A field of six was entered for Saturday night’s $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), one of five graded stakes on the Downs After Dark program at Churchill Downs that gets underway at 6:00 eastern.
While the race is short of quantity, it certainly not short on quality, featuring a pair of former winners of the race along with last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner.
Last year’s Classic winner Fort Larned (3-1) is looking to bounce back off his fifth place finish in the Oaklawn Handicap (G3). In his first start this year in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) the five-year-old stumbled coming out of the gate dumping jockey Brian Hernandez and then proceeded to finish about a pole in front of the field sans rider.
Last year’s Stephen Foster Ron the Greek (3-1) along with 2011 winner Pool Play (15-1) are in the race, as well as Alysheba (G2) winner Take Charge Indy (5-2). Last year’s Travers (G1) winner Golden Ticket (12-1) comes into the race off a win against Alw-3 optional claimers.
Completing the field is the 2-1 morning line favorite Successful Dan, who is coming off a gate to wire score in the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland over polytrack. The older brother of Wise Dan has won eight of his 12 career starts.
Two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta will also run Saturday night. She will be a heavy favorite over four foes in the $175,000 Fleur De Lis Handicap (G2).
The forecast for Belmont Park for Thursday was not looking good yesterday, but I was optimistic enough to handicap the races for the turf, and we may get lucky. Rains were originally forecast to fall all day, but now the heavy stuff is not supposed to start until around 4:00 eastern.
As of this morning the main track was fast and the turf course was labeled as yielding.
Analysis: Doctor Doss makes his first start since breaking his maiden in his debut last May at Churchill Downs going five furlongs on turf. He lands here with the Chad Brown barn that is 34% winners with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff. This is not a real tough spot and I am optimistic we might be on the turf today although the turf was yielding yesterday and there is some rain in the forecast.
Slamarama is also coming back off the bench, last seen last November at Churchill Downs against Alw-1 foes where he checked in seventh after a tough trip. He showed some promise breaking his maiden in his debut but has not been able to run back to that effort. He has worked quickly for his return for the Pletcher barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff.
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 2,4,5,7
TRI: 2,7 / 2,4,5,7 / 2,4,5,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
Analysis: Barbie Wire faces winners for the first time here after an impressive maiden score last out in her third career start and first on turf. The fact that Chad Brown puts her right into stakes company bodes well this gal is ready to make the move forward and take on tougher. She has a nice pedigree, by Tapit out of the stakes winner Fencelineneighbor ($612,588) who could run on dirt and turf. She already owns the top last out speed fig and it came at today's seen furlong distance here.
Fearless Jacq beat three of these she faces again when she won the Miss Otis last out at six furlongs over yielding footing. She pressed the early pace, took over with a three wide bid and drew off late. She looks as if the extra furlong here will pose no problem and she has an appealing pedigree as well, seven of her sibs are turf winners and she is out of the turf stakes winning mare Gravieres ($403,210).
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,5 / 2,3,5,6
TRI: 2,5 / 2,3,5,6 / 2,3,5,6,8
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R5: #10 Jazzington 10-1
R5: #3 Faceineveryflower 8-1
R6: #5 La Bella Valeria 20-1
R7: #10 Smoke Town 8-1
Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick. Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike daily with top picks from Belmont or Keeneland. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
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