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Who To Bet – Churchill Downs

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How To Bet The Stephen Foster Handicap and 5 Other Graded Stakes Races At Churchill Downs

Ricky Fuller

If you’re not a fan of horse racing after last Saturdays Belmont beat down, what are you waiting for? We hit 7 of 8 winners, cashed multiple trifectas and superfectas, and even had our long shot win-contender win the freaking Belmont Stakes. Becoming a member of DFS Karma allows you to access our Discord channel where I give you up to date picks and analysis, in real time. I shared with everyone the horses to add, once I saw speed holding, which allowed our members to CRUSH the trifecta and superfecta in the Belmont Stakes race. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@splitxserenade) as sometimes I will adjust my bets and post changes there too.

Today, we have a fun day of racing at Churchill Downs in what they call “Downs After Dark”. This is a fun series that they do where the racing doesn’t start until 6pm and most graded races will be under the lights near or after sunset. This day is usually highlighted with a Grade 1 race, Stephen Foster Stakes, however it was reduced to a Grade 2 event this year. The field is full of Grade 1 winners and will absolutely have a Grade 1 feel to it. Also included is 4 other Graded (2’s and 3’s) thoroughbred stakes and one Grade 1 stakes race for Arabians. Going to share a quick analysis and best bets for each of the graded races.


Matt Winn Stakes

Race 5 is slated to go off at 8:03pm. We have 7 three-year olds running on Dirt going 1-1/16 miles. Some popular names in this group. Mr. Money, Signalman, Limonite, and Knicks Go. Many of these horses were on the derby trail and failed to make it. A horse I didn’t mention, Nolo Contesto, is not your morning line favorite, but may go off as the favorite. We didn’t get to see how great Omaha Beach is, as he was scratched from the Kentucky Derby, but Nolo Contesto beat him earlier this year. Should garner some support beating a Derby horse. I personally like Nolo Contesto, Limonite and Mr Money. Best Bets: $5 Win – 3 $2 Win Alternate – 1 (This is a longer shot, but the closing speed could catch 3 or 6) $0.50 Trifecta – 3,6/1,2,3,6/1,2,3,4,5,6 ($12 bet)


Wise Dan Stakes

We have a complete field of 14 horses running in this Turf race for three-year olds and up. This race may be the hardest race of the day to handicap, as there is no apparent favorite and they are all run of the mill step below the elite Grade 1 racers. When you have a full field and no standout horse, you will find the largest payouts. The morning line odds have 2 horses at 5/1 odds and 3 more at 6/1 odds. Depending who the public ends up making the favorite will sway payouts, but as it stands right now, I like Admission Office (which was second to beloved Catholic Boy last month – and almost caught him). I think the 6 could have something to prove here as well as the 4, Hot Springs, which would be our price play. I think playing exotics here might be tricky because price will get out of hand. However, I do think that this race may have some bombers which will result in a couple hundred payout. If you are going to do a superfecta/trifecta, the horses I like a lot are 3,4,6,12,14. The horses I like a little are 5,7,9,11,13. The horses I don’t like at all 1,2,8,10,15. Use that info however you’d like in this race.

Best Bets: $5 Win/Place – 12 $2 Win – 3, 4, 6 $2 Show – 4, 5, 6, 12, 14


Fleur de Lis Handicap

This will be a fun little Grade 2 race. Only 6 boys and girls in this race running on dirt. We have last years Fleur de Lis returning to defend the title in Blue Prize. Blue Prize will need to work extra hard to beat She’s A Julie, in extremely tip top shape. Also racing is Elate, which a year ago looked unstoppable. Elate has struggled in her last 3 outings, but it should be noted that she lost two grade 1 races and lost to Midnight Bisou (which we had winning last week at Belmont). If she can get back to form, she could be the one to beat. Depending on odds, if she goes off as 3rd choice, its worth throwing a couple bucks down on her. I will be playing 2 different trifectas in this race. My second option is strictly because Im not sure who the favorite will be when the race goes off, and sometimes when you win in horses, you lose money. Picking the favorites in order is usually an easy way to lose money, even on a win. Clearly Im trying to beat one of the 3 favorites to return some money. I wouldn’t be angry if you avoided this race altogether as it probably will come 235/235/235 since the level of separation is large between the other 3 racers.

