The Churchill Downs Spring Meet is coming to an end with the running of the Stephen Foster Handicap in Louisville, Kentucky. This race is named after the famed composer of “My Old Kentucky Home” which is played every year at the Kentucky Derby. The race is 1 and one-eighth of a mile and is for three year olds and up.
This race was a Grade III event at one time (1988) and became a Grade II race in 1995. It wasn’t until 2002 that the $550,000 purse became a Grade I event. One interesting note about this race is that the winner is an automatic qualifier for the Breeder’s Cup race in November.
Let’s look at the horses that are entered into this race and my pick for their finish on Saturday.
There is only one horse that meets all the requirements to win this race and that is the son of Candy Ride, Gun Runner. This horse got second place in the Dubai World Cup to an impressive Arrogate. Steve Ausmussen is the trainer and Florent Giroux will be the jockey. The history of Gun Runner finds he has been very good on this track and his speed will likely win out. This is the likely winner at 4-5 odds.
Mo Tom enters as a 15-1 to win the race.The son of Uncle Mo, was the Ohio Derby winner and appears to be well rested and ready to run. Look for this horse on the back stretch to make them run but likely come up short.
Bird Song is 9-2 odds in this race and appears to be in great shape. He is the son of Unbridled’s Song and is trained by Ian Wilkes. It is unlikely this horse can go all out from start to finish but has the strength to hold off most of the field.
Todd Pletcher’s horse, Stanford, enters at 6-1 odds. He is the son of a millionaire horse Malibu Moon. The breeding is there and could finish higher but not in first place.
Rounding out the contenders is Honorable Duty (6-1) and is trained by Brendan Walsh. The five year old gelding will battle as he has three wins and a second in his last four races. A middle of the pack finish.
Also entered in the race but likely to be near the end are Breaking Lucky (15-1) who can be a factor in the middle but has gone downhill in the last few races. Texas Chrome (20-1) was the Oklahoma Derby winner but has not finished well in recent times. He is the son of Grasshopper and may lead the pack at the start of the race. Hawaakom (20-1) is the gelded son of Jazil and seven years old. No chance for this horse.
Note: The “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” will be televised on NBCSN live from 8:30-10 PM which will be presented by Lane’s End Farm and “America’s Best Racing.” Also HRRN will have live radio coverage at www.horseracingradio.net.
Best of luck with your Stephen Foster Betting!