April 16, 2024

Maxfield a towering presence in nine-horse Stephen Foster; Letruska leads six in Fleur de Lis

Maxfield, with Jose Ortiz up, wins the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. Apr 30, 2021. Photography by Jamie Newell.

The $600,000 Stephen Foster S. (G2) and $300,000 Fleur de Lis S. (G2) are the main events on a dynamite 12-race closing day program at Churchill Downs Saturday that includes seven stakes.

The Foster and Fleur de Lis are respective “Win and You’re In” events for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Del Mar in early November.

Stephen Foster (G2) – Race 11 (5:59 p.m. ET)

Maxfield, with Jose Ortiz up, wins the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photography by Jamie Newell/TwinSpires)

Once-beaten Grade 1 winner Maxfield, a four-time graded scorer, heads a field of nine in the 1 1/8-mile Foster. An easy winner of the April 30 Alysheba S. (G2) at Churchill Downs as the 1-2 favorite, the classy four-year-old colt figures to be odds-on once again for trainer Brendan Walsh. Jose Ortiz rides the four-year-old Street Sense colt.

Four-time Grade 3 victor Silver Dust, last seen capturing the April 10 Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland, is a top rival. Third in last year’s Foster, the Bret Calhoun-trained gray gelding will try to rally from just off the pace with Adam Beschizza.

New Orleans Classic (G2) winner Chess Chief, third in the Alysheba, will add the services of John Velazquez. Alysheba runner-up Visitant, winner of the Kentucky Cup Classic two back, is also back for the Foster. Sprawl returns to the graded level after neck third in the May 29 Blame S. at Churchill Downs. South Bend lost all chance when being shut off in the stretch of the Blame, checking in an extremely troubled fifth.

Multiple Grade 3 winner Warrior’s Charge will try to rebound after dull showing over a sloppy track at Lone Star Park. The five-year-old is eligible to show speed for Brad Cox and Florent Geroux. Last-out allowance winners Empty Tomb and Necker Island will be tested for class.

Fleur de Lis (G2) – Race 5 (2:45 p.m. ET)

Letruska wins the Ogden Phipps Stakes (Elsa Lorieul/Coglianese Photos)

After recording a nose win over the now-sidelined Monomoy Girl in the Apple Blossom H. (G1) at Oaklawn Park, Letruska strengthened her grasp upon the top spot in the distaff division with a smashing 2 3/4-length win in the June 5 Ogden Phipps S. (G1) at Belmont. The five-year-old mare will try to add to her laurels in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis.

Mexico’s champion three-year-old filly in 2019, Letruska has discovered her best form this season. The Fausto Gutierrez trainee will retain the services of Jose Ortiz.

Envoutante improved her record to 4-3-1-0 under the Twin Spires when rolling to a 4 1/4-length win in the May 29 Shawnee S. Runner-up in the La Troienne S. (G1) two back, the four-year-old filly easily captured the Falls City (G2) last fall under the Twin Spires in her lone previous attempt at nine furlongs. Brian Hernandez Jr. rides for Kenny McPeek.

Point of Honor placed in four graded races, including three Grade 1s, before concluding 2020 with a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The chestnut will open her five-year-old campaign with new trainer Shug McGaughey, and Javier Castellano will be in to ride. Vault exits her first graded tally in the May 2 Ruffian S. (G2) at Belmont Park, and Tyler Gaffalione will take over the reins for Cox.

Allaire duPont (G3) heroine Spice Is Nice, cross-entered to Saturday’s $250,000 Lady Jacqueline S. at Thistledown, has won two straight for Todd Pletcher. Grade 3 turf winner Antoinette rounds out the field.