Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Trainer Kenny McPeek, 11th in all-time wins at Churchill Downs with 324, will saddle four stakes contenders at the Louisville track on
Saturday night, including Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I) hopeful Golden Ticket.
Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’
Golden Ticket, a dead-heat winner of last year’s Travers (GI), enters
the $500,000-added Stephen Foster off a 2 ½-length victory in a one-mile
allowance/optional-claiming race at Churchill
Downs on May 2.
“If he’s ever going to beat these,
he’s going to do it right here, right now,” McPeek said. “His confidence
is high and he runs well with time in between races.”
Golden Ticket will break from the rail under Joel Rosario against a field that includes Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Fort Larned, Alysheba (GII) winner Take Charge Indy, defending Stephen Foster winner
Ron the Greek, multiple graded stakes winner Successful Dan and 2011 Stephen Foster winner Pool Play.
“It’s a tough race, but they’re not supposed to be easy,” McPeek said.
The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster will go
as Race 8 at 9:30 p.m. (all times Eastern) as the highlight of
Saturday’s Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia
Vodka racing program.
In the $100,000-added Matt Winn (GIII) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, McPeek will send out Magdalena Racing’s Bellarmine, who defeated Code West by a neck in an allowance/optional-claiming
race on Kentucky Derby Day. It was the second consecutive win for Bellarmine, who broke his maiden at Keeneland in April.
“The sky is the limit with him,”
McPeek said. “He wasn’t Triple Crown nominated because we got a late
start with him. Otherwise, he probably would have been in the thick of
it this year. We expect him to improve and we’ve
got a chance Saturday.”
The Matt Winn is scheduled as Race 7 at 9:05 p.m.
McPeek also will saddle Praia and Beverage Queen for the $100,000-added Regret (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
Praia, which means “beach” in Portuguese, is owned by the Brazilian connections of Haras Old Friends. In her most recent start, she finished second behind Kitten’s Dumplings in the Edgewood on Kentucky Oaks Day
at odds of nearly 46-1.
“We thought she’d run well and the owners are always looking to get black type,” McPeek said.
The Edgewood was the stakes debut for Praia, who broke her maiden at Keeneland in April in what was her turf debut.
“We suspect she’ll improve and run even better Saturday,” McPeek said.
Peter Callahan’s Beverage
Queen will be making her third start of the Spring Meet in the Regret.
She ran sixth in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional-claiming race on the
main track on Kentucky Oaks Day and most recently
finished third behind Oscar Party and Pappascat in a 1 1/16-mile allowance on the Matt Winn Turf Course on May 25.
“We were looking for a 1 1/8-mile
race and didn’t see any other options,” McPeek said. “We decided to take
a flyer with her because she’s doing so well. We’ll find out if she
fits with these and how good she is.”
The Regret will go as Race 9 at 10:11
p.m. and concludes the all-stakes Pick 4 that begins with the Fleur de
Lis in Race 6 at 8:30 p.m.