Walsh on Foster-bound Maxfield: ‘We’re ready … and excited’

From Churchill Downs’ media department (Coady Photography photo of Maxfield winning Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Alysheba under Jose Ortiz): 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Wednesday, June 23, 2021)Godolphin’s multiple graded stakes-winning homebred Maxfield leads a field of nine older horses that were entered in Saturday afternoon’s featured 40th running of the $600,000 Stephen Foster (Grade II) – one of seven stakes events on the 12-race closing day program at Churchill Downs.

Brendan Walsh/Coady Photography

Saturday’s first race is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Stephen Foster will go as Race 11 with a post time of 5:59 p.m. The supporting stakes on the card are the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), $300,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Bashford Manor (GIII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed), $150,000 Tepin and $150,000 War Chant.

The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). The winner will receive an all entry fees paid berth to the season ending championship event on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.

Maxfield, a 4-year-old son of Kentucky Derby-winner Street Sense, won the $400,000 Alysheba(GII) eight weeks ago at Churchill Downs. Trained by Brendan Walsh, New York-based jockey Jose Ortiz has the call from post position No. 8.

“We shipped him up from Keeneland last week and worked an easy half-mile (at Churchill Downs),” Walsh said. “He did most of his work at Keeneland prior to the Foster. He’s a fit and happy horse. We’re ready to go and excited to get this race underway.”

Maxfield was on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2020 when he cruised to a one-length victory in the $150,000 Matt Winn (GIII). Unfortunately, due to a condylar fracture following a workout at Keeneland, Maxfield went on the sidelines until the fall. Through seven lifetime starts,Maxfield has recorded six victories and boasts earnings of $908,782. The only blemish in his career came in the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap (GI) where he finished third to Idol.

Silver Dust winning Keeneland’s Ben Ali under Adam Beschizza. Coady Photography

Among Maxfield’s rivals in the Stephen Foster is Tom Durant’s five-time graded stakes winner Silver Dust. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Silver Dust was the half-length winner of the $150,000 Ben Ali (GIII) at Keeneland. The 7-year-old son of Tapit was attempting to prep for the Foster in the $150,000 Blame at Churchill Downs on May 29 but was scratched after acting up in the starting gate. Since the Blame, Silver Dust returned to the work tab three times for Calhoun. Silver Dust finished third in last year’s Stephen Foster behind Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards. Jockey Adam Beschizza, who has been aboard Silver Dust for his previous six starts, has the call form post 5.

The Estate of James Coleman Jr.’s Chess Chief finished third to Maxfield in the Alyshebaand trainer Dallas Stewart will be hoping for redemption in the Stephen Foster. The four-time winner achieved graded stakes glory in March with a narrow victory over Owendale in the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (GII). Stewart enlisted the riding services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez for the Stephen Foster and the duo will break from the rail.

The other top entrants in Saturday’s Stephen Foster are Ten Strike Racing and MadaketStables’ Grade III winner Warrior’s Charge; Williamson Racings’ two-time stakes winner Visitant; Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch and Pantofel Stable’s graded stakes placed South Bend; Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s stakes-placed Sprawl; Raymond Daniels, Wayne Scherr and Will Harbut Racing’s recent allowance hero Necker Island; and Three Diamonds Farm’s four-time winner Empty Tomb.

The complete field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Chess Chief (Velazquez, Stewart); Empty Tomb (Ricardo Santana Jr., Mike Maker); Necker Island (Mitchell Murrill, Chris Hartman); Sprawl (Brian Hernandez Jr., Tommy Drury Jr.); Silver Dust (Beschizza, Calhoun); Warrior’s Charge (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); South Bend (Tyler Gaffalione, Bill Mott); and Maxfield (Ortiz, Walsh); Visitant (James Graham, Bill Morey).

Tickets are available for Saturday’s closing day program online at www.churchilldowns.com/tickets. Admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. and “Churchill Downs Today” will air at 11:45 a.m. throughout the racetrack and on www.TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering provider of Churchill Downs Incorporated.

Saturday’s program also will air on “America’s Day at the Races” on Fox Sports 2 from 12:30-6:30 p.m.

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MULTIPLE GRADE I WINNER LETRUSKA HEADLINES $300,000 FLEUR DE LIS

St. George Stable’s multiple Grade I winner Letruska, widely regarded as the nation’s top filly or mare, headlines a compact field of six in Saturday’s 46th running of the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (Grade II) at Churchill Downs.

