Four Graded Stakes on Big Churchill Weekend

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By Emily Shields

The $500,000 Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) is one of four graded races on Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs. The nine furlong contest has eight runners, with Tom’s d’Etat an even money morning line choice.

Tom’s d’Etat is trained by Al Stall, and is a Churchill fan favorite with seven starts and six top three efforts on the course. The millionaire son of Smart Strike has won 10 of 17 races, and is a Grade 1 winner over the course. He was third in this race last year, beaten two lengths.

The main challenger is By My Standards, who has won three in a row and five of his last six. His lone loss of late was a 12th place effort in last year’s Kentucky Derby (he was placed 11th through disqualification). Trainer Bret Calhoun has the son of Goldencents in good form, winning an allowance and the New Orleans Classic at the Fair Grounds before adding the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) over Warriors Charge in May.

Blame Stakes winner Owendale is 4-1 morning line for trainer Brad Cox, but the son of Into Mischief is Grade 1 placed on the course and was good enough to run third in last year’s Preakness. Florent Geroux is back aboard for this, and millionaire Owendale is on the outside of the field.

The other major race on the day is the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares. Superstar Midnight Bisou will take on 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Serengeti Empress in the 1 1/8-mile race, which drew seven runners.

Midnight Bisou is coming off a second-place effort in the $20 million Saudi Cup, where she missed to Maximum Security under jockey Mike Smith. Last year she won seven of eight starts, running second as a heavy favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). She has been third in two tries on the track, but has $7 million in earnings with 12 wins in 20 starts. Steve Asmussen trains.

Serengeti Empress has been a warrior since winning the Oaks, with seven more starts since then and all against top class company. She was second in the Acorn (G1) and the Test (G1), then third in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). She won the Azeri (G2) at Oaklawn Park earlier this year, and is two for three over the track for trainer Tom Amoss.

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