Stephen Foster Stakes 2023 and more Ellis Park's Stakes Recap

The biggest race ever run at little Ellis Park, the $1m Stephen Foster Stakes 2023, was won in admirably game style by the late-blooming West Will Power, who was recording his first top-level victory at the age of six. The highlight of the stakes-packed undercard was the G2 Fleur De Lis, won by Pauline’s Pearl after scratches reduced the field to just three, while there was a huge upset in the G2 Wise Dan when 46-1 chance Stitched came through late to make his Graded-stakes breakthrough.

Breeders Cup Odds

Stephen Foster Stakes 2023

G1, $1,000,000, 1m 1f dirt, 4yo+

Power turns up the heat

One of racing’s slow-burners lit up the biggest day in the history of Ellis Park, with West Will Power finally grabbing the G1 label his talents have long deserved in the Stephen Foster, outrunning Rattle N Roll and rank outsider Happy American to take the headline contest on a Saturday afternoon switched from sister track Churchill Downs.

It was pace that made the race and the hustling West Will Power, the 2-1 favourite in a deep field, stalked the brisk fractions laid down by the well-named Speed Bias. Flavien Prat put West Will Power’s nose into the wind at the quarter-pole and they had a daylight advantage with a furlong to run, and although Rattle N Roll surged out of the chasing posse and closed hard all the way to the wire West Will Power had enough in the tank to fend him off by a half-length.

The 48-1 longshot Happy American rallied from last to take third, a length and a half further back, while the second-choice Proxy never raised a glove in anger and trailed home last of the eight runners.

“He’s a very good horse who has got better as he’s got older,” said trainer Brad Cox, winning his first Stephen Foster. “This was a very good group of horses and he came out on top – he proved he’s a Grade 1 horse today.”


West Will Power grabs the G1 Stephen Foster #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horsetiktok #Sports #FYP #Sports

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

West Will Power, whose previous high-water mark had come in the G2 New Orleans Classic at the Fair Grounds in March, has missed the board just twice in 17 starts and is now at the peak of his powers. This victory earned the six-year-old a free berth into the $6m G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 4, and Cox will work back from there when deciding on his summer schedule.

Stephen Foster Stakes Payouts

1. West Will Power6.143.963.16
2. Rattle N Roll6.745.22
3. Happy American12.22

Winning time: 1m 47.93s

Fleur De Lis Stakes

G2, $400,000, 1m 1f dirt, 4yo+ females

Pearl shines despite the scratches

A race rendered unrecognisable by a blizzard of late scratches nevertheless proved that you don’t need a big field for big excitement, as Pauline’s Pearl bounced back to her best to take the Fleur De Lis in a hectic finish from her sole rivals A Mo Reay and Bellamore.

Five of the original eight contenders failed to make it to post for one reason or another, which resulted in no place or show betting. Pauline’s Pearl sat back of the remaining trio, the 2-1 second-choice leaving it to Bellamore to make the running, and the order – such as it was – remained constant practically all the way home as 2-5 favourite A Mo Reay and Bellamore worried away at each other.

It all changed late, though, as Pauline’s Pearl finally hit her straps and ran her rivals down inside the final sixteenth, getting home by three-quarters of a length. Bellamore had a neck to spare over A Mo Reay at the wire, but those positions were reversed by the stewards after Bellamore was cited for drifting out into the path of A Mo Reay.


Pauline’s Pearl bounced back to her best to take the G2 Fleur De Lis #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horsetiktok #Sports #FYP #Sports

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

“She’s a special horse,” said winning jockey Joel Rosario. “She does the job and I just try to get on board with what she wants.”

This was a welcome return to form for the Steve Asmussen-trained Pauline’s Pearl, who won the G1 La Troienne at Churchill Downs last year but had been well beaten on her last two starts. Her schedule for the rest of the year will be worked out around barnmate Clairiere, who runs in the same ownership and has a dash more class.

Fleur De Lis Stakes Payouts

1. Pauline’s Pearl6.52
2. A Mo Reay
3. Bellamore

Winning time: 1m 49.59s

Wise Dan Stakes

G2, $400,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 4yo+

Stitched gives bettors the needle

Sometimes it can be hard to work out what just happened, and there was a huge boilover in the Wise Dan as 46-1 poke Stitched ran the race of his life to land his first Graded stakes, upsetting the fancied pair Get Smokin and Set Piece.

The second choice Get Smokin broke on top and towed the field along, and was still out front in mid-stretch, but Stitched had always been on the premises and produced a telling change of gear in the final furlong, running down the long-time leader in the last sixteenth to grab the dollars by a neck.

The even-money favourite Set Piece was set too much to do and his habitual late surge only carried him into third, a length further back.

“He’s always been a nice horse, and the way he was training made me think he was sitting on a big race,” said trainer Greg Foley, who had won a stakes earlier on the card with the prolific Bango. “He had a chip in his knee removed last year and has come back as good as ever.”


Stitched land his first Graded stakes in the G2 Wise Dan #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horsestiktok #Sports #FYP

♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote

Better than ever, really, as Stitched’s earlier stakes wins came in the minors at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Canterbury Park, and he hadn’t made the first four in any of his previous three starts in 2023. This victory elevated Stitched to a six-for-13 count – he either wins or finishes off the board – and now that his knee is in good shape there could be further improvement in store.

Wise Dan Stakes Payouts

1. Stitched94.5032.168.94
2. Get Smokin7.284.22
3. Set Piece2.30

Winning time: 1m 40.97s

Stay Tuned for the latest Breeders Cup Odds. Check the World’s major Racetracks Entries and don’t forget to Sign-up and get a 10% horse rebate. We have the biggest rebate!

Preview banner

Raise your winning chances, with our Horse Betting Guide. We have a guide for all levels!

Follow us on Social Media for instant Stephen Foster Stakes 2023 updates!