In his bid to become the first horse in 36 years to win the Triple Crown, California Chrome came up short, finishing fourth, in the Belmont Stakes. The horse racing world is now forced to wait another year. But with that, the race racing season is in full swing and this week the marquee race is the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. The Stephen Foster is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race and brings with it a very solid field. Will Take Charge, Revolutionary, Departing and Golden Ticket are just a few of the horses in what should be a very competitive edition of the Stephen Foster.
Race: Stephen Foster Handicap (G1)
Location: Churchill Downs
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Date: June 14, 2014
Post Time: 9:39 PM EST
|1||2-1||Revolutionary||Smith||First last out in the Pimlico Special (G3) and 2nd two back in Oaklawn Handicap (G2). Appears on form and won the coin flip for M/L favorite with Will Take Charge. 7th in the Donn when last attempt G1 competition. A player|
|2||30-1||Jaguar Paw||Bridgmohan||Has not won since June of last year and been on the shelf since February. Ambitious return after a 6th and 8th last two before the break. Looks to be over matched|
|3||10-1||Moonshine Mullin||Borel||Do you ride winning streaks? If so, Mullin is coming off four straight wins including a gate-to-wire victory in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) over Golden Ticket, Mylute and Will Take Charge. Calvin is up and it is Churchill|
|4||5-2||Will Take Charge||Stevens||Reigning 3 yr old champ laid a dud in the Alysheba. Prior to that no worse than 2nd in 8 straight including Travers (G1) and Clark (G1) victories. Well traveled and if you throw out the last look out|
|5||12-1||Mylute||Graham||Yet to win a race about Allowance level. Keeps appearing to be ready to break through but this might be a tall order. That being said, it is CD and third off a layoff so who knows. Wouldn't leave out of exotics|
|6||9-2||Departing||Albarado||Admittedly I tend to be higher on Departing than others. Impressive in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) and Super Derby (G2). Returned from long layoff with a nice prep victory in Allowance at CD. Second off layoff and if you believe it is CD and you should see a square price|
|7||8-1||Golden Ticket||Leparoux||Always a solid runner and made a nice move in the Alysheba but just could not close out Mullin. Previous G1 winner at the Travers does belong in this field but I am not a fan of his race schedule. All things being equal, at his best, he can win this at a good price|
|8||15-1||Long River||Ortiz Jr||I could be forced to eat crow but I do not understand the entry. Won the Evening Attire and Time For A Change but 5th in G2 Charles Town Classic. If Long River hit the board I would be shocked. Well rested though|
|9||8-1||Prayer for Relief||Velazquez||Valazquez is in the saddle so right away things look up. 2nd to Revolutionary at the Pimlico Special and fourth to the favorites at the Oaklawn Handicap. Last graded stakes win came in 2011. Is it possible? Sure. Likely? Hardly since there are at least four I like better|
My initial thought was to go blindly with Will Take Charge and just throw out the sixth place finish at the Grade 2 Alysheba. But the more I looked at the race and the more I looked at the race schedule for Will Take Charge. I think the talented horse could use a break. Personally I would have liked to see him skip the race and setup for a grueling stretch through the Breeders’ Cup. With that said I am passing on Will Take Charge.
Instead I looked to three possible win candidates for the 2014 edition of the Stephen Foster. To me this is a race between Revolutionary, Departing and Moonshine Mullin. I feel all three horses are entering this race in great form. Revolutionary ran a spectacular race in winning the Pimlico Special and an equally impressive race finishing second to Will Take Charge at the Oaklawn Handicap. He is also a very fresh horse and ready to fire. He is deserving of Morning Line favorite status.
Meanwhile, I have never been shy or quiet in my admiration and expectations for Departing. This is a talented horse that carried a solid 3 year old campaign with three graded stakes victories until receiving a long rest in September. Departing returned in April for an impressive allowance level victory over this same Churchill Downs surface. Well rested and dangerous is not Departing should be viewed entering the Stephen Foster. Robby Albarado, who holds the record of three Stephen Foster wins with Pat Day, will be in the saddle and is a plus.
Finally, Moonshine Mullin is a horse that should be getting more attention. However, as a bettor you should be happy. Will you get 10-1 at the gate? Probably not but 6 or 8-1 can be expected. It is pretty solid value for a horse on a four race winning streak that includes a graded stakes victory in the Alysheba Stakes over many in this field. Could you argue that any one horse in that race had an off day? Sure, but that argument loses weight when you take down multiple horses. It appears that Moonshine Mullin is peaking and could be set for a big performance at the Stephen Foster. Add in that Calvin Borel, who owns Churchill Downs, has the mount and I like his chances at a price.
Playing this race is a box in my opinion or at least a couple of keyed horses. Separating between Revolutionary, Departing and Moonshine Mullin is a challenge and one that I would avoid. Instead I would play the following configurations based on a $20 or $50 budget for the race. As always, if you have to scrounge up to find $5 or $10 for the race I would pass and just watch. Pay the bills and enjoy the day. Don’t forget, this is supposed to be fun.
|2014 Stephen Foster Betting Options|
|$1 Exacta Box||1 with 3 with 6|
|$1 Trifecta Box||1 with 3 with 6|
|$4 Win/ Place||6|
|$2 Exacta Box||1 with 3 with 6|
|$2 Trifecta Box||1 with 3 with 6|
|$.10 Superfecta||1,3, 6 with 1,3,4,5,6 with 1,3,4,5,6|
|$.10 Superfecta||1,3, 6 with 1,3,4,5,6 with 1,3,4,5,6|
|$5 Win/ Place||6|