Saturday is an exciting day at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. There are four stakes races on the schedule, with a total of $1,394,000 on offer between 11 races at the historic racetrack. The main event of the afternoon is the Stephen Foster Stakes (Gr. 2), which is offering a huge $500,000 purse. The big news recently was regarding the Kentucky Derby. Officials have indicated that they intend to have fans in the seats on Labor Day Weekend.
We’re still a little over two months away from the big day, but let’s see if that decision is going to hold by then. They postponed the entire Kentucky Derby to September 5 because of the fact no fans were going to be allowed. I think if they really wanted to the Kentucky Derby could have gone off without fans in attendance. If we get closer to September and the decision is made to keep the public away, then it really was all for nothing pushing it back.
Part of the fun of Derby Day is the atmosphere at Churchill Downs. For a lot of people, that’s really the only reason they go to the race. It might be the only horse race they put a bet on all year. Along with the atmosphere at the track, it does help the telecast broadcast and lead up to the race to have fans in attendance. Interviews and going on and on about outfits is essentially what NBC does during their broadcast. In other words, people at Churchill Downs is important for TV as well.
I’m getting straight to the two biggest races at Churchill Downs with my picks for Saturday. The Stephen Foster Stakes is what some people are here for, while others just want winners regardless of what race it is. I will hopefully have a Stephen Foster winner and another winner in the Fleur de Lis to complete a daily double ticket. Head below for our free Churchill Downs Daily Double picks for June 27, 2020.
Race 9 – Fleur de Lis Stakes
Post Time: 5:15 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 ⅛ Miles
The Fleur de Lis Stakes is the first of two big stakes races at Churchill Downs on Saturday. The event will consist of 1 ⅛ miles on the dirt. It comes with a $200,000 purse, which is the second largest on the day at Churchill Downs. We’re looking at what should be an exciting race between Midnight Bisou and Serengeti Empress. You might be able to remove all of the other participants and the result might be the same as racing with five other horses.
Having said that, upsets happen, so I won’t get that far ahead of myself. Serengeti Empress is 6 for 15 in her career and has been chasing stakes money since the second start of her career. She is the defending Kentucky Oaks (Gr. 1) winner from last season. Serengeti Empress beat Liora by 1 ¾ lengths as a pretty big underdog.
That’s great, but Serengeti Empress has won just one more race since winning the Kentucky Oaks last May. She won the Azeri Stakes (Gr. 2) on March 14, and then had the worst performance of her career in her latest effort on April 18. Serengeti Empress finished 11th in a no-show performance by the filly. It’s not like she has been chasing down easy purses. Since winning the Kentucky Oaks, Serengeti Empress has appeared in five Grade 1 events in seven races. Notable performances were 2nd in the Acorn Stakes last May and in the Longines Test Stakes last August.
Serengeti Empress is in good form, especially on June 10 with a blistering fast workout time of 57.80 seconds at 5 furlongs. She followed that up with 48.80 seconds at 4 furlongs on June 17. If it weren’t for Midnight Bisou, Serengeti Empress would be a heavy favorite in the Fleur de Lis Stakes. However, the ultra talented Midnight Bisou is racing and has already won some events that Serengeti Empress couldn’t. Midnight Bisou has wins in the Cotillion Stakes (Gr. 1), Azeri Stakes (Gr. 2), Ogden Phipps Stakes (Gr. 1), and Personal Ensign Stakes (Gr. 1) on her resume. That’s far from the only accomplishments that Midnight Bisou has achieved in her career.
Midnight Bisou has won 12 of 20 races in her career, most of which have been graded races. She was also involved in the prestigious Saidu Cup on February 29. The only horse she lost to in the Saudi Cup was Maximum Security by a half length, who was receiving illegal PED’s. His trainer along with a dozen others were criminally charged. Midnight Bisou went from last to nearly getting the win over the juiced up Maximum Security. She was constantly gaining throughout. That’s the most recent race we’ve seen Midnight Bisou in. If Maximum Security wasn’t juicing, who knows what the result there is for Midnight Bisou. She deserves a bit of retribution on Saturday in the Fleur de Lis Stakes.
Race 10 – Stephen Foster Stakes
Post Time: 5:47 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
1 ⅛ more miles on the dirt at Churchill Downs for the Stephen Foster Stakes. The stakes get moved up in this one, though, as a purse of $500,000 is up for grabs. Eight horses are in the event, with three I’ve circled on my shortlist. Owendale, By My Standards, and Owendale are likely going to be in the mix. Barring any bad breaks, expect to find those three involved in this one. Owendale might be able to pull off a mini upset here. I backed Owendale in the Blame Stakes on May 23 and was rewarded for it with a half length win over Everfast.
That was the day I hit a Pick 5, so I will be forever grateful for Owendale coming through. He has won 5 of 16 events in his career, including the Ohio Derby (Gr. 3), Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (Gr. 3), and Oklahoma Derby (Gr. 3). His most impressive performance might be 3rd in the Preakness Stakes in 2019.
Prior to winning the Blame Stakes, Owendale finished 2nd in the Clark Stakes (Gr. 1) on November 29, 2019. He was close, but fell short at the wire. In Owendale’s previous five races, he’s finished 5th, 1st, 10th, 2nd, 1st. Nothing at all wrong with that and if Owndale was in one of the smaller stakes races today, I’d be inclined to ride him again. He will find it difficult in this one against By My Standards and Tom’s d’Etat, though.
By My Standards is coming off a hat-trick with wins in the New Orleans Classic Stakes (Gr. 2) on March 21 and Oaklawn Handicap (Gr. 2) on May 2. He had nothing in him in the Kentucky Derby last year, but was solid enough to qualify for the event. By My Standards finished 11th in the Derby. He reached Churchill Downs last May thanks to a win in the Louisiana Derby (Gr. 2) on March 23. Other than the Kentucky Derby, By My Standards has won 5 of his previous 6 races. Overall, he is 5 for 9 in his career. Certainly, By My Standards is not a horse to ignore.
The $330,000 Tom’s d’Etat is also coming off a hat-trick, with wins in the Hagyard Fayette Stakes (Gr. 2), Clark Stakes (Gr. 1), and Oaklawn Mile Stakes (Black Type) on April 11. He beat out Improbable by ¾ lengths and showed excellent kick in the stretch to overtake the field for the win. He was ranked 36th in earnings in the world in 2019, and is likely going to add a big payday to his resume on Saturday. Overall in his career, Tom’s d’Etat is a winner in 10 of 17 races. This is going to be one heck of an exciting race. Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards are both quite strong horses with a potential duel setting up here. The edge goes to Tom’s D’Etat in the Stephen Foster Stakes, though he will have to fight for it.