Stephen Foster Stakes (Churchill Downs) Predictions, Picks, Betting Odds

Stephen Foster Stakes Picks

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Maxfield (4/5)

Post Position and Odds – Stephen Foster

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2021 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 CHESS CHIEF 10/1
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J Velazquez D Stewart
2 EMPTY TOMB 20/1
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R Santana Jr M Maker
3 NECKER ISLAND 15/1
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M Murrill C Hartman
4 SPRAWL 8/1
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B J Hernandez Jr T Drury Jr
5 SILVER DUST 8/1
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A Beschizza W B Calhoun
6 WARRIOR’S CHARGE 12/1
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F Geroux B Cox
7 SOUTH BEND 12/1
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T Gaffalione W Mott
8 MAXFIELD 4/5
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J Ortiz B Walsh
9 VISITANT 8/1
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J Graham W Morey

Bet on the Stephen Foster Race Here!

Only once beaten in his career, Maxfield headlines a field of nine older males set for the 40th running of the $600,000 Stephen Foster on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

A 4-year-old son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Maxfield is a Godolphin homebred trained by Brendan Walsh.

A graded stakes winner in each of his three seasons on the track, most recently he bounced back from his first career defeat with an impressive win in the Grade 2 Alysheba on Kentucky Oaks day at Churchill Downs.

The clear favorite for the 9-furlong test on Saturday, he will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.

After Maxfield, it is not clear who will be made the second choice in the Grade 2 feature.

The most accomplished of the rest is the five-time graded stakes winner Silver Dust. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Silver Dust won the Grade 3 Ben Ali over a sloppy track at Keeneland in his last outing.

The 7-year-old son of Tapit finished third in last year’s Stephen Foster behind Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards.

The Stephen Foster is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the $6 million, Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run on November 6 at Del Mar.

How to Watch the Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster Race Information
What Stephen Foster (Grade 2)
Location Churchill Downs
Time Saturday, June 26 — 5:59pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $600,000

Race Analysis

Maxfield

The standout of the field is a perfect 3-for-3 at Churchill Downs. Not only does he have the most class in the field, but he also has a versatile running style that is effective no matter the early pace.

Breaking from the outside in here, and with a likely honest pace in front of him, this 9 furlong test at his home track looks to be an ideal sport for the son of Street Sense to collect his seventh win in eight career starts.

If there was a really good challenger, perhaps I would take a shot against him at very low odds, but there just doesn’t seem to be any horse with the ability to stop him from another victory. Despite the low odds, I just can’t look past him on Saturday. He is the clear top pick.

Sprawl

Perhaps this is the one that bettors will make a second choice, as he can be very impressive at times. In fact, all three of his career wins, including a Churchill Downs allowance race two starts back, have promised bigger things. Unfortunately, he has never been able to live up to that potential when he moves up into stakes company.

He came close last time, but could not quite get it done in the Blame at odds of 9/5. Given that this will be his toughest test yet, and he will likely be under 10/1, I am going to take a pass on a horse who I believe likes to beat up on lesser.

Visitant

He was a bit of a surprise last time when he set all the pace and held well to finish a clear second behind Maxfield in the Alysheba.

It will be interesting to see if he is sent out after the lead again in here, because there does seem to be more speed in this field.

While it’s true that most of his best performances have come on synthetic surfaces, he has shown enough on dirt now, including the last one, to believe he is just as capable on the main track. A repeat of his last puts him in with a chance, but this race looks even tougher. Still, his excellent form in 2021 merits inclusion underneath.

Silver Dust

Clearly a horse with quality experience, this one is on the verge of becoming a millionaire.

A top-four finish on Saturday will put him over the threshold, and that seems likely. He has finished in the money in 8-of-11 starts at Churchill Downs, including many graded stakes races.

Last year, he finished third in the Stephen Foster behind two very good horses at odds of 27/1. Never quite a Grade 1 performer, he fits in with everyone in this field other than the heavy favorite. Now 7, he looked good in his last race and should be ready to run well once again.

Chess Chief

This one does not win a lot, as evidenced by his 4-for-24 career record. Still, he is a consistent rallier who usually gets a piece of the purse, collecting $671,648 in his career.

The Foster, though, represents one of the tougher tests of his career, and with other strong ralliers led by Maxfield, I find it difficult to believe in him too much.

He did win the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic two starts back, but was no match for Maxfield last time. I am going to leave him off my tickets and hope he does not clunk up for third.

South Bend

Capable on both turf and dirt, this Bill Mott-trained 4-year-old has begun the season with two solid efforts on the main track, and that’s where he will remain for this important test.

Following a good allowance score at Keeneland in his debut as an older horse, he was bothered badly while finishing fifth in the Blame, while beaten less than four lengths. With a better trip on Saturday, I am expecting him to run his best race in the Foster.

While others begin to tire in the stretch, look for him to be finding his best stride in his third start off the layoff. Other than Maxfield, he is the one I like best.

Warrior’s Charge

Trained by leading trainer Brad Cox, this speedy son of Munnings has thrown in some big races during his career.

Unfortunately, most of his best have not come recently.

Having said that, I would not put it past him to turn in a strong effort on Saturday. I am willing to draw a line through his last, when he caught an off-track in Texas.

Other than that poor finish, you can make a case for him as a potential longshot capable of hitting the board on Saturday. Look for him to return to his normal game and be out there on the lead, and after that it will just be a matter of how brave he can be.

Necker Island

This son of Hard Spun comes into the Foster off two solid allowance races, a second at Oaklawn Park and a rail rallying win last time at Churchill Downs.

He is also experienced in graded stakes races, and in fact finished ninth in last year’s Kentucky Derby over the track.

Without strong speed or a powerful late kick, though, he has been unable to beat really good horses. He is a nice colt, quite capable of beating lesser, but I am looking elsewhere as he steps back into the deep end of the pool.

Empty Tomb

This one comes in off a good allowance victory over the track, but unfortunately, it was his first win in his last eight starts and came against a significantly weaker field than he will see in this $600,000 feature.

Having said that, a repeat of his last gives him a fighting chance against probably everyone other than Maxfield. As longest shots on the board go, you could do worse.

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