitution, reaffirmed his status as the early Kentucky Derby favorite with his victory in last Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Belmont Stakes, the kickoff leg to this year’s rescheduled Triple Crown series. Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tiz the Law took strong attention in all four previous pools of the KDFW closing at odds of 11-1, 8-1, 7-1 and 5-1, respectively. Tiz the Law is expected to have one final prep prior to the Kentucky Derby in the $1 million Travers (GI) on Aug. 8 at Saratoga.
Also likely to generate strong interest in Pool 5 of the KDFW is C R K Stable’s $400,000 Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Honor A. P. (5-1). Trained by John Shirreffs, the lightly-raced Honor A. P. scored a mild 2 ¾-length upset overAuthentic in last month’s Santa Anita Derby. The top three finishers from that race are individual interests in Pool 5 of the KDFW. Authentic, who finished second as the 1-2 favorite, is tabbed as the 8-1 third choice on the morning line while third-place finisher Rushie is 20-1.
Authentic is one of four entrants in Pool 5 of the KDFW for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The others are Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and St. Elias Stable’s $3.65 million yearling purchase and recent 2 ¼-length debut winner Cezanne (30-1), Albaugh Family Stable and Spendthrift Farm’s multiple Grade II winner Thousand Words (50-1) and Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s dazzling seven-length debut winnerUncle Chuck (20-1).
The popular “All Other 3-Year-Old Males” was made the overall co-second choice on the morning line at 5-1. Also added for this pool is the return of the “All 3-Year-Old Fillies” which was made 15-1 on the morning line in the event the connections of top females, such as streaking three-time stakes winner Swiss Skydiver or Acorn (GI) winner Gamine, opt to face open company.
Here’s the complete field for Pool 5 of the KDFW (with trainer and morning line odds): #1 Art Collector (Tommy Drury Jr., 30-1); #2 Authentic (Bob Baffert, 8-1); #3 Basin (Steve Asmussen, 20-1); #4 Café Pharoah (Noriyuki Hori, 20-1); #5 Cezanne (Bob Baffert, 20-1); #6 Creed (Shug McGaughey, 50-1); #7 Dr Post (Todd Pletcher, 15-1); #8 Enforceable (Mark Casse, 50-1); #9 Ete Indien (Patrick Biancone, 30-1); #10 Honor A. P. (John Shirreffs, 5-1); #11 King Guillermo (Juan Avila, 20-1); #12 Man in the Can (Ron Moquett, 50-1); #13 Max Player (Linda Rice, 20-1); #14 Money Moves (Todd Pletcher, 30-1); #15 Mr. Big News (Bret Calhoun, 50-1); #16 Mystic Guide (Mike Stidham, 50-1); #17 Ny Traffic (Saffie Joseph Jr., 20-1); #18 Pneumatic (Steve Asmussen, 30-1); #19 Rushie (Michael McCarthy, 20-1); #20 Thousand Words (Bob Baffert, 50-1); #21 Tiz the Law (Barclay Tagg, 7-2); #22 Uncle Chuck (Bob Baffert, 20-1); #23 All 3-Year-Old Fillies (15-1); and #24 All Other 3-Year-Old Males (5-1).
TV SCHEDULE THIS WEEK – The racing action from Churchill Downs Racetrack throughout the 2020 Spring Meet will be broadcast on FOX Sports’ “America’s Day at the Races,” which will air every race day on either FS1 or FS2. Along with the Fox Sports coverage, racing on Saturday from Churchill Downs will air from 5-6 p.m. on NBC.
Friday, June 26
1:00 – 6:00 p.m. (FS2)
1:00 – 6:00 p.m. (MSG+)
3:00 – 6:00 p.m. (FOX Sports Ohio)
Saturday, June 27
1:00 – 3:00 p.m. (FS2)
3:00 – 7:00 p.m. (FS1)
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. (NBC)
1:00 – 7:00 p.m. (MSG+)
Sunday, June 28
1:00 – 6:00 p.m. (FS2)
1:00 – 6:00 p.m. (MSG+)
3:00 – 6:00 p.m. (FOX Sports Ohio)
CROSS COUNTRY PICK 5 – On Saturday, Churchill Downs will partner with the New York Racing Association and Thistledown for an all-stakes cross-country Pick 5 wager.
The 50-cent bet, with a low 15-percent takeout, will be hosted by NYRA and feature the following races:
– Leg A: Thistledown, Race 8, $500,000 Ohio Derby (GIII) (4:32 p.m.)
– Leg B: Belmont, Race 9, $150,000 True North (GII) (5:36 p.m.)
– Leg C: Churchill, Race 10, $500,000 Stephen Foster (GII) (5:47 p.m.)
– Leg D: Belmont, Race 10, $250,000 Just a Game (GI) (6:08 p.m.)
– Leg E: Churchill, Race 11, $100,000 Regret (GIII) (6:20 p.m.)
DOWN THE STRETCH – Entering the final four days of racing at the 2020 Spring Meet, jockey Tyler Gaffalione had a 27-21 lead in the rider standings over Corey Lanerie. In the trainer’s race, Brad Cox had a 15-11 lead over Steve Asmussen. Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey had a 4-3 win margin over Calumet Farm, Maggi Moss, Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, Steve Landers Racing, Ten Strike Racing and Gary and Mary West. … “Inside Churchill Downs” will air Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7. The one-hour horse racing program will provide racing fans with insight and handicapping information for Saturday’s Stephen Foster program. Those outside the Louisville area can listen live on www.espnlouisville.com.