Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, will join with Churchill Downs to play a major role in one of the historic track’s most important racing days as the emirate will partner with the home of the Kentucky Derby as presenting sponsor for the star-studded Stephen Foster Day racing program on Saturday, June 18.
Stephen Foster Day Presented by Abu Dhabi features four graded stakes races for Thoroughbreds headed by the main event, the 30th running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I). The 12-race program also will feature the $50,000 The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, a Grade I race for purebred Arabian horses that will be the first race for horses of that breed ever conducted at the world famous track. The race is limited to 14 horses and will be run on the main track at 1 ¼ miles.
The President of the UAE Cup Series was established 20 years ago to promote and celebrate the Arabian breed internationally. It was the first international racing series for Arabian horses and continues to be considered as the world’s premier racing series for the breed.
During the three decades since its first running in 1982, the Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi has grown to become one of America’s most important races for older horses. Last year’s renewal was won by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s homebred Blame, who would return to Churchill Downs later in the year to win the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).
Blame was the fourth horse to take both the Stephen Foster and the Classic in the same year. Others who completed that sweep were Black Tie Affair (1991), Awesome Again (1998) and Saint Liam (2005). Black Tie Affair and Saint Liam won their respective renewals of the Stephen Foster on their way to year-end honors as Horse of the Year. Two other horses that competed in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up also earned that year’s Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year in the same year: Mineshaft, who finished second to Perfect Drift in the 2003 Stephen Foster, and Curlin, who won the race as a 4-year-old in 2008 on his way to his second consecutive Horse of the Year award.
Other stakes races on the Churchill Downs racing schedule for Stephen Foster Day Presented by Abu Dhabi on Saturday, June 18, include:
- The 14th running of the $125,000-added Matt Winn Presented by Emirates Equestrian Federation (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles,
- The 42nd running of the $125,000-added Regret Presented by Etihad Airways (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf,
- And the 36th running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup Presented by Abu Dhabi (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The on-track celebration of Stephen Foster Day Presented by Abu Dhabi will include an opportunity for patrons to learn about life in the Emirate and enjoy Arabian hospitality by visiting the Abu Dhabi Experience Tent. The tent, a collaborative effort of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Office of the Brand of Abu Dhabi, will be located in the paddock area near Gate 18. The Abu Dhabi Experience Tent has been visited by race goers around the world at tracks that include Britain’s Royal Ascot and Newmarket; Ireland’s The Curragh; and France’s Deauville.
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will display its branded Formula 1 race car in the Churchill Downs paddock. Visitors will have an opportunity to have photographs taken with the vehicle.
And patrons visiting Churchill Downs on Stephen Foster Day Presented by Abu Dubai will have the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes drawing that has a grand prize of a Five-Star trip to Abu Dhabi.
Post time for the first of 12 races on Stephen Foster Day Presented by Abu Dhabi will be 12:45 p.m. (ET).