Honorable Duty joined a list of 55 horses that eventual Horse of the Year Gun Runner defeated in 2017 after finishing second in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap presented by GE Appliances (GI) but trainer Brendan Walsh hopes the 6-year-old can redeem himself in Saturday’s 37th running of the 1 1/8-mile race at Churchill Downs.

“It was tough for anyone to beat Gun Runner last year,” Walsh said. “But, I know this, this year’s field will have to run a good race to beat our horse. There are four or five really nice horses in the field, including (trainer) Chad Brown’s horse Backyard Heaven.”

Owned by David RossDARRS Inc, Honorable Duty returned from a 177-day layoff on May 20 to defeat a field of conditioned-allowance horses by five lengths at Churchill Downs under jockey Corey Lanerie.

“We gave him some time off after his sub-par races in the (Oct. 28) Fayette (GII) and (Nov. 24) Clark Handicap,” Walsh said. “We’ve kept him training at Keeneland and he’s done very well there. His allowance race gave us a lot of confidence that the real Honorable Duty is back and ready to return to his top form.”

The gelding by Distorted Humor is a three-time graded stakes winner with victories in the 2017 Mineshaft Handicap (GIII) and New Orleans Handicap (GII) at Fair Grounds and Lukas Classic (GIII) at Churchill Downs.

The Stephen Foster Handicap is the richest of five graded stakes races on Saturday’s special 11-race night racing card that begins at 6 p.m. (all times Eastern). Total purses on the evening are more than $1.4 million, which makes it the most lucrative racing day for horsemen at Churchill Downs outside of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks programs.

Other stakes events scheduled on the night are the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap presented by Budweiser (GII) for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles headlined by La Troienne (GI) runner-up and multiple Grade II winner Farrell; the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf led by last year’s champion Turf Male World Approval and two-time Grade I winner Divisidero; the $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles featuring romping Sir Barton winner Ax Man; and a well-matched cast of 13 3-year-old fillies in the $100,000 Regret presented by Cintas (GIII) at 1 1/8 miles on grass.

The Stephen Foster Handicap field from the rail out: Honorable Duty (ridden by Lanerie, trained by Walsh, 118 pounds, 6-1 morning line odds); Patch (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher, 116, 10-1); Hawaakom (Brian Hernandez Jr., Wes Hawley, 117, 12-1); Uncle Mojo (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 114, 10-1); Matrooh (Santo Sanjur, Cipriano Contreras, 115, 20-1); Backyard Heaven (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Brown, 121, 6-5); Lookin At Lee (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 115, 12-1); Irish War Cry (Jose Ortiz, Graham Motion, 119, 5-1); and Pavel (Mario Gutierrez, Doug O’Neill, 117, 5-1).

The Stephen Foster Handicap has been carded as Race 8 at 9:39 p.m. NBCSN will televise the race from 8:30-10 p.m. to launch its 2018 “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In presented by America’s Best Racing” television schedule. NBCSN’s coverage will be hosted by Laffit Pincay III, who will be joined by analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, as well as reporters Donna Brothers and Britney Eurton.

Also, Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will air live coverage on 93.9 The Ville in Louisville and Sirius/XM 93 from 8-10 p.m.

TRIPLE CROWN WINNER JUSTIFY JOGS ONE MILE FRIDAY; PARADES SATURDAY NIGHT Undefeated Triple Crown winner Justify jogged one mile Friday morning at Churchill Downs under regular exercise rider Humberto Gomez.

Justify, who became only the 13th horse to sweep horse racing’s Triple Crown when he led every step in Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI), will parade before the crowd at Churchill Downs from approximately 6:45-7:15 p.m. Justify will parade in front of the Clubhouse and Grandstand as he walks over with the horses for the third race, which has a 6:56 p.m. post time (note: Justify will follow the third race entrants). He’ll then visit and circle the saddling paddock and remain there while the third race is being run. After the third race winner’s circle presentation is complete, Justify will visit the Woodford Reserve Winner’s Circle for a special ceremony for his connections – owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners; Hall of Fame trainer and jockey, Bob Baffert and Mike Smith, respectively; and breeder John Gunther – to receive their engraved Kentucky Derby 144 trophies.

Justify is tentatively scheduled to return to his home base at Santa Anita Park in Southern California on Sunday, and will leave Barn 33 at Churchill Downs on Sunday between 10:30-11 a.m.

FARRELL READY TO PLAY ‘CATCH ME IF YOU CAN’ IN GRADE II, $200,000 FLEUR DE LIS ’CAP – Several fillies and mares in Saturday’s $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap presented by Budweiser (GII) at Churchill Downs like to show early speed but trainer Wayne Catalano believes Farrell could be the quickest of them all.

