Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races Highlight Downs After Dark Card at Churchill Downs

It's "Downs After Dark" at Churchill Downs Saturday night featuring five stakes. (Photo credit: Churchill Downs)

It’s “Downs After Dark” at Churchill Downs Saturday night featuring five stakes. (Photo credit: Churchill Downs)

Saturday night’s “Downs After Dark” program at Churchill Downs kicks off at 6:00 ET and features five stakes, two of which are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races.

The feature of the evening is the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), with the winner earning an automatic starting spot and expenses paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Earlier on the card a field of six fillies and mares will go in the $200,000 Fleur De Lis Handicap (G2) with a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at stake.

The other stakes on the card are the $100,000 Matt Winn for three-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the main track, the $200,000 Wise Dan (G2) for three-year-olds and upward at 1 1/16 miles on turf and the stakes action wraps up with the $100,000 Regret (G3) for three-year-old fillies on the turf.

The Stephen Foster drew a field of seven including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic runner up Effinex, the even money favorite on the morning line.

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Beaten by American Pharoah by 6 ½ lengths in that outing, he has come back to win two of three starts, taking the Clark Handicap (G1) over the Churchill Downs main track in November and in his most recent outing won the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) on April 16. The five-year-old picks up a new jockey in Gary Stevens.

It is tough to separate the rest of the field, with Bradester and Majestic Harbor the co-second choices at 5-1 and International Star and Eagle at 6-1. Completing the field are Are You Kidding Me at 10-1 and El Kabeir at 12-1.

The Foster goes off as the eighth race on the 11-race card with a post time of 9:39 ET.

Untapable is the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Fleur De Lis and is looking to snap a six race losing streak. The 2014 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner has won just one of her last eight starts, taking the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park last April.

While she has lost six in a row she has run pretty well in most of her losses, coming up a neck short in the Spinster (G1) and Azeri (G2), and in her most recent start weakened to finish fourth in the Apple Blossom. She is perfect in three trips over the Churchill Downs main track including the 2014 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Her main rival will be Ahh Chocolate, winner of the Allaire Dupont Distaff (G3) at Pimlico in her last outing on May 20. The runner up in that race was Theogony came back to win the Rags to Riches by eight lengths in her next outing at Belmont Park on June 10.

Completing the field are Engaginglee (6-1), Paid Up Subscriber (8-1), Big Book (6-1) and Brooklynsway (6-1).

Gun Runner, third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) in his last outing is the 3-5 morning line favorite for the Matt Winn. He faces six overmatched foes.

The Wise Dan drew a field of 11 led by The Pizza Man (6-5), last year’s Arlington Million (G1) winner.

The Regret is one of the most wide open races on the card. A field of 11 three-year-old fillies will enter the starting gate including Edgewood (G3) runner up Auntie Joy, Honey Ryder runner up Noble Beauty (7-2) and Hilltop winner Gone Away (6-1).

Road to the Breeders’ Cup Package

Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday which will include all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to Oct. 12 and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report.

Michael’s two day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Santa Anita on Nov. 4-5.


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