First Mission Aims for Victory in G1 Stephen Foster

First Mission, the 6-5 morning line favorite for the $1 million Stephen Foster (Grade I) at Churchill Downs, is gearing up for Saturday’s marquee race. Trainer Brad Cox is optimistic about the colt’s chances for his first Grade I victory.

“We’ve had this race on our schedule for a long time now,” Cox said. “The plan has been if he ran well in the Alysheba to run him in the Stephen Foster. He came out of the Alysheba very well and has been training great at Churchill.”

First Mission HorseFirst Mission, a talented 4-year-old son of Street Sense, secured a four-length win eight weeks ago in the Alysheba Stakes presented by TwinSpires (GII). 

First Mission has won five starts, including the Lexington Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland and the Essex Handicap (GIII) at Oaklawn Park. Florent Geroux will ride First Mission in the Stephen Foster from post No. 2, making him the offtrack betting favorite. 

The Stephen Foster, a one 1/8-mile race, is the highlight event of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet following Kentucky Derby Week. The Stephen Foster is a “Win and You’re In” race, granting the winner a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Del Mar on November 2 with free entry.

Carded as Race 11 of 12, the Stephen Foster is the highlight of a stakes-filled program at Churchill Downs, which also includes the Fasig-Tipton Fleur de Lis (GII); Wise Dan (GII); American Derby (Listed); Kelly’s Landing (Listed); and Tepin (Listed). The first post is at 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern), and the Stephen Foster field will go to post at 6:03 p.m.


The Complete Field:

* Pyrenees (Brian Hernandez Jr., Cherie DeVaux, 12-1)

* First Mission (Geroux, Cox, 6-5)

* Happy American (Corey Lanerie, Neil Pessin, 30-1)

* Disarm (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 6-1)

* Dreamlike (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher, 10-1)

* Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux, Kenny McPeek, 30-1)

* Kingsbarns (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher, 6-1)

* Steal Sunshine (Paco Lopez, Bobby Dibona, 20-1)

* Skippylongstocking (Jose Ortiz, Saffie Joseph Jr., 5-2)


The connections of this year’s Kentucky Derby champion, Mystik Dan, and Kentucky Oaks winner, Thorpedo Anna, will receive their engraved trophies in a special winner’s circle ceremony between races. Before the ceremony, guests will have the opportunity to view and photograph the trophies on display.

Blue Heaven Farm’s 4-year-old colt, the Pyrenees, will attempt to win his fifth consecutive race in the Stephen Foster. Trained by Cherie DeVaux, Pyrenees enters the race after securing a narrow victory over Kingsbarns in the Pimlico Special (GIII) on May 17.

Listed at 12-1 on the horse racing odds, Pyrenees will break from the rail under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. 

Saturday’s 12-race card will feature an all-stakes sequence for the 20-cent Derby City 6 Jackpot, covering the final six races. The Stephen Foster is the highlight of the stakes-filled day at Churchill Downs. Notable races include the Wise Dan (GII), Fleur de Lis (GII), American Derby (Listed), Kelly’s Landing (Listed), and Tepin (Listed).

For those keeping track of the horse racing schedule, Saturday’s action at Churchill Downs promises to be a thrilling day of top-notch racing.


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