Contenders to Consider in Grade 1 Stephen Foster
Category : News
Wed 15/06/2016 - 21:37 EDT
With the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster the centerpiece of a stellar Downs After Dark racing card June 18 at Churchill Downs, the expected field of seven older runners presents an interesting handicapping puzzle.
Effinex, set to break from post 2 for trainer James Jerkens, is clearly the one to beat following his return-to-form win in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap April 16. In that effort, the five year-old gelding made a strong move to pass the pacesetting Melatonin, avenging his loss to that foe in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. Effinex is already a grade 1 winner at Churchill Downs, notching a victory in the Clark Handicap to cap a fine 2015 season. Prior to that effort, Effinex proved his quality finishing second to American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Bradester can surprise
Bradester is an interesting price play after opening his six year-old campaign May 21 with a win in the Majestic Light Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Eddie Kenneally-trained veteran has always been comfortable racing over the Churchill Downs dirt and is likely quick enough to make the early lead if jockey Joe Bravo sees fit. While likely best at a mile to a mile and one sixteenth, Bradester certainly has the class and ability to take this field a long way.
Eagle always around the wire
Eagle has won 4 of his last 8 starts and has not finished worse than third in that stretch. The Neil Howard trainee can be a bit reluctant to beat top-class fields, but did just that two back at Keeneland while defeating an impressive next-out graded stakes winner in Noble Bird.
One of the most historic - and controversial - editions of the Kentucky Derby is in the books and the next leg of the US Triple Crown moves to Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course for the running of the Preakness Stakes. The 1 3/16 test over the Pimlico dirt track is drawing a wide-open field of three-year-old thoroughbreds gunning for the $1.5 million purse.
Led to the gate by pre-race morning line favorite Omaha Beach, a full field of 20 are set to line up for the 145th Kentucky Derby on late Saturday afternoon. They're running for a total purse of $3 million on the 1 1/4 mile Churchill dirt course and making their bid to follow 2018 winner Justify as Triple Crown champions.
The $100,000 Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes July 2 at Churchill Downs features a field of nine up-and-coming two year olds in a race that may be as confusing as it is competitive.
With the likelihood of a short field for the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap, bettors looking for a solid win bet or to navigate through multi-race exotic wagers with a short sampling, will need to zero in on the mile and an eighth race over the main track.