Tom’s d’Etat favored in Stephen Foster

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson sends out one of the stars of her racing operation Saturday.

G M B Racing’s 2019 Clark (Grade I) winner Tom’s d’Etat was installed as the even-money morning line favorite for Saturday’s $500,000 Stephen Foster presented by Coca-Cola (Grade II) – a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).

The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster is the headliner of a stakes quartet on Saturday’s 11-race program. The day of racing also will feature the $200,000 Fleur de Lis presented by Coca-Cola (GII), $100,000 Regret presented by (GIII) and $100,000 Bashford Manor presented by (GIII). First post is noon CDT and the Stephen Foster is slated at 4:47 p.m.

Along with the spectacular action on the racetrack, bettors will have large wagering pools to tackle including a $250,000-guaranteed Late Pick 5 pool. The 50-cent bet will begin in Race 7 (4:12 p.m.) –a 5 ½ furlong turf allowance event. The next four races will be the Bashford Manor, Fleur de Lis, Stephen Foster and Regret, respectively. For free past performances, visit

Tom’s d’Etat (17-10-2-1—$1,326,572) has won four of his last five starts including a 3 ¼-length score in last year’s $600,000 Clark (GI). The now 7-year-old son of Smart Strike enters Saturday’s Stephen Foster following a hard-fought victory in the April 11 $150,000 Oaklawn Mile. “I’m not worried about he’s going to show up in the Foster; he runs very well fresh,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “This race will feed us into the rest of the year, which looks like it’s setting up well with the schedules in New York and elsewhere. … This is his home track and has a visual of it in front of his stall, sort of like Blame did.”

Stall is not a stranger to success in the Stephen Foster. He won the race in 2010 with the aforementioned Blame prior to his victory over Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Blame would go on to become the 2010 Champion Older Male.

“We’re trying to get (Tom’s d’Etat) to the Blame level,” Stall said. “Both of these horses have a ton of class and ability.” One of the challenges facing handicappers for Saturday’s Stephen Foster is the probable pace scenario. The likely frontrunner in the race could be the graded stakes placed Pirate’s Punch.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Pirate’s Punch has secured the early lead in nine of his last 11 races. A horse that could be tracking from just off the early lead could be Allied Racing Stable’s multiple Grade II winner By My Standards. “It’s going to be an interesting setup,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “Pirate’s Punch looks like he could be the controlling pace of the race. What’s interesting is the horse from the rail (Fearless) who has shown speed back in his form in his maiden race and second start. Since then, he’s sort of been relegated off the pace.

“(By My Standards) has shown every positive development from his three-year-old season to this year. He’s a very talented racehorse and we saw that with his strong campaign last year. He’s just bigger and stronger this year.”

The complete field for the Stephen Foster (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):Fearless (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 12-1); Pirate’s Punch (Mike Smith, Grant Forster, 15-1); Alkhaatam (Declan Cannon, Danny Peitz, 30-1); Multiplier (Tyler Gaffalione, Peter Miller, 10-1); Tom’s d’Etat (Mena, Stall, even-money); By My Standards (Gabriel Saez, Calhoun, 5-2); Silver Dust (Beschizza, Calhoun, 10-1); and Owendale (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 4-1). Both the Stephen Foster and the Fleur de Lis will be broadcast live on NBC from 4-5 p.m. CDT.

The Stephen Foster has had a strong influence on the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Horse of the Year honors. Four horses used victories in the Stephen Foster as part of their résumés in Horse of the Year campaigns: Black Tie Affair (1991), Saint Liam (2005), Curlin (2008)and Gun Runner (2017). In addition, two runners-up were crowned Horse of the Year: Mineshaft (2003) and Wise Dan (2012).

Also, Awesome Again (1998) and Blame (2010) completed same-year Foster-Classic doubles. Fort Larned won the Classic in 2012, and won the Foster the following year prior to a fourth-place run in his bid for a second Classic win.

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