The Grade I, $ 500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap on Saturday, June 18 lured 24 nominations led by $ 2,682,950-earner Effinex, the four-time graded stakes winner from the Jimmy Jerkens barn who won last fall’s Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Health (GI) after finishing second to Horse of the Year and Triple Crown-winner American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).
The Foster nominees (with trainer): Anchor Down (Todd Pletcher), Are You Kidding Me (Roger Attfield), Behesht (FR) (Rusty Arnold), Blofeld (Pletcher), Bradester (Eddie Kenneally), Comfort (Pletcher), Donworth (Doug O’Neill), Eagle (Neil Howard), Effinex (Jimmy Jerkens), El Kabeir (John Terranova), Frosted (Kiaran McLaughlin), Hawaakom (Wes Hawley), Hesinfront (Dale Romans), Imperative (Richard Baltas), International Star (Mike Maker), Majestic Harbor (Paul McGee), Melatonin (David Hofmans), Mobile Bay (Victor Arceneaux), Natchez (D. Wayne Lukas), Noble Bird (Mark Casse), Red Rifle (Pletcher), S’maverlous (Maker), Stanford (Pletcher) and Upstart (Rick Violette Jr.).
Effinex will attempt to join No Marker (1989-90), Saint Liam (2004-05) and Blame (2009-10) as horses who won the Clark in the fall and returned to Churchill Downs to win next spring’s Stephen Foster.
In addition to Effinex, the Foster is expected to attract the top two finishers from the Alysheba (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day: four-time graded stakes winner Majestic Harbor and Grade III winner Eagle.
Anchor Down, Blofeld, Frosted, defending Stephen Foster champ Noble Bird and Upstart appear to be headed to next Saturday’s $ 1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (GI) on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The 1 1/8 mile Foster for 3-year-olds and up – part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Classic Division” in which the winner will earn a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the $ 5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita on Nov. 5 – is one of five stakes races on June 18, which is a “Downs After Dark” night racing event that starts at 6 p.m. The others are the $ 200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles; the $ 200,000 Wise Dan (GII) – formerly the Firecracker – for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf; the $ 100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and the $ 100,000 Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
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