The 2015 Breeders’ Cup Challenge series on NBC Sports stops at Churchill Downs this Saturday night for “Downs after Dark,” featuring the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis and an appearance by the 12th Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah.
Exiting a third-place finish in the $10 million Dubai World Cup to Prince Bishop and 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Lea is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the 1 1/8 mile Stephen Foster, which drew a field of seven. The 6-year-old homebred trained by Bill Mott finished second in his last start at Churchill, the 2013 Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap won two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
Hoppertunity makes his first return to the Louisville track since winning the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last November. The 4-year-old Any Given Saturday colt, winner of the Grade 2 San Pasqual in his first start of the year, is the 121-pound highweight and the 5-2 morning line second favorite.
He’s coming off a third to Shared Belief and California Chrome in the Grade 2 San Antonio at Santa Anita and is one of two entered by trainer Bob Baffert, who will also start Cat Burglar, third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special last month.
Pimlico Special winner Commissioner is the third favorite on the Foster morning line at 3-1.
Noble Bird, second in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill on Kentucky Oaks day, Majestic Harbor, winless in seven stakes starts since the 2014 Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and Paganol, an allowance winner, complete the field.
The Stephen Foster is the first Win and You’re In event of the year for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, guaranteeing the winner entry into the 2015 field at Keeneland on Oct. 31. In 2010, the Foster was won by Blame, also a homebred for Claiborne and Dilschneider, who went on to out-finish the previously undefeated champion racemare Zenyatta in the 2010 Classic.
Nine fillies and mares will vie for an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff with a win in the 1 1/8 mile Fleur de Lis, a race won in 2012 by Royal Delta, that year’s Distaff champion.
Sheer Drama, second as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks card in her last start, heads a field that includes Gold Medal Dancer, third in the La Troienne after finishing third to champion Untapable in the Apple Blossom Handicap in April. Pearl Turn, fourth in the Apple Blossom, is entered, as is La Troienne fourth-place finisher Tiz Windy.
Adding a West Coast dimension to the Fleur de Lis is My Sweet Addiction, winner of the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Santa Anita on May 1. Sixty Sails, runner-up in the Grade 3 Allaire du Pont Distaff, and multiple stakes-placed Glorys Last Chance, will also start.
American Pharoah, who became the 12th Triple Crown winner in American horse racing after a 5 1/2 length victory in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6, will parade on the track and in the paddock after race five, at approximately 8:10 p.m. The Kentucky Derby trophy presentation will be made in the winner’s circle to owner Zayat Stables, trainer Bob Baffert, and jockey Victor Espinoza after race six, at 8:30 p.m.
Coverage of the Win and You’re In Stephen Foster and Fleur de Lis begins Saturday, June 13 at 8:00 PM ET on NBCSN.
From Breeders’ Cup.com
Courtesy of KyForward