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On Saturday, we bid adieu to Churchill Downs until the fall, but the famed course under the Twin Spires didn’t disappoint on closing day, providing plenty of exciting performances from division-leading superstars, upsets that bombed the tote, and thrilling photo finishes. By the time the last horse crossed the wire in the meet’s final race, here’s who we felt were the Three Stars of the Week:
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Talk about an easy-as-you-please victory. Maxfield proved to be much the best with a dominating score in the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2), a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the Classic. He joins fellow Godolphin homebreds Mystic Guide and Essential Quality as perhaps the top 3 dirt males in the country, and as long as he can stay healthy, he should continue putting his rivals to shame much like he did Saturday.
The leader of the female dirt division reminded everyone of her supremacy Saturday when she scorched her rivals in the Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2). The victory was her third straight and second consecutive in a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Distaff, following the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) just 3 weeks prior. Trainer Fausto Gutierrez has his sights set squarely on contending for Horse of the Year honors with this mare and hinted that a test against males could be in her future.
While several foresaw the Wise Dan Stakes (G2) as a one-horse race due to Somelikeithotbrown’s perceived pace advantage on paper, enough bettors made Set Piece the slight favorite, and the Brad Cox trainee proved why that was the smart decision. Despite running well off the early pace, Set Piece ducked and dived his way through the field in the stretch like a heavyweight boxer and delivered a knockout blow to Somelikeithotbrown in the shadow of the wire. Though this was his third straight stakes score, all over the local turf, the Wise Dan was a truly impressive effort.
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