Grade I glory is on the line in the Stephen Foster Handicap this Saturday at Churchill Downs! A field of seven, led by even-money favorite #3 EFFINEX, is set to go a mile and an eighth on the main oval in one of the premier events for older horses on the calendar. It’ll go as Race 8 on a special “Downs After Dark” card; post time will be 9:39 p.m. EST. The Stephen Foster is just one of many races worth major points in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game this Saturday, be sure to participate!
Gary Stevens takes the reins on EFFINEX for the first time, as Mike Smith is committed to ride Songbird in the Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita earlier in the day. EFFINEX established himself as one of the top older horses in the country late last year as he ran a game second behind American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, then scored here in the Grade I Clark Handicap at this distance. Since then, EFFINEX ran third in the Santa Anita Handicap despite breaking out in hives, then shipped to Oaklawn and won the Oaklawn Handicap. His workouts say he is primed and ready to run a good one for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
His main competitor in here is #7 EAGLE, and despite his 6-1 odds (relatively high by comparison), he could be poised to spring an upset under Brian Hernandez. He constantly seems to find trouble but when he did get a clean trip in the Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland two starts ago he took full advantage, opening up late to score with ease. I don’t think we’ve seen the best he has to offer, and he projects to sit well off an honest pace set by #2 BRADESTER and #4 MAJESTIC HARBOR.
The play: $5 exacta box 3/7 ($10)
DFJ angle: You could do worse than Gary Stevens ($8,000) this Saturday; his few mounts besides EFFINEX aren’t great but he’s almost certain to get at least a piece of this pie. Brian Hernandez Jr. ($8,500) has a slew of mounts on this card in addition to EAGLE, so strongly consider picking him up. Also, Florent Geroux ($10,500) is sitting on a big Saturday at Churchill, as he rides Gun Runner (3-5 favorite) in the Matt Winn, Untapable (7-5 favorite) in the Fleur de Lis, and The Pizza Man (6-5 favorite) in the Wise Dan.
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