With the weekend in full swing, a solid 12-race card on Saturday at Churchill Downs concludes the Spring / Summer get-together. It’s Stephen Foster Day! As usual, our turf man will provide you with tips for each race as well as an analysis of his best value plays throughout the day as he examines the Graded Stakes competitions from the start.

If you’re looking for tips elsewhere in the country on Saturday, be sure to check out our free horse racing tips via the gold button below.

Race 5: Dirt, 1 1/8, Fleur de Lis S. (G2), $ 300,000, F&M 4+

The 2 strongest runners that are entered on this Stephen Foster day ticket are easily Maxfield, who later runs in the “Feature”, and the lady who is drafted here, Fausto Gutierrez ‘powerful Letruska # 6. The long and the short of it is that it will be very hard to beat. Your speed seems determined during the races and it just keeps getting better. She can take the lead and hold it, but she can also duel on the track if necessary.

I was a little surprised to hear she was going to compete for this race because it looked like her coach was giving her a break and was planning to possibly run at the BC Distaff (G1) in Del Mar in November. But Gutierrez knows what she can do and what she can do. She is big and strong. If, like me, you stand by the gate to the paddock at SHRP as she passed on her way to the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) run, you will find that she is literally pulling her handler along. I don’t doubt that she could easily win this race, especially considering the rest of the field of five look like a bunch of “B-Team” bench warmers.

The only one I could consider as a snuff is Kenny McPeek’s Adorable # 4who seems to have some class in their background that could serve. Even so, she was in the Azeri (G2) at Oaklawn and didn’t matter when Cox’s Shedaresthedevil beat Gutierrez’s Prize. This race, however, showed what the only real weakness of this strong favorite is… the danger of offensive or loose tactics at the front. If you want to win a race like this, you need to brake well and get on the engine as quickly as possible. Bullying your way forward, like Florent Geroux did in the Azeri, is the only way. If not … it’s game, set and match with this 5-year-old mare from Super Saver. Gutierrez and his team win again …

Recommended bet: $ 100 profit, # 6

Race 9: Dirt, 6F, Bashford Manor S. (G3), $ 150,000, 2nd

Coach Steve Asmussen has won this race six times and is coming once again to plunder more loot for his pirate lair. There’s a whole field of young stallions in the midst of all this drama, and that begs the question … do you think any of them could be on the KYD148 track in less than a year? Hm…

As for Asmussen’s couple, he’s sending Vodka N water # 1 and Red run # 9 to the post. The former is a Fed Biz offspring and we have seen this sire have produced some fine sprinters lately. It is astonishing that this colt has already had a few races @CD under his belt. Both finished 2nd with Ricardo Santana at the controls. The last one in particular was against Norm Casses Glacier # 4competing with him again. Because of these finishes, “Vodka” clearly deserves a certain amount of attention at this point.

As for the latter Asmussen entry, this is the colt that Santana lands on. That must mean something … right? Tea leaves … please … A Gun Runner son, I’m sure the HOF Conditioner will recognize some of the characteristics of his budding running style. The boy is busy, and Winchell licks his chops for more Graded fame. Breaking your girl on your debut is very special. The “PS” on this final comment is to take into account that of Dallas Stewart Lansdowne # 2who did just that on his debut at Churchill on May 22nd. The Willy conditioner left the weather guessing when veterinarian Jon Court got the call. I think Asmussen’s charges are certainly full of possibilities, as are those of Casse and Stewart, but others included here could add even more value. If you look at some of the overall statistics of the race, there is a precedent for winners coming from horses with odds greater than 5/1. Don’t sleep on these guys!

Speaking of those who are making their way to the boxcar variant, what about the Chapman Barn’s? Ascending Outlaw # 10? Most will shy away from this one because they won’t think the trip he took to Indiana Grand at an MC35k event wasn’t a special one, but I think it was promising. Posting an 80-gang figure was solid, and by the time you’re out of bodemeister you’ll have some legs. This one is a driver and with the addition of Rafael Bejarano the colt at over 30/1 could be a fabulous price. I would do more than just use this one as a tiered bet seems fine.

Remember … precedent …

Betting recommendation: $ 100 bankroll, tiered, WPS # 10 ($ 10 -W, $ 15-P, $ 75-S)

Race 10: Turf, 1 1/16, Wise Dan S. (G2), $ 300,000, 4+

When you take part in a race named after Wise Dan, a certain je ne sais quoi follows. At least it should … He was a complete router for Charlie LoPresti, and anyone who follows in his footsteps replicates greatness. This year’s edition of the former Firecracker S. has drawn in a nice group of turf tillers. There are many ways you can go … so the ‘Cappers’, but for me this is an easy question.

Cox’s Set piece # 1 and Maker Somelikeitbrown # 3 will take a lot of money to be sure, but I like Mark Casses 6 year old from Candy Ride (ARG), the healthy lawn, Ride a comet # 7. It’s awesome after a nice series of efforts during the spring. You can scratch your head on that last statement … admittedly. But remember, experience is experience, even though some of these attempts ranked 7th and 9th. Think of the company he ran … names like Smooth Like Strait, Raging Bull, Count Again, Sacred Lite, Colonel Liam, and Domestic Spending … all come to mind as great lawn players over the distances of the divisions.

The Wise D. route is the perfect setup, and once again I like the choice of jockey Tyler Gaffalione. The 3rd time might be the attraction, because this runner is as fit as possible. HOF-er Casse prepared him for a “G”. By the way, as far as these “dead leaders” from the Cox and Maker outfits are concerned, I’m not so sure whether they are as hot as one might think. One is an untrustworthy class climber, the other was last in Pimlico in a weaker edition of a G2 contest. Don’t be snooker, best weather …

Betting recommendation: $ 25 / $ 50 WP, # 7

Race 11: Dirt, 1 1/8, Stephen Foster S. (G2), $ 600,000, 4+

As my colleague, Editor Neil, put it so succinctly when he previewed this race a few days ago … Brendan Walsh’s Maxfield # 8 will be the star of the Stephen Foster Show. He is the best, the fastest and has the most successful resume in this field of 9. In short, he should top this lot. Godolphin expects “great” ala Harry Potter from this 4 year old stallion, and I am sure that they expect the royal blue colors to rush the route at Churchill like lightning over the forehead. Outside the Street Senses, although he missed the celebrated Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in early March, he recovered in the Alysheba (G2) on the KYOaks sub-map in a fine off-the-pace manner. Now he seems ready to take part in this G2 competition. Can someone keep up with his strength and his late pace? I can’t find one. There’s a reason this one is entrenched in most of the top NTRA Thoroughbred Polls out there. Max wins … and secures a trip to the Breeders’ Cup! “Win and you are in”, comes …

Recommended bet: $ 100 profit, # 8

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Enjoy the last day of Churchill’s Spring Summer 2021 meeting! It’s day off …