2024 Stephen Foster Stakes: The Contenders

The 2024 summer horse racing schedule heats up this Saturday at historic Churchill Downs with the 43rd running of the $1 million Grade 1 Stephen Foster Stakes.

This race is significant as it’s the first North American stakes race this year that serves as a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series qualifier for the $7 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

The winner will secure a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and take home a substantial portion of the $1 million purse, exceeding $550,000. This race has been won by many standout Thoroughbreds such as Black Tie Affair, Awesome Again, Curlin, Gun Runner, and Olympiad. Let’s check out the horse racing odds and analyze each contender: 

 

Pyrenees

Pyrenees is an emerging contender with a career record of 8 starts, 4 wins, 1 second, and 1 third, earning $321,716 to date. Trained by Cherie DeVaux and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Pyrenees has been on an upward trajectory, winning three consecutive races, including the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes. 

His running style as a stalker positions him well to capitalize on the pace set by early leaders. With an Equibase Speed Figure of 103, Pyrenees will need to improve to compete with the more experienced field in the Stephen Foster.

 

First Mission 

First Mission is another strong candidate with 8 starts, 5 wins, and 2 seconds, amassing $1,273,020 in earnings. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, First Mission has delivered powerful performances, including victories in the Grade 3 Essex Handicap and Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes. 

His top Equibase Speed Figure of 115 makes him a leading contender. Known for his stalking style, First Mission will be in a prime position to take over in the stretch.

 

Happy American 

Happy American brings a wealth of experience with 29 starts, 5 wins, 1 second, and 8 thirds, earning $655,556. Trained by Neil Pessin and ridden by Corey Lanerie, this veteran closer showed promise with a recent third-place finish in an allowance-optional claiming race at Churchill Downs. 

Happy American’s best Equibase Speed Figure of 113 came in last year’s Foster, where he finished third. While a win might be ambitious, a minor purse share is within reach.

Stephen Foster Day

 

Disarm 

Disarm is a promising 4-year-old with 10 starts, 3 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds, earning $1,077,120. Trained by Steve Asmussen, has demonstrated potential, notably with a solid fourth-place finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby. 

After an 8 ½-month layoff, he returned to win an allowance-optional claiming race at Churchill. His stalking/closing style and top Equibase Speed Figure of 107 suggest he could surprise as an off track betting option. 

 

Dreamlike

Dreamlike, with 9 starts, 1 win, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds, has earned $457,625. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Dreamlike has consistently placed in stakes races, including a near win in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes. His best Equibase Speed Figure of 113 came in the Pennsylvania Derby. Dreamlike will need a career-best effort to win but is a solid candidate for exacta and trifecta tickets.

 

Classic Causeway 

Classic Causeway has a record of 22 starts, 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 4 thirds, earning $1,507,986. Trained by Ken McPeek and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Causeway’s best performances came in 2022. 

Despite recent struggles, his ability to handle longer distances makes him a wildcard in the Stephen Foster. A prominent early position could help him secure a spot in the top four.

 

Kingsbarns

Kingsbarns, with 8 starts, 5 wins, and 2 seconds, has earned $957,800. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Luis Saez, Kingsbarns has matured into a strong contender. His best performances include wins in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes and a close second in the Pimlico Special Stakes. With a top Equibase Speed Figure of 108, Kingsbarns is expected to be a top betting choice.

 

Steal Sunshine

Steal Sunshine returns to Churchill Downs after a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes. With 22 starts, 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 6 thirds, earning $541,420, this closer will need a fast pace to have a shot at the upset. Ridden by Paco Lopez, Steal Sunshine’s top Equibase Speed Figure is 110.

 

Skippylongstocking

Skippylongstocking, with 23 starts, 8 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds, has earned $2,291,685. Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Skippylongstocking enters the Stephen Foster with two open-length victories. His best performances include wins in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap and Charles Town Classic Stakes. With a top Equibase Speed Figure of 114, he is a strong contender for the win.

 

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