“It’s certainly an interesting race on paper with a lot of horses that like to show early speed,” Catalano said. “I just don’t think they have the same speed that Farrell does. We’ll be on the lead and hopefully can take them all the way from start to finish.”

Farrell, a 4-year-old filly by Malibu Moon, led nearly every step of the way in the La Troienne (GI) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs but tired late to finish second.

Another filly who could add to the early pace setup is recent allowance winner Awestruck, who rallied from just off the pace to cruise to a 6 ¼-length win on May 10 at Churchill Downs.

“I think we’ll probably have to track from just off of the pace,” trainer Rusty Arnold II’s assistant Jack Bohannan said. “We know Wayne’s horse will probably be on the early lead and one or two others like to show speed as well.”

For the fourth year in a row, the Fleur de Lis is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” stakes event, which means the winner will be guaranteed a berth in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) on Nov. 3.

The Fleur de Lis – which means “Flower of the Lily” and honors the French symbol that is incorporated into the city of Louisville’s Flag – will be run as Race 7 at 9:09 p.m. (all times Eastern). It will be televised live on NBCSN from 8:30-10 p.m.

The Fleur de Lis field from the rail out: Fuhriously Kissed (ridden by C.J. McMahon, trained by Tony Quartarolo, 115 pounds, 10-1 morning line odds); Mopotism (Mario Gutierrez, Doug O’Neill, 118, 8-1); Blue Prize (ARG) (Jose Ortiz, Ignacio Correas IV, 118, 7-2); Streamline (Chris Landeros, Brian Williamson, 116, 15-1); Song of Spring (Ricardo Santana Jr., Neil Howard, 118, 6-1); Awestruck (Irad Ortiz Jr., Rusty Arnold II, 115, 8-1); Valadorna (Brian Hernandez Jr., Mark Casse, 118, 4-1); Apologynotaccepted (Julien Leparoux, Brendan Walsh, 117, 12-1); and Farrell (Channing Hill, Catalano, 119, 3-1).

SHINING COPPER WILL TRY TO ‘UPSET THE CHAMPION’ IN SATURDAY’S WISE DAN Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s speedy multiple graded stakes winner Shining Copper hopes to upset 2017 Eclipse Award Champion Turf Male World Approval and two-time Grade I winner Divisidero in Saturday’s 29th running of the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII) at 1 1/16 miles over Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course.

“We’re going to be on the front end and see if they can catch us,” Ken Ramsey said. “After this horse won the Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 13 at Gulfstream, I took him down to Barbados but he finished second behind my other horse Sir Dudley Digges (in the Barbados Gold Cup). It was a good race but he didn’t quite get over the ground well in his last start in the (Old Forester) Turf Classic.

“We’ll try to upset the champion World Approval but he’ll have to catch us on the front end.”

Shining Copper (34-9-5-7—$847,854) returned from a 13-month layoff in September 2017 and was transferred to trainer Mike Maker from Chad Brown. The 8-year-old chestnut will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. and is 6-1 on the morning line.

The Wise Dan field, which will go as Race 6 at 8:30 p.m., from the rail out: Divisidero (ridden by Jevian Toledo, trained by Kelly Rubley, 121 pounds, 3-1 morning line odds); Shining Copper (Irad Ortiz Jr., Maker, 123, 6-1); Inspector Lynley (Jose Ortiz, Shug McGaughey III, 121, 10-1); World Approval (John Velazquez, Mark Casse, 126, 6-5); Mr. Misunderstood (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 121, 10-1); Mr Cub (Chris Landeros, Ian Wilkes, 121, 10-1); Flatlined (Corey Lanerie, Scooter Dickey, 121, 12-1); and Parlor (Brian Hernandez Jr., Eddie Kenneally, 121, 10-1).

ASMUSSEN CONFIDENT COMBATANT CAN ‘GET OVER THE HUMP’ IN WINNWinchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton’s ultra-consistent Combatant will try for just his second-career victory as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line in Saturday’s $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

“He needs to get over the hump,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I think he needs a little more time between races so hopefully the rest from the Derby he’ll come back stronger. He just needs a little spark and hopefully he’ll get that in the Matt Winn.”

Combatant, a 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy, began his 2017 campaign at Oaklawn Park with runner-up finishes in the Jan. 15 Smarty Jones and Feb. 1 Southwest (GIII). The bay colt then finished third in the March 17 Rebel and fourth in the April 14 Arkansas Derby (GI) before an 18th-place finish in the May 5 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI).

“He’s a very talented horse that hasn’t had many things go his way,” Asmussen said. “Most notably the draws have not been in his favor. One thing’s for sure, he didn’t draw worse than he did in the Derby (post 20).”

The Matt Winn field from the rail out: Navy Armed Guard (ridden by Alex Canchari, trained by Joan Scott, 118 pounds, 20-1 morning line odds); Home Base (Joe Rocco Jr., Mike Tomlinson, 118, 10-1); Funny Duck (Brian Hernandez Jr., Rusty Arnold II, 120, 5-1); King Zachary (Robby Albarado, Dale Romans, 118, 10-1); Combatant (Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen, 118, 4-1); Tiz Mischief (Corey Lanerie, Romans, 118, 8-1); and Ax Man (Mike Smith, Bob Baffert, 120, 4-5).

The Matt Winn goes as Race 5 with a post time of approximately 7:57 p.m. (all times Eastern).

BEYOND BLAME SEEKS FIRST GRADED-STAKES PLACING IN SATURDAY’S REGRET Pop-a-top LLC’s two-time winner Beyond Blame arguably lost all chance when she was checked hard into the first turn of the May 4 Edgewood (GIII) at Churchill Downs but the 3-year-old filly will try for some better luck as the 6-1 co-second choice on the morning line in Saturday’s $100,000 Regret Stakes (GIII).

“She really lost all chance early in the Edgewood,” trainer Brad Cox’s assistant Jorje Abrego said. “She’s really trained well, including her last breeze over the turf at Churchill Downs in company with (Grade III winner) Sassy Sienna. I think this race should set up well for her but we just need some better luck than her last race.”

Beyond Blame broke her maiden at second asking on Feb. 10 at Fair Grounds by nine lengths then finished one length behind fellow Regret competitor Kabella in the Allen Black Cat LaCombe Memorial Overnight Stakes at Fair Grounds. The bay homebred returned in a first-level allowance race and cruised to a four-length win prior to her sixth-place finish in the Edgewood.

The Regret, for 3-year-old fillies run at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course, is carded as Race 9 at 10:11 p.m.

The Regret field from the rail out: Heavenly Love (ridden by Julien Leparoux, trained by Mark Casse, 5-1 morning line odds); Consolida (GB) (John Velazquez, Paddy Gallagher, 10-1); She’s Pretty Lucky (Corey Lanerie, Eddie Kenneally, 10-1); Finess Bere (FR) (Ricardo Santana Jr., Bob Baffert, 8-1); Lemon Princess (Alex Canchari, Joan Scott, 50-1); Cash Out (Adam Beschizza, Rusty Arnold II, 12-1); Go Google Yourself (Brian Hernandez Jr., Paul McGee, 10-1); Beyond Blame (Florent Geroux, Cox, 6-1); Secret Message (Irad Ortiz Jr., Graham Motion, 12-1); Kabella (Shaun Bridgmohan, Dan Peitz, 6-1); Romantic Moment (Jose Ortiz, Shug McGaughey III, 8-1); Go Noni Go (Mike Smith, Mike Maker, 6-1); and Stave (Gabriel Saez, Larry Jones, 8-1).

All fillies will carry 118 pounds.

SINGLE 6 JACKPOT HIT FOR $549,774.80 THURSDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Churchill Downs’ 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot was hit Thursday evening for a whopping $549,774.80 from a ticket purchased at Northfield Park by longtime owner and horseplayer Ron Paolucci.

Paolucci’s ticket, which cost $1,764, correctly picked the winners of Races 3-8 Thursday: Race 3, Misspent Youth, $13; Race 4, My Perfect Graydar, $8.40; Race 5, Clever Serve, $12.60; Race 6, Strike Silver, $5.80; Race 7, Bonnie Arch, $11.20; and Race 8 Mucho Mas Grande, $25.

The Single 6 Jackpot, which debuted at Churchill Downs during the 2015 Fall Meet, is a minimum 20-cent wager with a low 15-percent takeout – one of the lowest multi-race wager takeout rates in American racing. The Single 6 Jackpot is paid only if there is a single winning wager with six winners placed at the required minimum bet value. If there are multiple winning wagers with six winners in the six-race sequence, 90 percent of the net money wagering into the pool is paid out, and the remaining 10 percent is carried to the Single 6 Jackpot. If there are no tickets will all six winners, 100 percent of the pool is carried to the Single 6 Jackpot.

BREEDERS’ CUP BETTING CHALLENGE QUALIFIER ON STEPHEN FOSTER ’CAP NIGHT Some of the nation’s elite horseplayers will descend upon Churchill Downs on Saturday night and attempt to secure seats at the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge as they pit their handicapping skills against the best Louisville has to offer.

Churchill Downs’ Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Live Bankroll Qualifier is a “real money” handicapping tournament with a $1,500 buy-in, of which $1,000 will be used by participants to wager on Saturday night’s 11-race Stephen Foster Handicap card with the other $500 going toward the entry fee and prize pool. Wager types permitted are Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta and Daily Double only.

The top two finishers in the satellite tournament will receive $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seats for the Nov. 2-3 event at Churchill Downs plus a $1,000 travel voucher. The third-place finisher will receive a $2,500 voucher.

Saturday’s prize pool is based on 50 entries. All entry fees will be paid back to prize pool should more than 50 entries participate. Horseplayers can register by emailing Gary Palmisano at [email protected].

DOWNS AFTER DARK THEME IS ‘ART OF THE HORSE’ – One of Louisville’s biggest summer parties returns in earnest to Churchill Downs on Saturday as the home of the Kentucky Derby welcomes back its wildly-popular “Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser” nighttime racing program for Stephen Foster Handicap night. The evening’s theme is “Art of the Horse” and guests are encouraged to dress in pastels and bright colors to fit the art theme and summer weather.

General admission to Churchill Downs is $10 on Saturday with a first post of 6 p.m. and gates at 5 p.m. Box seats are $25 and reserved dining packages are $73. All ticket options can be purchased online at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.

The evening’s entertainment includes music on the Plaza Stage courtesy of Free Soul Effect and Mojo Flo.

Additionally, there will be a Breeders’ Cup Artwork Exhibit. Churchill Downs, Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and Louisville Visual Art have partnered to create an opportunity for one local artist to be showcased as the Official Artist of the 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2-3. Five finalists will have their artwork on display in the Plaza on Saturday night and guests may vote for their favorite.

FREE JUSTIFY PRINT TO FIRST 5,000 FANS ON SATURDAY – The first 5,000 fans in attendance Saturday night at Churchill Downs will receive a free commemorative print of Justify that celebrates his Triple Crown achievement.

GET YOUR PHOTO WITH THE KENTUCKY DERBY TROPHIES – Fans in attendance at Churchill Downs on Saturday will be able to take pictures with Justify’s engraved Kentucky Derby 144 trophies just inside the Paddock Gate from 5-6:30 p.m.

FOSTER, FLEUR DE LIS PART OF BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN AND YOU’RE IN’ SERIES – Both the 37th running of $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) and 43rd running of the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) are part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series. The winners of the Foster and Fleur de Lis will be assured berths in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff starting gates, respectively, this November at Churchill Downs. The Foster is the first U.S. “Win and You’re In” for the 1 ¼-mile Classic. Winning also means Breeders’ Cup pre-entry and entry fees will be covered and the connections will receive a travel award up to $10,000.

ALL-STAKES PICK 5 TO BE OFFERED SATURDAY NIGHT – Churchill Downs will make it a special night for bettors at Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” as the track offers an all-stakes Pick 5 as part of its special wagering menu.

The all-stakes Pick 5 on Races 5-9 starting at 7:57 p.m., which encompasses the Matt Winn (Race 5), Wise Dan (Race 6), Fleur de Lis Handicap (Race 7), Stephen Foster Handicap (Race 8) and Regret (Race 9). There also will be an all-stakes Pick 4 on Races 6-9 starting at 8:30 p.m.

All told, there will be three Pick 5s (Races 2-6, Races 5-9 and Races 7-11) and three Pick 4s (Races 1-4, Races 6-9 and Races 8-11) on the night.

Both the Pick 4 and Pick 5 are 50-cent minimum bets.

The $1 Super Hi-5 will be staged on Race 9 – the Regret – and not on the final race of the night.

The 20-cent minimum Single-6 Jackpot will cover Races 4-9. There will be no $250,000 mandatory partial payout Saturday because the jackpot was hit Thursday for $549,774.80.

DOWN THE STRETCH – Friday’s nine-race card gets underway at 12:45 p.m. with a three-day carryover in the $1 Super Hi-5 of $11,834. … Saturday’s Downs After Dark presented by Budweiser has a first post of 6 p.m. and gates open at 5 p.m. Sunday’s Father’s Day program at Churchill Downs will get underway at 12:45 p.m. Ticket packages are available to treat Dad to a day at the races at ChurchillDowns.com/tickets. … The hosts of “Inside Churchill Downs” – Churchill Downs Racetrack’s John Asher, Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein – will preview Saturday’s five graded stakes races at Churchill and relive Justify’s historic Triple Crown victory with special guests on their 6-7 p.m. show that airs every Friday on ESPN 680/105.7. Those outside the Louisville area can listen live online at http://www.espnlouisville.com/ or download a podcast of the show after its completion. … Congratulations to trainer Tony Quartarolo
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