Successful Dan has been installed as the 2-1 favorite to win the Grade 1 $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap that will run at Churchill Downs on Saturday night under the lights for the second consecutive year. The 1 1/8 mile race for three-year-olds and up is the featured race on the 11-race card that includes five stakes races, one of which is an Arabian race.
The half-brother to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, Successful Dan has been sidelined with injuries that have prevented him from gaining the same level of accomplishment as his brother. Successful Dan returned from a two-year absence to win an allowance race at Keeneland in Apr. 2012, but after two more starts, was sidelined for another 10 months. He returned this April to win the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland. The seven-year-old gelding has eight wins from twelve starts, but is the only runner in the field of six without a Grade 1 victory to his name. Although Successful Dan crossed the wire first in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in 2010, the Charlie LoPresti trainee was placed third through disqualification. If not for that disqualification, Successful Dan's record at Churchill Downs would be a perfect four-for-four. Regular rider Julien Leparoux will be in the irons for Saturday's Stephen Foster.
Upsetting Wise Dan by a head in last year's edition, Bill Mott's Ron the Greek will return to Churchill to defend his title in the Stephen Foster. His last victory came in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park in January where he earned a 112 Brisnet speed figure in the 1 1/8 mile race over a sloppy track. That figure is the highest at the distance among his Stephen Foster competitors. In his last two starts, Ron the Greek has faced defeat to Game On Dude—in the Santa Anita Handicap and the Charles Town Classic. He won't have to worry about the Dude Saturday, but he will face rival Fort Larned.