2014 Fleur De Lis & Stephen Foster

2014 Fleur De Lis

OndineIt is time to preview two stakes races at Churchill- the Grade 2 Fleur De Lis Handicap and the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. Let’s get right to it. The Fleur De Lis Handicap is for fillies and mares three year old and upward going a distance of  11/8 miles with a purse of $200,000. The morning line favorite in this one is Gary Hartlage’s On Fire Baby. She is coming off a victory in the Grade 1  La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs. She won it while racing forwardly and then making her move on the final turn and drew off to win by some three lengths. She will have the services of Joe Johnson. Second choice in the ML is Bob Baffert’s Fiftyshadesofhay. She is coming off a win in the Grade 2 Ruffian over one mile at Belmont Park. She loves to stalk her prey and pounce down the stretch. John Velazquez will be in the irons. And third in the morning line is Kenneth McPeek’s Flashy American with Julien Leparoux aboard. She too is the stalking sort and is coming off a win in a Grade 3 stakes at Hawthorn in April. This is a tough race with some very good horses competing for the prize. I am going out on a limb here and pick somewhat of a longshot and that is Brad Cox’s Ondine with Shaun Bridgmohan in the irons. She is coming east from Santa Anita, but has not been out since February. She has been working well over the CD track and I believe is set to run a big race. Fiftyshadesofhay will be second and On Fire Baby will be third.

2014 Stephen Foster Handicap

Will Take ChargeNow let’s preview the running of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. This race is for 3 year olds and up going a distance of  11/8 miles with a purse of $500,000. This one is full of some of my favorite horses and it will be an exciting race to watch. The morning line nod goes to Todd Pletcher’s Revolutionary with Mike Smith aboard. He is coming off a victory in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special where he charged from well off the pace to get the win. This one is coming around to be everything they believed he could be. Second choice in the ML is D. Wayne Lucas’ Will Take Charge with Gary Stevens  in the irons. Will Take Charge is coming off a very disappointing loss in the Grade 2 Alysheba here at Churchill. Now everyone that reads this blog knows that I have liked Will for a long time and his speed figures have backed me up in my opinion, at least until his last race. I don’t know, maybe he was just tired or something. But he had eight straight races where his numbers were very high and then the trainer made a rider change and took Luis Saez off and put Gary Stevens up and poof…a sixth place finish with a sub-par speed figure. Now I am not ready to set the blame on the rider just yet. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but I just don’t understand why you take the mount away from the guy who won Will the three year old of the year award. Third in the ML is Albert Stall’s Departing with Robby Albarado as the pilot. He likes to come from just off the pace and pass horses down the stretch.

Prayer For ReliefYou know I want to pick Will Take Charge in this one, but I am concerned about the rider. I don’t believe he has quite learned how to handle the big chestnut colt with the blaze yet. Saez knew that he had to keep Will close to the pace or he was not going to get the best out of him. Maybe Stevens can see that now, I don’t know. Besides all of that, he is giving at least five pounds to competitors here. He has carried at least 121 pounds in each of his last ten races. If he wins this he should get the respect he deserves. Anyway I wish him the best, but I can’t pick him to win. My choice is Prayer For Relief, with Golden Ticket second and Revolutionary third. Happy handicapping Guys and Gals!




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Handicap Horses

Co-lead Author & Admin at Handicap Horse Racing
Mike Lane, Sr is co-lead author and administrator of With over 38 years of experience and a degree in the "School of Hard Knocks" for handicapping, Mike has seen it all when it comes to thoroughbred racing and wants to help other horse players learn how to handicap and avoid the mistakes he has made in the past.

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