Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Features Stephen Foster and Fleur de Lis From Churchill Downs for Automatic Berth into World Championships this Saturday Live at 5PM on NBC
NEW YORK (June 25, 2020) – Stakes-winning veterans Tom’s d’Etat and By My Standards headline a battle for the second automatic berth of 2020 into the $7 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) this Saturday, June 27, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in the Grade 2, $500,000 Stephen Foster, live at 5 p.m. ET on NBC. The Stephen Foster broadcast is part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In -- presented by America’s Best Racing.”
The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster will follow the 1 1/8-mile, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2), led by champion super mare Midnight Bisou, which will award the winner a free berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Saturday’s one-hour program marks the second telecast this year in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In,” on NBC and NBCSN from some of America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., scheduled for Nov. 6-7 on NBC and NBCSN. Complete series TV schedule can be accessed here: https://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series/tv-schedule
NBC Sports’ coverage will feature commentary and discussion led by host Ahmed Fareed and analyst Randy Moss from NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn. Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who owns 15 Breeders’ Cup wins, including five victories in the Classic, joins the broadcast from his home in Florida, and handicapper Eddie Olczyk from his home in Chicago. Reporters Donna Brothers and Kenny Rice will be on-site at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) also will provide live coverage of the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs from 5-6 p.m., on Sirius 219/XM 201 and via livestream on horseracingradio.net
Leading the Foster field is the 7-year-old Tom’s d’Etat, 10 of 17 lifetime, who has won four of his last five starts, including last November’s 3 ¼-length victory in the $600,000 Clark (G1). Owned by Gayle Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans, Tom’s d’Etat made his 2020 debut on April 11, winning the Oaklawn Mile Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Tom’s d’Etat, who finished third in last year’s Stephen Foster, is trained by Al Stall Jr., who also trained Blame to win the 2010 Stephen Foster. Later that same year, Blame handed the great racemare Zenyatta her only defeat, when he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
Miguel Mena has the mount on Tom’s d’Etat.
A major challenge to Tom’s d’Etat should come from Allied Racing Stable’s 4-year-old By My Standards, a winner of five of nine starts for trainer Bret Calhoun. By My Standards, a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Goldencents, has finished in the top three in all but one of his starts, that one being last year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby (11th). Ridden by Gabriel Saez, By My Standards returned this year with three consecutive wins, including a 3-length victory in the New Orleans Classic Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds and a 1 3/4-length win in last month’s $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2).
Rupp Racing’s 4-year-old Owendale finished second to Tom’s d’Etat in last year’s Clark, capping a season of four wins, including the Ohio Derby (G3), Oklahoma Derby (G3), and also a third-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (G1). Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, Owendale won his only start this year, taking the 1-mile Blame Stakes at Churchill on May 23.
Midnight Bisou is one to beat in Fleur de Lis
Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing’s 2019 Champion Older Dirt Female Midnight Bisou is set to return against Joel Politi’s speedy 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress in Saturday’s Fleur de Lis for fillies and mares, 4-years-old and older.
Midnight Bisou, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, is the reigning Champion Older Dirt Female Eclipse Award winner, having completed a spectacular season in which she won seven of eight races at six racetracks. Midnight Bisou’s only defeat of 2019 came in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she finished second to Blue Prize (ARG).
This year, Midnight Bisou was extremely impressive in her lone start, the Feb. 29 inaugural running of the 1 1/8-mile, $20 million Saudi Cup against a top field of male rivals. After overcoming traffic trouble, she closed boldly in deep stretch, finishing second by three-quarters of a length behind Maximum Security.
Asmussen exudes great pride in describing Midnight Bisou: “I feel like with what she’s done – traveling to Saudi, taking on older boys and everyone knows the trip she got and knows the circumstances… how do you have an adjective for what she is and what she means to racing? Coming back, the next race isn’t the goal for this year. The Breeders’ Cup is. She is arguably the best horse in the world.”
Midnight Bisou will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who leads all Breeders’ Cup riders with 26 wins.
In one of the most impressive performances of 2019, Serengeti Empress, trained by Tom Amoss, and to be ridden Saturday by Joe Talamo, won the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs leading from start to finish. Serengeti Empress also finished third in last year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred horse racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The Breeders’ Cup is also a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, an organization composed of industry leaders committed to advancing safety measures in Thoroughbred racing and improving the well-being of equine and human athletes.
The 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held on November 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky and features a total of $35 million in purses and awards. The event will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING
NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Royal Ascot, and Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown.
ABOUT AMERICA’S BEST RACING
America’s Best Racing is a multimedia fan development and awareness-building platform designed to increase the profile and visibility of North America’s best Thoroughbred racing events with a primary focus on the sport’s lifestyle and competition. You can follow America’s Best Racing at americasbestracing.net as well as on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
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