Favored Olympiad powers to victory in the Stephen Foster

Favored Olympiad powers to victory in the Stephen Foster
Photo: Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire

Olympiad tracked a quick pace, grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch and held a rallying Americanrevolution at bay in deep stretch to win Saturday’s 41st running of the Grade 2, $740,000 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs by 2 1/4 lengths.

Olympiad, who remained perfect in five starts this year, clocked 1 1/8 miles in a swift 1:47.66, which was the seventh fastest renewal of the race and just .38 off Victory Gallop’s 1999 stakes and track record of 1:47.28

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and ridden by Junior Alvarado, Olympiad rated one length back of pacesetter Caddo River, who rattled off fractions 23.05, 46.45 and 1:10.64 for six furlongs.

Around the final turn, Olympiad was ready to pounce on the tiring leader. Simultaneously, Mandaloun, who was made the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner following the disqualification of Medina Spirit, loomed boldly from third in his first start since a ninth-place finish in the Saudi Cup (G1) on Feb. 26, and Cigar Mile (G1) winner Americanrevolution tipped out for his charge from fourth.

Olympiad, who began the week ranked No. 5 on the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll, kicked clear in upper stretch and held strong in the final furlong to collect his fifth consecutive win. His list of victories this year includes triumphs in the $250,000 Mineshaft (G3), $500,000 New Orleans (G2), $500,000 Alysheba (G2) and now the Stephen Foster.

“I thought it was a very game win this afternoon,” Mott said via telephone. “There were some nice horses in this field and I thought he did things rather easily. It was really nice to see him win like that.”

His next attempt is likely to be an attempt to collect a Grade 1 victory in the $1 million Whitney at Saratoga in five weeks on Aug. 6.

“Bill Mott likes to have horses on win streaks, like Cigar,” said Mott’s Kentucky-based assistant Kenny McCarthy. “This horse has started one of his own and he’s been such a pleasure every time he’s run in our care in Kentucky. The whole team did a great job to get him back here and it’s very special to win the Stephen Foster again. He has such a big stride and it’s so powerful in the late stages of his races.”

Mott also won the 2012 Stephen Foster with Ron the Greek.

The lofty $455,320 first prize lifted the bay Kentucky-bred colt’s earnings to millionaire status: $1,407,560 from a record of 7-1-1 in 10 starts.

“This horse has such a big stride on him and really extends it late in races,” Alvarado said. “I think as he’s gotten older he’s gotten faster in each start. Today we sat in a good position just off of the early pace and he showed how powerful his stride can be. I asked him just a little bit in the final furlong and he continued to get faster.

"He’s a great horse and has shown his talent all year long. It will be a fun rest of the year.”

The victory in the Stephen Foster, a Breeders’ Cup “win and you're in" for the Classic, earned Olympiad a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the $6 million race on Nov. 5 at Keeneland. Also, his connections will have all Breeders’ Cup pre-entry and entry fees covered and could receive a travel award up to $10,000.

Olympiad, favored at odds of 3-2, rewarded his backers with mutuels of $5, $3.40 and $2.60. Americanrevolution, with Luis Saez aboard, was second as the 7-2 third betting choice. Proxy (11-1) was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third under Joel Rosario.

“He tried so hard this afternoon” Saez said of Americanrevolution. “The winner was simply the best but he put in a run in multiple areas of the race. He just couldn’t quite match strides with Olympiad.”

Mandaloun flattened to fourth and was followed by Title Ready, Caddo River and Last Samurai.

“It was disappointing,” said Mandaloun’s jockey Florent Geroux. “We were expecting a big effort today. He never quite grabbed the bit around the turn.”

Olympiad is a son of Speightstown out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Tokyo Time. He is owned Grandview Equine (Robert Clay), Cheyenne Stable LLC (Everett Dobson) and LNJ Foxwoods (Larry, Nanci and Jaime Roth). He was bred by Emory A. Hamilton.

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