Expert Pick of the Week: Stephen Foster Stakes

Jun 25, 2020 John Mucciolo/

An excellent field of eight will travel 1 ⅛ miles at Churchill Downs in Saturday’s $500,000 Stephen Foster (G2). The winner of the lucrative contest will receive an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on November 7 at Keeneland as part of the “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series.

The Stephen Foster attracted some accomplished runners who are thriving to this point in 2020, but I am looking outside the box for the winner. Conditioner Bret Calhoun has two main contenders entered for the marquee attraction on Saturday, including Tom Durant’s #7 Silver Dust. The gray son of Tapit is the Expert Pick of the Week.

Silver Dust has been in solid form since 2019 and had a fine prep for the Stephen Foster when a close third in the Blame S. off the short absence. Bred in the Bluegrass State, the gelding has endured good local success in his career and comes in with a trio of solid morning drills on the surface, as well.

The multiple Grade 3 victor faces a tall task in a deep field, but seems poised for a big result at a nice price under Adam Beschizza. The always tactical 6-year-old draws outside of the other pace in the cast, and he will be the beneficiary of a great voyage while in striking range to the top of the stretch, too. I expect him to get first run on his major foes and to hold them at bay to the wire.

#6 By My Standards, also from the Calhoun shedrow, is a prime player who is in impeccable current form. Winner of the 2019 Louisiana Derby (G2), the Goldencents 4-year-old has been superb this campaign with a trio of wins from as many starts, led by a lifetime-best showing in the Oaklawn (G2) most recently.

The Kentucky-bred colt is three-for-three at the distance, and the bay should be dead fit on Saturday following a handful of fine morning drills beneath the Twin Spires. Regular pilot Gabe Saez will have the talented colt stalking the pace before asking him for his best down the lane.

Expert Pick for the Stephen Foster Stakes

An exacta with #7 Silver Dust and #6 By My Standards is the Best Bet of the Week.

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