Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem July 1, 2024

July 1st, 2024

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a great weekend as we jump into a holiday week both here in the states and with our friends up north. And very happy Canada day.

This weekend’s action centered around Churchill Downs as Kingsbarns took home the Grade 1 Stephen Foster S. on the big Saturday card under the Twin Spires. It was another nice performance by a horse who, outside of his involvement in a crazy 2023 Kentucky Derby pace, has really never run a bad race. I think after his Louisiana Derby (G2) win and subsequent Derby duel, I thought that he was just a frontrunner who had to have things his own way — even though his first couple of starts he came from off the pace to get nice wins. But it seems that Todd Pletcher and Luis Saez have both figured out his style is that good, pressing style that has been so successful for so many good handicap division horses.

The Stephen Foster always makes me think of my friend Luke Kruytbosch, as he called the race there in Louisville for many years. One edition that always sticks out to me is the 2006 running, where huge longshot Seek Gold ran down Perfect Drift in the last jump to get the win. I went back and watched that race on YouTube on Saturday and when Luke says, “Late move from Seek Gold,” the horse isn’t even in view on the television yet. Seek Gold was also trainer Ron Moquett’s first Grade 1 score when he won that Stephen Foster.

It’s a race with an interesting history. I don’t know why this surprised me, but no trainer has won the Stephen Foster more than twice. Certainly, it’s hard to win a Grade 1 race once, let alone twice, and maybe I’m just used to Bob Baffert and others racking up so many wins in specific races, but the fact no trainer has won the Foster more than twice surprised me. Now, eight different trainers have won it twice, and of those I think six are still actively training, so I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them get that elusive third soon. On the rider’s side of things, Robby Albarado actually won it three straight years on three different horses, the middle of which was the great Curlin.

I was also excited to see Dancing N Dixie get a win in the Tepin Stakes to close the Saturday card. We saw her come with a big, late close here at Tampa to run third in the Florida Oaks (G3), and she followed that up with another pair of third-place finishes. She needed every inch of Saturday’s race and I know for those big late closers, so often they’re dependent on the rest of the runners kind of coming back to them as well as just getting a clean trip. But she was able to take down the money.

Scylla of course won the Fleur De Lis S. (G2), but it wasn’t without surviving an inquiry and objection. I personally thought she should have come down, as her lugging in during the stretch run was pretty constant and multiple times had a strong effect against Xigera. But the stews disagreed, and she scored another big victory on her march toward a possible run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) later this year.

Hope everyone has a great week and a great holiday wherever you’re at this week. I’m off Thursday for the Fourth of July holiday, so we’ll catch up with you here next Monday!