Stephen Foster Day Stakes: Key Horses and Lineup

Churchill Downs’ Spring Meet finale features 11 stakes races, highlighted by the $1 million Stephen Foster (G1) on June 29.

Many top horses at Churchill Downs, including Godolphin’s First Mission and Juddmonte’s Scylla, are preparing for the closing weekend stakes, headlined by the Stephen Foster and the $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Fleur de Lis (G2).

Key Contenders and Races

First Mission, a 4-year-old son of Street Sense, recently won the Alysheba Stakes (G2) on Kentucky Oaks Day for trainer Brad Cox and is likely to headline the Stephen Foster and its horse racing schedule. Other probable entrants include Il Miracolo and Steal Sunshine.

In the Fleur de Lis, Shawnee Stakes winner Scylla recorded a solid half-mile move in 48.20 for trainer Bill Mott.  Godolphin’s Grade 1 winner Wet Paint, who breezed a half-mile in 48 at Churchill Downs, is another possible entrant in the race.

In total, they will contest 11 stakes on June 29-30, the final weekend of the 2024 Spring Meet. Along with the Stephen Foster, a 1 1/8-mile test for older runners, and the Fleur de Lis for older fillies and mares, the horse betting odds on June 29 include the $500,000 Wise Dan (G2), $250,000 American Derby (L), $250,000 Kelly’s Landing (L), and $250,000 Tepin (L).

Sunday’s program features the $300,000 Hanshin presented by the JRA (L), $225,000 Bashford Manor (L), $225,000 Debutante (L), $175,000 Anchorage Overnight Stakes, and $175,000 Maxfield Overnight Stakes.

Stephen Foster Day


Asmussen’s Hot Streak

Trainer Steve Asmussen has had an impressive run at Churchill Downs this spring meet, achieving 28 winners. On Monday, Asmussen sent out pairs of horses for five-furlong workouts. Disarm, who worked with Red Route One, clocked in at 1:00.20. Extra Anejo matched this time while working with the stakes-placed 3-year-old Imperial Gun.

People looking for offtrack betting opportunities should know that Disarm is the standout in Asmussen’s group, preparing for the Stephen Foster. He finished fourth in the 2023 Kentucky Derby and was second in the Travers. His May 18 allowance race win had a low Beyer Speed Figure but showed he is in good form. Disarm’s Monday workout left no doubt about his readiness.


Future Prospects

Red Route One will compete in the $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker on July 18, while Extra Anejo is aiming for the $300,000 Hanshin Stakes on June 30. Extra Anejo returned from a 10-month layoff on May 30 with a striking win and will move to two-turn races.

Asmussen’s Society will race in the Grade 3 Chicago Stakes on Saturday, her first since the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Other horses in Asmussen’s string, including Cogburn, who set a North American record for 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, are headed to Saratoga. Two-year-olds Aoraki and Three Echoes, along with the promising filly Viggiedal, are also going to New York.


What are the Stephen Foster Stakes? 

First run in 1982, the Stephen Foster is named after the composer Stephen Foster, who wrote “My Old Kentucky Home”. The race, run at 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Churchill Downs, is for horses aged 3 and older.

Notable winners include Robby Albarado, with three consecutive wins from 2007 to 2009, and Pat Day, also with three wins. Recoup the Cash and Vodka Collins are the only two horses to win the race two times. 

The Stephen Foster is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race and a “Win and You’re In Classic Division” event. The winner earns a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on November 2 with free entry.


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