Backyard Heaven should continue win streak in Stephen Foster

The Grade I, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap is the centerpiece on Saturday night at Churchill Downs. A field of nine older males will do battle over 1 1/8-miles on the main course. The Stephen Foster goes as Race 8 on a stakes-laden 11-race program; post time is 9:39 p.m. EST. Remember to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#6 BACKYARD HEAVEN (6-5, morning-line favorite) validated his sharp Aqueduct form by taking Churchill’s Alysheba Stakes when last seen. His speed figures are significantly better compared to his rivals, and he drew an excellent post for his stalking tactics. The Chad Brown trainee should cruise to an easy win in the Stephen Foster under Irad Ortiz Jr.

#1 HONORABLE DUTY (6-1) dusted an overmatched field at Churchill in a comeback allowance start last time out. The son of Distorted Humor took the Mineshaft, New Orleans, and Lukas Classic in 2017, and also placed second to Gun Runner in last year’s edition of the Stephen Foster. Corey Lanerie maintains the assignment on HONORABLE DUTY, who has a nose for the wire on dirt (11-8-1-0).

#2 PATCH (10-1) got his 2017 campaign off to a flying start with an allowance win at Belmont last month. His speed figure wasn’t strong, but he was forced seven-wide turning for home that day. The one-eyed son of Union Rags hinted at talent last year when he placed second in the Louisiana Derby and third in the Belmont Stakes. PATCH may not get the pace he needs to win in this ambitious spot, but he should come rolling late for a share. Luis Saez has the call for Todd Pletcher.

The play: $6 exacta 6/1, $2 exacta 6/2, $2 exacta 1/6

DFJ analysis: Locally-based Corey Lanerie has a leg-up on the invading jockeys this Saturday. He rides in nine of the night’s 11 races, and all but two of those mounts are 6-1 or less on the morning-line (three favorites). HONORABLE DUTY gives him a good shot at earning points in the Stephen Foster.

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