Top 5 Historical Facts About the Stephen Foster Stakes

The Stephen Foster Stakes is one of the highlights of the horse racing schedule in America. They hold it annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It has a rich history and remains a significant race for Thoroughbreds aged three and older. Here are the top five historical facts about the Stephen Foster Stakes highlighting its importance and legacy:


1. Named After a Famous Songwriter

Steven Foster ComposerThe race is named after Stephen Foster, a famous American songwriter known for classics like “My Old Kentucky Home.” Foster’s connection to Kentucky’s cultural heritage makes him a fitting namesake for this prestigious event. They established the Stephen Foster Stakes in 1982 to honor his contributions to American music and culture.


2. Started as a Grade III Race

When the Stephen Foster Stakes began in 1982, it was classified as a Grade III race. Its rapid rise in popularity and the high caliber of horses competing soon warranted an upgrade. By 1988, officials elevated the race to Grade II status. This promotion helped attract even more top-tier competitors and solidified its place on the most sought-after horse racing odds


3. Record-Breaking Performances

Victory Gallop holds the speed record for the Stephen Foster Stakes. In 1999, Victory Gallop completed the 1 1/8 miles in an astonishing 1:47.28. This record-setting performance remains a benchmark in the race’s history.


4. Famous Winners

Over the years, the Stephen Foster Stakes has seen many legendary winners and offtrack betting favorites. One of the most notable is Wise Dan, who won the race in 2011. Wise Dan’s victory was part of an illustrious career that included multiple Horse of the Year titles. Another famous winner is Curlin, who triumphed in 2008 and became one of the greatest Thoroughbreds of modern racing history.

These winners have contributed to the race’s reputation for featuring some of the best horses in the sport. 


5. Key Part of the Racing Calendar

Held in mid-June, the Stephen Foster Stakes is a key preparatory race for significant events like the Breeders’ Cup Classic later in the year. Its outcomes significantly influence trainers’ and owners’ strategies, making it a pivotal event in the racing season.


Additional Facts and Moments

The Stephen Foster Stakes has also been the stage for many memorable moments and dramatic finishes. Its competitive nature ensures high-end races, with underdogs sometimes upsetting favorites. These moments are what make American horse racing exciting. 

In recent years, the organizers have upheld the race’s reputation for excellence by successfully holding every event at the historic Churchill Downs.


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