Godolphin’s multiple graded stakes-winning homebred Maxfield leads a field of nine older horses that were entered in Saturday afternoon’s featured 40th running of the $600,000 Stephen Foster (Grade II) – one of seven stakes events on the 12-race closing day program at Churchill Downs.
Saturday’s first race is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Stephen Foster will go as Race 11 with a post time of 5:59 p.m. The supporting stakes on the card are the $300,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), $300,000 Wise Dan (GII), $150,000 Bashford Manor (GIII), $150,000 Debutante (Listed), $150,000 Tepin and $150,000 War Chant.
The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). The winner will receive an all entry fees paid berth to the season ending championship event on Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
Maxfield, a 4-year-old son of Kentucky Derby-winner Street Sense, won the $400,000 Alysheba (GII) eight weeks ago at Churchill Downs. Trained by Brendan Walsh, New York-based jockey Jose Ortiz has the call from post position No. 8.
“We shipped him up from Keeneland last week and worked an easy half-mile (at Churchill Downs),” Walsh said. “He did most of his work at Keeneland prior to the Foster. He’s a fit and happy horse. We’re ready to go and excited to get this race underway.”
Maxfield was on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2020 when he cruised to a one-length victory in the $150,000 Matt Winn (GIII). Unfortunately, due to a condylar fracture following a workout at Keeneland, Maxfield went on the sidelines until the fall. Through seven lifetime starts, Maxfield has recorded six victories and boasts earnings of $908,782. The only blemish in his career came in the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap (GI) where he finished third to Idol.
Among Maxfield’s rivals in the Stephen Foster is Tom Durant’s five-time graded stakes winner Silver Dust. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Silver Dust was the half-length winner of the $150,000 Ben Ali (GIII) at Keeneland. The 7-year-old son of Tapit was attempting to prep for the Foster in the $150,000 Blame at Churchill Downs on May 29 but was scratched after acting up in the starting gate. Since the Blame, Silver Dust returned to the work tab three times for Calhoun. Silver Dust finished third in last year’s Stephen Foster behind Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards. Jockey Adam Beschizza, who has been aboard Silver Dust for his previous six starts, has the call form post 5.
The Estate of James Coleman Jr.’s Chess Chief finished third to Maxfield in the Alysheba and trainer Dallas Stewart will be hoping for redemption in the Stephen Foster. The four-time winner achieved graded stakes glory in March with a narrow victory over Owendale in the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (GII). Stewart enlisted the riding services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez for the Stephen Foster and the duo will break from the rail.
The other top entrants in Saturday’s Stephen Foster are Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables’ Grade III winner Warrior’s Charge; Williamson Racings’ two-time stakes winner Visitant; Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch and Pantofel Stable’s graded stakes placed South Bend; Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s stakes-placed Sprawl; Raymond Daniels, Wayne Scherr and Will Harbut Racing’s recent allowance hero Necker Island; and Three Diamonds Farm’s four-time winner Empty Tomb.
The complete field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Chess Chief (Velazquez, Stewart); Empty Tomb (Ricardo Santana Jr., Mike Maker); Necker Island (Mitchell Murrill, Chris Hartman); Sprawl (Brian Hernandez Jr., Tommy Drury Jr.); Silver Dust (Beschizza, Calhoun); Warrior’s Charge (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); South Bend (Tyler Gaffalione, Bill Mott); and Maxfield (Ortiz, Walsh); Visitant (James Graham, Bill Morey).
Tickets are available for Saturday’s closing day program online at www.churchilldowns.com/tickets. Admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m. and “Churchill Downs Today” will air at 11:45 a.m. throughout the racetrack and on www.TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering provider of Churchill Downs Incorporated.
Saturday’s program also will air on “America’s Day at the Races” on Fox Sports 2 from 12:30-6:30 p.m.