Best Horse Racing Picks This Weekend Churchill Downs, Thistledown and Belmont Park

Headlined by an excellent card of racing on Saturday at Churchill Downs, let’s take a look at my picks for many of the biggest races on the racing calendar this weekend.

We’ll start with four races from the historic Louisville, Ky oval, including a pair of Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races in the Stephen Foster and the Fleur de Lis, and add in a pair of graded stakes from New York and Ohio.

Here is a look at the six races, all on Saturday, and my top selections in each.

Saturday Races

Stephen Foster (G2), Churchill Downs, 1 1/8 miles (dirt), 3-year-olds and up

Maxfield, a graded stakes winner in each of his three seasons on the track, looms a sizable favorite in a field of nine set to go to the post for Saturday’s $600,000 Stephen Foster under the famed twin spires of Churchill Downs.

A 3 ¼-length winner of the Grade 2 Alysheba on Kentucky Derby eve, the son of Street Sense will put his sparkling 6-of-7 lifetime record on the line against a field that includes multiple graded stakes winner, Silver Dust, as well as the Alysheba second and third place finishers Visitant and Chess Chief. The 9 furong test is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.

Our Pick – Maxfield (4/5) – The once beaten Godolphin star towers over this Grade 2 field

Bet on Maxfield!

Fleur de Lis (G2), Churchill Downs, 1 1/8 miles (dirt), fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up

A winner of two consecutive Grade 1 stakes races in Arkansas and New York, Letruska will be the one to beat as a field of six older females take to the starting gate for the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs. The 5-year-old daughter of Super Saver is a winner of 14-of-19 overall, and has beaten the likes of Monomoy Girl, Swiss Skydiver, and Shedaresthedevil in her most recent two starts.

Chief among her challengers will be the Kenny McPeek trained Envoutante. A winner of 3-of-4 at Churchill Downs, including the recent Shawnee Stakes on May 29, the daughter of Uncle Mo has won three stakes in her last five races and will be running at her home base on Saturday.

Our Pick – Envoutante (7/2) – The improving daughter of Uncle Mo loves the track and has a real chance to upset the heavily favored Letruska.

Bet on Envoutante!

Wise Dan (G2), Churchill Downs, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up

The streaking Set Piece from the barn of Brad Cox, and the two-time Grade 2 winning New York-bred Somelikeithotbrown top a field of 10 older turf males ready to do battle in Saturday’s $300,000 Wise Dan at Churchill Downs.

Set Piece comes in off two consecutive listed stakes wins over the local turf course, rallying from near the back of the pack each time. Meanwhile, Somelikeithotbrown likes to do his best running on or near the early lead. The son of Big Brown scored his most impressive victory to date last time when scoring in the Grade 2 Dinner Party at Pimlico.

The Pick – Ride a Comet (5/1) – The talented son of Candy Ride should appreciate the drop in class after three straight starts against Grade 1 company.

Bet on Wise Dan!

War Chant Stakes, Churchill Downs 1 mile (turf), 3-year-olds

Helium, the winner of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, will attempt turf for the first time as the likely favorite in Saturday’s $150,000 War Chant Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Mark Casse trained son of Ironicus is bred to handle the grass and comes off a decent third-place finish in last month’s Grade 3 Matt Winn.

Also in the field is the Brad Cox trained Royal Prince. The son of Cairo Prince has been a consistent performer on the turf since his debut, including a pair of stakes wins earlier this year. Most recently, he finished third in the local Audubon Stakes on May 29.

The Pick – Helium (3/1) – I have been waiting for this classy colt to make his first start on the grass.

Bet on Helium!

Ohio Derby, (G3) Thistledown, 1 1/8 miles (dirt), 3-year-olds

A competitive field of 11 3-year-old males will take to the starting gate for the 87th running of the Grade 3 Ohio Derby. Promise Keeper, the recent winner of the Grade 3 Peter Pan, and King Fury, who won the Grade 3 Lexington in his first start at 3, could vie for favoritism.

Others to strongly consider in the $500,000 feature include the Triple Crown veteran Keepmeinmind, who finished fourth in the Preakness in his last try, as well as impressive recent allowance winners, Masqueparade and Ethical Judgement. The former won on Kentucky Day by better than 11 lengths for trainer Al Stall, Jr.

The Pick – Ethical Judgement (8/1) – The improving son of Honor Code fits in well with this cast for the Ohio Derby, and should offer attractive odds.

Bet on Ethical Judgement!

Mother Goose (G2), Belmont Park 1 1/8 miles (dirt), 3-year-old fillies

A romping winner in her only two starts, Always Carina is expected to go off favored in a compact field of five 3-year-old fillies entered for Saturday’s $250,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park. Trained by Chad Brown, the daughter of Malibu Moon looked good in running away with an allowance race five weeks ago.

Her main rival will be the Steve Asmussen trained Clairiere. A veteran of four consecutive graded stakes races since winning her debut, the regally bred daughter of Curlin comes in off a good fourth-place finish against the best of the division in the Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 2 winner will pick up the services of top rider Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Mother Goose.

The Pick – Clairiere (9/5) – Her class and experience could tell against a far more untested favorite.

Bet on Clairiere!

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]