Recap of Stephen Foster Day 2016

by Ed Meyer

The Stephen Foster night card at Churchill Downs is always a great betting card and this year was no exception.  Here are some horses to watch coming out this stakes-filled card

The (G-3) Matt Winn Stakes – 1 1/16 on the dirt

#5 – Gray Sky = James Graham was aboard this son of Tapit, and I was intrigued from first glance. Gun Runner looked to have a paid workout under the lights at Churchill, and on paper it looked like an opportunity to nail the exacta or trifecta under the chalk.  He was 3/6 in the money (ITM) over the deep CD oval, and was exiting a race that should alert players. His last race was an O.C. $75,000 race at 6 1/2f, and his usual distance is one mile or better. I like to find runners making this cutback in distance and then jump right back to business. His record going shorter is 3/4 ITM and D. Wayne Lukas is (32%) ITM going from a sprint to a route. I have spoke to many trainers over the years, and some like to have a “tune-up” effort and get everything tied down. He finished up a game second to the impressive Gun Runner and I think he may be ready to begin his summer campaign. Keep your eyes peeled for the plump purses at Ellis Park.

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The (G-2) Fleur de Lis Handicap – 1 1/8 on the dirt

#8 – Brooklynsway = This filly has been up and down the ladder and has ran on every surface known to man. – She was making one of my favorite moves with the all weather to dirt switch. The Bernie Flint barn wins (20%) on this angle, and I’m really a backer of two off the all weather surface. This was her fifth start of the year, and I think we’re seeing a young lady who is maturing right before our eyes. She looks to have a versatile style and maybe a little less ground would be welcomed.

The (G-2) Wise Dan Stakes – 1 1/16 on the turf

#2 – The Pizza Man = This son of English Channel is a turf machine with 20/26 ITM efforts over the greensward. This was his first start off the layoff for the season and the bullet work on 6/11/16 sealed the deal he would go to post as the chalk. Going a 1 1/16 off the shelf against this level had me looking elsewhere for the race. But after seeing the six wide move showing a strong late kick has me waiting for his next effort. The Pizza Man will deliver.  It’s only when and where from here.

The (G-1) Stephen Foster Handicap – 1 1/8 on the dirt

#5 – El Kabeir = This son of Scat Daddy looked good on paper as he has faced some tough guys in the past. His first start back was on the turf in the (G-2) Dixie at Pimlico, and worked two straight bullet efforts in the morning before switching back to the dirt. That was his only start on the turf, and the barn wins (23%) on the second start off the layoff move. He finished up with good interest and is a bit a road warrior not needing to take his track with him. The summer / fall season may be very good to this runner.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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