It will seem like a more conventional spring Saturday this week when at least one track will host a busy afternoon of stakes action.
Churchill Downs steps up to the plate in that regard with Stephen Foster Preview Day, featuring five stakes worth a total of $550,000. The theme of the stakes action will be prominent comebacks, and there is one to be had in virtually every race.
The feature is the $150,000 Matt Winn (G3) for 3-year-olds, which has been assigned Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers in a revised Road to the Kentucky Derby series schedule. Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Matt Winn is expected to mark the return of Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Maxfield, who underwent off-season surgery after he was forced to scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) due to an injury.
Also listed as probable are Withers (G3) winner Max Player and Major Fed, who earned Derby points finishing second in a division of the Risen Star (G2) and fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
The $100,000 Tepin, a one-mile grass race for 3-year-old fillies and a prep for next month’s Regret (G3), will mark the return to action of Sharing, who upset the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita last November for trainer Graham Motion at odds of 13-1. The $100,000 War Chant, the corresponding stakes for straight 3-year-olds, could be headed by Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) winner Field Pass and Hieronymus, a dual stakes winner at Fair Grounds over the winter.
The $100,000 Blame, a Stephen Foster (G2) prep for older horses over a one-turn mile, could feature Owendale, who captured a trio of Grade 3 events last year and also placed in the Preakness (G1) and Clark (G1). Mr. Money, another multiple graded stakes winner, will attempt to rebound from a disappointing season debut in the Apr. 11 Oaklawn Mile.
Dunbar Road, one of the leading 3-year-old fillies last season when taking the Alabama (G1) and Mother Goose (G2), is listed as probable for the $100,000 Shawnee, a 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares that serves as a prelude for next month’s Fleur de Lis (G2).