Scully’s Stephen Foster Day handicapping blog
An important race for older horses, Saturday’s $600,000 Stephen Foster (G2) has attracted one of the most competitive fields in years. It’s the centerpiece of an outstanding 11-race Downs After Dark card that includes six stakes. Here are my strongest opinions on the evening: Race 2: #8 High Road got off to a slow start and weakened late against a tough maiden group last time, with the winning With Dignity coming back to crush allowance foes next out and runner-up Dos Vinos winning last Sunday by open lengths at 3-5 odds. She should appreciate the significant class relief and looks poised to graduate in this spot. The Rusty Arnold-trained Quality Road filly recorded a pair of commendable efforts going one-turn at Gulfstream Park earlier this season and I won’t count the unplaced showing going two turns in the mud at Keeneland against her. High Road will be forwardly placed in a field lacking pace. Race 4: #7 Bridaled Temper may wind up a short price (7-2 morning line) but it’s easy to appreciate the pattern she displayed last year on Churchill Downs’ turf, running a big race in the second start back from a layoff. The four-year-old filly returned last time from nearly a six-month break against a solid bunch and lacked the needed acceleration after advancing into a threatening position by the top of the stretch, but she still managed to give a decent account of herself finishing sixth. Bridaled Temper rolled to a 3 ½-length maiden tally when making her second start over the course following a similar layoff last year and the Mark Casse pupil can clear the entry-level allowance condition Saturday evening. Race 6, Wise Dan (G2): #3 First Premio was bet down as a lukewarm 3-1 favorite but came up short behind wire-to-wire upsetter Siem Riep in the May 2 Opening Verse. The five-year-old will receive a better set-up in this 14-horse affair and I won’t hesitate to back him in the second start over Churchill Downs’ turf this meet. A sharp allowance scorer behind a face pace in a stakes-quality Keeneland allowance two back, First Premio finished second when trying Churchill’s turf last summer and followed with superb victory over the course, registering a career-best 97 BRIS Speed rating. I expect similar improvement and the Casse runner should be in position to strike after receiving a ground-saving trip from his inside post. Race 8, Stephen Foster: #9 Tom’s d’Etat makes his second start off a freshening following an excellent second to McKinzie in the May 3 Alysheba (G2). The six-year-old horse looked poised to be a major factor at the graded stakes level when posting a nine-length allowance win at Saratoga in July 2017 but wasn’t seen again for 16 months, returning with a romping win at Churchill Downs last November. He made his stakes debut a winning one in December’s Tenacious at Fair Grounds three starts back but nothing went right for him when stepping up for the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in January. Al Stall Jr. gave the son of Smart Strike some time off in advance of the Alysheba and I loved how Tom’s d’Etat held for second to a quality rival after giving way in upper stretch, winding up 3 ¾ lengths clear of Seeking the Soul in third. There’s not a lot of speed in the Foster field and while tractable, Tom’s d’Etat likely will be showing the way early with regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan. I’m tabbing Tom’s d’Etat wire to wire. Good luck on the Downs After Dark program! Photo courtesy of Coady Photography!