Contenders to Consider in Grade 1 Stephen Foster

Contenders to Consider in Grade 1 Stephen Foster

Category : News - Wed 15/06/2016 - 21:37 EDT

With the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster the centerpiece of a stellar Downs After Dark racing card June 18 at Churchill Downs, the expected field of seven older runners presents an interesting handicapping puzzle.

Effinex, set to break from post 2 for trainer James Jerkens, is clearly the one to beat following his return-to-form win in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap April 16. In that effort, the five year-old gelding made a strong move to pass the pacesetting Melatonin, avenging his loss to that foe in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. Effinex is already a grade 1 winner at Churchill Downs, notching a victory in the Clark Handicap to cap a fine 2015 season. Prior to that effort, Effinex proved his quality finishing second to American Pharoah in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Bradester can surprise

Bradester is an interesting price play after opening his six year-old campaign May 21 with a win in the Majestic Light Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Eddie Kenneally-trained veteran has always been comfortable racing over the Churchill Downs dirt and is likely quick enough to make the early lead if jockey Joe Bravo sees fit. While likely best at a mile to a mile and one sixteenth, Bradester certainly has the class and ability to take this field a long way.

Eagle always around the wire

Eagle has won 4 of his last 8 starts and has not finished worse than third in that stretch. The Neil Howard trainee can be a bit reluctant to beat top-class fields, but did just that two back at Keeneland while defeating an impressive next-out graded stakes winner in Noble Bird. 

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