The Grade 1 $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap will be run at Churchill Downs on Saturday afternoon. The race is named after the composer that wrote "My Old Kentucky Home", which is played for the horses as the come out on to the racetrack before the Kentucky Derby in a usually emotional moment for all concerned. The Foster drew a field of eleven for this thirtieth renewal. Here is the analysis:
My top pick in the Foster will be #3 Apart, who was the winner of the Grade 3 Schaefer on Preakness Day at Pimlico in Baltimore. While Garrett Gomez had the ride on that occasion, the jockey here will be Julien Leparoux, who is having his usual fine season in the Kentucky Bluegrass. This colt posted back-to-back Beyers of 100 in the last two starts and won the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap over the Churchill track in November 2010. For second, I will go with #10 Giant Oak, who will be running late as is his usual style. He came from well out of it to win the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream in February and has a third and a fifth in the two tries since that score. Shaun Bridgmohan was aboard for all three 2011 races. This horse's recent work tab at Churchill Downs has been fantastic. He ran fourth in this race in 2010. I will use #11 Mission Impazible in the third spot. This pick comes even after posting his worst recent race last time out on Kentucky Oaks Day in the Grade 3 Alysheba, a seventh in which he failed to offer even token resistance. He is now 0 for 3 over the Louisville surface and there is a rider change to mention with Javier Castellano taking over for trainer Todd Pletcher. Finally, if there is a reasonable longshot in this field, I feel it is #7 Equestrio, whose most noteworthy accomplishment this year was defeating Kentucky Derby favorite, Dialed In, back in March at Gulfstream in what was the favorite last prep race before his win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. This will be only this colt's second effort with graded company, but trainer Nick Zito knows his way around Churchill Downs. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap:
$10 WP #3
$1 EX BOX 3-7-10-11
$1 TRI BOX 3-7-10-11
Currently, the blog is MINUS $646 for the year, but we are getting closer to be sure. They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!