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Jockey Joe Bravo celebrates after winning the Stephen Foster aboard Bradester.
The third-richest race contested at Churchill Downs after the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks is the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), featuring some of the top older horses in the country going 1 1/8 miles over the main track, with the winner earning automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) under the Win and You're In promotion. Conditions were excellent on Saturday night, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid 80's, with the main track fast and the Matt Winn turf course firm. Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) runner-up Effinex was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the field of 7 off his win in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) after finishing third in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1). In to challenge him included 9-2 Eagle, second in the Alysheba (G2) last out. and 6-1 Majestic Harbor, winner of the Alysheba..
Down the stretch with Bradester out front.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Bradester Bravo 20.40 8.40 5.40 7 Eagle Hernandez 5.20 3.40 4 Majestic Harbor Lanerie 3.60 Winning Time: 1:48.85 $2 Exacta 2-7 95.80 $2 Trifecta 2-7-4 351.20 $1 Superfecta 2-7-4-5 1,523.80
Bradester in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Joe Bravo said, "He's a pretty fun horse, he does all the hard work for you. He kind of reminds me of his father Lion Heart who I rode in the Haskell. I just kind of rode him like his dad and you saw what he did today."
Right: Bradester heads back to the barn. Winning trainer Eddie Kenneally said, "He's won five or six graded stakes prior to today, but to win a Grade 1 with him is phenomenal. Now he has established himself. This race came up with a shorter field than in past years, so we figured it was a good opportunity for him to take a shot at some Grade I horses. Looking at the form he is the true speed of the race. We didn't know if he was going to be pressed through the first part of the race too hard and maybe just get the air knocked out of him, but I felt like if he could dictate the pace all alone on the front end that he could run them into the ground. Joe rode him with so much confidence and we are just so delighted for the whole team."
Left: Second place finisher Eagle in the post parade. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said, "He ran hard. I wish we'd have got there. We were just a little late. I mean, coming from that far back, he ran a big race. He did all we can ask for. We just weren't lucky enough to get the bob today." Trainer Neil Howard added, "He ran great. I knew we'd be back there, but he looked comfortable. He ran good. You know these Grade 1s are hard to win. We were pleased."
Right: Third place finisher Majestic Harbor walks over from the barns before the race. Jockey Corey Lanerie said, "Beautiful trip, sitting right behind him. My horse ran his race. Just wasn't good enough to be 'em today. But no excuse. We just didn't get it done. He ran a beautiful race. He tries his butt off. He's so fun to ride. He breaks sharp. He's the kind of horse every rider wants to ride because you don't really have to overcome much trouble. He puts you in a good spot and does his thing."
Left: Sixth place finisher and beaten favorite Effinex returns after the race. Jockey Gary Stevens said, "He didn't get away real clean, but I got to where I wanted to be into the first turn on the outside part, three wide and the two horses I thought would be in front of me were. But I was done early. I hate to say it. I wasn't traveling like a winner at any point during the race. I was just hoping things would change. A lot of times with these good horses you can't really tell what you got. We got into the turn and I was empty. I was done early."
Right: The 2016 Kentucky Derby trophies on display. They are kept by Churchill Downs after the Derby to be engraved with the winner and his connections' names.
One of the traditions on Stephen Foster day is the presenting of the engraved trophies to the Kentucky Derby winning connections. Doug O'Neill, trainer of Nyquist, and his wife were on hand to accept them.
The distaff counterpart to the Stephen Foster is the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the main track, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Apple Blossom (G1) fourth place finisher Untapable was sent off as the 3-5 favorite over 5-2 Ahh Chocolate, winner of the Du Pont Distaff (G3), and 6-1 Paid Up Subscriber, an allowance winner last out.
16-1 Big Book was quickest away through fractions of 23.51 and 47.82 while pressed by Ahh Chocolate and stalked by Untapable. On the far turn Ahh Chocolate took over from the tiring Big Book through 3/4 in 1:12.39. However, entering the stretch Paid Up Subscriber, 4th early, came through between horses to gain the lead at the 3/16 pole through 1 mile in 1:36.45. Kept to task by Ricardo Santana she drew off to win by 3 lengths over late-running 9-1 Brooklynsway in 1:48.44. It was another 2 lengths back to 16-1 Engaginglee third, and 4 1/4 more to favorite Untapable fourth.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Paid Up Subscriber in the winner's circle. Trainer Al Stall Jr. said, "She's supposed to do (two turns) on paper but you never know until you try. We just didn't want to ship anywhere to try it so we decided to stay home in a short field. Even though we knew that there were some tigers in here, the way she trained up to it really gave us a lot of confidence going in. On paper she can get 1 1/4. Her father (Candy Ride) won the Pacific Classic and her grandsire (Street Cry) won the Dubai World Cup so there stands a reason that she can handle two turns with no problem."
Right: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Untapable returns after the race. Jockey Florent Geroux said, "She was just very keen during the race. I had a really tough time relaxing her." The next day, owner Ron Winchell announced that she is retired from racing. Winchell said, "Untapable is officially being retired. After having a truly great (3-year-old) season and currently the (No. 1) earner for Tapit, it's about time!" The Steve Asmussen trainee retires with a record of 9 wins, 5 seconds, and 2 thirds in 20 starts, with earnings of $3,926,635.
