Trio already under Stephen Foster Handicap consideration

Press Release
May 18, 2018 01:04pm
Honorable Duty wins 2017 Lukas Classic
Photo: Coady Photography
Trainer Wes Hawley’s Alysheba Stakes (G2) runner-up Hawaakom and Mineshaft (G3) runner-up Thirstforlife, along with trainer Brendan Walsh’s Lukas Classic (G3) winner Honorable Duty are targeting possible starts in the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 16 at Churchill Downs.

“We breezed Hawaakom an easy half in :49 (Friday) with (Corey) Lanerie on board,” Hawley said. “Hopefully, he’s one of two horses I’ll have in the race along with Thirstforlife.”

Hawaakom, who was claimed by Hawley on Nov. 27, 2014, has won multiple stakes races including the 2017 Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park and 2016 West Virginia Governors Cup.

“We’re about $30,000 ($30,787) shy of earning $1 million since I claimed him,” Hawley said. “I think we’ll get there. I’m so proud of the job we’ve been able to do with him. In years prior, I was originally a bit hesitant to run in the Stephen Foster with him but I think we are bringing in the right caliber horse this year to do it.”

Hawley claimed his other Stephen Foster hope, Thirstforlife, for $40,000 in December at Fair Grounds. The 4-year-old gelding is entered in Race 9 Saturday at Churchill Downs – a conditioned allowance event – with a scheduled post time of 4:55 p.m. (all times Eastern).

Walsh hopes Honorable Duty’s return from a nearly six-month layoff is successful Sunday when he leads a field of six in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on the main track at Churchill Downs.

“He’s been doing really well since we got him back in the barn,” Walsh said. “We gave him a little bit of a breather after the Clark Handicap. We’re hoping for a successful return Sunday to hopefully get him back on track for the Foster this year.”

Honorable Duty was the runner-up to eventual Horse of the Year Gun Runner in the 2017 Stephen Foster. The 6-year-old gelding is the 2-1 morning line favorite in Race 2 with a scheduled post time of 1:14 p.m.

The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster highlights Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser on June 16. The night features 11 races including five graded stakes: $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2), $200,000 Wise Dan (G2), $100,000 Matt Winn (G3) and $100,000 Regret.

The Stephen Foster and Fleur de Lis are part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series and will award the winners an automatic entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Distaff, respectively, on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.


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