With a short loss in last weekend’s Belmont, the Todd Pletcher-WinStar team amps up once again with Revolutionary, who put in a star-studded performance last out winning the Pimlico Special (II). However, with a Win And You’re In opportunity going to the winner of this race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I), “Rev” will not have it easy and the Stephen Foster (I) becomes a great betting opportunity with several improvers, current hot streaks, and a possibly “off” G1 winner in the field.
$500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (I) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Churchill Downs. Post Time: Saturday, June 14 at 9:39pm EST.
[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Impost, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]
1) Revolutionary - Mike Smith, 118 lbs, Todd Pletcher - A winner twice this year in 4 starts including a profound win in the Pimlico Special (II) last out, the War Pass 4-year-old has returned to peak form after a lengthy freshening following his 3rd in the Kentucky Derby last year. His form is very strong, and he has some speed to kick on when he needs it. However, because he is a late runner breaking from the rail, he will have a lot to do in the stretch.
2) Jaguar Paw - Shaun Bridgmohan, 114 lbs, Stephen Lyster - A stakes winner one year ago on this day at Belmont Park, the Giant’s Causeway 7-year-old has been off since racing a well-beaten 6th in a February stake at Oaklawn. His best past race in graded company was a 3rd in the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (III) at Monmouth, beaten 9 lengths by Last Gunfighter. Not a big layoff horse or a very competitive horse in this field.
3) Moonshine Mullin - Calvin Borel, 118 lbs, Randy Morse - Hitting his best stride this year as a 6-year-old, the Albert the Great son outgamed Golden Ticket last out in the Alysheba (II) here at Churchill, topping a 3-race win streak with Calvin Borel with 4 wins in 5 races this year. Likely to provide the race with some pace as an early pace horse, the hot Mullin could grab the rail early and gallop off with the race.
4) Will Take Charge - Gary Stevens, 123 lbs, D. Wayne Lukas - The sparkling son of Unbridled’s Song was lethal on this course last year, besting Game On Dude in the Clark Handicap (I) after a sensational 3-year-old season. He threw in a major clunker last out in the Alysheba (II) trailing after being stuck inside with new and current jockey Gary Stevens taking over for Luis Saez. Getting the high weight, WTC is vulnerable as a favorite who is fresh off a bad race. However, the race may set up for him well and he should be included as a horse who is 4-for-5 at the distance.
5) Mylute - James Graham, 115 lbs, Tom Amoss - The Midnight Lute colt arrives 3rd off the layoff after an allowance win and a 4th in the Alysheba (II), with no wins thus far at Churchill or at the 9-furlong mark. He gets new rider James Graham and will benefit from a light impost, but will have to step it up if he wants to be taken seriously.
6) Departing - Robby Albarado, 118 lbs, Al Stall - I was an early avid fan of this War Front gelding, and while his trainer has admitted sending him to beat up lower class horses, he finally gets his chance to shine in a G1 for the first time since running 6th in the Preakness. Racing 2nd off the layoff, Departing looked good winning a 1-mile allowance at Churchill. Armed with a hot :58 3/5 breeze over the Churchill ground, Departing is red-hot right now. Likely to be aimed for a spot just behind the pace, Departing will have to show his best to win.
7) Golden Ticket - Julien Leparoux, 117 lbs, Ken McPeek - Never dismiss a Speightstown! 4-year-old Golden Ticket is a G1 winner hopping from doing a mile to 9 furlongs, and was 2nd last year behind Fort Larned and was a half-length second-best in the Alysheba (II) to Moonshine Mullin. Golden Ticket has managed to place twice this year in 3 starts, but by the numbers, is at his best going longer distances. He’s a good exotics horse here with Leparoux.
8) Long River - Irad Ortiz Jr, 115 lbs, Kieran McLaughlin - The A.P. Indy colt has bounced back into a good 4-year-old and is possibly the best-bred horse in this field with Round Pond (Awesome Again) as his dam. Given rival stablemate Romansh’s good last race and Long River’s recent form and workouts, he should be regarded as a live longshot with that last race around the Charles Town bullring getting thrown out. The layoff doesn’t bother me too much as he’s given good winning efforts off of them.
9) Prayer for Relief - John Velazquez, 117 lbs, Dale Romans - The son of Jump Start was scarcely beaten last out by Revolutionary in the Pimlico Special (II), and is well-versed at 9 furlongs with 9 on-the-board finishes in 13 starts. I never really liked Prayer for Relief, but he certainly impressed me in his last race enough to pay him a little attention. However, he’s been battered around Churchill Downs and cut up at this level that it becomes a tall order to expect of him. Exotics type.
Top 3 Picks in Order:
3) Moonshine Mullin
Revolutionary gets the ideal setup and is in fantastic form right now. The tasks ahead of him: class step-up and getting it all done in the stretch. He may have too much to do, even at his best. I like Departing a lot as well; he’s at very good form and has some great tactical speed he could exact on the pacesetters late in the game. Moonshine Mullin ran great as the underdog in the Alysheba (II), and could keep that record rolling, especially if he manages to skirt off with the lead.
Value Pick: Departing (9-2) is in form and could roll right off that pace to a score.
Pick 3/4: Revolutionary, Departing. Spread option horses: Will Take Charge, Long River, Moonshine Mullin.