Kicking off the stakes quintet Saturday night was the $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) for three-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Gun Runner was the 1-10 favorite in the field of 6 off his 3rd place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), over 9-1 Texas Chrome, winner of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star, and 10-1 Virtual Machine, second in the Rushaway. Jockey Florent Geroux sent Gun Runner to a clear lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.99, 47.73, and 1:11.66 while as many as 2 lengths in front of 16-1 Gray Sky stalking him in second and Texas Chrome sitting third. Entering the stretch Gun Runner opened up a 3 length lead through 1 mile in 1:34.66, and drew off to win by 5 1/4 lengths over Gray Sky in 1:41.12, just 8/100 second off the track record. It was another 1/2 length back to Texas Chrome third.
Full results chart
Left: Gun Runner in the winner's circle. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "Visually, looking at him I think that the horse has matured. He's stronger than he was. He was beautiful in the gates and went away smoothly. I thought he handled nicely and he's got beautiful speed. His confidence should be exactly where we're hoping for going into an extremely competitive Haskell it looks like. I do think that he is of the highest quality and this is only his seventh lifetime race. He is faster now than he has ever been and that's a great thing."
Right: Gun Runner in the paddock before the race. Jockey Florent Geroux said, "When I broke I was hoping that somebody went but when nobody went I had to start going. I couldn't like try to take him back or something crazy. I just had to put him whenever he is the most comfortable."
Closing out the stakes action on Saturday night a field of 10 three-year-old fillies went to post in the $100,000 Regret Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Allowance winner Try Your Luck was the 5-2 favorite over 3-1 Auntie Joy, second in the Edgewood (G3), and 5-1 Noble Beauty, second in the Honey Rider. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. sent Auntie Joy to the lead first time by and she set fractions of 24.02, 49.48, and 1:14.00 while pressed by 6-1 Wessex and stalked by Try Your Luck. On the far turn Auntie Joy opened up on the field by 2 1/2 lengths through 1 mile in 1:37.50. Noble Beauty, 6th early, put in a strong late rally but Auntie Joy cruised to a 1 1/4 length win in 1:49.24. It was a neck back to favorite Try Your Luck third.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Auntie Joy in the winner's circle. Trainer Brendan Walsh said, "She was sitting on a big one, we thought she was and she produced it. We think she's a very talented filly and I think she's got a big future in front of her.And now she looks like she can take on the best of them, so we'll find some decent spots, the Belmont Oaks maybe, 1 1/4 miles, it looks like it'd be right up her street." Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. added, " So today, having the outside post like that, we were pretty confident in our filly. And I thought that she'd be able to be kind of forwardly placed. I didn't expect to be exactly on the lead. But when they let us kind of cruise around there and we got to the backside and I looked up at the Big Board and I saw :24 on it. I was all smiles from that point because she was going to go forward after that and she did."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Try Your Luck returns after the race. Trainer Mike Maker said, "Third best. Looked like the race was void of speed and that's the way it turned out."
The $200,000 Wise Dan Stakes (G2), formerly run as the Firecracker and renamed this year, featured a field of 10 older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) 5th place finisher The Pizza Man was sent off as the 7-5 favorite over 4-1 Za Approval, 8th in the Dixie (G2), and 5-1 Thatcher Street, winner of the Opening Verse. Jockey Robby Albarado sent 10-1 Kasaqui to the lead through fractions of 23.81, 48.31, and 1:11.82 while pressed by Za Approval and stalked by 7-1 Pleuven. Kasaqui continued to lead to midstretch through 1 mile in 1:35.04 but Pleuven came through late to win by 3/4 length in 1:40.96. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Thatcher Street third, while The Pizza Man was last early and rallied late to get fourth another 3/4 length behind.
Full results chart from DRF
Left: Pleuven in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Channing Hill said, "(Kasaqui) broke super well and we were kind of hoping that he would and I just wanted to get real cover for him today for him obviously with him being from overseas and he responded terrifically. When I asked him, he was there and when I needed him to tap on the brakes, he was there. He's just pure class." Trainer Phil Sims added, "He likes the distance, he tries hard. We didn't really know what we had until we started training him. He's really on it all the time. He loves to train and loves to run. He's very competitive. We knew that it would be tough but we were kind of like, 'Hey this horse deserves a shot.' Channing gets him to relax real well."
Right: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite The Pizza Man in the post parade. Jockey Florent Geroux said, "I think he run a great race, you know. He was far back like he usually does. There was not much pace in the front of the race. So he came running. Hopefully a nice campaign for the summer."
Wise Dan, Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013 after winning the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) both years, made a special appearance before his namesake race. Campaigned by breeder Morton Fink and trained by Keeneland-based Charles LoPresti, the chestnut gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry retired in September 2015 with a record of 23 wins, 2 seconds, and 0 thirds in 31 starts, with earnings of over $7.5 million. He is a virtual lock to be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he makes the ballot.
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