The $500,000, Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap is the centerpiece of an 11-race card featuring four other graded stakes at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Gun Runner, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm is the 4-5 favorite for the 36th running of the Stephen Foster. Post time is 9:43 p.m.
“I can’t wait for Saturday night,” jockey Florent Geroux said. “The Stephen Foster card is always one of my favorites to ride.”
Saturday night also features the Matt Winn Stakes, the Wise Dan Stakes, the Fleur de Lis Handicap and the Regret Stakes.
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Gun Runner has not raced since March 25, when he finished second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup.
“No matter how the race develops he tries his heart out,” Geroux said of the mile-and-an-eighth Stephen Foster. “He was beaten in his last start by one of the best horses in the world, so we really can’t hold that against him.
Here is a look at Saturday’s other graded stakes on the “Downs After Dark” card:
▪ The $100,000, Grade 3 Matt Winn for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles is headlined by three-time graded stakes winner McCraken (4-5). The six-horse field also includes Colonelsdarktemper (4-1) and Excitations (9-2). The Matt Winn is the night’s fifth race, with a post time of 8:03 p.m.
▪ The $200,000, Grade 2 Wise Dan for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf is headlined by defending champ Pleuven (3-1). Also running are the Ian Wilkes-trained duo of Bondurant (8-1) and Thatcher Street (4-1). Conquest Panthera, who was third in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland this spring, is 6-1. (Sixth race, 8:35 p.m.)
▪ The $200,000, Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles features a rematch between Big World (6-1) and Romantic Vision (8-1), the top two finishers in the Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day. The top choice is Forever Unbridled (4-5), who finished third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in her most recent outing. (Seventh race, 9:09 p.m.)
▪ The $100,000, Grade 3 Regret Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on grass, attracted 7-2 favorite Proctor’s Ledge and 4-1 second choice Sweeping Paddy, who were last seen finishing fourth and third, respectively, in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill on Oaks Day. (Ninth race, 10:15 p.m.)
Stephen Foster Handicap
What: $500,000, Grade 1 stakes race for 3-year-olds and up
Where: Churchill Downs
When: 9:43 p.m. Saturday (Eighth race)
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
TV: NBC Sports Network, TVG
Stephen Foster field