Letruska edged two-time champion Monomoy Girl to take Oaklawn Park’s Grade 1 Apple Blossom. Coady Photography

The Fleur de Lis, at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up, is carded as Race 5 at 2:45 p.m. (all times Eastern). The first of 12 races will get underway at 12:45 p.m. The Fleur de Lis is one of seven stakes events on Saturday’s closing day program at Churchill Downs. The other stakes are the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII), $300,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Bashford Manor (GIII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed), $150,000 Tepin and $150,000 War Chant.

The Fleur de Lis is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race for the $4 million LonginesDistaff (GI) on Nov. 6 at Del Mar. The winner will receive an all entry fees paid berth to the season ending championship event.

Trained by Fausto Gutierrez, Letruska scored a front-running victory in the $500,000 Ogden Phipps (GI) earlier this month on the Belmont Stakes undercard. The 5-year-old Super Saver mare has 14 wins from 18 lifetime starts including a victory in the $1 million Apple Blossom (GI) in April where she re-rallied against multiple champion Monomoy Girl.

“She’s in a good condition to run,” Gutierrez said. “This is a very important race. We’re going step by step for now and this is next race we had in mind. I know it’s just 21 days from the (Ogden Phipps). When a horse wants to run and they’re ready to run, we have to let them run. She’s at Keeneland training and we’re looking forward to getting her to Churchill.”

Gutierrez, who was a top trainer in his home country of Mexico, has been primarily training in the U.S. in 2021. Letruska’s only blemish in her 5-year-old campaign was a runner-up effort toShedaresthedevil in the $350,000 Azeri (GII).

          Jose Ortiz has the mount in the Fleur de Lis from post position No. 6.

Among Letruska’s challengers in the Fleur de Lis is Walking L Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Grade II winner Envoutante. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Envoutante cruised to a 4 ¼-length victory in last month’s $150,000 Shawnee Stakes, the local prep for the Fleur de Lis on May 29.

Envoutante, a 4-year-old filly by Uncle Mo, finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Letruska in the Azeri. Arguably the biggest win in Envoutante’s career was a six-length win in last year’s $200,000 Falls City (GII) at Churchill Downs.

Her regular pilot Brian Hernandez Jr. will be in the saddle from post 4.

Another top filly that entered the Fleur de Lis is Robert and Lawana Low’s $150,000 AllaireDuPont Distaff Match Series (GIII) winner Spice Is Nice. The Curlin filly is a four-time winner for trainer Todd Pletcher. The regally-bred Spice Is Nice is out of Pletcher’s former Grade I-winning mare Dame Dorothy. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the mount from post 5.

Also entered in the Fleur de Lis is Kueber Racing, Barlar LLC, Madaket Stables and Little Red Feather Racing’s recent $200,000 Ruffian (GII) winner Vault. The Brad Cox trainee will attempt to get her first victory at 1 1/8 miles.      The seven-time winning mare be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione from post 3.

The complete field for the Fleur de Lis from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Point of Honor(Javier Castellano, Shug McGaughey); Antoinette (Florent Geroux, Bill Mott); Vault (Gaffalione, Cox); Envoutante (Hernandez, McPeek); Spice Is Nice (Velazquez, Pletcher); Letruska (Ortiz, Gutierrez).

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TURF SPECIALISTS SET PIECE (GB), SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN CLASH IN GRADE II, $300,000 WISE DAN

Juddmonte’s multiple stakes winner Set Piece (GB) along with SkychaiRacing and Sand Dollar Stable’s two-time Grade II winner Somelikeithotbrown lead a field of 10 older horses that was entered in Saturday’s $300,000 Wise Dan (GII) at Churchill Downs.

Named after multiple champion and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, the 32nd running of the 1 1/16-mile turf event goes as Race 10 of 12 with a post time of 5:26 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 12:45 p.m. The Wise Dan is one of seven stakes events on the fantastic closing day card at Churchill Downs. The program also features the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII), $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), $150,000 Bashford Manor (GIII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed), $150,000 Tepin and $150,000 War Chant.

Set Piece (GB), trained by Brad Cox, enters the Wise Dan on a two-race win streak. The 5-year-old gelded son of Dansili (GB) cruised to a dominating four-length victory in last month’s $85,000 Douglas Park Overnight Stakes, the local prep for the Wise Dan. In his previous start, Set Piece (GB) defeated a field of eight in the one-mile $105,000 Opening Verse. Set Piece (GB) was formerly under the care of Hugo Palmer in Europe prior to Juddmonte shipping him to the U.S. in 2020. Overall, Set Piece (GB) has recorded eight wins from 15 starts with earnings of $257,044. Florent Geroux has the return call from the rail.

Two posts to the outside of Set Piece (GB) is seven-time winner Somelikeithotbrown. Trained by Mike Maker, Somelikeithotbrown won the $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) at Turfway Park in 2019. More recently, the son of Big Brown recorded a one-length win in the $250,000 Dinner Party Stakes (GII) at Pimlico on the Preakness Stakes undercard. Jockey Jose Ortiz will have the call.

