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.