A field of nine will line up in the feature on closing day at Churchill Downs, the $600,000 Stephen Foster (G2) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Maxfield, a winner of six of his seven career starts is the 4-5 morning line favorite and likely to be sent off at even a lighter price. The Stephen Foster is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race with the winner stamping a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar on Nov. 6.
Maxfield is coming off a victory in the Alysheba (G2) over the Churchill Downs main track on April 30. The Brendan Walsh trainee earned a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 105 in his win. He beat Visitant and Chess Chief, who both return to take him on again.
The colt is perfect in three starts over the Churchill Downs main track and after prepping in the mornings at Keeneland put in one drill here on June 19, breezing four furlongs in :48 4/5.
“We shipped him up from Keeneland last week and worked an easy half-mile,” Walsh said. “He did most of his work at Keeneland prior to the Foster. He’s a fit and happy horse. We’re ready to go and excited to get this race underway.”
Maxfield Wins Alysheba
His main foe looks to be Silver Dust (6-1), who is coming off a win in the Bel Ali (G3) in the slop at Keeneland on April 10. The Bret Calhoun trainee ran third in the Stephen Foster last year.
The supporting stakes on closing day at Churchill Downs are the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (G2), $300,000 Wise Dan (G2), $150,000 Bashford Manor (G3), $150,000 Debutante, $150,000 Tepin and $150,000 War Chant.
Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Churchill Downs Race 11 The Stephen Foster G2 5:59 ET
5 Silver Dust 6-1
8 Maxfield 4-5
6 Warrior’s Charge 6-1
9 Visitant 6-1
The Calhoun trainee has just two starts under his belt this year and is coming off a victory in the Ben Ali (G3) in the slop. The gelding was off a beat slow, prompted the early pace and finished gamely to win by a half-length. He has run well over the main track and his two career best speed figs came over the main track here last year when third in this race last year followed by the Alysheba (G2). He then was 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). His return off the bench was on turf where he checked in seventh. Back on a fast surface he looks capable of moving forward off his last and appears to have the best shot of beating the imposing favorite in here.
A winner of six of his seven starts, he earned a career top winning the Alysheba last out over the main track here at 1 1/16 miles. He suffered his lone loss two back in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) where he stalked the early pace and finished up well wile unable to get to the top pair in a third-place finish, beaten two lengths at 6-5. He won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in 2019 but missed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) with a minor injury. He returned in May of last year to win the Matt Winn (G3) over the main track here but then as injured in a workout in June and did not return until December. He is perfect in his three starts over the Churchill Downs main track and should get a good trip sitting just off what should be an honest pace. The main knock is his price which seems likely to be south of his 4-5 morning line.
The Cox trainee was off a step slow and was not a threat in the slop in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) last out at Lone Star. He was the pacesetter before weakening to finish fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) two back behind repeat winner Silver State, who won the Met Mile (G1) in his next start. He has not won since taking the Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park in February of 2020 and he does look as if he may have lost a step or two this year. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and with Cox calling the shots and Geroux back on board it would not be surprising to see this guy bounce back with a better effort.