Breeders Cup Challenge at Churchill Downs

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, June 26, 2021

To help Horse Racing Radar horseplayers prepare for the 2021, Breeders' Cup, we'll be covering all of the remaining Breeders' Cup Challenge series races in North America – and maybe a few internationally as well. 

Churchill Downs hosts a pair of "win and you are in" races, the Fluer de Lis Stakes and the Stephen Foster Stakes, both Grade II affairs. LETRUSKA headlines the Fluer de Lis in race number five and MAXFILED is the one to beat in the Stephen Foster.

The Fluer de Lis champ earns her way into the Breeders' Cup Distaff and whoever takes the Stephen Foster hardware will have a chance to add the Breeders' Cup Classic trophy as well.

Both of the races are 1 1/8 miles on Churchill main track. We reviewed the races at the distance and surface since 2019 to find identify any post position or running style advantages. Here are the results:

If your angle is fast numbers six horses, you would have done alright. Meet to date, fast is still king as six winners labeled early speed have claimed the crown in seven races, with four going wire to wire.

Let's see how Shawn and Rich see the races playing out and if they have any speedy six horses as their selections.

Churchill Downs Race 5: $300,000 Fluer de Lis Stakes – Grade II


No one is beating LETRUSKA (PP: 6 ML 4/5) unless she is tired or doesn't want to run. I found VAULT (PP: 3 ML 10-1) interesting to use in the exotics. The horse closes, which isn't my favorite style in a six horse field, but she could be the beneficiary if there is a fast pace. VAULT has been working out well and has been sharp winning two in a row. ENVOUTANE (PP: 4 ML 2-1) would be the other logical choice but I have a hard time taking a low price on him as I don't see LETRUSKA losing.


LETRUSKA has come into form in 2021, announcing she is one of the top mares in the world with her win over MONOMOY GIRL in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. It's horse race, you never know, but of she runs her races, she's running straight to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup. That means you have to look for value behind here. POINT OF HONOR (PP: 1 ML 6-1) and SPICE IS NICE (PP: 5 ML 8-1) make the most sense.

Churchill Downs Race 11: $600,000 Stephen Foster Stakes – Grade II


MAXFIELD (PP: 8 ML 4/5) would have to not want to run or be tired as I don't see him losing. He's won six of seven lifetime and four for four when jockey Jose Ortiz is aboard. VISITANT (PP: 9 ML 6-1) ran second the last time out vs Maxfield. let's try it again as he has been in good form and is versatile. CHESS CHIEF (PP: 1 ML 12-1) could be the closer that picks up the pieces late to get in the trifecta. Weird things happen, he has finished third in both races versus Maxfield. Things tend to repeat. SILVER DUST (PP: 5 ML 6-1) the veteran of the group will finish the super.


Minus any excuses or trouble, MAXFIELD should be too much for the rest to handle. He loves Churchill, undefeated in three and all his internal and external numbers are pounds better than the rest. Once again, horseplayers need to find value underneath. NECKER ISLAND (PP: 3 ML 15-1) seems to have found his form after spending a decent amount of time in the barn. SPRAWL (PP: 4 ML 10-1) is another where the switch turned in this year. He'll likely mirror MAXFIELD and follow him to the finish line.


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