How to bet the All-Stakes Pick 4 on Stephen Foster night
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
There are a plethora of multi-race sequences available to horseplayers on the Stephen Foster card Saturday evening at legendary Churchill Downs. Amongst them is an all-stakes Pick 4 that commences in Race 6 with the Wise Dan (G2) and concludes with the Regret (G3) for three-year-old fillies.
Here are my thoughts on the four graded events:
Race 6: $200,000 Wise Dan (G2)
This mile and a sixteenth event over the Churchill lawn kicks things off. The eight-horse field is led by the return of 2017 champion turf male #4 World Approval. The Live Oak Plantation runner raced twice in the winter, including a disappointing voyage to California where he finished fifth as the 1-2 favorite in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1). The six-year-old gelding is the deserving top choice on Saturday evening, but he is not unbeatable.
I give a big look to #5 Mr. Misunderstood who offers significantly better value than World Approval. The son of Archarcharch was scratched out of his most recent start in the Opening Verse on Thurby by trainer Brad Cox, but has moved forward in his four-year-old campaign after winning seven of eight last year. The $130,000 OBS March 2016 purchase has won over half of his 16 lifetime starts and should get a great trip under Florent Geroux. He makes for a great alternative to the likely heavy favorite.
#6 Mr Cub also has an outside shot if he can move forward off of his consecutive 95 plus BRIS speed ratings for trainer Ian Wilkes. If you are spreading I would include him as well.
Race 7: $200,000 Fleur de Lis (G2)
This nine-furlong event over the main track is one of the more wide-open races on the 11-race "Downs After Dark" card, but I really like a filly in this spot.
#6 Awestruck has only taken on stakes company once in her 10-race career and she failed to hit the board, but she appears to be thriving right now for trainer Rusty Arnold. The daughter of Tapit has been dominant in both of her starts as a four-year-old, including a six and a quarter length romp last month in a high level optional claimer at one mile.
The mile and an eighth distance is a bit of a question mark for the G. Watts Humphrey Jr. runner, but I love the way she comes into her first Grade 2 start. If jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. can find a nice stalking spot off of likely pacesetter #9 Farrell I think she is good enough to spring the upset at 8-1 on the line.
Race 8: $500,000 Stephen Foster (G1)
There is no doubt that Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned #6 Backyard Heaven is the deserving 6-5 morning line favorite and the clear one to beat in the main event on Saturday night. The son of Tizway has been awesome over his last three starts after a runner-up effort at Belmont to start his career last September.
The four-year-old colt had no problem in his first start versus graded stakes company easily handling a field of six rivals in the Alysheba (G2) on Oaks Day and could have an even bigger effort in store on Saturday. He is my top choice.
My only concern in regards to Backyard Heaven is whether he will have the same cozy trip as he did last time out given the fact there are tactical speed runners lined up to both his inside and outside. I will single him on one ticket and spread deep elsewhere since I think it is anyone’s race if the Chad Brown trainee fails to fire his best shot.
Race 9: $100,000 Regret (G3)
The sequence concludes with a full field of three-year-old fillies throwing down on the lawn in the Regret. I lack a strong opinion in this very competitive event on the sod, so I will use several and hope to catch one of the young ladies that provides the best value to close things out.
Here is how I will attack the sequence:
Ticket 1: (50 cents)
4+5+6 with 6 with 1+2+6+7+8+9 with 3+6+8+10+11+12+13 = $63
Ticket 2: (50 cents)
5 with 6+7 with 1+2+6+7+8+9 with 3+6+8+10+11+12+13 = $42
Ticket 3: (50 cents)
4+5+6 with 6+7 with 6 with 3+6+8+10+11+12+13 = $21.50
Total Budget: $126.50
Good luck at Downs After Dark!
(Mr. Misunderstood photo: Coady Photography)