Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Betting Preview, Odds and Best Bets

SI Gambling insider Frankie Taddeo handicaps both the "Fleur de Lis Stakes" and "Stephen Foster Stakes" Challenge Series races for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, including the latest odds and best bets.
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Like most major sports, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption with the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series schedule.

Under the new calendar, there are two major Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races on tap this Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky: the Stephen Foster Stakes and the Fleur de Lis Stakes Handicap.

The Fleur de Lis Stakes Handicap will be a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, whereas the Stephen Foster Stakes is part of the “Win and You’re In” prep race for the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic to be held at Keeneland on November 7.

FLEUR de LIS STAKES HANDICAP

Racetrack: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

Date: Saturday, June 27, 2020

Purse: $200,000

Distance: 1 1/8 miles, Dirt

Race: 9

TV: NBC

Post Time: 5:18 p.m. EST / 2:18 PST

TOP CHOICES: Listed by post number, name, and odds:

#5 Midnight Bisou (3/5) - The clear one to beat will be making just her second start of the year. This daughter of Midnight Lute is going to be one the strongest bet horses on the entire Saturday card at Churchill Downs. The combination of Mike Smith and Steve Ausmussen will most likely have their ticket punched to Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

#4 Serengeti Empress (2/1) - This filly for Tom Amoss is easily the biggest threat to Midnight Bisou. She must get the lead early in this race to have any chance of pulling the upset.

#3 Chocolate Kisses (12/1) - My top choice to earn the trifecta spot. Mark Casse has this horse trending in the right direction for this one.

NEXT TIER:

#7 Motion Emotion (15/1) - Trainer Richard Baltas has directed this filly to improve in each of her last three races. A must use on all exotic wagers.

#1 Go Google Yourself (8/1) - Pure exotic player only. Use underneath in trifecta and superfecta wagering.

#THROW-OUTS:

#2 Another Broad (12/1), #6 Red Dane (50/1),

Fleur de Lis Handicap Formula Rankings:

  • #5 Midnight Bisou
  • #4 Serengeti Empress
  • #3 Chocolate Kisses
  • #7 Motion Emotion
  • #1 Go Google Yourself
  • #7 Motion Emotion
  • #6 Red Dane
  • #2 Another Broad 

Fleur de Lis Stakes Betting Breakdown:

Frankie Taddeo, SI Gambling & Fantasy Analyst / Vegas Insider (@Frankie_Fantasy)

This race is clearly Midnight Bisou’s to lose.

My top play will involve using Midnight Bisou on top with Serengeti Express and Chocolate Kisses underneath in second for exactas. Although my breakdown of the race does not see Midnight Bisou being defeated I will play a few smaller “protective” wagers.

TOP Exacta Part-Wheel: 5 / 3,4,7

Protective Exacta P/W: 4 /3,5

TOP Trifecta Key: 5 / 3, 4,7

Trifecta Part-Wheel: 5 with 3, 4 with 1,3,4,7

Protective Trifecta P/W: 4 /3,5 / 1,3,4,5,7

Dustin Heath, Trainer at Winstar Farms, Versailles, KY (@dgheat02)

Top Choice: #5 Midnight Bisou (3 /5)

Use Underneath: #4 Serengeti Express (2/1), #7 Motion Emotion (15/1), #1 Go Google Yourself (8/1)

Favorite Longshot: #7 Motion Emotion (15/1)

STEPHEN FOSTER STAKES

Racetrack: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

Date: Saturday, June 27, 2020

Purse: $500,000

Distance: 1 1/8 miles, Dirt

Race: 10

TV: NBC

Post Time: 5:50 p.m. EST / 2:50 PST

TOP CHOICES: Listed by post number, name, and odds:

#5 Tom’s d’Etat (1/1) -Tom’s d’ Etat is riding a three-race winning streak coupled with a seven-race streak of 100-plus Beyer Speed Figures. The clear one to beat.

#6 By My Standards (5/2) - Comes into the race on a three-race winning streak while winning five of his last six starts. Expect him to tuck in right behind Tom’s d’Etat in stalking position from gate to wire.

#2 Pirate’s Punch (15/1) - My top longshot in a race begging for value. He rates a huge chance at pulling the upset if he is able to turn his early speed into a gate-to-wire victory. Watch the tote board here on Saturday. Mike Smith getting the mount here is another reason why bettors should be bullish on Pirate’s Punch.

NEXT TIER:

#8 Owendale (4/1) - A deep closer who will have to come from the clouds to get by Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards.

#1 Fearless (12/1) - This son of Ghostzapper must be respected especially when you have Todd Pletcher teaming up with John Velaquez.

#4 Multiplier (10/1) - The son of The Factor must get a look from experience alone. We saw this horse in last year's Preakness Stakes and Belmont. His most recent second place in the Santa Anita Handicap rates him among this field to possibly hit the board in exotic wagers.

#THROW-OUTS:

#3 Alkhaatam (30/1)

Stephen Foster Stakes Formula Rankings:

  • #5 Tom’s d’Etat
  • #6 By By Standards
  • #2 Pirate’s Punch
  • #8 Owendale
  • #1 Fearless
  • #4 Multiplier
  • #7 Silver Dust
  • #3 Alkhaatam

Stephen Foster Stakes Betting Breakdown: 

Frankie Taddeo, SI Gambling & Fantasy Analyst / Vegas Insider (@Frankie_Fantasy)

It will be hard for Tom’s d’Etat to be upset here as the most likely winner of the race. My top play will involve using Tom’s d’Etat on top with By By Standards, and Pirate’s Punch underneath in second for exactas. Although my breakdown of the race does not see Tom’s d’Etat losing in this spot, I will play a few smaller “protective” wagers. I will also have a win bet on Pirate’s Punch if I can get 18/1 or better; keep on eye on the tote board prior to post.

TOP Exacta Part-Wheel: 5 / 2,6

Protective Exacta Box: 2-5-6-8

TOP Trifecta Key: 5 / 2, 6, 8

Trifecta Part-Wheel: 5 with 2,6,8, with 1,2,4,6,7,8

Protective Trifecta BOX: 2-5-6-8

Dustin Heath, Trainer at Winstar Farms, Versailles, KY (@dgheat02)

Top Choice: #1 Fearless (12/1)

Use Underneath: #5 Tom’s d’Etat (1/1), #4 Multiplier (10/1)

Favorite Longshot: #1 Fearless (12/1)