Best Bets: $0.50 – 3/1,2,4,5/1,2,4,5 ($6) $1.00 – 2,3,5/2,3,5/1,2,3,4,5 ($18)


Stephen Foster Stakes

The main event. Downgraded to a Grade 2 but not short of talent, this race features a full 12 horse field that will be sure to provide excellent return if we can manage to hit. There are horses that I will use to complete exotics that could shock us and win. There’s lightly raced up-and-comers. There’s last years Preakness runners. Should be exciting. Gift Box is and should be your favorite. Winner of Grade 1 and 2 races, this is the horse to beat, in my opinion. The horses that can maybe step up and beat Gift Box? Im looking at long shot Alkhaatam (30-1 ML). Only raced 5 times, he has 2 wins and 2 thirds. Hes taking the right steps in training and I think could possibly spring an upset. Tom’s d’Etat is another one that can win. He lost to McKinzie, which is a Grade 1 horse, but was in front of another horse in this race, Seeking The Soul. I think that we can use that data to form tiers of horses in this race and plug them into our exotics. Im only going to do 1 trifecta, which is Gift Box to win. If you wanted to spice up your Trifecta, add our horses from 2nd place to 1st as well. Beware: Total price will go up to about $40

Best Bets: $10 Win – 6 $2 Win/Show – 5 (This is a serious long shot. If he sits at 30/1 and wins, $2 will return $62!) $0.50 Trifecta – 6/4,5,12/3,4,5,7,8,9,10,12 ($10.50)


Regret Stakes

Regret Stakes will close out Thoroughbred stakes racing with this Grade 3 event on the Turf. Grade 3 races are also extremely tough to handicap as these horses haven’t been able to break through yet. With tough handicapping comes higher payouts, once again. It seems every time Fortunate Girl races, I bet her. With that being said, she has 1 win and 1 second in 5 races this year (lol) so I haven’t been able to cash many tickets with her number on them. She comes with a 12/1 ML odds, so if she hits today, we can celebrate a little bit – but I cant honestly tell you to put your money on her. The horses that seem tip top shape would be Varenka (4/1), Princesa Carolina (4/1) and Winter Sunset (7/2).

Best Bets: $20 Win – 4 $5 Win – 9 (Please read what I said about Fortunate Girl above before betting this) $2 Exacta – 4/1,5,6,11 ($8) $2 Exacta Hedge – 1,5,6,11/4 ($8)


President of the UAE Cup (Arabian-Breds)

This will be a fun one. Slated as Race 10 with a start time of 10:48pm, we will be watching the Arabians run. Arabians are very different than thoroughbreds, which were bred for racing. Arabians are one of the oldest horses and they were bred for endurance. They can go long distances across a desert and bred for the heat. Their times wont rival the T-Breds, but none the less, they are fun to watch. Very distinctive looking horses, much smaller than what you’d normally see in a horse race. There’s a few good horses to watch in this one. We have Paddys Day, who won 2016 President of the UAE Cup racing against 2017 winner Quick and Rich. Paddys Day will be coming off a 10 month layoff, so we will see if fresh legs are a problem or a blessing. We will also get to see Easter Man. Having won 3 in a row, you will need to keep your eyes on that one.

Best Bets: $5 Win – 9 $5 Place/Show – 5 $0.50 Trifecta – 3,5,8,9/3,5,8,9/1,3,5,6,8,9 ($24 – Hoping the favorite doesn’t win this race) $0.50 Trifecta Alt – 5,9/3,5,8,9/1,3,5,6,8,9 ($12 – One of the favorites in front)

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