My dear mother said to me on Sunday afternoon, “what happens in racing now that the Triple Crown is over?” I had to think about it for a second because when you’ve just emerged from the thick of racing’s unofficial first half, you forget that the Breeders’ Cup does loom on the horizon. There’s still a long way to go and the first of numerous big cards across the continent will be this Saturday at Churchill Downs where the $700,000 Stephen Foster Handicap will be contested under the Twin Spires.
At Belmont Park, the $300,000 Ogden Phipps (G1) will be the centerpiece of the weekend. Up to this point, it seems like the Ogden Phipps may have Godolphin blue wrapped all over it. Recent Darley-to-Godolphin transfer Seventh Street is scheduled to make her first start since an emphatic victory in the Apple Blossom (G1) way back in early April at Oaklawn. She’ll be joined by stablemate Music Note, who is slated to make her first start of 2009. She was a multiple GI winner in 2008 and ended her campaign with a sharp 3rd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic behind Zenyatta.
As of Monday the only other confirmed starters for the Ogden Phipps were Seattle Smooth and Color Me Up, the 1-2 finishers in the Shuvee last month. Neither half of that pair inspires much confidence as Seattle Smooth looked awfully uninspiring in her Shuvee victory. She’s yet to run a fast race in two tries since returning from a long layoff, and she’ll probably be overbet in this spot.
The aforementioned Churchill card will include, in addition to the Foster, the Fleur de Lis, Regret, Jefferson Cup, and Northern Dancer. I’ll see you back on Friday for a look at the major stakes races of the weekend!
Until then, here’s a look at the 2008 Stephen Foster, won by Horse of the Year Curlin, called by the late Luke Kruytbosch: