Stephen Foster Handicap

Churchill Downs Concludes Eventful, Challenging 2014 Spring Meet

Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”)concluded its 140th Spring Meet on Sunday, June 29 after 38 days of racing highlighted by spectacular renewals of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I); the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI); the unveiling of the track’s spectacular $12 million Panasonic “Big Board” and $17 million Rooftop and Grandstand Terrace; and the continued success of its “Opening Night” and “Downs After Dark” night racing programs.

Along with near-record attendance and wagering levels for the 140th renewals of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) won by favored California Chrome and the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) that featured an emphatic victory by favored Untapable, the 2014 Spring Meet stakes program featured a total of six Grade I races and stirring performances by some of the brightest equine stars in American racing. Mort Fink’s two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan edged Seek Again to win a second consecutive running of the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI); Anita Cauley’s local favorite On Fire Baby won the $300,000-added La Troienne Presented by World Series of Polo (GI); Midnight Lucky dazzled in a 4 ½-length romp in the $300,000-added Humana Distaff (GI); and Randy Patterson’s former claiming horse Moonshine Mullin completed a first-ever sweep of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) and the $300,000-added Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables (GII) for veteran trainer Randy Morse. Also, Valiant Boy, the 2012 Arabian Horse of the Year, returned to Churchill Downs on Stephen Foster night for a second straight triumph in the $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (GI) for Arabian horses.

In the Spring Meet’s non-equine contests, jockeys Corey Lanerie, Julien Leparoux and Rosie Napravnik compiled numbers during the meet, as did record-setting leading trainer Steve Asmussen and top owner Maggi Moss.

But those successes shared the Spring Meet stage with concern over the declining size of daily racing fields during the April 26-June 29 racing session. The average field in the 372 races conducted during the meet was comprised of 7.29 horses, a decline from an average of 7.78 horses-per-race during the 2013 Spring Meet, which also consisted of 38 racing days. The decline in the horse population and competition for available horses, especially those in mid-to-lower level claiming races, prompted Churchill Downs to run 372 races during the Spring Meet, compared to 396 races run during the spring of 2013.

“Our Spring Meet was a success on many levels, headed by continued growth in Kentucky Derby and Oaks Week, the ongoing popularity of night racing, the excitement surrounding the introduction of our ‘Big Board’ and a range of new events and activities introduced in our new Grandstand Terrace and Pavilion venue and the Paddock Plaza, now in its second year,” Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said. “Our four night racing programs – including our ‘Opening Night’ celebration and a trio of ‘Downs After Dark’ events – showed that our market continues to love the unique combination of racing, food, music and dancing under the lights. And a pair of new ‘Family Adventure Days’ introduced by our team this spring resulted in an impressive and enthusiastic response from families in the region and is a concept that displayed potential for growth in future meets.

“The smaller field sizes are the results of a combination of factors that include years of substantial decline in the North American foal crop and increased regional competition for horses from racetracks in Indiana and Ohio with purses fed by casino revenues. Churchill Downs race purses have remained basically flat in recent years. We deeply appreciate the efforts of owners and trainers who have supported us during this meet. We have a talented and dedicated team in our racing office and our entire team is working on ways to improve those field size numbers in our upcoming September and Fall racing meets and further down the road.”

Daily purses averaged $532,903 over the meet’s 38 days, a slight decrease from the 2013 average of $534,942. With 24 fewer races run this year, purses paid during the just-completed meet totaled $20,250,300, compared with total purses of $20,327,798 paid a year earlier.

The 2014 Spring Meet got off to an impressive start with a strong Kentucky Derby Week culminated by stirring victories by favorites in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, the track’s signature races that have been run annually and without interruption since 1875.

Steve Coburn and Perry Martin’s homebred California Chrome, trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, won the famed “Run for the Roses” to provide the California-bred colt’s owners and trainer with their first successes in America’s greatest race. With the win, Sherman became the oldest trainer to saddle a winner of the Kentucky Derby. It was the second Kentucky Derby victory for Espinoza, who had won its 2002 running aboard War Emblem.

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Untapable dominated the Longines Kentucky Oaks, providing her owner/breeder, trainer Steve Asmussen and Napravnik with their second victories in America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies. Winchell and Asmussen had won the 2005 Oaks with Summerly, while the 26-year-old Napravnik – the only woman his history to ride a Kentucky Oaks winner – captured the race for the second time in three years.

Perfect weather on the first Saturday in May helped attract 164,906 Kentucky Derby Day patrons – the second largest crowd in history – and wagering was brisk on-track, via TwinSpires.com and other online wagering platforms and at satellite wagering centers across North America. On-track wagering on the Derby race totaled $11.9 million, an increase of 4 percent from the 2013 total. On-track wagering on the Derby program of $23.4 million was an 11 percent increase from 2013. Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby race card totaled $186.6 million, an increase of 1 percent over the 2013 total of $184.6 million.

One day earlier 113,071 fans – the third-largest attendance in the history of the event – gathered at Churchill Downs for the 140th running of the Kentucky Oaks. Wagering from all sources ranked as the second-highest all time on both the full 12-race Kentucky Oaks Day card and on the Kentucky Oaks race. All-sources wagering on the entire card totaled $43.2 million, a decrease of 5.7 percent from the 2013 total of $45.8 million. All-sources wagering on the Kentucky Oaks race dropped 1.9 percent to $14.1 million from 2013’s record $14.4 million. On-track wagering on the Oaks Day race card was the fourth-highest of all-time, coming in at $11.8 million, a 3 percent decrease from 2013’s near-record $12.2 million. On-track wagering on the Oaks race decreased 3 percent to $3 million from 2013’s record $3.1 million.

All-sources handle for Kentucky Derby Week – beginning with the “Opening Night” celebration on Saturday April 26, through Derby Day, Saturday, May 3, was $253.8 million. The total was down 2 percent from 2013’s $258.5 million. Attendance for those five days was up 5 percent to 348,530 from 331,922 in 2013.

Festivities surrounding the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks continued to generate important funds for partner charities. Checks totaling $127,000 were presented on Saturday, June 13 to three charitable agencies:

  • $57,000 was presented to Bright Pink, a Chicago-based non-profit organization focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women along with support for high-risk individuals. This was Bright Pink’s first year as the Kentucky Oaks’ women’s health partner, a focus that dates to 2009 when the event’s “Ladies First” theme was introduced. With the donation to Bright Pink, Churchill Downs has donated $589,000 to its Kentucky Oaks women’s health partners since 2009.
  • 30,000 was presented to Horses and Hope, the cancer outreach initiative in Kentucky’s horse industry launched by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear. The donation represents $1 from each on-track sale of the “Oaks Lily,” the signature drink of the Kentucky Oaks, and will support Horses and Hope’s programs at racetracks and farms in Kentucky’s horse industry. With its 2014 donation, Churchill Downs has donated $180,000 to Horses and Hope during its six-year Kentucky Oaks partnership.
  • Louisville-based food bank Dare to Care received a donation of $40,000 from the from the fifth annual “Taste of Derby Presented by Stella Artois” celebration in the North Wing Lobby of Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center on Thursday, May 1. The celebration of racing cuisine, celebrity and style attracted more than 1,500 patrons. Since the inaugural “Taste of Derby” in 2010, Churchill Downs has donated nearly $350,000 to hunger relief organizations in its home region and around the world.

Night racing at Churchill Downs and its unique blend of music, food, entertainment and top quality racing – introduced in 2009 – continued to attract large and enthusiastic crowds as the entertainment concept entered its sixth year. Four night racing sessions – including “Opening Night,” the “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka”/Stephen Foster Handicap program on Saturday, June 14, and “Downs After Dark” Friday programs on June 20 and 27 – attracted a total attendance of 78,559.  The June 14 session included the introduction of the Terrace Lounge and VIP Cabanas, an outdoor venue for patrons 21-and-over located in the Clubhouse Terrace that attracted sellout crowds in each of its first three “Downs After Dark” sessions.

Jockey Corey Lanerie rode 57 winners during the Spring Meet to collect his third consecutive riding title and fifth overall at Churchill Downs, a total that includes two Spring Meet crowns. Highlights of the meet for the 39-year-old native of Lafayette, La. included a win in the Grade II Fleur De Lis Presented by Etihad Airways and his first Kentucky Derby mount. Lanerie finished 16th in Derby 140 aboard Harry’s Holiday.

Napravnik’s Spring Meet was cut short when she suffered a shoulder injury in a June 15 training mishap and missed the meet’s final nine racing days, but her 31 victories to that point earned her a tie with Julien Leparoux for second in the race for leading rider. She had set a record for wins by a female rider during a racing meet at Churchill Downs when she piloted 45 winners during the 2013 Spring Meet, a total that surpassed a standard established in the spring of 1996 by retired jockey and current NBC Sports analyst Donna Barton Brothers. Napravnik earned five stakes victories during the meet topped by her Grade I triumphs in the Kentucky Oaks and the Humana Distaff, and also established a Churchill Downs record for wins in a single day by a female rider when she guided five horses into the winner’s circle on May 25. The previous record of four wins on a single program had also been set by Barton Brothers in the 1996 Spring Meet.

Leparoux, a nine-time Churchill Downs riding leader, enjoyed his strong Spring Meet after he returned to Kentucky following two years of riding at Southern California racetracks.

A veteran of the Churchill Downs jockey colony and a fresh new face achieved milestones during the meet. Veteran Joe Johnson, a 46-year-old native of Knottsville, Ky., earned his 1,000th career victory aboard Silver Antelope in the 10th race on June 5. At the other end of the spectrum, 16-year-old apprentice jockey Juan Saez earned his first victories at Churchill Downs and in the United States when he won the opening two races on June 20. Saez, a native of Panama and the younger brother of New York-based jockey Luis Saez, arrived late in the Spring Meet and finished with five victories.

Apprentice Erin Walker, 29, also achieved a personal milestone when she rode her first Churchill Downs winner on June 19.

The Kentucky Oaks victory by Untapable was the marquee moment of the meet for trainer Steve Asmussen, who saddled 21 winners to earn a record-extending 14th title as leading trainer at Churchill Downs. Asmussen pulled away late in the final week to emerge with his seventh Spring Meet crown following a tight battle with Dale Romans (16 wins), Mike Maker (16) and Brad Cox (15). The 48-year-old Asmussen also earned stakes victories during the meet with Tapiture in the Matt Winn (GIII), Cinco Charlie in the Bashford Manor (GIII), Regally Ready in the Opening Verse and Speedinthruthecity in the Roxelana. Romans won major Spring Meet stakes events with Silver Max in the Firecracker (GII) and Molly Morgan in the Fleur De Lis (GII).

Maggi Moss sent seven horses into the winner’s circle during the Spring Meet to earn her third Churchill Downs “leading owner” title.  A meet highlight for the Des Moines, Iowa-based Moss came when she teamed with Napravnik and trainer Tom Amoss for a victory by Delaunay in the Aristides (GIII) on May 31. The 2014 title by Moss snapped a string of three consecutive leading owner titles by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who swept the Spring Meet, September and Fall Meet crowns in 2013 and have earned a record 21 career leading owner titles at the Louisville track. Six owners collected four wins during the meet to tie for second behind Moss, who earned her earlier crowns at Churchill Downs in the Spring Meets in 2007 and 2010.

The Spring Meet stakes schedule was launched with a victory in the “Opening Night” Derby Trial (GIII) by Embellishing Bob, who was awarded the victory by stewards following the disqualification of apparent winner Bayern. Other notable stakes victories were earned by Central Banker in the Churchill Downs (GII), Coffee Clique in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII), Global View in the American Turf (GII), Fiftyshadesofgold in the Eight Belles (GIII), Honey Hues in the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII), Southern Honey in the Winning Colors (GIII), War Dancer in the Louisville Handicap (GIII), Aurelia’s Belle in the Regret (GIII), Marchman in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GIII), Promise Me Silver in the Debutante, Good Lord in the Kelly’s Landing, A Little Bit Sassy in the Edgewood and Sweet Cassiopeia in the Unbridled Sidney.

Churchill Downs racing resumes in its September Meet, scheduled over 12 dates (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) from Sept. 5-28. The track’s 26-date Fall Meet is set for Oct. 26-Nov. 30.

'Downs After Dark' Stephen Foster Stars Reported in Good Shape on Sunday

Following an exhilarating night of first-class racing Saturday under the Twin Spires, the equine stars of Stephen Foster Handicap Night at Churchill Downs were reported by their connections to be in good order.

In one of the most impressive performances of the year, Randy Patterson’s Moonshine Mullin scored a 1 ¾-length victory in the $552,500 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I) and trainer Randy Morse said he came out of the race well.

"He came out great, really great,” Morse said. “We’re just going to let this win sink in and we’ll see what happens next.”

Morse did mention he would probably take a string of horses back to Saratoga upon the completion of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet, but did not say if Moonshine Mullin was pointed to a specific race.

The two Grade I events for handicap horses this summer at Saratoga are the Aug. 2 Whitney Invitational Handicap and Aug. 30 Woodward, both run at 1 1/8 miles.

Moonshine Mullin was followed in order by Will Take Charge, Departing, Mylute, Golden Ticket, Revolutionary, Long River, Prayer for Relief and Jaguar Paw.

“He came out of the race fine,” Will Take Charge conditioner D. Wayne Lukas said. “We’ll take a very serious look at the Whitney. This horse has an affinity for the Saratoga track.”

“Departing is fine,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “We were pleased with his effort and we will talk to the owners to see what’s in store next.”

Molly Morgan, Tapiture and Aurelia’s Belle also captured graded stakes wins on the “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” racing program that attracted a crowd of 21,671.

Bill Cubbedge’s Molly Morgan took the $216,200 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII), starting the race in last of six through the first half-mile, while Ondine got out to an early lead. Molly Morgan passed Flashy American to get to fifth after six furlongs and gained ground by slipping through along the rail around the stretch to take the lead, and drew clear by four lengths at the wire with jockey Corey Lanerie at the reigns.

“We were very pleased with her effort and her trip last night,” Molly Morgan’s trainer Dale Romans said. “This opens the door to some interesting options for her in the future; I can’t say for sure what those might be yet, but she came out great.”

After finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Tapiture bounced back to take the $109,400 Matt Winn (GIII) by two lengths for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“He was pretty impressive last night,” Asmussen said. “But he came out of the race fine and everything is good here. The Aug. 2 West Virginia Derby (GII) is a possibility for where we might take him next.”

With a rough trip in the final stages of the $111,900 Regret (GIII), James F. Miller’s Aurelia’s Belle was placed first by a disqualification of A Little Bit Sassy for trainer Wayne Catalano. A Little Bit Sassy was disqualified from first and placed fourth for veering out and impeding Kiss Moon and Aurelia’s Belle.

“She’s a very nice horse,” Catalano’s assistant Miguel Hernandez said. “She walked this morning and is sound; everything’s good.”

Following last night’s race, Catalano was unsure what the next start for Aurelia’s Belle would be but that he would most likely keep her on the turf.

WELL-BRED TAKE CHARGE BRANDI HEADS LIST OF 23 DEBUTANTE NOMS

Of the 23 2-year-old fillies nominated for Saturday’s 114th running of the $100,000-added Debutante at Churchill Downs, perhaps one of the most intriguing is Take Charge Brandi, an unraced daughter of Giant’s Causeway whose dam is a half-sister to 3-year-old Champion Will Take Charge and multiple graded stakes winner Take Charge Indy; and granddam is multiple Grade I winner Take Charge Lady.

Take Charge Brandi is owned and trained by the same connections of Will Take Charge, Willis D. Horton and Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who have some high expectations for the filly.

“She’s doing great,” Lukas said. “We’re not quite sure if she’s ready for that step forward, but we’re very high on her.”

Horton purchased Take Charge Brandi for $450,000 at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, less than two weeks after Will Take Charge collected his first Grade I victory in the Travers.

"It’s pretty special to have one out of the same family and she’s been training really well,” Lukas said. “But like they always say, don’t tell me, show me.”

Take Charge Brandi breezed a half mile in :48 Sunday morning. Before that, she breezed three furlongs from the gate in :35.60, which was the fastest of 20 workers at the distance on June 7.

Likely Debutante starters include Little Bear Racing, Ingrid Mason and Melissa Wilkey’s Irish Nuggets for co-owner/trainer Mason; Robert G. Luttrell’s Promise Me Silver for trainer Bret Calhoun; David Ingordo’s Rousanne trained by Steve Asmussen; John C. Oxley’s Unbridled Reward for trainer Mark Casse; and Blue Checker Thoroughbreds LLC’s Zip It Kim trained by John Hancock.

The six-furlong Debutante is the first stakes test for 2-year-old fillies offered by Churchill Downs. Last year’s winner was Fiftyshadesofgold, who came back as a 3-year-old to win the 2014 Eight Belles (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day.

RESERVE YOUR SEATS FOR THE ‘TERRACE LOUNGE’ ON FRIDAY NIGHT

This Friday, June 21, Churchill Downs again will transform the new Grandstand Terrace into the “Terrace Lounge,” a 21-and-over lounge-style environment that features a live DJ, club/lounge style lighting and décor, premium food and cocktails and use of the grandstand terrace’s patio and stadium style seating.

Tickets to Downs After Dark in the lounge are $25 and can be reserved in advance with a limited total capacity. The Terrace Lounge will be available at all three Downs After Dark events this Spring, with the hopes of continuing it again in the future if successful.

For $99 per ticket, Churchill Downs is also offering Terrace Lounge VIP Cabana seating, which includes an open bar from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m., a premium buffet designed by Chef David Danielson and concierge wait service. These tickets reserve special plush seating for groups of any number within one of the four covered cabanas at the end of the Grandstand Terrace.

Click here for a PDF copy of Churchill Downs' Race Day Notes for Sunday, June 15 - packed with statistics and other special information.

From Claim to Fame: Moonshine Mullin Wins Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap

Randy Patterson’s Moonshine Mullin pressed the pace under a snug hold, took the lead with three-eighths of a mile to run and turned back bids by Departing and champion Will Take Charge en route to a 1 ¾-length win in Saturday night’s 33rd running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I), the featured event on a spectacular “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” night racing program before 21,671 at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Randy Morse and ridden by Hall of Famer Calvin Borel, Moonshine Mullin covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:49.66 to beat 5-2 favorite Will Take Charge.  Departing was another neck back in third.

This was the second Foster upset for Borel, who piloted 91-1 shocker Seek Gold to victory in 2006.

Claimed in November at Remington Park for $40,000, Moonshine Mullin became the first horse to complete a sweep of Churchill Downs’ two spring stakes events for older horses: the $342,000 Alysheba Presented by Besilu Stables (GII) and the Stephen Foster, which was run six weeks later.

The Foster was his fifth victory in a row and was worth was worth $328,848, which made Moonshine Mullin a millionaire.

The 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Albert the Great out of the Distant View mare Mullen Road has banked $644,012 for Patterson and his team since the claim. Overall, he boasts a record of 32-9-4-5—$1,014,361.

Moonshine Mullin beat five millionaires in the field of nine of older horses, and earned an automatic entry into the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita on Nov. 1 because this was the year’s first Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division Challenge Race. His $100,000 Classic pre-entry and entry fees will be waived and he’ll receive a $10,000 travel stipend if they decide to make that race their year-end goal.

Similar to his May 2 Alysheba upset at odds of 6-1, Moonshine Mullin was forwardly placed. He prompted the pace set by 80-1 outsider Jaguar Paw, who ran the first quarter mile in :23.98 and the half in :47.91. He assumed command on the final turn and dug in to meet the bid of Departing at the eighth pole. He put away that rival and gamely edged clear to hold back a late run by Will Take Charge.

Moonshine Mullin, who carried 118 pounds, returned $22, $9 and $5.20 at odds of 10-1. Will Take Charge, the 123-pound high weight ridden by Gary Stevens, paid $4.60 and $3.40. Departing was third under Robby Albarado and 118 pounds and paid $3.60.

Mylute, Golden Ticket, Revolutionary, Long River, Prayer for Relief and Jaguar Paw completed the order of finish.

Moonshine Mullin was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Russ Beran and Dick Johnson.

The Stephen Foster was the marquee event among five graded stakes races scheduled on Saturday night at Churchill Downs.

STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP PRESENTED BY ABU DHABI QUOTES

CALVIN BOREL, jockey of MOONSHINE MULLIN (winner) – “Randy (Morse) has been doing so well with him. The first morning I was out on him working him after the Alysheba, he didn’t really work like I thought he should have. But boy its funny, when a horse peaks, they peak. When I came back and worked him again about five days ago he was a totally different horse, like he had gotten his seat back under him. I rode him with a lot of confidence today. We were stepping up today, I know we beat some of these same horses a few weeks back and early on I was afraid it may have taken too much out of him, but as we got closer, Randy had him ready to go. He’s a nice, nice horse.”

RANDY MORSE, trainer of MOONSHINE MULLIN (winner) – “He’s a good horse and he’s been training very well. He trained better leading up to this race than he did the race before. He drew a really good post, which meant a lot. I usually tend to be pretty conservative but when he drew the three-post with how well as he’s trained the past week, I was pretty sure we were going to run him.”

On Moonshine Mullin’s next start – “If he never wins another race, it’s been a great ride. But as good as he’s doing, who knows? You never know, that’s one thing about this sport, they come from everywhere. I’m very happy with him though.”

RANDY PATTERSON, owner of MOONSHINE MULLIN (winner) – “It was awesome, absolutely awesome. This was my first Grade I win, the Alysheba was my first Grade II win and coming down that stretch today I was just like, ‘this is not supposed to happen with a claiming horse.’ But he’ll stay right here, I don’t have any idea what will be next for him.”

GARY STEVENS, jockey on WILL TAKE CHARGE (runner-up) – “He struggled a little bit the first sixteenth of a mile – the track was getting away from him a little bit. But he really got into a nice rhythm down the backside. He gave up a lot of ground around the turn, but he seemed to be happy there. He showed up today. I mean we spotted the winner 10 pounds and he was still getting with it the last sixteenth of a mile.”

D. WAYNE LUKAS, trainer of WILL TAKE CHARGE (runner-up) – “He had a little trouble getting hold of the racetrack early and he couldn’t get going. But once he got rolling he looked pretty good.”

Q: He clearly bounced back from the disappointing run in the Alysheba – any thoughts on what happened in that one? “I think he just had one of those off days. He got pinned on the inside and he doesn’t like that. But a mile and a quarter is his best distance and that’s what they all are now.”

Q: Do you have a target for his next start? “The Whitney.”

AL STALL JR., trainer of DEPARTING (third) – “He ran great. It was only our second dance of the year – he really needed that race. We’re right where we need to be for the rest of the year. He got a shade heavy, which he’s supposed to that last eighth of a mile. I think we’re in good shape.”

ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on DEPARTING (third) – “He was in a great spot. He was where I anticipated him to be. He was kind enough and he put in his patented run at the three-eighths pole and he hung on as long as he could. It was just his second race off the layoff and I think he’s put us right where we need to be now.”

MIKE SMITH, jockey on REVOLUTIONARY (sixth) – “I didn’t have a straw in my path, but he didn’t give me the run that he has been. As to why, I don’t know. He just didn’t give me that good turn of foot.”

McPeek Dreaming of All-Stakes Pick 4 at Saturday's Downs After Dark

The exhilarating Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka night racing program features four graded stakes for Thoroughbreds, highlighted by the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I), and Churchill Downs-based trainer Kenny McPeek is shooting for the “All-Stakes Pick 4” with a starter in each graded event.

McPeek is looking for his first Foster win with Magic City Thoroughbred PartnersGolden Ticket, who has been given morning-line odds of 8-1 in post position seven.

The runner-up to Fort Larned in last year’s Foster will try for his first victory of 2014 and only his second graded stakes triumph. His prior graded score came in a thrilling dead-heat finish with Alpha in the 2012 Travers (GI).

McPeek’s main handicap horse is no stranger to finishing second-best in big races. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown made a late charge against Foster contender Moonshine Mullin last time out in the Alysheba (GII), but it wasn’t enough as Moonshine Mullin prevailed by a half-length on Kentucky Oaks Day.

He also ran second in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) and 2014 Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII).

When asked about Golden Ticket’s close misses McPeek said, “He’s a top horse and has run well over this racetrack. He’s knocked on the door several times and been a little unlucky in some races, but he’s run well every time. He deserves another chance at a race like this. But he’s doing as good as ever – locked and loaded.”

Preston Stables LLC’s Flashy American, who could become the first $200,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII) winner for McPeek, is a story of true persistence for her conditioner.

The 5-year-old daughter of Flashy Bull did not break her maiden until her 11th start, but has since won six of her last 15, including two graded stakes-placed finishes and four stakes wins. She rallied late to take the Sixty Sails Handicap (GIII) by three quarters of a length in her last start at Hawthorne.

“She was slow coming around for whatever reason, but now she’s gotten really good,” McPeek said. “It was always a matter of distance and surface for her. Anytime we ran her at two turns on the dirt, she got it done. It was like we’d run her in a race at Keeneland on the Polytrack or we had several instances where the race didn’t fill early on. But since then, we’ve stuck to the two turns going a mile and a sixteenth or mile and an eighth, and she’s hickory doing that.”

Flashy American drew the outside post position six for the Fleur du Lis, and has been made the 7-2 third choice on the morning-line.

Magdalena Racing’s Rankhasprivileges will be the first stakes horse to take the field Saturday for McPeek in the $100,000-added Matt Winn (GIII), the sixth race on Saturday’s card with an approximate post time of 8:30 p.m.

Since breaking his maiden in his debut at Keeneland in October of 2013, the 3-year-old son of Einstein has raced three times, all in graded stakes, the best finish coming in third in the Delta Downs Jackpot (GIII), a race won by Matt Winn contender Rise Up.

“It’s a little ambitious spot here, but we’ve always felt that he was a dirt horse,” McPeek said. “I got a race under his belt in Chicago and I think that race is going to key him up pretty well for this spot. I’d prefer to run him in an allowance race, but I didn’t have anything coming up for another couple of weeks and I think he’s a stake horse and it’s just a matter of testing him and trying him.”

Rankhasprivileges breaks from the rail in post position one with morning-line odds of 20-1, the highest odds in the seven-horse field.

McPeek’s final stakes contender of the evening will be Thorndale Stable LLC’s Share the Sugar in the $100,000-added Regret (GIII), who makes her stakes debut. The Regret will be run as the ninth race with an approximate post time of 10:11 p.m.

The 3-year-old daughter of Heatseeker captured an allowance race at Churchill Downs going a mile in her last start on June 5.

“She’s a filly that we’ve been high on from the beginning,” McPeek said. “Her last two turf races were excellent and we feel like she has a chance to be a stakes horse. We’re wheeling her back on short rest, but she hadn’t run in a while before that… about five weeks out in between races, but she’s been doing well. We’ll be happy if she can hit the board.”

Share the Sugar gets post nine of 10 fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the turf, with odds of 6-1.

McPeek scored the Regret and Matt Winn on the same day in 2011 with Bizzy Caroline and Scotus. He also won the 2004 Regret with Sister Star.

Golden Ticket, Flashy American and Share the Sugar will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, two-time winner of the Regret aboard Pure Clan in 2008 and Lady of Venice in 2006 and also took the 2006 Fleur de Lis with Happy Ticket.

Rankhasprivileges will be ridden by Robby Albarado, who is seeking his first win in the Matt Winn.

The four stakes were first run on the same day in 2001. Since then, Jerry Bailey has been the only jockey to take three of the four, winning the Foster on Street Cry, the Matt Winn on Danthebluegrassman and the Regret on Distant Valley in 2002.

In addition to McPeek taking two of the four in 2006, three other trainers have taken two of the stakes races in the same day: Steve Asmussen won the Foster and Matt Winn in 2008; Todd Pletcher won the Matt Winn and Regret in 2010; and Bill Mott was the greatest success, winning the 2012 Foster with Ron the Greek and Fleur de Lis with champion Royal Delta.

LUKAS STICKS WITH STEVENS, WEIGHT NO ISSUE FOR WILL TAKE CHARGE

Despite a sixth-place finish in the Alysheba (Grade II) on Kentucky Oaks Day, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas didn’t hesitate to put Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens back aboard champion Will Take Charge for Saturday’s $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I).

Luis (Saez) did nothing but ride him brilliantly,” Lukas said of the rider that piloted Will Take Charge in seven consecutive races from August through April. “We liked everything about him. We just thought that with the magnitude of the races coming up we’d go with Gary.

“I’ve had a great rapport with Gary over the years and the owners (Willis D. Horton and Three Chimneys Farm LLC) thought, with the Breeders’ Cup being at Santa Anita (Stevens’ home track), that they’d take every edge. That was their decision and I endorsed it.”

Will Take Charge, who was stuck down on the inside for most of the Alysheba while racing under Stevens for the first time, will break from post four Saturday night.

Will Take Charge is the 123-pound high weight for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile race and will concede five-to-nine pounds to his eight rivals.

“I thought that our weight was very fair and in line,” Lukas said. “I’d like to have seen some of the others a little bit higher; I’m not sure about giving five-to-nine pounds to some of those other horses, but I’ve never really been one to complain much about the weights. It is what it is; I don’t think I really need to agonize over it.”

Saturday’s race will be the sixth straight race that Will Take Charge has carried 123 pounds. Six of the scheduled starters will drop weight from their previous starts, while two others will carry the same.

ON FIRE BABY SEEKS FOURTH STAKES WIN BENEATH TWIN SPIRES IN FLEUR DE LIS

Anita C. Cauley’s On Fire Baby looks to score her fourth graded stakes win at Churchill Downs in Saturday’s $200,000-added Fleur de Lis Presented by Etihad Airways (GII). The spectacular 5-year-old mare trained by Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage will take on five tested fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles at her home track with regular rider Joe Johnson in the saddle.

On Fire Baby’s signature victories in the 2013 Apple Blossom (GI) and 2014 La Troienne (GI) were the first and second Grade I wins for both Harlage and Johnson, easily making her the most successful horse for the trainer and jockey.

“She’s been with us about three years and the day she came off of the van we knew she was something special,” Hartlage said. “As a matter of fact I think she’s run in one maiden race, and everything else was stakes, she’s never even run an allowance race, but that’s how good we thought she was and she’s just something special to come to every morning.”

The Louisville-based trainer has been tremendously pleased with her performance in 2014, especially after the stalking the leader in the La Troienne, commanding the lead in the stretch and drawing away clear by 2 ¾ lengths at the wire.

“She has a personality of her own and she’s been a little more laid back this year than I think she has been,” Hartlage said. “Joe has to encourage her a little bit more, which is good because it shows she’s laidback and we can start stretching her out a bit more. We’re going a mile and an eighth here Saturday and her next race might be 1 ¼ miles if she runs well here.

“She’ll be stalking right on the lead. If she’s anywhere besides there I will be surprised. But that’ll be my instructions on her and Joe knows how to ride her. If he can make his own fractions going a mile and an eighth, that’d be really good. Joe really knows this horse well though, he’s the only one that has ever ridden her and he’s the only one that gallops her in the mornings. We like where we’re at.”

AMOSS LOOKING FOR SPEED IN FOSTER; HAS SPEED FOR THE MATT WINN

Goldmark Farm LLC and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute and Paul and Andrena Van Doren’s Rise Up are both shooting for big stakes wins on Saturday night’s card for trainer Tom Amoss.

While Mylute has earned $630,502 entering Saturday’s Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI), he is still looking for his first graded stakes victory. He finished fourth beaten 5 ½ lengths in the Alysheba (GII) at Churchill Downs in his last outing.

“Mylute made his 4-year-old debut in New Orleans at the end of the Fair Grounds meet in an allowance race and it was a good start off the bench for his 4-year-old campaign,” Amoss said. “The race here at Churchill was disappointing. It’s funny how this track can be during Kentucky Derby week. I don’t think it suited him, which was a surprise, because he’s always taken to this track really well.

“A lot of how the race sets up on Saturday is going to let us know how he’s going to perform. He wants speed in the race, something to set up his close, and that’s a bit of a question mark whether that’s going to exist or not.”

While Rosie Napravnik has been the regular rider on Mylute in his last five starts, James Graham has the call in the Foster. Graham has ridden Mylute twice, in his maiden victory at Arlington and to a fifth-place finish in the Arlington-Washington Futurity, both in 2012.

“It’s nothing to do with Rosie, she’s a great rider, but we’re just looking to shake things up and hope that it might make a difference,” Amoss said.

Rise Up enters the Matt Winn (GIII) off a 10 ¾-length romp in the Robert Hilton Memorial at Charles Town. He enjoyed success as a 2-year-old at Delta Downs where he won the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (GIII) and the $200,000 Jean Lafitte, but has had a tougher time with traditional tracks such as Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds.

“The knock on Rise Up is that he’s been a horse that likes the tighter tracks, the kind of ‘bull ring’ type tracks, and he has never won on traditional tracks.” Amoss said. “I don’t know what the future holds for this race, but we’re going to be on the lead, that’s for sure.”

Rise Up will break from post position three with Leandro Goncalves aboard as the 3-1 third choice in the Matt Winn. Mylute has drawn post position five in the Foster with morning-line odds of 12-1.

FIFTYSHADESOFHAY SEEKS MILLIONAIRE STATUS IN FLEUR DE LIS

Fiftyshadesofhay, winner of the Ruffian (Grade II) at Belmont Park in her last start, is looking to surpass the $1 million earnings mark with a win in Saturday’s $200,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (Grade II).

The 4-year-old daughter of Pulpit, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, has banked $946,547 entering Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares.

“She’s been training super well,” Baffert’s chief assistant Jimmy Barnes said. “When you look at her past races, she likes coming off the pace. She’s not one that likes to be rushed along. In California, it’s a little different because of the speedier track, you kind of have to rush her along and I don’t think she likes that.”

Prior to capturing the Ruffian, Fiftyshadesofhay’s other two starts of 2014 resulted in a fourth in the La Cañada (GII) and a sixth in the Santa Margarita (GI), both at Santa Anita.

“Watching her last race at Belmont, she broke well and then fell back a bit,” Barnes said. “Then she dropped down to the rail, saved some ground and swung out wide and finished in the stretch so I’m assuming (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) would ride her similarly to that race.”

STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP FAST FACTS

Combined, the nine Stephen Foster entrants have won 52 of their 174 starts (29.9%), including 17 graded stakes events, and $11.3 million. Eight are stakes winners (Mylute is the lone non-stakes winner) and five are millionaires: Will Take Charge ($3,668,568), Prayer for Relief ($1,682,413), Departing ($1,438,300), Revolutionary ($1,347,500) and Golden Ticket ($1,238,178).

Three Stephen Foster entrants ran in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands: Revolutionary (third), Mylute (fifth) and Will Take Charge (eighth).

Three horses used victories in the Stephen Foster as part of their résumés in Horse of the Year campaigns. The three are Black Tie Affair (1991), Saint Liam (2005) and Curlin (2008). In addition, two runner-ups were crowned Horse of the Year: Mineshaft (2003) and Wise Dan (2012).

Victory Gallop owns the stakes and track record for 1 1/8 miles of 1:47.28 established in 1999.

Pat Day and Robby Albarado have won the Stephen Foster three times to lead all riders. Day’s Foster victories came in 1985 (Vanlandingham), 1998 (Awesome Again) and 2003 (Perfect Drift). Albarado won the race three consecutive years in 2007 (Flashy Bull), 2008 (Curlin) and 2009 (Macho Again).

Two horses have won the Stephen Foster in consecutive years: Vodika Collins (1982-83) and Recoup The Cash (1994-95).

Three trainers have won the Stephen Foster twice and all did it in consecutive years: Forrest Kaelin (1982-83 with Vodika Collins), Jere Smith Jr. (1994-95 with Recoup The Cash) and Pat Byrne (1997-98 with City by Night and Awesome Again).

Three horses have won the Stephen Foster and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year. Black Tie Affair (1991) and Awesome Again (1998) won both races at Churchill Downs. Saint Liam won his running of the Classic at Belmont Park.  The 2014 renewal of the $5 million Classic is scheduled for Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.

Curlin (2008) carried the highest impost of any Stephen Foster winner: 128 pounds.

Colonial Colony (2004) carried the lightest winning Foster impost at 111 pounds.

The Stephen Foster Handicap was elevated to Grade I status in 2002.

STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP: “WIN & YOU’RE IN” BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC

The winner of Saturday’s 33rd running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) is entitled to an automatic entry into the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. The nominated winner will have pre-entry and entry fees waived for the 1 ¼-mile Classic and will receive a travel stipend of $10,000 if traveling from a location in North America or $20,000 if traveling internationally. Breeders’ Cup Ltd.’s Chief Operating Officer Bob Elliston is scheduled to be on hand for post-race ceremonies.

KENTUCKY DERBY TROPHY PRESENTATION

Representatives from the connections of California Chrome, the winner of the 140th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and 139th Preakness Stakes, will be on hand Saturday night to accept their engraved Kentucky Derby trophies.

The ceremony in the Trackside Winner’s Circle will take place immediately after Race 4, which has an approximate post time of 7:26 p.m.

California Chrome’s owners and breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin are scheduled to be on hand to collect their Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy.

Former rider Jose Espinoza will accept the jockey’s trophy on behalf of his brother Victor Espinoza, who has riding commitments in California.

Trainer Art Sherman, who became the oldest person to saddle a Derby winner at age 77, and members of his stable are unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony.

HRTV, HRRN TO BROADCAST LIVE

HRTV – the 24-hour horse racing television network which airs on Time Warner Cable channel 564 in Louisville, AT&T U-verse channel 672 and DISH Network channel 404 – will be onsite for Saturday’s Downs After Dark debut with reporter Caton Bredar.

Additionally, Mike Penna, Ellis Star and jockey Kristina McManigell of Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will air coverage of three stakes races – the Matt Winn, Fleur de Lis Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap – Saturday night from 8-10 p.m. EDT on Sirius 93 and online at www.horseracingradio.net.

$100,000 GUARANTEED JACKPOT POOL FOR 20-CENT TWINSPIRES.COM SINGLE 6 JACKPOT

Churchill Downs and TwinSpires.com have teamed to make Stephen Foster Handicap night even more enticing for bettors by offering a one-night-only $100,000 guaranteed jackpot pool for the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot wager.

Saturday’s Single 6 sequence will cover Races 4-9, which begins at 7:26 p.m. (all times EDT) and culminates with the $100,000 Regret (Grade III) at 10:11 p.m.

If there’s only one winning wager that night, the lucky bettor will take home a $100,000 jackpot prize.

The Single 6 Jackpot challenges bettors to correctly pick the winners of six consecutive races, and is paid out only if there is a single winning wager with six winners placed at the required minimum bet value.

Bettors that have the highest number of winners in the daily six-race sequence equally share 70-percent of the net money wagered into the pool. The remaining 30-percent of the net pool carries to the Single 6 Jackpot if there are multiple winning wagers with six winners placed at the required minimum bet value, which is sold in affordable denominations of 20 cents.

Again, there can be only one winning wager for the jackpot to be paid. If a bettor hits the Single 6 Jackpot twice on one ticket – meaning he or she “scratched into the favorite” and used both horses in the race; or used two horses in a race and they finished in a dead-heat; or played the same 20-cent ticket twice for a total of 40 cents – he or she is not eligible for the jackpot aspect. There can only be a single winning wager placed at the required minimum bet value for the jackpot to be paid.

Because there is a unique carryover facet, there are no minor consolation payoffs. For example, if there are multiple winning wagers with six winners, there will be no consolation payoff for five winners.

The $100,000 jackpot is available only one night – Saturday, June 14.

In addition to the Single 6, Saturday’s wagering menu features three Pick 4 wagers (Races 1-4, 3-6 and 6-9) with the latter an all-graded stakes Pick 4 that concludes with the Regret. The Pick 5 will cover Races 5-9. Both the Pick 4 and Pick 5 are 50-cent minimum bets.

CHURCHILL DOWNS CHALLENGE AWARDS ENTRY TO BREEDERS’ CUP BETTING CONTEST

Churchill Downs Racetrack will host its inaugural Churchill Downs Challenge – a live-money handicapping contest that will award fully-paid entries into the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge to the top two finishers – on Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” 11-race program.

The Churchill Downs Challenge, which will take place in Gold Room 2 on the second floor of the Clubhouse, costs $1,500 per entry of which $1,000 becomes the participant’s bankroll. Each contestant must wager at least $1,000 and may wager any amount in Win, Place, Show, Exacta or Trifecta pools on Races 1-9. Participants keep all winnings.

The sixth annual Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, which has a cash prize pool of more than $500,000, has a $10,000 buy-in and is scheduled for Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.

The top two finishers Saturday in the Churchill Downs Challenge will receive fully-paid entries to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge as well as a three-night hotel stays and $400 travel vouchers. The winner also will receive a $3,000 cash prize while the runner-up gets $2,000.

The third and fourth place finishers Saturday will get $1,000 in cash, a partially-paid $2,500 entry to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, three-night hotel stay and $400 travel voucher.

The fifth- through eighth-place finishers will receive $500 each.

DOWNS AFTER DARK: WHITE PARTY - GUESTS ENCOURAGE TO WEAR ALL-WHITE

Louisville’s biggest summer parties return in earnest to Churchill Downs for the final three weeks of the Spring Meet as the historic home of the Kentucky Derby welcomes back its wildly-popular Downs After Dark nighttime racing programs Saturday at 6 p.m. (all times Eastern).

A perfect blend of an upscale night on the town with the excitement of Thoroughbred racing, Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka will take place on Saturday, June 14; Friday, June 20 and Friday, June 27.

Admission gates will open each day at 4 p.m. and the first of 11 live races will begin at 6 p.m. The final live race will be 11:10 p.m. and the on-track party will continue in the spacious Plaza area until 11:30 p.m. The last call for alcohol will be post time for the final race of night.

The elements that have made the Downs After Dark parties so special over the past five years – the fashion, style, cuisine, music and entertainment – are back, and each of this year’s evening racing extravaganzas will have unique concepts: the fourth annual “White Party” (Saturday) in which guests are encouraged to wear an all-white wardrobe; “Summer Luau” (June 20) where patrons can wear casual Hawaiian-style prints; and “Rockin’ in the USA” (June 27), a pre-Fourth of July holiday celebration with denim, Americana and lots of red, white and blue.

On Saturday, the paddock pergolas will be decked out in white draping, palms and crystal chandeliers. There’ll be more white indoors where the dining rooms will be filled with white and silver accents, crystal orb stands and towers, crystal chandeliers and white chair covers.

SVET THE HIP-HOP VIOLINIST ON HAND

Saturday night’s “Downs After Dark” entertainment lineup includes an appearance by SVET, the Electro Hip-Hop Violinist who was featured on NBC’s hit TV show “America’s Got Talent.”

SVET, who will roam the facility throughout the night and perform on the Plaza stage at 8:30 p.m., is globally recognized for his incredible talent to recreate music and songs of today with the violin.

While on a 60-city international tour, he shared the stage with stars such as Kanye West, Jamie Foxx, Phillip Phillips, Cee Lo Green and The Black Keys.

Other entertainment on Saturday includes DJs, interactive mimes and henna tattoo artists from the Cincinnati Circus Company. Also, track officials will be walking around and handing out “White LED Hip-Hop Celebrity Fashion Shades” to select patrons.

Additionally, Vicki Rogers of Lite 106.9 FM will serve as the entertainment emcee on the Big Board, and the specialty cocktail of the evening is the Finlandia Freeze, which is served frozen and on the rocks.

BET OR NO BET RETURNS

Saturday night’s Downs After Dark ancillary entertainment includes the popular text-to-win sweepstakes “Bet or No Bet,” sponsored by Thorntons. Four lucky on-track patrons will face a tough decision on Races 6-9: to place a $1,000 win bet on a horse in the upcoming race or take a $100 Thorntons’ gift card.

IDEAL WEATHER: MOSTLY SUNNY, 82

According to the National Weather Service, Saturday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 82. The low will be around 63.

DOWNS AFTER DARK COVER CHARGE IS $10

Cover charge (general admission) to all Downs After Dark events is $10. Holders of shareholders passes or horsemen licenses and children age 12 and under (when accompanied by an adult) will be admitted free of charge. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track unless they are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.

LIMITED RESERVED SEATING STILL AVAILABLE FOR NEW ‘TERRACE LOUNGE’

The new Grandstand Terrace located at the head of the homestretch at Churchill Downs will be transformed into the “Terrace Lounge” for Saturday’s return of “Downs After Dark.”

The fabulous new space that overlooks the track and the “Big Board” will be an exclusive 21-and-over outdoor lounge-style and private club atmosphere with DJ entertainment, premium food and cocktails for purchase and use of the grandstand terrace’s patio and stadium style seating.

Access to the Terrace Lounge is $25 per person.

The Terrace Lounge also features several exclusive VIP cabanas that include a premium gourmet buffet designed by Levy Restaurants’ Executive Chef David Danielson and open bar from 7-11 p.m. for $99 per person.

Reserved seating can be purchased online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets or the on-track box office located at the Gate 1 entrance off Central Ave. (open Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on ‘Downs After Dark’ Saturdays).

Indoor dining packages in Millionaires Row and Skye Terrace are $60 per person and include a scrumptious buffet dinner, reserved seat and official program. Outdoor third-floor box seats are on sale for $20 and include general admission, a box seat in the third-floor clubhouse and an official program.

SPECIAL PARKING, FREE SHUTTLES

Those attending Downs After Dark are encouraged to arrive early to secure on-site parking and avoid traffic delays. All on-property parking lots will open at 3 p.m. and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis (free in the Longfield Avenue lot). Typically, all lots are filled to capacity early in the racing program. Churchill Downs will offer free parking and shuttle service from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium starting at 5 p.m. There will be free round-trip shuttle service throughout the evening. All Churchill Downs employees will be directed to park in the track’s infield (enter through Longfield tunnel).

EARLY SIMULCAST WAGERING AVAILABLE

As usual, Churchill Downs will be open early for simulcast wagering on the second floor of the clubhouse Saturday. General admission will be its regular price of $3 from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Gate 17.

The Saturday simulcast menu includes Monmouth (12:50 p.m.), Calder (12:55 p.m.), Woodbine (1 p.m.), Delaware (1:15 p.m.), Belmont (1:20 p.m.), Gulfstream (1:25 p.m.), Canterbury (1:45 p.m.), Arlington (2 p.m.), Golden Gate (3:45 p.m.), Santa Anita (4 p.m.), Indiana Grand (5:05 p.m.), Penn National (6 p.m.), Evangeline (6:40 p.m.), Charles Town (7 p.m.), Mountaineer (7 p.m.), Prairie Meadows (7:30 p.m.) and Lone Star (7:35 p.m.).

NIGHT RACING SPECTACULAR SUCCESS

Night racing at Churchill Downs has been a spectacular success. The track experimented with night racing under temporary lights in 2009 and invested $4 million to add permanent lighting – 1,012 fixtures atop 50 poles and 25 rooftop structures – in 2010. The move has proved to be popular as more than 600,000 core customers, casual patrons and entertainment-seekers have attended the 26 special nighttime programs. Over the last five years, Downs After Dark events have essentially tripled the on-track attendance and doubled the on-track wagering handle compared to afternoon programs previously staged on those dates.

It isn’t just racing under the stars that has attracted people to the historic racetrack. After all, night racing has been part of horse racing history for several decades. Instead, it is the abundant ancillary activities coupled with live racing that have helped create a special and festive atmosphere. Quite simply, Churchill Downs is transformed into Louisville’s ultimate nighttime hot spot, leaving many attendees describing the experience as “something you’ve just got to see.”

FRIDAY IS FINAL HAPPY HOUR OF MEET

Churchill Downs will host its final Happy Hour of the Spring Meet on Friday. The multi-hour event will take place in the Plaza from 3-7 p.m. with $2 Budweiser/Bud Light and $3 Stella Artois drink specials and live modern country music by Willow Creek between races Guests also can register to win box seats for the 2015 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Longines Kentucky Oaks. Friday is the final Happy Hour of the Meet because there will be Downs After Dark night racing events on the final two Fridays: June 20 and June 27.

MILESTONE WATCH

Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel is approaching his 2,000th career win. He entered Thursday with 1,995 wins and his lone starter on the day was No. 5 Perfect Setting (5-1 on morning line) in the eighth race.

STAKES CLOSINGS

Nominations for the 24th running of the $200,000-added Firecracker (Grade II), 113th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII) and fifth running of the $65,000 Roxelana overnight stakes close Saturday.

The Roxelana, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, will be run the same day as the $100,000-added Debutante, a six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies, on Saturday, June 21.

The Firecracker at one mile on turf for 3-year-olds and up and Bashford Manor for 2-year-olds at six furlongs will be staged June 28 – the final Saturday of the meet.

-END-

Two-Time Grade I Winner, Local Favorite On Fire Baby Bids for Fourth Churchill Downs Stakes Win in Fleur De Lis

Anita Cauley’s homebred On Fire Baby, a local favorite who won the Grade I La Troienne at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, will seek her fourth career stakes victory at her home track when she faces a strong group of five rivals in the 39th running of the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis Handicap (Grade II), one of five major stakes races scheduled for a “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” night racing program headed by the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).

The Fleue De Lis, one of five graded stakes races on Saturday’s 11-race card, is scheduled as the evening’s seventh race with a post time of 9:05 p.m. (all times EDT). Admission gates for “Downs After Dark” will open at 4 p.m. and post time for the first of the evening’s 11 races is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Fleur De Lis is a 1 1/8-mile handicap race for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up that was run for the first time in 1975. Recent winners have included champions Rachel Alexandra and Royal Delta, and other winners have included such notables as Serena’s Song, Banshee Breeze, Escena, Spain and You.

Trained by Louisville native Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage, On Fire Baby has raced five times at Churchill Downs – all in stakes races.  She notched a pair of Grade II wins in the Pocahontas and Golden Rod as a 2-year-old in 2011 before she ran fifth the following spring to Believe You Can in the 2012 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks (GI). She returned to the track in 2013 with a narrow loss to Authenticity in the La Troienne, which was then a Grade II race, and rolled to an easy win in this spring’s renewal of that 1 1/16-mile race, which is now a Grade I event.

On Fire Baby, installed as the 8-5 favorite for the Fleur De Lis by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia, will be ridden by Joe Johnson from post four and has been assigned high weight of 122 pounds. Her La Troienne victory improved her overall record to 5-4-3 in 16 races and booster her to millionaire status when it lifted her career earnings to $1,082,687. Her list of wins also includes the 2013 Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) at Oaklawn Park.

If On Fire Baby is to join the roster of previous Fleur De Lis winners and increase her impressive total of stakes triumphs at Churchill Downs, she will need to turn back expected challenges from two stars positioned just to her outside in the starting gate: Fiftyshadesofhay and Flashy American.

The well-travelled Fiftyshadesofhay will break from post five as she makes her Churchill Downs debut in the 9-5 second choice in the Fleur De Lis for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. With Saturday’s run at the Louisville, Ky. track, the 4-year-old daughter of Pulpit will have competed at nine different tracks in five states.

Her most recent win came at Belmont Park in the $250,000 Ruffian (GII) and it was one of her most impressive efforts. She launched a dazzling stretch charge to defeat Grade I winner Grace Hall by three-quarters of length for her first victory in three 2014 races. Her career record of 5-4-3 in 15 races also includes stakes wins in Pimlico’s Black-Eyed Susan (GII), Prairie Meadows’ Iowa Oaks (GIII) and Santa Anita’s Santa Ysabel (GIII) and runner-up finishes to champion Beholder in the Las Virgenes (GI), Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Princess of Sylmar in Saratoga’s Alabama (GI) and Broken Sword in Betfair Hollywood Park’s Bayakoa (GII).

A victory in the Fleur De Lis would earn millionaire status for Fiftyshadesofhay, who has already collected $946,547 in her career bankroll. She will carry 121 pounds – one fewer than the impost for On Fire Baby –  and jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for her victory in the Ruffian, will return to the saddle.

Breaking from the outside gate in the field of six is Preston Stables LLC’s Flashy American, who won the $150,000-added Sixty Sails (GIII) at Arlington Park in her most recent start. It was the first graded stakes triumph for the 5-year-old daughter of Flashy Bull and a significant accomplishment for the Kenny McPeek trainee who did not find her way into the winner’s circle until her 11th career start in a $25,000 claiming race in July 2012 at Saratoga.

The Sixty Sails was her fourth stakes win in 15 races since Flashy American’s breakthrough win at Saratoga. Flashy American also won the Locust Grove in September at Churchill Downs and scored 2013 stakes wins in the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows and the Alada at Saratoga. The win at Arlington improved her career record to 8-3-3 in 26 races with earnings of $515,163.

Like On Fire Baby, Flashy American has displayed an affinity for Churchill Downs, where she has a record of 3-2-1 in seven starts.   Julien Leparoux will be in the saddle aboard McPeek’s star, who will carry 119 pounds. She is the 7-2 third choice in Battaglia's Fleur De Lis morning line odds.

While On Fire Baby, Fiftyshadesofhay and Flashy American are likely to attract the interest of most Downs After Dark fans, the remaining three fillies and mares that will join them in the Fleur De Lis starting gate bring solid credentials into Saturday’s race.

Bill Cubbage’s Molly Morgan ran second to On Fire Baby in the La Troienne, where she finished 2 ¾ lengths behind the winner. It was the best effort in the career of the Dale Romans-trained daughter of Ghostzapper, who will be ridden from post two by Corey Lanerie, the leading jockey of the Spring Meet.

G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Frivolous, a 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker, comes into the race for trainer Vicki Oliver off a runner-up finish to La Tia in the Arlington Matron (GIII) over the synthetic Polytrack surface at Arlington Park on May 27. James Graham will ride Frivolous, who will carry 114 pounds and breaks from post three in the Fleur De Lis.

An unknown factor in the race could be Peachtree Stable’s Ondine, a 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro who makes her first start for new trainer Brad Cox. She finished fifth as the favorite in the Santa Maria (GII) at Santa Anita in her most recent outing on Feb. 15. Prior to that race, she ran third to Spellbound in the La Cañada (GII) over the Arcadia, Calif. track. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan will be in the irons for the Kentucky debut of Ondine, who will carry 116 pounds and drew the inside post.

The field for the Fleur De Lis (with jockey, weight, morning line odds) from the rail out: Ondine (Bridgmohan, 116, 6-1), Molly Morgan (Lanerie, 116. 6-1), Frivolous (Graham, 114,20-1), On Fire Baby (Johnson, 122, 8-5), Fiftyshadesofhay (Velazquez, 121, 9-5) and Flashy American (Leparoux, 119, 7-2).

Champion Will Take Charge, Revolutionary, Departing Head Grade I Stephen Foster Under 'Downs After Dark' Lights

A talented and accomplished field of nine older horses headed by Will Take Charge, winner of Churchill DownsClark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I) and the champion 3-year-old of 2013, and multiple graded stakes-winners Revolutionary and Departing has been entered to compete in Saturday’s 33rd running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI), the featured event on a spectacular “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” night racing program at Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 14.

The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster is the marquee event among five graded stakes races scheduled for the evening that include the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis Presented by Etihad Airways (GII) for fillies and mares 3 & up; the $100,000-added Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds; the $100,000-added Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies on the turf; and the $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (GI) for purebred Arabian horses. The Stephen Foster is scheduled as the eighth race with a post time of 9:39 p.m. (all times EDT). Admission gates open for Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” program, which will carry a “White Party” theme for a fourth consecutive year, at 4 p.m. and post time for the evening’s first race is 6 p.m.

For the second consecutive year the Stephen Foster Handicap is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division series and the winner will be guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita on Nov. 1. Starting fees also will be paid for the Stephen Foster winner, who will also earn a $10,000 travel stipend to help with shipping costs to the Breeders’ Cup Championships.

Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia installed Revolutionary as a narrow 2-1 favorite in his morning line odds for the Foster over Will Take Charge, who listed as he second choice at 5-2. Departing is the 9-2 third choice.

Will Take Charge, a 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song owned by Willis D. Horton and Three Chimneys Farm LLC, rallied late in 2013 to earn the Eclipse Award as top 3-year-old with victories in the Travers (GI), Pennsylvania Derby (GII) and Clark, along with an impressive showing in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), in which he lost by a nose to Mucho Macho Man.

The D. Wayne Lukas trainee, who will carry high weight of 123 pounds in the Stephen Foster, has a record of 1-2-0 in four races in 2014 that include a win over Stephen Foster rival Revolutionary in the Oaklawn Handicap (GII) and runner-up finishes to Game On Dude, whom he defeated in last fall’s Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, in the Santa Anita Handicap (GI) and Lea in the Donn Handicap (GI) at Gulfstream Park. He enters the Foster off an uncharacteristically poor sixth-place finish in the $300,000-added Alysheba (GII) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day.

The poor run by Will Take Charge in the Alysheba mystified Lukas, who seeks his second Foster victory. But he has been pleased with the colt’s training in recent days and the Hall of Fame trainer believes Will Take Charge is ready to make amends.

“I think we’ll just forget it happened and go on to the next one,” Lukas said. “I think we’re sitting right on a big one, hopefully. He’s had a really good month.”

Will Take Charge is the top money-earner in the Stephen Foster field that includes five millionaires. He brings a career bankroll $3,668,568 into the race with a lifetime record of 7-5-0 in 19 races. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will ride from post four.

Will Take Charge and Revolutionary are two of three Stephen Foster entrants that ran in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) won by Stuart Janney III and Phipps’ Stable’s Orb. Revolutionary, owned by WinStar Farm, closed for third, while Will Take Charge ran eighth. GoldMark Farm LLC and Whisper Hill Farm LLC’s Mylute, the other Derby veteran, ran fifth.

His Kentucky Derby run and victories in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and Withers (GIII) were 2013 highlights for the favored Revolutionary, who comes into in the Stephen Foster off of four 2014 races highlighted by late-charging win in the $300,000 Pimlico Special (GIII) last time out and a narrow loss to Will Take Charge in the Oaklawn Handicap (GII). Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith was in the saddle for both of those races and will ride the Todd Pletcher-trained son of War Pass, who drew the inside post and will carry 118 pounds. Revolutionary has a career record of 5-2-3 in 12 races with total earnings of $1,347,600.

Departing, a 4-year-old War Pass gelding, is owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, who teamed to win the 2010 Stephen Foster with the 4-year-old Blame, who would return to Churchill Downs later that year to hand eventual Horse of the Year Zenyatta her only career loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trained by Al Stall Jr., who also conditioned Blame, Departing tuned up for the Foster with a stylish victory in a one-mile Kentucky Derby Week allowance race at Churchill Downs.

The 3-year-old campaign for Departing was highlighted by wins in three Derbies – the Illinois Derby (GIII), the West Virginia Derby (GII) and the Super Derby (GII). He won five of seven races in 2013, with the only disappointments being a sixth-place run in the Preakness (GI), where he finished sixth to Calumet Farm’s Oxbow in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, and a fourth-place finish behind Broadway Empire as a heavy favorite in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (GIII) on Sept. 29. That was the last start of the season for Departing, who traveled to Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky. after that race for a long rest on the farm and returned to training with Stall’s stable at Fair Grounds in New Orleans earlier in the year.

“I was very happy with that first race,” Stall said. “I thought he ran well and had a little adversity, which should help him for this race. We’re ready and we’re excited.”

Departing brings a record of 7-0-1 in 10 races into the Stephen Foster and has earned $1,438,300. Robby Albarado, who rode three consecutive Stephen Foster winners from 2007-2009 to tie retired Hall of Famer Pat Day for the lead in all-time victories in the race, will be aboard Departing. The Claiborne-Dilschneider colt will carry 118 pounds and will break from post six.

Mylute, a gray-roan 4-year-old son of Midnight Lute trained by Tom Amoss, will make his third start of the season in the Stephen Foster and bids to improve from his fourth-place finish behind Foster rivals Moonshine Mullin and Golden Ticket in his most recent start in the Alysheba. He opened 2014 with a March 27 victory in a Fair Grounds allowance race, his first since a disappointing eighth-place finish behind Palace Malice and Will Take Charge in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy (GII). Highlights of 2013 included a third-place run in the Preakness and a narrow loss to Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby. James Graham rides Mylute from post five.

Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket will attempt to improve on his effort in last year’s Stephen Foster, where he finished second to reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned. This year the 5-year-old son of Speightstown was a close second to Palace Malice in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and runner-up in the Alysheba. Golden Ticket, who won the Travers (GI) in 2012, has a record of 5-8-3 in 24 races for trainer Kenny McPeek and has earned $1,238,178. He was assigned 117 pounds for the Foster and will break from post seven under Julien Leparoux.

Louisville-born trainer Dale Romans will be looking for his first victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap when he saddles Zayat Stable’s veteran Prayer for Relief in the race. The runner-up to Revolutionary in the Pimlico Special and a multiple stakes winner is another millionaire in the Foster field with career earnings of $1,682,413. Hall of Famer John Velazquez will travel to Churchill Downs to ride Prayer for Relief, who will break from the outside post and carry 118 pounds.

Moonshine Mullin, who was claimed last year by owner Randy Patterson and trainer Randy Morse for $40,000 late last year, will attempt to make the Foster his second consecutive major stakes victory after his surprise triumph in the Alysheba. The son of Albert the Great carries a four-race winning streak and will break from post three under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel.

Another Stephen Foster contender is Godolphin Racing’s Long River, who seeks his first graded stakes triumph after running a close second to Romansh in the Excelsior (GIII) at Aqueduct last time out. A Stephen Foster win by the son of A.P. Indy would be the second for both trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who took the race in 2007 with Flashy Bull, and Godolphin, which won the 2002 Foster with Street Cry. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Long River, who drew post eight and will carry 115 pounds.

Rounding out the field is John D. Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock ServicesJaguar Paw, who ran fifth to Will Take Charge in last fall’s Clark Handicap. The Stephen Lyster-trained son of Giant’s Causeway will break from post two under Shaun Bridgmohan and will carry 114 pounds.

The field for the Stephen Foster Handicap (with jockey, weight, morning line odds) from the rail out includes: Revolutionary (Smith, 118, 2-1), Jaguar Paw (Bridgmohan, 114, 30-1), Moonshine Mullin (Borel, 118. 10-1), Will Take Charge (Stevens, 123. 5-2), Mylute (Graham, 115, 12-1), Departing (Albarado, 118, 9-2), Golden Ticket (Leparoux, 117, 8-1), Long River (Ortiz Jr., 115. 15-1) and Prayer for Relief (Velazquez, 117, 8-1).

Godolphin's Long River Bids for First Graded Win in Stephen Foster; Romans Could Have Foster Pair

Seeking his first graded stakes victory, Godolphin’s Long River is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Wednesday morning for the Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI), according to his New York-based trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said that regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. will travel to Louisville on Saturday to ride the 4-year-old son of A. P. Indy.

"We’ve been pointing to this for a while because it’s an important Grade I race and he wants the mile and an eighth more than say the mile distance in the Metropolitan Handicap (GI)  or the mile and a half distance in the Brooklyn Handicap (GII),” McLaughlin said. “We’re happy to go there and in the handicap we’ve gotten some weight off of a couple of big horses like Will Take Charge who’s giving us eight pounds.”

Willis D. Horton and Three Chimneys Farm LLC’s Will Take Charge was assigned 123 pounds to Long River’s 115.

“There are several reasons for going,” McLaughlin said. “He has one of the best pedigrees in the world so if we could win a Grade I race it would be huge.”

In addition to being by the two-time leading sire and Horse of the Year A. P. Indy, Long River is out of the Awesome Again mare Round Pond, winner of the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Churchill Downs. Further back in the pedigree one will find multiple European Group 1-winner Black Minnaloushe, multiple European Group 1-winner Pennekamp and multiple Grade I-winner Nasr el Arab.

In his last four starts, Long River captured the Time For A Change and Evening Attire at Aqueduct, finished second to stable mate Romansh in the Excelsior (GIII) and most recently finished fifth beaten three lengths in the Charles Town Classic (GIII).

When asked about the colt’s performance in the Charles Town Classic McLaughlin said, “There were really tight turns there and he just didn’t have a good night; didn’t race well. It didn’t go that smoothly, he didn’t like the size of the track and the company there was very tough. It was a good effort, but just wasn’t what we were expecting. He was always close to the pace but just wasn’t able to finish well. But at least he got schooled under the lights for Saturday.”

ROMANS COULD HAVE TWO STARTERS IN STEPHEN FOSTER

Gainesway Stable, William Graves and John Oxley’s Coin Broker is a possible starter for Saturday’s $500,000-added Steven Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I) for trainer Dale Romans. Romans also trains Prayer for Relief for Zayat Stables LLC, who has been confirmed for the featured race on Saturday night’s Downs After Dark card.

Romans indicated that both Prayer for Relief and Coin Broker were in good shape coming out of workouts on Saturday. Both went five furlongs, Prayer for Relief in 1:00, the fastest time of 32 workers at the distance, and Coin Broker in 1:01.80. Romans said both horses had easy gallops Tuesday morning under the Twin Spires.

When asked about Prayer for Relief Romans responded, “He’s in good shape and we’re ready to go. Johnny Velazquez will be here to ride and we’re excited.”

Velazquez was on board for Prayer for Relief’s last start, a runner-up effort to Revolutionary in the Pimlico Special (GIII) on May 17.

Coin Broker’s ran third last out to Foster rivals Moonshine Mullin and Golden Ticket in the Alysheba (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day.

“I was happy with his last race,” Romans said of Coin Broker. “I think he’s getting really close to being able to compete with these types of horses and we want to make sure he’s in the right spot whenever he decides he’s ready.”

Romans said that leading Churchill Downs rider Corey Lanerie would have the mount on Coin Broker should he decide to run in the Foster.

In other Foster news, WinStar Farm LLC’s Revolutionary arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday afternoon for trainer Todd Pletcher. The 4-year-old son of War Pass galloped 1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning under exercise rider Adele Bellinger.

GRAND OPENING OF TERRACE LOUNGE FOR SATURDAY’S ‘DOWNS AFTER DARK’

This Saturday, Churchill Downs will transform the new Grandstand Terrace into the “Terrace Lounge,” a 21-and-over lounge-style environment that features a live DJ, club/lounge style lighting and décor, premium food and cocktails and use of the grandstand terrace’s patio and stadium style seating. Tickets to Downs After Dark in the lounge are $25 and can be reserved in advance with a limited total capacity. The Terrace Lounge will be available at all three Downs After Dark events this Spring. For $99 per ticket, Churchill Downs also is offering Terrace Lounge VIP Cabana seating, which includes an open bar from 7-11 p.m., a premium buffet designed by Chef David Danielson and concierge wait service. These tickets reserve special plush seating for groups of any number within one of the four covered cabanas at the end of the Grandstand Terrace.

FRIDAY IS FINAL HAPPY HOUR OF MEET 

Churchill Downs will host its final Happy Hour of the Spring Meet on Friday. The multi-hour event will take place in the Plaza from 3-7 p.m. with $2 Budweiser/Bud Light and $3 Stella Artois drink specials and live modern country music by Willow Creek between races Guests also can register to win box seats for the 2015 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Longines Kentucky Oaks. Friday is the final Happy Hour of the Meet because there will be Downs After Dark night racing events on the final two Fridays: June 20 and June 27.

Click here for a PDF copy of Churchill Downs' Race Day Notes for June 10, 2014 that include prospective fields for the four Stephen Fosters Handicap "Downs After Dark" stakes races and Spring Meet statistical information.

Departing Works Half-Mile for Stephen Foster; Tapiture Returns In Matt Winn

Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing, whose strong 3-year-old campaign included a run in the Preakness Stakes (Grade I) and wins in three derbies, completed his serious preparation Monday for his bid for Saturday night’s 33rd running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I) at Churchill Downs.

The 4-year-old War Front gelding breezed four furlongs in :49.40 for trainer Al Stall Jr. under jockey Robby Albarado, who will be in the saddle for the Foster. He covered the distance in fractions of :12.40 and :24.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.20 and six furlongs in 1:15.60.

“I told Robby not to let him do anything – if you look pretty on him he’s going to go in :47, so you need to restrain him,” Stall said.  “Robby said it’s a good thing we did, because he went :49, and as soon as we hit the wire he re-broke. We got him to the seven-eighths pole in about 1:13 flat, completely on his own and under wraps. So he’s there and we’re looking forward to running on Saturday.”

The only 2014 outing for Departing was a 1 ¾-length triumph in a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs on April 30. It was his first outing since a disappointing fourth-place run behind Broadway Empire as the odds-on favorite in the $400,000-added Oklahoma Derby (GIII) at Remington Park on Sept. 29.

"I was very happy with that first race,” Stall said. “I thought he ran well and had a little adversity, which should help him for this race. We’re ready and we’re excited.”

Prior to his Remington Park run that ended his 3-year-old season, Departing had won three of four races and all were derbies run in different states. The string started with a victory in the Illinois Derby (GIII) at Hawthorne, followed by a sixth-place run behind the victorious Oxbow in the Preakness that preceded easy romps in the West Virginia Derby (GII) at Mountaineer Park and Louisiana Downs’ Super Derby (GII).

Stall said there was no physical problem that led to Departing’s long stretch away from the track. He said his young star simply needed some time on the farm.

"It was just plain old time,” Stall said. “I want to say ‘I’ and not ‘we’ – I went to the well with him one time too many as a 3-year-old. He ran a tremendous race in the Super Derby. It was 98 degrees that afternoon, but we knew we’d be 1-5 for $400,000. I’m not saying greed took over, but we were rolling with him. He acted fine and everything was fine, but he had just done a little too much.

“He came here from Oklahoma for a few days and then went to Claiborne Farm and hung out. He showed up at the Fair Grounds and he’s done what he’s supposed to do between three and four. He’s filled-in and he’s picking it up. He’s not a big horse, but he looks like he’s gone the right way and his works have been great.”

Stall is eager to see how Departing compares to his rivals in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster, which has attracted foes that are expected to include reigning 3-year-old champion and Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) winner Will Take Charge; Pimlico Special (GIII) winner Revolutionary, who ran third to Orb in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI); Moonshine Mullin, an upset winner over Will Take Charge in the $300,000-added Alysheba (GII) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day; and Golden Ticket, runner-up in the Alysheba, a dead-heat winner with Alpha in the 2012 Travers (GI) and runner-up to Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Fort Larned in last year’s Stephen Foster.

“He’s doing nice and we’re fresh, and we’re trying to plan for the second half of the year,” Stall said. “It’s a rare thing in horse racing, but we’re on schedule.”

Departing enters the Stephen Foster with a career record of 10-7-0-1 and his earnings of $1,438,300 make him one of four millionaires in the race. The others are Will Take Charge ($3,669,568), Prayer for Relief ($1,682,413) and Revolutionary ($1,347,600).

Another Stephen Foster contender reported to be doing well in the days leading up to the race is Randy Patterson’s Moonshine Mullin, who surprised Golden Ticket and Will Take Charge in the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba.

The Randy Morse-trained Moonshine Mullin completed his major preparation for the Stephen Foster on Saturday with a four-furlong breeze in :50.20 at Churchill Downs.

The 6-year-old son of Albert the Great, who was claimed by Morse for $40,000 out of an allowance optional claiming race at Remington Park in November, brings a four-race winning streak into the Stephen Foster. Morse said the Alysheba win under jockey Calvin Borel was a “great thrill,” but added Moonshine Mullin’s win in a 1 1/16-mile Oaklawn Park allowance race that preceded his big day at Churchill Downs could have been more impressive.

“Looking back at it now with hindsight, the race he ran Oaklawn that day might have been good enough to win the Oaklawn Handicap (GII),” Morse said. “His race there, to me, was better than his race here (in the Alysheba). We almost didn’t run him in the Alysheba because it was a little quick to come back.”

The Stephen Foster will not be Moonshine Mullin’s first experience against Grade I competition. He ran sixth to Stay Thirsty in the 2011 Travers (GI) following a 37-1 runner-up effort behind that rival in the Jim Dandy (GII). His trainer at the time was Canada’s Reade Baker, and he has spent time since in the barns of trainers Donnie Von Hemel and Steve Asmussen.

The Alysheba victory lifted Moonshine Mullin’s record to 8-4-5 in 31 races and boosted his career bankroll to $685,513. A victory in the Stephen Foster would be Morse’s first in a Grade I race, but the trainer said the win by his former claiming horse in the Alysheba has already provided a wonderful memory.

“It was great,” Morse said. “If he never wins another race, beating that field in the Alysheba was tremendous.”

Darley Stable’s Long River is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Wednesday to complete his preparations for the Stephen Foster. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy ran fifth in the Charles Town Classic (GII) last time out and lost by a neck to Romansh in his previous start in the Excelsior (GIII) at Aqueduct.

Long River is out of Round Pond, a daughter of Awesome Again who scored the greatest win over her racing career at Churchill Downs in a 13-1 upset in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI).

Trainer Brad Cox said Michael Langford’s Carve, who ran a good third to Will Take Charge and Revolutionary in the Oaklawn Handicap, remained “possible” for the Stephen Foster after a sharp five-furlong work on Monday at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old First Samurai gelding covered the distance in 1:00.80, which ranked as fifth-fastest of 24 moves at the distance.

FIFTYSHADESOFHAY, ONDINE WORK TOWARD FLEUR DE LIS – A pair of contenders for Saturday’s 39th running of the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis Presented by Etihad Airways (GII) turned in solid final preps for the 1 1/8-mile test for older fillies and mares when Fiftyshadesofhay and Ordine breezed at Churchill Downs on Monday.

Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s Ruffian (GII) winner Fiftyshadesofhay breezed four furlongs in :48.20 for Hall of Famer and three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert.

Peachtree Stable’s Ondine, third to Spellbound in the La Cañada at Santa Anita, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 in preparation for her first start for trainer Brad Cox, who added the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and three other Peachtree horses to his stable in March.

TAPITURE SET FOR FIRST START SINCE DERBY IN MATT WINN – A look at the roster of 3-year-olds under consideration to run in Saturday’s $100,000-added Matt Winn Stakes (GIII) includes an eye-catcher in Winchell ThoroughbredsTapiture, last seen in a 15th-place finish behind California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).

The 3-year-old homebred Tapit colt breezed four furlongs in :51.60 over a fast Churchill Downs track on Monday. 
Trainer Steve Asmussen said the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) and Southwest (GIII) winner is set for the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn.

“He’s been able to train here since the Derby,” Asmussen said. “I think he needed the time between races. He’s trained well and I expect a big race from him.”

Despite an outside trip in the Derby, Tapiture was prominent to the far turn before he faltered in the stretch under Ricardo Santana Jr. Asmussen said the colt also lost a shoe during the run through the first turn in the Derby.

"I think he’s a horse that, right now, has tremendous talent but still has maturing to do – physically and mentally,” Asmussen said. “By no means do I think we’ve seen the best of Tapiture.”

Tapiture’s record stands at 2-2-2 in eight races heading into the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn. He has earned $490,838.                          

WORK TAB: Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Untapable breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Monday in preparation for a run in the June 28 Mother Goose (GI) at Belmont Park. Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred daughter of Tapit was clocked in fractions of :24 and :36.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.20. “She’s ready to get back in action,” Asmussen said. “She’s showing her readiness.” … Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Vicar’s in Trouble, last of 19 in the Kentucky Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 for trainer Mike Maker over fast footing at Trackside Training Center. It was his second breeze since his Derby run. … Carl Pollard’s Regret hope Kiss Moon, 12th in the Kentucky Oaks for trainer David Vance, breezed a half-mile on the main track in :48.40.

 Click here for a PDF copy of the Stephen Foster Handicap Notes for Monday, June 9.

Will Take Charge Assigned High Weight for Saturday's Stephen Foster 'Cap

Reigning 3-year-old champion Will Take Charge looms as the starting high weight in Saturday’s 33rd running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I) after being assigned a 123-pound impost for the race by Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman.

Willis D. Horton and Three Chimneys Farm LLC’s 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song, who finished eighth in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and defeated Game On Dude last November in the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI), was assigned one pound fewer than Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice for the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.  Palace Malice won Saturday’s Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park and will not compete in the Foster.

The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Will Take Charge will concede at least five pounds to his rivals in the Stephen Foster Handicap, which is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division race.  The winner of the Foster will earn an automatic starting berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) in November at Santa Anita, along with payment of entry fees and a travel stipend of $10,000 for the journey to the Arcadia, Cal. track.

Other expected contenders in the Foster (with assigned weight) include Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing (118), winner of the 2013 Super Derby (GII), West Virginia Derby (GII) and Illinois Derby (GIII);  Randy Patterson’s Alysheba (GII) winner Moonshine Mullin (118); WinStar Farm LLC’s Revolutionary (118), third in the 2013 Kentucky Derby and winner of the recent Pimlico Special (GIII) for trainer Todd Pletcher; Magic City Thoroughbred PartnersGolden Ticket (117), runner-up to Fort Larned in the 2013 Foster;  Zayat Stables’  Pimlico Special runner-up Prayer for Relief (117); Darley Stable’s Long River (115), runner-up in the Excelsior (III) for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin; GoldMark Farm LLC and Whisper Hill Farm LLC’s Mylute (115), fifth in the 2013 Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness (GI) for trainer Tom Amoss.

Possible Stephen Foster starters include Bellarmine (115) and Carve (114).

Anita Cauley’s homebred local hero On Fire Baby is set to be the starting high weight in the 39th running of the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis presented by Etihad Airways (GII) for fillies and mares three and up, one of a trio stakes races that will share the “Downs After Dark” Saturday night spotlight with the Stephen Foster.

The winner of the $300,000-added La Troienne (GI) on Kentucky Oaks Day has been assigned 122 pounds as she seeks her fourth career stakes victory beneath the Twin Spires for veteran trainer Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage and jockey Joe Johnson.

On Fire Baby wrapped up her serious training for the Fleur De Lis on Saturday with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.40 over a “fast’ surface at her home track.

Other expected contenders in the Fleur De Lis (with assigned weight) include Sixty Sails (GIII) and Locust Grove winner Flashy American (118), La Troienne runner-up Molly Morgan (116), La Canada (GII) third-place finisher Ondine (116) and 2013 Arlington Matron (GIII) runner-up Frivolous (114).

Revolutionary arrived at Churchill Downs Sunday on a flight from New York that also carried Belmont Stakes (GI) participants Medal Count, who finished third to the victorious Tonalist; Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, who ran ninth; and General a Rod, who finished seventh.

Prayer for Relief completed his serious preparation for the Stephen Foster on Saturday with a “bullet” five-furlong breeze for trainer Dale Romans in 1:00 – the fastest of 32 moves at the distance.  The son of Jump Start has won eight of 29 races and earned $1,682,413 in his racing career.

ALMOST FAMOUS WORKS; ‘ALL SYSTEMS GO’ FOR MATT WINN

Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Almost Famous, who defeated older horses by 7 ¾ lengths in an allowance race last time out, breezed a half-mile in :48.80 at Churchill Downs Sunday morning in preparation for Saturday’s $100,000-added Matt Winn (GIII).

Trained by Pat Byrne, Almost Famous was breezed by regular jockey Calvin Borel, who will ride the 3-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song under the lights this Saturday.

When asked how the colt’s work went this morning, Byrne responded, “Just stretching his legs; we’re all set for Saturday evening and are looking forward to it.”

When asked what type of trip Almost Famous would need to win the Matt Winn, Byrne responded, “I think there’s probably going to be some speed in there but I’ve said all along that I don’t think this horse needs to have the early lead. Calvin knows this horse so well. He was on him for his breeze this morning and seemed happy with it. It’s all systems go.”

As of Sunday morning, the Churchill Downs racing office had five other colts listed as ‘probable’ for the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn include Donegal Racing’s Iroquois (GIII) winner Cleburne; Conquest Stables LLC’s Holy Bull (GII) runner-up Conquest Titan; Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) winner Tapiture; Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s The Admiral and Mary Ann Charlston’s Ulbanator.

GRAND OPENING OF THE ‘TERRACE LOUNGE’ THIS SATURDAY NIGHT

This Saturday, June 14, Churchill Downs will transform the new Grandstand Terrace into the “Terrace Lounge,” a 21-and-over lounge-style environment that features a live DJ, club/lounge style lighting and décor, premium food and cocktails and use of the grandstand terrace’s patio and stadium style seating.

Tickets to Downs After Dark in the lounge are $25 and can be reserved in advance with a limited total capacity. The Terrace Lounge will be available at all three Downs After Dark events this Spring, with the hopes of continuing it again in the future if successful.

For $99 per ticket, Churchill Downs is also offering Terrace Lounge VIP Cabana seating, which includes an open bar from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m., a premium buffet designed by Chef David Danielson and concierge wait service. These tickets reserve special plush seating for groups of any number within one of the four covered cabanas at the end of the Grandstand Terrace.

LAST HAPPY HOUR OF THE SPRING MEET THIS FRIDAY

June 13 marks the final edition of Friday Happy Hour at Churchill Downs, featuring live music and drink specials in the Plaza. Live music will be performed by Willow Creek and $2 Bud Lights and $3 Stella Artois will be available in the Plaza from 3-7 p.m. In addition to traditional grilled food items (burgers, hot dogs, brats) there will be a different specialty food item offered each week in the Plaza and guests also can register for box seats for the 2015 Kentucky Derby and Oaks.

Johnson Celebrates 1000th Win; Will Take Charge, Golden Ticket Work Toward Foster

The northwestern Kentucky town of Spottsville, located on the Green River with  Owensboro to the East and Henderson to the West, is so small that it does not currently have a post office.

The lack of a postal outlet in the small Henderson County town is the reason that veteran jockey Joe Johnson refers to Philpot, located nearby in neighboring Daviess County, as his hometown.

It’s likely that residents of both towns will smile when they hear that one of their favorite sons achieved a career milestone on Thursday when he pushed Patricia Blass’ favored Silver Antelope through the long Churchill Downs homestretch to wear down runner-up Pure Luxury for a half-length victory in the ninth race.  The win for the horse was a notable milestone for the 46-year-old Johnson.

The victory was the 1,000th of his career, and it was fitting that the triumph came aboard a 4-year-old colt trained by Gary “Red Dog” Hartlage, who guided Johnson from a role as groom in his barn to a successful riding career.  Hartlage gave Johnson a leg-up on the first winner in his career, and they’ve been partners ever since.

“It felt pretty good,” Johnson said on Friday when looking back on that important win.  “I’m just glad it got here and glad that I’ve had the opportunities from all the people who have put me on horses that have allowed me to reach that kind of milestone.”

Foremost among Johnson’s supporters is Hartlage, the man who gave him a start in the saddle.  From the moment he climbed aboard a Thoroughbred in competition, Johnson has  been the “house rider” for the stable for Hartlage, a Louisville-born fan favorite.

The milestone by Johnson, whose older brother Patrick was a Kentucky-based jockey for many years and currently rides in Louisiana, lifted him securely into the top ten in the “leading rider” standings for the Spring Meet.  It was his 10th win of the 38-day session and pulled Johnson into a tie for seventh with Alan Garcia.  He had entered Thursday’s program with Kentucky Derby-winning jockeys Calvin Borel and Stewart Elliott at nine victories each.

Heading into Friday’s twilight racing program Johnson had Spring Meet record of 10-5-4 in 41 mounts, the most notable win being a Grade I triumph aboard Anita Cauley’s homebred mare On Fire Baby in the La Troienne on Kentucky Oaks Day.  It was Johnson’s second Grade I win aboard the gray daughter of Smoke Glacken and his third win aboard the 5-year-old in a Churchill Downs stakes event.

The Hartlage-trained On Fire Baby will attempt to add another victory beneath the Twin Spires next Saturday when she runs as the likely favorite in the 39th running of the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII).  The 1 1/8-mile race is one of four stakes events featured on a program headed by the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).

“She’s doing real good right now,” Johnson said.  “It’ll be interesting for her to come back and run in another big race.  I’m looking forward to it.

“She seems to be on top of her game right now.  I’m glad Red Dog and Anita continue to have faith and put me up on horses like that.”

As Johnson and Silver Antelope made their winning move late in Thursday’s race, the rider said he was focused the finish line, not the record book.

“When I was galloping out it kind of hit me,” Johnson said.  “It was pretty neat that Red Dog put me on my first winner and also on my 1,000th one.  It was pretty neat how it worked out.”

Visits to the Churchill Downs winner’s circle by the Hartlage-Johnson team normally attract a large crowd of supporters, and the celebration of the victory by Silver Antelope differed only in it involved a sign of congratulations furnished by the track.

As he returned to Churchill Downs on Friday for three scheduled mounts, Johnson was asked what his next goal might be.

“I guess 1,001,” he said.  “We just want to win a few more races, stay safe and sound and keep on going with the year.”

STEPHEN FOSTER HOPES WILL TAKE CHARGE, GOLDEN TICKET WORK

A pair of major players for next Saturday’s 33rd running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI)Willis D. Horton and Three Chimneys Farm LLC’s Will Take Charge and Magic City Thoroughbred PartnersGolden Ticket – tuned-up for that important engagement with sharp five-furlong workouts over a fast track on Friday at Churchill Downs.

The D. Wayne Lukas trained Will Take Charge, the reigning Eclipse Award champion 3-year-old but a disappointing sixth to expected Foster rival Moonshine Mullin in the Alysheba (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20.

The move by Will Take Charge was second-fastest of 17 at the distance.

Golden Ticket, the Ken McPeek-trained runner-up to 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Fort Larned in last year’s Stephen Foster, worked in-company with stablemate Flashy American, a 5-year-old mare prepping for a run in the $200,000-added Fleur De Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII) on the Foster card.

The 5-year-old son of Speightstown covered the distance in 1:01, while Flashy American completed her work in 1:01.20.

The Stephen Foster is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division.  A victory in the 1 1/8-mile race would guarantee Will Take Charge or Golden Ticket a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for this year’s $5 million Classic at Santa Anita, along with a travel stipend of $10,000 for the journey to Southern California.

The swift move by Will Take Charge, who won last fall’s Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) at Churchill Downs after he had finished a troubled eighth to Orb in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), encouraged Lukas after the mystifying  Alysheba run by the Unbridled’s Song colt.

“I think he’s in good shape,” Lukas said.  “I think we’re sitting right on a big one, hopefully.  He’s had a really good month.  That was a sharp move today, but he did it really nicely.

“We’re hopeful that he’ll get back to top form, and I think he will.”

Will Take Charge came out of the Alysheba well, but Lukas has not been able to pinpoint a specific reason for that lackluster effort.

“It may be a little of everything – I don’t know,” Lukas said.  “He came to me a little bit flat in the paddock that day.  I think we’ll just forget it happened and go on to the next one.”

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens was in the saddle for the Alysheba, and will return to ride Will Take Charge in the June 14 Stephen Foster.

McPeek said Golden Ticket would probably be his only participant in the Stephen Foster.  He had earlier considered running Magdalena Racing’s Bellarmine, a winner of three-of-four career races on dirt at Churchill Downs, in the race.

Bellarmine is now being considered for a possible bid for the $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker (GIII) at Iowa’s Prairie Meadows on June 28.  But that plan is far from definite.

“We’ll see,” McPeek said.  “If it’s a short field, we might be tempted to go into the Stephen Foster.  He likes it here.”

Flashy American will probably face La Troienne (GI) winner On Fire Baby in the Fleur De Lis, but McPeek is happy with the progress of his 5-year-old Flashy Bull mare.  She took 11 starts – including five in maiden claiming races – before notching her first career victory in a race for $25,000 claiming horses in July of 2012 at Saratoga.

Since then, Flashy American has collected four stakes wins.  She took last fall’s Locust Grove at Churchill Downs and a victory in the recent Sixty Sails (GIII) at Hawthorne was her first graded stakes triumph.

“She’s a big, solid filly,” McPeek said.  “I love what she does and she’s in a nice rhythm.  We’re pretty proud of her.”

Flashy American has won eight of 26 races with earnings of $515,163.

Another possible contender for the Stephen Foster appeared on Friday’s work tab as GoldMark Farm LLC and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute breezed a swift half-mile in :48.

The move by the Tom Amoss-trained 4-year-old son of Midnight Lute was second-fastest of 49 at the distance.

Mylute is coming off a fourth-place finish in Churchill Downs’ Alysheba and won an allowance race at Fair Grounds in his only other start of the year.  He ran fifth in last year’s Kentucky Derby and finished third to Claiborne Farm’s Oxbow in the Preakness (GI).

RIA ANTONIA BACK WITH A BULLET

While Stephen Foster Handicap contenders Will Take Charge and Golden Ticket turned in the second and third-fastest five-furlong works of the day, the quickest move at that distance on Friday’s work tab belonged to the 3-year-old filly Ria Antonia.

Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s daughter of Rockport Harbor zipped over the distance in 1:00. It was her first major work since she finished last of 10 behind Kentucky Derby winner and Triple Crown hope California Chrome in a match against males in the $1.5 million Preakness nearly three weeks earlier.

Ria Antonia, winner via disqualification of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) at Santa Anita, moved to the barn of trainer Tom Amoss after a sixth-place run behind Untapable in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) at Churchill Downs on May 2.

BELMONT STAKES WILL BE SHOWN ON BIG BOARD, ‘CHROME’ T-SHIRT GIVEAWAY HIGHLIGHT SATURDAY

On Saturday, Churchill Downs will be giving away California Chrome T-shirts to the first 1,000 guests, commemorating the Kentucky Derby winner’s run to become just the 12th horse to win racing’s Triple Crown.

Along with live races at Churchill, the Big Board also will show stakes races from Belmont Park, including the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, which has an approximate post time of 6:52 p.m. EDT.

Churchill Downs will also offer the “Belmont Jewel,” the official drink of the Belmont Stakes, in souvenir  glasses. Other specialty cocktails served Saturday include the ‘Triple Crown Cocktail’ and the ‘Chrome in the Big Apple.”  The latter will be served in a gleaming chrome cup.