How's that Chalk Taste? Ask me after the Stephen Foster

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Ed DeRosa

June 17th, 2017

The biggest question facing handicappers on the Stephen Foster Handicap card is what to do with the trio of 4-to-5 morning favorites in three of the five stakes races on the 11-race card. There's McCraken in the Matt Winn Stakes (race 5), Forever Unbridled in the Fleur de Lis (race 7), and Gun Runner in the feature (race 8).

The all-stakes pick 5 begins with the Matt Winn and concludes with the Regret Stakes (race 9). For Churchill Downs handicapping information from, CLICK HERE.

At fair odds of 4-to-5, there is a 17.1% chance that they all win (or just shy of 5-to-1). At those same odds there's an 8.8% chance that they all lose, or between 10- and 11-to-1. Given what we know about our competitors in the pari-mutuel pool, you're far more likely to get an overlaid payoff beating all three favorites than if all three were to win, but if you leave all three off your ticket then there's a better than 91% chance you'll lose and it's likely to be an expensive ticket.

Thankfully, there are other multi-race options besides the all-stakes Pick 5. There are two other Pick 5s beginning in races 2 & 7. If you think McCraken is the most vulnerable favorite, then the Pick 5 in race 2 might make more sense. If you think Forever Unbridled and/or Gun Runner is more likely to taste defeat, then the late Pick 5 could be for you. There are also three Pick 4s with an early one kicking off the card, an all-stakes one in race 6, and a late Pick 4 beginning with the Stephen Foster. I.e., the Matt Winn (McCraken) is not a part of any Pick 4s), but the Stephen Foster (Gun Runner) is a part of two.

I like my "A" horses in the Wise Dan (race 6) and the Regret (race 9) enough that I will play a ticket trying to beat all three favorites: 1, 2, 3, 5 with 2, 4, 7 with 1, 2, 3, 5 with 1, 3, 4, 8 with 4, 11, 12. That's a $288 ticket. I will also press with 2/3 chalk winning and all three of them winning. 

My best bet of the night is in race 1, as Audrey's Double has a speed and tactical advantage over morning line favorite Play the Break. My best longshot is #10 Space Mountain in race 4. At 10-to-1 morning line, I think the price is right to gamble on him working a trip behind longshot pacesetter Mongol G and getting jump on rest of field. Wide trip a concern, but price compensates, and Joe Rocco rode him well last time.