Breeders' Cup Class winner Fort Larned exits the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in which he finished a disappointing fifth, beaten 10 1/2 lengths. In his first start of the year, the Ian Wilkes runner stumbled at the start and tossed regular rider Brian Hernandez. Although his five-year-old campaign has gotten off to a rocky start, he finished his four-year-old season with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There’s hope that in his third start this year, he’ll return the champion he was at the end of his four-year-old season. If that occurs and he can get back to a triple-digit speed figure, he’ll definitely be one to watch.
Take Charge Indy, the 2012 Florida Derby winner who finished next to last in the 2012 Kentucky Derby, has begun to come into his own as a four-year-old and hopes to get his second Grade 1 victory in Saturday’s Stephen Foster. On the Kentucky Oaks undercard, Take Charge Indy commanded the field with a sixth length victory in the Grade 2 Alysheba. It was the first win for Patrick Byrne’s trainee since his Florida Derby win.
Rounding out the field are Pool Play and Golden Ticket. Both have victories over the Churchill Downs dirt and both are the longest shots to win the Stephen Foster. Golden Ticket has been given a morning line of 12-1 and Pool Play a morning line of 15-1. One difference in the pair is that Pool Play was the upset winner in the 2011 running of the Stephen Foster. Since that victory, he’s only won one race, the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup Oct. 6, 2012. His most recent performances and speed figures, in the low 80s, make it appear that maybe Pool Play has outstayed his welcome with this class of runners.
Although Golden Ticket may be best remembered for his dead heat victory with Alpha in last year’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes, his most recent two victories have come in allowance races. The most recent coming Kentucky Derby week under top rider Joel Rosario. It’s doubtful that returning to Churchill with Rosario will be enough to garner a victory against this Stephen Foster field, but if Golden Ticket has a chance, he’ll be running at the end.
The race is the 8th on Churchill Downs’ 11-race card with a scheduled post of 9:39 p.m. It will be shown live on HRTV and broadcast on radio by HRRN.
Photo: Courtesy Churchill Downs.com
|Fort Larned wins Stephen Foster in impressive fashion|
|Downs After Dark returns to Churchill Downs for action-packed Saturday night|
|Shackleford takes down the Clark Handicap for Dale Romans|
|Shackleford heads field in Friday’s Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs|
|Stephen Foster Stakes upset as 36-1 Pool Play wins at Churchill [Sports]|
|Handicapping the Kentucky Oaks – analysis and wagering|
|Churchill Downs' Twin Spires will wear red for Cardinal Red Day|