By Emily Shields
The $600,000 Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs Saturday has assembled a top field of older males. Virtually all the top horses in training that did not run in the Met Mile (G1) at Belmont last weekend are here.
#1 Thirstforlife is a son of Stay Thirsty coming off a win over the strip. He is four for seven on this track and is multiple stakes placed, but will be seeking his first stakes victory. Miguel Mena retains the mount.
#2 Rated R Superstar was a stakes winner at Oaklawn two back in the Essex at 14-1. He is a grade 1-placed grade 3 winner, and was second in a major stakes for juveniles here in 2015. He was sixth behind Quip in the Oaklawn Park Handicap last out (G2).
#3 Runaway Ghost is a six-time stakes winner and a grade 3 winner in his native New Mexico, but he is still seeking a major victory outside that state. He came to Keeneland for the Commonwealth Stakes (G3) in April but finished last.
#4 Seeking the Soul is a three time winner on this track for trainer Dallas Steward and has finished top three in 9 of 11 starts here. He ran second in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in January, then went to Dubai before returning to be third in the Alysheba (G2) here on Oaks day. He worked a bullet five furlongs here June 6.
#5 Alkhaatam is coing off two straight wins, including an allowance score over a mile here on May 12. Channing Hill, who is 2 for 2 on this son of Tapit, retains the mount.
#6 Gift Box ships in from California where he won the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and ran second in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1). He has been first or second in 11 of 16 starts and is just under $1 million in earnings. John Sadler trains.
#7 Tenfold is coming off a victory in the Pimlico Special (G3) on Preakness weekend. Steve Asmussen trains the son of Curlin, who was third in the Preakness (G1) last year. He won the Ji Dandy (G2) last year in his biggest lifetime win.
#8 King Zachary is trained by Graham Motion. He is two for four over the track and was a stakes winner on this card last year. He finished third here on the Derby undercard off a 7 ½ month layoff.
#9 Tom’s d’Etat is a six-year-old son of Smart Strike for Al Stall. He was second in the Alysheba here last out after running ninth in the Pegasus, which ended a four-race win streak. Tom’s d’Etat was off from July 2017 until November 2018 but has had four starts since.
#10 Quip will draw a lot of support off his victory in the Oaklawn Park Handicap (G2). He was also the Tampa Bay Derby winner last year after breaking his maiden on this strip in 2017. Florent Geroux is back aboard as Jose Ortiz moves to Yoshida.
#11 Exulting is coming in off a stakes win at Oaklawn and has been top three in nine of 17 starts. The son of Tapit is trained by Mike Maker.
#12 Yoshida (Jpn) rounds out the field. The grade 1 winner on dirt and turf is making his first start since the Dubai World Cup, where he finished sixth. He has not his the board since running fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic over this surface last year.
The Stephen Foster goes as Race 8 on an 11-race card filled with six stakes races (five for Thoroughbreds). Graded contests on the card include the $250,000 Wise Dan (G2), the $250,000 Fleur de Lis (G2), the $150,000 Regret (G3), and the $150,000 Matt Winn (G3). Post time for the evening card is 6pm local time.
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