A strong field of nine will travel 1 1/8 miles in Saturday’s $600,000 Stephen Foster S. (G2) at Churchill Downs. The feature on a huge day of racing is led by the once-beaten Maxfield from the barn of Brendan Walsh. A graded stakes winner at two, three, and four, the standout performer is 3-for-3 beneath the Twin Spires and continues to train in superb fashion, as well. He is the Expert Pick of the Week.
The Godolphin homebred was precocious from the start when rallying from well back to graduate on this surface at two, and he followed that triumph with an impressive tally in the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. The son of Street Sense won his next three races, all against stakes company, and he rebounded from his lone setback at Santa Anita with a resounding tally in the Alysheba S. (G2) beneath the Twin Spires on Kentucky Oaks Day.
Maxfield has elevated his game this season and registered a lifetime-best 105 Brisnet Speed figure last time out. The colt has gotten into his races earlier as he has matured, which has made his potent late kick even more effective with less to do in the stretch. Jose Ortiz will ride the brilliant four-year-old and have him stalking the pace while in the clear to the top of the lane.
Empty Tomb was an impressive allowance winner going one mile on the course last time out and has a lot of appeal to me to complete the exacta. The chestnut son of Speightstown has long flashed potential, and he appears to be coming up to a peak performance after two good races in succession in the Bluegrass State.
Trained by Mike Maker, the five-year-old chestnut has placed in three of his four prior tries going nine furlongs, and his good post position combined with a versatile running style should ensure the Kentucky-bred of getting a good trip throughout the race. Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride the live longshot.
An exacta with #8 Maxfield on top of #2 Empty Tomb is the Best Bet of the Week.