Chubby Star key to multi-race plays on stakes-packed Stephen Foster Night

Profile Picture: James Scully

June 17th, 2017

The $500,000 Stephen Foster (G1) serves as the main event on Saturday’s 11-race Downs After Dark program at Churchill Downs and a Pick 5 encompasses the five graded stakes events (races 5-9).

It kicks off with the $100,000 Matt Winn (G3) for 3-year-olds, and a Pick 4 will be offered one race later consisting of the Wise Dan (G2), Fleur de Lis (G2), Stephen Foster and Regret (G3).

I will be going after both multi-race wagers and here are my thoughts on the sequence:

5th race, Matt Winn: #2 McCraken showed tremendous affinity for Churchill Downs last year (3-for-3 including a pair of stakes wins) but will be looking to rebound from his first setback under the Twin Spires, a rough-trip eighth in the Kentucky Derby. McCraken will be looking to overpower these foes with his natural ability, but his BRIS numbers have never been overwhelming and the late runner can’t afford to come back flat.

I will also use #5 Aquamarine, who brings improving form for D. Wayne Lukas and will be the one to catch in his two-turn bow.

6th race, Wise Dan: Tough to eliminate many in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes. I will give the edge to #6 Conquest Pathera, who turned in four consecutive bang-up efforts, including a neck third in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) two back, before a seventh in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1). He never appeared comfortable in the early stages last time and should appreciate both the class relief and cutback in trip today, looking to strike from just off the pace with Robby Albarado.

#5 Kasaqui just missed in this race last year and rates as a serious win contender following a fourth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

I am trying to beat #7 Pleuven, who is eligible to regress off a win in the Opening Verse, but will save with him as well as #2 Bondurant, who will be running late for Ian Wilkes; the front-running #1 Security Risk; and #3 Thatcher Street, a four-time winner over the course.

7th race, Fleur de Lis: #1 Forever Unbridled enjoys a huge class advantage, recording wins in the Apple Blossom (G1) and Beldame Invitational (G1) last year before an outstanding third to Beholder and Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). She’s the most likely winner but this will be her first start back and trainer Dallas Stewart has bigger targets ahead for the late runner.

In case Forever Unbridled comes up a little short, #6 Romantic Vision can take advantage. The 5-year-old mare has never been better for Rusty Arnold, posting a sharp allowance tally at Keeneland in her 2017 return and most recently a strong second in the La Troienne (G1) in which she was caught on the worst part of the track against a perfect-trip winner. The daughter of Lemon Drop Kid should appreciate the 1 1/8-mile trip and Romantic Vision appears capable of finishing with a flourish beneath Julien Leparoux.

Race 8, Stephen Foster: #3 Gun Runner can solidify his status as the second-best older horse behind Arrogate but it will be interesting to see how he settles in the early stages after showing high speed in his last three outings. There’s plenty of early speed to his inside in Bird Song and Stanford likes to be forward from the outside.

A hot pace sets up for #4 Honorable Duty, who registered triple-digit BRIS Late Pace Ratings as high as 111, as well as a 107 Speed Rating, when opening the year with wins in the New Orleans (G2) and Minshaft (G3). The gelding just missed with a good second to a perfect-trip winner in the Alysheba (G2) and has really come on at age 5 for Brendan Walsh. Love the jockey switch to Javier Castellano.

Race 9, Regret: #12 Chubby Star is my best bet and I hope to get a price in the vicinity of her 5-1 morning line odds. A superb allowance winner at Keeneland two back, the Malibu Moon filly stepped up against males with a second to Yoshida in the James Murphy at Pimlico. That colt has a chance to be the best 3-year-old turf male and the form line towers over these rivals. Chubby Star is improving for trainer Horacio DePaz, registering her first triple-digit Late Pace number (104) last time, and she’s poised to mow down these foes in the latter stages.

#4 Proctor’s Ledge and #10 Fizzy Friday will be used in a back-up capacity.


Will play 50-cent denominations for the following Pick 5 and Pick 4 tickets.

All-Stakes Pick 5 (Race 5):

Ticket 1: 2,5 with 1,2,3,5,6,7 with 1,6 with 3,4 with 12 ($24)

Ticket 2: 2,5 with 5,6 with 1,6 with 3,4 with 4,10,12 ($24)

All-Stakes Pick 4 (Race 6):

Ticket 1: 1,2,3,5,6,7 with 1,6 with 3,4 with 12 ($12)

Total budget: $60

Good luck! has pps, selections, workout reports and more for Saturday’s Stephen Foster program