All five stakes victors on Saturday evening’s card at Churchill Downs exited their wins in good shape, according to their connections.
Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) winner Bradester walked away from his first Grade I triumph “better than he had ever come out of a race,” according to trainer Eddie Kenneally’s assistant Ronan Quinn.
“Last night after the race you would have never even thought he had run,” Quinn said. “Sometimes it takes a bit more out of him. He’s an experienced race horse and he’s 100 percent this morning. I told Eddie when we were coming back that he wasn’t even blowing so it’s good that way. We walked him this morning and there are no issues there either, which is awesome for this older horse. He finished his feed and he’s back in the routine a lot quicker than most of these things after they run. Fingers crossed but everything is positive right now.”
Bradester, who scored the fifth graded stakes win of his career in the $500,000 Stephen Foster, was victorious in wire-to-wire fashion and set modest fractions of :23.64, :47.58 and 1:11.69 before holding off a rally from late-closing Eagle and Majestic Harbor, who finished a respective second and third.
“The race really just went his way,” Quinn said. “The fact that they left him alone and let him do his thing was a big plus and then he just dug in at the end. But he ran his race at the end. I’m really happy with the way he came home last night. We were pleased after last night but I’m even happier this morning.”
Trainer Al Stall Jr. reported that $200,000 Fleur de Lis (GII) winner Paid Up Subscriber, who is now a spotless 3-for-3 over the Churchill Downs main track, was doing well the morning after her first graded stakes win and is likely to see stakes action at Saratoga next time out.
“Everything seems good,” Stall said. “The way she had been training here really gave me a lot of confidence. Her last few works she was really training like she was somebody. I imagine she’ll go to Saratoga. I know that they have a couple races up there. The ($500,000) Spinster (at Keeneland) maybe would make sense later in the fall. She’s done well at Keeneland before and she has run a couple of really good races up there before.”
Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) third-place finisher Gun Runner is all systems go for the $1 million Haskell Invitational (GI) on July 30 following his effortless victory in the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) according to trainer Steve Asmussen.
“All is good and we’re aiming at the Haskell,” Asmussen said. “We were pleased with his race last night and his confidence level should be exactly where it needs to be to face a Grade I field next time.”
Meanwhile an hour down the road in Lexington, Keeneland-based stakes winners Pleuven (FR) and Auntie Joy, who scored their first graded stakes wins Saturday night, were doing well Sunday morning, according to their trainers.
Pleuven, winner of the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII), is possible to face grades-stakes company at Arlington Park next time out.
“We’re just kind of taking it in right now,” trainer Phil Sims said by phone from his Keeneland base. “Arlington has some nice stakes coming up so there’s a good chance we’ll end up going there. He came out of (Saturday’s) race great and has been training real well at Keeneland.”
The Wise Dan was only Pleuven’s third start off an 11-month layoff, prior to which he was trained by Chad Brown. In his other two starts, the son of Turtle Bowl was a close fifth in an allowance race at Keeneland and second beaten a half-length behind Thatcher Street in the Opening Verse Overnight Stakes on May 20.
“We got him at the first part of the year after his extended layoff and he doesn’t have any trouble,” Sims said. “He had a bad trip in his start at Keeneland, but he was beaten by Vyjack, who is a good horse. He’s gotten better with each start.”
Trainer Brendan Walsh reported that Auntie Joy, who won the $100,000 Regret (GIII) from gate to wire, is a possibility for the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (GI) on July 9.
“Obviously that’s the next logical spot,” Walsh said. “We’ll just have to see how she comes out of this one the next few days. It’s definitely a possibility. It looked like she came out real good. We were delighted with the performance.”
CASSE RELISHES TEPIN’S ROYAL ASCOT TRIUMPH – Norman Casse, son and assistant trainer to his father Mark, reflected on reigning Champion Turf Female Tepin’s victory in Tuesday’s Queen Anne (Group I) at Royal Ascot.
“I really can’t explain it,” Casse said. “Obviously everybody is super excited and overwhelmed because what we did had never really been done before. It was really rewarding.”
The daughter of Bernstein’s victory at the historic British race track marked the first victory for an American-based horse in the Queen Anne.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Casse said. “When you go over there it’s a little overwhelming but maybe now that we’ve done it maybe there will be something that Americans look forward to doing now. I think we definitely took the right horse. You have to have a special horse to go over there and she is obviously very talented but more importantly she’s super intelligent and as soon as she got off the plane you could tell that everything was going to be all right and that she was going to run her race and if she ran her race you knew she was going to be tough to beat.”
Casse is unsure as to when the Eclipse Award-winning mare would resume training for her next start.
“There’s really no timetable yet,” Casse said. “She gets back next week from overseas.”