Mort Fink’s homebred Successful Dan is a four-time graded stakes winner and trainer Charlie LoPresti hopes he will record his first Grade I triumph in
Saturday’s $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi at Churchill Downs.
“That would be the ultimate,” LoPresti said. “I’d like to see him get a Grade I.”
It will be the first start in a Grade
I for Successful Dan since the 2010 Clark Handicap when he crossed the
line first, but was disqualified and placed third by Kentucky Horse
Racing Commission Stewards for interfering with
Redding Colliery entering the stretch.
Successful Dan, older brother of 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan,
did not race in 2011 due to a suspensory injury and he incurred similar
injuries in 2009 after winning the Northern Dancer (GIII) at Churchill
and in 2012 following a runner-up effort to Fort Larned in the Cornhusker Handicap (GIII) last June.
“It’s been frustrating,” LoPresti
said. “That’s the best way to put it. Had he not been plagued with the
injuries he’s been plagued with, you probably would have seen a
potential Horse of the Year in him at some point.”
In his first start since the
Cornhusker, Successful Dan won the Ben Ali (GIII) on the Polytrack at
Keeneland and LoPresti said the 7-year-old gelded son of Successful
Appeal needed the race.
“I think there’s no doubt,” LoPresti
said. “He’d been off for a while. Historically, his second race (off a
layoff) has been even better. He’s 110-percent right now. I couldn’t
have him any better.”
LoPresti said Successful Dan will
travel to Churchill Downs from his barn at Keeneland on Saturday
morning. In the Stephen Foster, he will face a competitive group of
older horses, including Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner
Fort Larned, defending Stephen Foster champ Ron the Greek and Take Charge Indy, six-length winner of the Alysheba (GII).
“I think Fort Larned has to be
respected an awful lot,” LoPresti said. “He’s the Breeders’ Cup Classic
winner. The other horse I’d worry about is Ron the Greek, who beat Wise
Dan by a head last year. Those are the two I fear
The Foster is one of five graded
stakes races Saturday and will be run in prime time under the lights on
the first of three Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and
Finlandia Vodka programs. The first of 11 races will
be 6 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Foster is scheduled as Race 8 at
The theme for Saturday’s Downs After
Dark racing and entertainment celebration is “The White Party” and
on-track guests are encouraged to wear an all-white wardrobe.