Weekend Stakes Preview 6/11

Stephen Foster Handicap tops huge Saturday night at Churchill Downs

The Grade 1 $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap tops a big night of racing at Churchill Downs on Saturday night. Seven runners have entered into the Foster which goes as the 8th race on a card that gets underway at 6:00pm EST. Lea will make his first start since running a good third in the Dubai World Cup in his last start. He’s only raced on the Churchill main track and it was a big win and he’s been training beautifully in the morning for trainer Bill Mott. Lea’s main competition could be drawn right to his inside down on the rail in the form of Commissioner. Commissioner has rattled off a pair of Grade 3 wins in a row and makes his Churchill debut looking for his first career Grade 1 win. He’s in the best form of his career and this could be the best opportunity for him to jump up and snag a win at racing’s highest level. Hoppertunity returns to Churchill which was the site of his biggest career win, a score in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap. He’s coming off a third place finish in the San Antonio at Santa Anita but he finished behind two of the toughest runners on the continent in Shared Belief and California Chrome.

The Grade 2 Fleur De Lis Handicap drew nine runners including high weight My Sweet Addiction. My Sweet Addiction has good early speed and last time out took home the Grade 1 Vanity Stakes. Sheer Drama just missed last time out at Churchill in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes and she’s been a steadily improving filly this year. Tiz Windy has done some good work at Churchill Downs in her career and ran a closing fourth last time out in the La Troienne behind Sheer Drama.

Don’t Leave Me ships down from Woodbine and looms a big contender in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes. She was just second in the Grade 3 Selene Stakes up in Canada and owns a Grade 3 win at Turfway Park. Dale Romans will send out Cristina’s Journey who has been crushed in her last three starts since winning the Grade 2 Pocahontas as a two year old. This will be her first try over the lawn so perhaps they’re hoping that will wake her up. Bob Baffert will send out Fame and Power in the Matt Winn Stakes. The Juddmonte owned runner scored a win in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes last time out and looks like he could be lone speed in this spot. Selections for the Stephen Foster

  1. Commissioner
  2. Lea
  3. Hoppertunity

Longshot: Noble Bird Selections for the Fleur De Lis H.

  1. America
  2. Sheer Drama
  3. Tiz Windy

Longshot: Pearl Turn Selections for the Regret Stakes

  1. Don’t Leave Me
  2. Lady Zuzu
  3. America Mon Amie

Longshot: Prado’s Sweet Ride Selections for the Matt Winn Stakes

  1. Fame and Power
  2. Bold Conquest
  3. Phenomenal Phoenix

Longshot: Nileator

Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile is Santa Anita Saturday feature

The Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile is light on runners but not short on talent as five runners will compete in the $400,000 event. Bal a Bali came to the United States earlier this year after an amazing career in Brazil winning 11 of 12 starts in South America. He won his US debut last time out for trainer Dick Mandella scoring by a length in the Grade 3 American Stakes. He beat Talco in that race who is back to contend in this event. Talco has slowly been climbing up the ladder this year and his second place in the American was a good run as he was off slow that day. Grade 1 winner Seek Again hasn’t won since last August but was a good fourth in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill on Derby day in a very tough field. He should be fitter for this second start and figures a big contender.

The Grade 3 Adoration Stakes drew two Grade 1 caliber mares as Beholder and Warren’s Veneda will square off. Warren’s Veneda had her three race win streak snapped last time in the Grade 1 Vanity in a race that saw her loom up in mid-stretch but flatten out late. She’ll have to best Beholder who is a multiple Grade 1 winner and won the Santa Lucia Stakes in her seasonal debut. She should be ready to go for trainer Dick Mandella and figures tough to beat. Selections for the Shoemaker Mile

  1. Seek Again
  2. Bal a Bali
  3. Talco Selections for the Adoration Stakes

  1. Beholder
  2. Warren’s Veneda
  3. Wild in the Saddle

Longshot: My Monet

Poker Stakes is Belmont’s big race on Saturday

The $300,000 Poker Stakes drew a nice field of ten runners going a mile on the grass as the Saturday feature at Belmont Stakes. Ironicus comes into the Poker off a big win in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes on Preakness Day and that win will surely earn him some backers at the windows. He’s a deep closer though so he’ll need help with the set up in here if he’s going to come catch them. King Kreesa won this race in 2013 and if anything will assure a quick early pace. King Kreesa hasn’t won in a while but you can almost guarantee he’ll be in contention when they turn for home, so if he can relax, who knows, maybe he can make some noise at a price. The wildcard in the race appears to be the Chad Brown trained Il Campione who ships in from Chile where he won numerous Group 1 events and is 8 for 10 in his career. He’ll be making his first North American start but that’s something Brown excels at, hitting at 29% with such runners.

Vyjack will look to get his career back on track as he switches to the barn of Bill Mott for the Poker Stakes. He’s tried many different distances and tracks in his career and now they’ll try him on the turf to see if that produces any kind of effort. Long On Value certainly deserves a look in this race as he’s been keeping some very tough company and running very well in those races. He was fourth in the Dixie last time out but prior to that was third in the Makers Mile at Keeneland, a Grade 1 event. Selections for the Poker

  1. Il Campione
  2. Ironicus
  3. Long on Value

Longshot: Heart to Heart 

Sunday is the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks

Woodbine Race Course will card the biggest race of the season so far on Sunday as an expected field of 10 will go in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks. Trainer Roger Attfield is expected to send out both Internal Bourbon and Leading Edge, both of whom are coming into the Oaks in strong form. Mark Casse is expected to enter up to four runners in the Oaks including Season Ticket who will get the riding services of Patrick Husbands. Also on the Sunday card at Woodbine will be the $150,000 Plate Trial which is the final local prep for the $1,000,000 Queens Plate.

Saturday Stakes Action at

Arapahoe Park

Race 8                  Aspen Stakes                           5:55pm EST

Belmont Park

Race 5                  Poker Stakes                           3:24pm EST

Churchill Downs

Race 6                  Regret Stakes                 8:32pm EST

Race 7                  Fleur De Lis H.                 9:08pm EST

Race 8                  Stephen Foster Handicap  9:42pm EST

Race 9                  Matt Winn Stakes            10:13pm EST

Golden Gate Fields

Race 7                  Albany Stakes                 6:45pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 3                  Miss Patty Handicap          2:00pm EST

Indiana Grand

Race 7                  Born Runner Classic S.      8:53pm EST

Prairie Meadows

Race 6                  Cyclone Handicap            8:44pm EST

Race 8                  Hawkeyes Handicap         9:37pm EST


Race 9                  Mountain Top Futurity      6:28pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 5                  Shoemaker Mile               5:30pm EST

Race 8                  Adoration Stakes             7:00pm EST


Race 8                  Bold Ruckus Stakes          4:45pm EST

Race 9                  Trillium Stakes                 5:17pm EST



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