Foster Leads Big Day At Churchill

A strong and accomplished field of handicap runners will headline the feature this Saturday at Churchill Downs, the $500,000 Stephen Foster H. (G1). Reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hero Fort Larned has not been in top form as of yet this campaign, but the Ian Wilkes charge start getting really good around this time last season and he gets a ton of respect from this corner. The son of E Dubai was unplaced in this race a year ago, but we think he’s sitting on a big one.

Multiple graded winner Successful Dan has run huge in all four tries on this oval and did finish first in a Grade 1 here in the 2011 Clark H. (G1) only to be DQ’d and placed third. The Charles Lopresti trainee was a sharp winner of the Ben Ali S. (G3) at Keeneland in his 2013 debut most recently and is training fast in advance of this. Three-time Grade 1 standout Ron the Greek will hope to defend his title in this spot for conditioner Bill Mott. A fine third time in the lucrative Charles Town Classic (G2), the son of Full Mandate is a ton of class with a huge late kick, and he will be tough to hold off with his best showing.

The Pat Byrne-conditioned Take Charge Indy ran a superb race last time on this oval when dominating a nice group by six lengths in the Alysheba S. (G2) and could be the one to catch turning for home here if he stays sharp. 2012 Travers S. (G1) star Golden Ticket and Pool Play, who won this race in 2011, add to the incredible depth and class of this field.

The Foster undercard is a nice one, among those the $175,000 Fleur de Lis H. (G2). Dual champion Royal Delta will make her first start since trekking to Dubai for this affair, and is clearly the one to beat. The Bill Mott pupil was a six-length romper in this field a year ago and will surely be very tough with anything near her best on an oval that she thrives upon.

Awaiting the favorite will be a few good ones, including Apple Blossom S. (G1) queen On Fire Baby. The Gary Hartlage pupil has run a pair of big ones in her four-year-old campaign to date, and we liked how hard she tried in the La Troienne S. (G2) here most recently when a head second. Sharp allowance heroine Wine Princess, multiple stakes vixen She’s All In, Doubledogdare S. (G3) victress Ice Cream Silence and the Mark Casse-trained Funny Proposition, will add to the quality of this affair.
Also on tap for this fine day of racing is the $100,000 Regret S. (G3) and the $100,000 Matt Winn S.