- The final Saturday of the Churchill Downs spring race meet will feature six stakes races including the Grade 2 Stephen Foster.
- The Stephen Foster is a ‘win and you’re in’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
- The Churchill Downs spring meet will end on Sunday, July 3.
North American horse racing doesn’t really have an ‘off season’ but the next couple of weeks do represent a definite lull. The Triple Crown races are over, and many major tracks have ended their spring racing meets or are in the process of doing so. There’s still racing at second tier tracks like Thistledown in Ohio and Indiana’s Horseshoe Indianapolis, but the elite level of the sport will mostly be on the sidelines until the start of the Saratoga meet on July 14.
An example of a track in the ‘winding down’ process for their spring racing is Churchill Downs. Their spring race meet ends on July 3, but they’re going out with a bang. The penultimate card of the 2022 spring meet is on Saturday, July 2 and will feature six stakes races. The ‘main event’ of this group is the Grade 2 Stephen Foster–not only does it offer a $750,000 USD purse it is a ‘win and you’re in’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It will also feature a showdown between the hottest older horse in racing–Olympiad–and 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Mandaloun. They’ll be the ‘marquee names’ in a field expected to attract at least seven runners.
We’ll run down the entire Stephen Foster day card at Churchill Downs later this week, but for now let’s take a look at the full compliment of stakes races scheduled for Saturday, July 2. You can see the info on the Stephen Foster in the clip from the Churchill Downs condition book posted above. It is a Grade 2 race with a $750,000 USD purse for horses four years old and up. The big stipulation is that the winner gets an entry into the Grade 1 $6 million USD Breeders’ Cup Classic and a shot at one of the biggest paydays in the sport.
Currently scheduled as Race 7 is the 12th running of the Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes. I actually had to look up what the term ‘overnight stakes’ means:
Overnight Stakes Race: These stakes are not part of the track’s official stakes program, but are developed during the course of the meet. These stakes are usually of a lesser caliber than regular stakes.
Few know as much about horse racing as Richard Eng–among many other things, he wrote Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies. Here’s the definition of ‘overnight stakes’ from that book:
Overnight stakes: These stakes are written with three days advance notice. In a way, these are high-level glorified allowance races. They carry a higher purse than allowance races. For most stakes races, a horse has to be nominated (pay a fee to become eligible) a month or two before the date it’s scheduled to run. This nomination process allows horsemen to point for a race and the marketing and publicity departments at the racetrack to promote the race.
The West Point Thoroughbreds website offers this definition:
A committee assigns races their grades at the end of each year for the next year, so races can improve or be downgraded. There are also non-graded stakes races which usually feature slightly less accomplished horses, and they generally run for purses of less than $100,000. Oftentimes these are referred to as “overnight stakes” or “listed stakes”.
At any rate, here’s the clip from the condition book on the Kelly’s Landing:
Race 8 is the third running of the $200,000 USD Tepin for three year old fillies going one mile on turf:
Race 9 is another $200,000 USD race on turf, this time for three year old males going a mile and a sixteenth in the 107th American Derby:
The final three scheduled races are all Grade 2 events starting with Race 10, the 47th running of the Grade 2 $350,000 USD Fleur De Lis for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on dirt:
Race 11 is the 33rd running of The Wise Dan, a Grade 2 race with a $350,000 USD purse for horses four years old and up.
Race 12 will be the aforementioned Stephen Foster. There will also be a charity event called Jockeys & Jeans to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.