Multiple graded winner Apart and Donn Handicap hero Giant Oak head a competitive field of eleven in Saturday's Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. Apart
ended a four race skid in a graded affair on the Preakness undercard and he looked good running down lone speed Colizeo that day. Al Stall Jr's 2-time local winner attracts Julien Leparoux and will probably sit a decent tactical journey. Giant Oak
has not been big on winning the past couple of years but shows up when the big money is on the line. He was placed first in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap here last fall and rallied to capture the Grade 1 Donn at Gulfstream Park in February. Both of those races were run at today's nine furlong distance. He did not get enough pace help in the New Orleans or Alysheba but ran well both times. Shaun Bridgmohan sticks with the late running threat. Regal Ransom
finally put together strong back-to-back efforts in a pair of near misses at Gulfstream and Churchill to begin his 5-year-old season. The sharp early-pressing threat won the Super Derby at this distance and is firing Belmont Park bullets.
Finishing right behind First Dude and Regal Ransom in the local Alysheba was improving Nick Zito charge Equestrio
. He beat Dialed In at this distance in Florida and seems to be thriving in two turn races.
Richard Mandella has had a hard time keeping Crown of Thorns
healthy but he typically fires when he makes the starting gate. The fragile six-year-old horse has made just ten starts and exits a solid win over Sidney's Candy in the Mervyn LeRoy at Hollywood Park. Tyler Baze sticks with the versatile son of Repent. Mission Impazible
has the speed to succeed and is 2-for-2 at a mile and an eighth. The Todd Pletcher trainee exits a disappointing try in the Alysheba and does not appear to be the same horse away from Fair Grounds. Duke of Mischief
rarely runs two alike but can compete with anything when on his game. He exits a sharp score in the Charles Town Classic but failed to threaten in two local graded stakes tries including an 8th place finish in this event last year.
Making his first conventional dirt start for trainer Mark Casse is Pool Play
. The veteran campaigner probably wants more ground and appears most effective on synthetic but sports a local bullet and is not totally without a chance. Flat Out
was on the '09 Kentucky Derby trail but went to the sidelines after the Arkansas Derby and missed most of 2010. He returned with an encouraging runner-up effort in the Lone Star Handicap on Memorial Day and gets tested for class in this spot.
Completing the field are Worldly
and El Caballo
. Both longshots like the Churchill oval and exit local tallies. El Caballo is a graded turf winner and should sit a decent tactical trip.
The Stephen Foster Handicap goes as the 12th race on June 18th with a scheduled post time of 6:25pm ET.