Friday, June 16, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Stephen Foster Handicap (G1)

Gunning for Victory in Stephen Foster 'Cap

By: John Caro, S. FL ThoroFan Member

Stephen Foster Handicap – Grade I - $500K – One and one eighth miles
The Weather Channel forecast for Saturday night is 50% chance of rain and 40% during the day. Could be a sloppy track like Derby Day in the dark. I expect it to be as forecast and have written this article with wet conditions in mind.

First of the ‘Win and You’re In’ for the BC Classic is going to be a tough race for those looking for second under the lights at Churchill Downs if it’s a fast track. I really must give it to #3 Gun Runner as the favorite and his last outing against Arrogate in Dubai. I don’t see another in this field that can match his class, speed and his record at Churchill though #1 Bird Song has a good history here as well. The troubling thing is his off-track record of 0 for 2. I still like him as a winner if it’s fast but can he overcome the track conditions if it’s wet/sloppy sealed? I think others fair better if it’s wet.

Moving to the remaining field, #1 Bird Song and #4 Honorable Duty show good form, have speed to track the expected pace and both raced last during Derby Day on the sloppy sealed track coming in first and second going a mile and a sixteenth. I expect they will be the main competition for #3 Gun Runner. If he can’t handle the slop, look for these two to be in front of him. I will place Bird Song ahead of Honorable Duty as a front runner with Leparoux aboard and Javier close behind.

#2 Breaking Lucky does not do well in the wet conditions. Toss him. #5 Mo Tom does well in the wet but doesn’t appear to have enough speed to keep the pace. Toss him. #8 Stanford has a great record but his last out in the slop compromised his finish. Good form, great connections but I don’t see him higher than third.

The two remaining longshots; #6 Hawaakom and #7 Texas Chrome, are very interesting characters. Both get low weights.  

#7 Texas Chrome seems to be coming back into form with two seconds with good closing speed in the mud and has never been out of the money on an off track. C.J. gets back on here for new trainer, Allen Milligan, and won three of four last year before the giving way in the BC Dirt Mile.     

#6 Hawaakom may be getting older but, he’s been on an off track six times with four in the money finishes and in his last mud-fest he posted a 117-late pace figure for the win at the Fairgrounds. Westley Hawley has been pointing to this judging by his work tab with two bullets at 5 furlongs. Mena has a lot of time aboard this guy and has a good record at CD. I expect both will go off at much higher odds than the ML. Like them to finish second or third in a Trifecta.

Betting if it’s Wet/Sloppy Sealed…..
$2 Trifecta: 1,4 / 1,3,4,6,7 / 1,3,4,6,7   Total:  $48
$3 Exacta: 1,4 / 1,3,4,6,7,8  Total:  $30
$8 to Win: 1 & 4  Total: $16    $6 to Win: 6

Betting if it’s Fast….
$5 Trifecta: 3 / 1,4,6 / 1,4,6,7,8   Total:  $60
$10 Exacta: 3 / 1,4,6   Total:  $30

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