Other accomplished horses entered in the Wise Dan are Three Diamonds Farm’s three-time Grade III winner Field Pass; and John Oxley and My Meadowview Farm’s $175,000 Kennedy Road (GII) winner and $300,000 Maker’s Mark Mile (GI) runner-up Ride a Comet.

The complete field for the Wise Dan from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Set Piece (GB) (Geroux, Cox); Mutakatif (IRE) (Mitchell Murrill, Alberta Davies); Somelikeithotbrown (Ortiz, Maker); Super Sol (Gabriel Saez, Juan Cano); Hierarchy (Adam Beschizza, Joe Sharp); Kentucky Ghost (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver); Ride a Comet (Tyler Gaffalione, Mark Casse); Field Pass (Ricardo Santana Jr., Maker); Spooky Channel (John Velazquez, Jason Barkley); and In Love (BRZ) (Joe Talamo, Paulo Lobo).

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CHURCHILL DOWNS DEBUT WINNERS GLACIAL, LANSDOWNE, RED RUN TOP FIELD OF 11 IN GRADE III $150,000 BASHFORD MANOR

Robert Masterson’s 2 ½-length debut winner Glacial along with Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 1 ¾-length victor Red Run and Willis Horton Racing’s 1 ½-length first-out winner Lansdowne top a field of 11 2-year-olds that was entered in Saturday’s 120th running of the $150,000 Bashford Manor (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

The six-furlong Bashford Manor was made Race 9 with a post time of 4:55 p.m. (all times Eastern). The 12-race card has a first post of 12:45 p.m. The Bashford Manor is one of seven stakes on closing day of the 38-day Spring Meet. The other stakes are the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII), $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), $300,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed), $150,000 Tepinand $150,000 War Chant.

Glacial, trained by Norm Casse, won his first-career start under jockey Joe Talamo. The son of Frosted completed 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.99 and earned an 80 Brisnet Speed Rating. The gray colt will break from post No. 4 under Talamo.

Five posts to the outside of Glacial is Red Run. Trained by record six-time Bashford Manor winner Steve Asmussen, the homebred rallied from three lengths off the early pace in his debut win over the sloppy surface at Churchill Downs at odds of 3-5 under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. Red Run is by the former Asmussen-trained champion Gun Runner. Santana will have the return call for Saturday’s Bashford Manor.

Lansdowne was a minor 5-1 upset winner in his debut for trainer Dallas Stewart. The Super Saver colt recorded a front-running score in a five-furlong maiden special weight contest on May 22. Veteran jockey Jon Court will have the mount from post 2.

The complete field for the Bashford Manor from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Vodka N Water (Jose Ortiz, Asmussen); Landsdowne (Court, Stewart); Tapped Off (Drayden Van Dyke, Darrin Williams); Glacial (Talamo, Casse); Whatstheconnection (Marcelino Pedroza, John Ennis); Knocker Down (Cindy Murphy, Travis Murphy); Whislewhileyoumow (Gabriel Saez, Jon Arnett); Double Thunder (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher); Red Run (Santana, Asmussen); Rising Outlaw(Rafael Bejarano, Jimmy Chapman); Shesgotattitude (James Graham, Ennis).

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EYE-CATCHING MAIDEN WINNER ONTHEONESANDTWOS TOPS $150,000 DEBUTANTE

Deuce Greathouse and Cindy Hutson’s Churchill Downs debut winnerOntheonesandtwos tops a field of 10 2-year-old fillies that were entered in Saturday’s 120th running of the $150,000 Debutante (Listed) beneath the historic Twin Spires.

The six-furlong Debutante was carded as Race 8 with a post time of 4:22 p.m. (all times Eastern). The 12-race program will get underway at 12:45 p.m. The closing day card is headlined by seven stakes, including the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII) and $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII).

Trained by Norm Casse, Ontheonesandtwos cruised to a 1 ¾-length debut victory on May 13 at Churchill Downs at odds of 6-1. The Jimmy Creed filly earned a stout 89 Brisnet Speed Rating for her victory. Jockey Florent Geroux has the return mount from post position No. 8.

Another potential star filly that entered the Debutante is Corinne and Bill Heiligbrodt and Spendthrift Farm’s Tizplenty. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the Speightstown filly broke her maiden in her second start by 1 ¾ lengths under Ricardo Santana Jr. Her victory earned a 90 Brisnet Speed Rating. Santana will ride Tizplenty from post 3.

