Edited Press Release
Gallant Stables’ eight-year-old Majestic Harbor, the 13-1 surprise runaway winner of the Alysheba (G2) on Kentucky Oaks Day, readied for his engagement in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.40 Friday morning at Churchill Downs – the fastest of 20 moves at the distance.
Churchill Downs clockers timed Majestic Harbor in splits of :12.20, :24.40 and :36.20 before the bay horse galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.60 and seven-eighths in 1:27.20.
Trainer Paul McGee had regular rider Corey Lanerie in the saddle for the breeze.
“He worked really good and did it all on his own without much asking,” Lanerie said. “When I asked him to finish, he finished strong and was just cruising.”
The Kentucky-bred son of Rockport Harbor has won 10 races and $1,246,814 in career earnings from 41 starts over the past six years. Majestic Harbor collected two of his four graded stakes wins during his six-year-old campaign in California with trainer Sean McCarthy: the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) and Tokyo City Cup (G3) in 2014.
He returned to McGee’s care in early 2015 and signaled his return to top form this winter with a game head victory over Eagle in the February 20 Mineshaft Handicap (G3) at Fair Grounds. Two races later, he beat that rival again, this time by 2 1/2 lengths, in the Alysheba.
“He’s a classy horse, he’s a millionaire and he showed his class,” McGee said after the Alysheba. “He’s been a very sound horse all along, he really has.”
“I think he’s gotten even better than he’s ever been,” Lanerie said. “He sure seems that way. Right now, he’s a happy, happy horse.”
Weights for the June 18 Stephen Foster Handicap will be released Saturday.
The field for the 1 1/8-mile race is expected to be led by Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Effinex from the Jimmy Jerkens barn in New York who won last fall’s Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs after finishing second to Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland.
The Stephen Foster Handicap for three-year-olds and up – part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win & 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 (G1) at Santa Anita on November 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. (ET).
The others are the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles; $200,000 Wise Dan (G2) – formerly the Firecracker – for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf; $100,000 Matt Winn (G3) for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; and $100,000 Regret (G3) for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Majestic Harbor photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography