The Stephen Foster Entries: Olympiad vs Mandaloun, others in with chance

Brad Cox (pictured) and Mandaloun are ready for some stakes action. The Stephen Foster (G2) is a highlight for Churchill Downs, as their Meet comes to a close over the July 4th weekend. Check out this preview below ...
Brad Cox (pictured) and Mandaloun are ready for some stakes action. The Stephen Foster (G2) is a highlight for Churchill Downs, as their Meet comes to a close over the July 4th weekend. Check out this preview below ...

Race 10: 1 1/8th (Dirt), The Stephen Foster (G2), Purse $750k, 4+ (Saturday)

Downgraded from a Grade 1 to Grade 2, the Stephen Foster is still one of the signature races at Churchill after the Kentucky Derby is complete. Historically, it brings together a strong group of older runners, and the real prize here is an automatic bid into the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) … hosted this year by Keeneland in November. Last year, it was Brendan Walsh’s Maxfield who made the most of the opportunity with Jose Ortiz aboard. The connections earned their spot in the big race at Del Mar … the chance to win one of the world’s most prestigious races. Who will join the likes of Noble Bird, Gun Runner, Seeking the Soul, and Tom’s d’Etat? We shall see …

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Caddo River (Jky: R. Santana/Trn: B. Cox):

A Shortleaf homebred, Brad Cox has finally gotten this talented son of Hard Spun on the right track. His last 3 races of his 4-yr-old campaign were stellar. Granted (2 @OP, 1 @CD) were against OC Co., but it still took ability. He won those races by a combined 16-lengths. Since switching to Ricardo Santana things appear to be looking up. The major question … are the unruly and undisciplined days behind this one? If they are, then he could be a player in the “Classic Division.”

Grade: B


#2 Americanrevolution (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: T. Pletcher):

HOF trainer Todd Pletcher brings one of his budding stars to Churchill Downs for a 2nd time. In the Blame S. $200k under the Twin Spires, this son of Constitution really missed … ending up 4th on 4 June. He was a short-priced favorite that afternoon. Proxy #5, who is drawn-in here, was 2nd in that race. The colt has something to prove, and must find something more before the top of the stretch arrives. Has he matured and made progress over the course of the winter? Pletcher certainly hopes so. Maybe he just needed a race? Having Luis Saez back in the irons is a comfort, and I like his riding style when it is all said and done. If the WinStar's star can tap into his talent pool, then he will be very tough to beat.

Grade: B+


#3 Olympiad (Jky: J. Alvarado/Trn: B. Mott):

It is probably safe to say that Bill Mott’s ace will be the favorite once post time rolls around. A son of Speightstown, the 4-yr-old has met some stiff challenges enroute to 6 wins out of 9 starts. I think if he is on his game, there will be few that can match that devasting leg kick. Junior Alvarado does not get many chances to be in the limelight, but he is an able-bodied jockey with some major experience. Switching from NYRA to ride down at Gulfstream Park was a major decision. Mott is a HOF trainer, and he has managed this colt development very well. Watching his charge run impressively in the Alysheba S. (G2) on the Oaks undercard was quite a sight. Lookout … when the top of the stretch arrives!

Grade: A-


#4 Title Ready (Jky: B. Hernandez/Trn: D. Stewart):

A Fipke homebred, trained by Dallas Stewart, here's the most experienced runner in the entire race. With 31 starts to his credit, he has seen the wars. While he only has 5 career wins, I would say that this wily runner continues to exude class. That spells determination, and I think he has the ability to turn the tables when you least expect it. If some of these other more celebrated entries falter, then this could be one of those long shot picks that comes in. Stewart runs a solid operation, and he continues to be underestimated and underrated. The accomplished Brian Hernandez gets the call, and you never know what he has up his sleeve either.

Grade: B


#5 Proxy (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: M. Stidham):

Steadiness … that is the word that most deftly describes Mike Stidham’s son of Tapit. A Godolphin homebred, he is never far from the lead when the wire arrives. Maybe some ‘cappers will say that he can never close the deal, but it depends on your perspective. Being 2nd to Dynamic One in the Blame S. $200k was some feat, but let’s face it … these are deeper waters, for sure. Going with Joel Rosario is a shrewd move, and I like Stidham’s choice. The closers in this race are out in the force though, and it is going to be tough to stand tall when the moment arrives.

Grade: B-


#6 Mandaloun (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: B. Cox):

The last time we saw Brad Cox’s Juddmonte homebred, it was over in Saudi Arabia in that Grade 1 Cup. Few outside of that country gave Emblem Road much of a chance, and most (including this ‘capper) believed that Cox had his 4-yr-old cranked up for the trip. It was not to be … The Kentucky Derby Champion (by default) needs an American comeback race, and with Florent Geroux in the irons, he has a chance to make a splash. He is up against some formidable foes, but I am betting that he will be ready to go. We all know that he possesses talent in spades; now, he just needs to put together a great race.

Grade: A-


#7 Last Samurai (Jky: J. Court/Trn: D.W. Lukas):

A former runner from the barn of Dallas Stewart, the Malibu Moon colt was recently transferred to D.W. Lukas’ outfit. The former cut his teeth with the “Coach,” so it is ironic that we have a switch by owner Willis Horton. In April, the router really outdid himself in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). That was quite a victory against Plainsman and Fearless. The veteran Jon Court is this one’s regular rider, and he has such amazing experience. Expect him to know what to do, when the time is right … Does Lukas have the new member of his outfit prepped and ready? We are going to find out … it is going to take an even bigger effort than the one in Hot Springs.

Grade: B-


Join us Saturday for all of our selections! Should be a great set of races from Churchill Downs! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!