The complete field for the Debutante from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Wicked Halo(Jose Ortiz, Asmussen); Cartel Queen (Colby Hernandez, Tom Amoss); Tizplenty (Santana, Asmussen); Classiness (Gabriel Saez, Jason Barkley); Catchusifyoucan (Adam Beschizza, Bret Calhoun); Mollie Kate (James Graham, John Ennis); Behave Virginia (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Ontheonesandtwos (Geroux, Casse); Compressed Energy (Fernando De La Cruz, Genaro Garcia); and Mi Estrella (Marceleno Pedroza, Garcia).

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STAKES WINNER ADVENTURING TRIES TURF IN WIDE OPEN $150,000 TEPIN

Godolphin’s stakes-winning homebred Adventuring will attempt turf for the first time in Saturday’s highly competitive second running of the $150,000 Tepin Stakes at Churchill Downs.

The one-mile Tepin, run on the Matt Winn Turf Course for 3-year-old fillies, was carded as the finale on the 12-race program. First post is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Tepin will go at 6:27 p.m. The Tepin is one of seven stakes events on Saturday’s card. The others are the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII), $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), $300,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Bashford Manor (GIII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed) and $150,000 War Chant.

Trained by Brad Cox, Adventuring was the two-length winner of the $150,000 BourbonetteOaks in late March at Turfway Park. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile is out of the former Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Questing (GB). The four-time winning mare also produced two-time winner Romantic Pursuit who finished second in last year’s $150,000 The Very One Stakes (GIII) on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Adventuring will be ridden by John Velazquez from post No. 7.

Other top contenders that entered the Tepin are Terry Hamilton, Brian Lynch and Gary Barber’s two-time stakes winner Tobys Heart; Barry and Carol Conrad’s stakes winner New Boss;Michael Ryan, Jeff Drown and Team Valor International’s four-time stakes runner-up InvincibleGal (GB); and Miacomet Farm and Michael Pietrangelo’s $300,000 Edgewood (GII) second-place finisher Barista.

The complete field for the Tepin from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Invincible Gal (GB);Sylvia Q (Ricardo Santana Jr., Phil Bauer); Fairchild (Gabriel Saez, Mark Casse); Town Avenger(Drayden Van Dyke, Brian Lynch); Navratilova (Brian Hernandez Jr., Rusty Arnold II); Bullseye Beauty (Julie Burke, Andrew McKeever); Adventuring (Velazquez, Cox); Tobys Heart (Javier Castellano, Lynch); Malloy (Joe Talamo, Wayne Catalano); New Boss (Adam Beschizza, Bret Calhoun); Commanders Palace (Florent Geroux, Mark Casse); Barista (James Graham, Jimmy Baker); and Arm Candy (Tyler Gaffalione, Steve Asmussen).

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TAMPA BAY DERBY (GII) WINNER HELIUM TRIES TURF IN $150,000 WAR CHANT

D. J. Stable’s $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (Grade II) winner Helium will attempt turf for the first time as the headliner in Saturday’s $150,000 War Chant Stakes at Churchill Downs.

The one-mile War Chant for 3-year-olds is slated as Race 7 with a post time of 3:50 p.m. (all times Eastern). The first of 12 races will get underway at 12:45 p.m. Saturday is closing day of the 2021 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs and the day features seven stakes events headlined by the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GII). The other supporting stakes are the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), $300,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Bashford Manor (GIII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed), $150,000Tepin and War Chant.

Trained by Mark Casse, Helium finished eighth in the $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI). Helium broke his maiden over the Tapeta surface at Woodbine and won the $100,000 Display Stakes prior to making his first start on dirt in the Tampa Bay Derby. He is by multiple turf graded stakes winner Ironicus and out of the dam Thundering Emilia who ran 17 times on turf with a record of 2-4-2. Helium’s half-sister Mighty Scarlett is Grade III placed on the turf. Churchill Downs leading rider Tyler Gaffalione was named to ride Helium from post No. 7.

The War Chant field also includes Steve Landers Racing’s two-time stakes winner Royal Prince. Trained by Brad Cox, the Cairo Prince colt finished third in his last start in the $150,000 Audubon, the local prep race for the War Chant on May 29. Jockey Florent Geroux has the mount from post 5.

The complete War Chat field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Accredit (Sophie Doyle, Pavel Matejka); Starrininmydreams (Jose Ortiz, Dallas Stewart); In Effect (Adam Beschizza, Jack Sisterson); Dyn O Mite (Brian Hernandez Jr., Keith Desormeaux); Royal Prince (Geroux, Cox);El Kabong (James Graham, Rusty Arnold II); Helium (Gaffalione, Casse); and Next (John Velazquez, Wesley Ward).

Wagering is available online at www.TwinSpires.com, the official ADW of Churchill Downs Incorporated.

 

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Jennie Rees