Ten Things You Should Know About the 2019 Stephen Foster Handicap

Racing
The twin spires on Stephen Foster day 2018 which featured an appearance by newly minted Triple Crown winner Justify.
The twin spires on Stephen Foster day 2018, which featured an appearance by newly minted Triple Crown winner Justify. (Eclipse Sportswire)

One of the biggest days of racing at Churchill Downs outside of the first weekend in May takes place this Saturday, featuring the historic Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by GE Appliances under the lights. Get ready for the Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the 10 fun facts below.

Pavel and trainer Doug O'Neill after the 2018 Stephen Foster.
Pavel and trainer Doug O'Neill after the 2018 Stephen Foster. (Eclipse Sportswire)

1. The race is named after famed composer Stephen Foster, “the father of American music” who wrote the state song of Kentucky, “My Old Kentucky Home,” as well as “Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races,” among other timeless compositions.

2. The average $2 win payout in the last 10 runnings is $20.42. Just one betting favorite has won the race in that timeframe: Gun Runner, who won by a record seven lengths in 2017.

3. Last year Pavel became the first California-based horse to win the race since No Marker in 1990. This year California shipper Gift Box will try to duplicate his feat.

4. The Stephen Foster offers a purse of $600,000, and the winner gets more than 60 percent of that total depending on how many foes he faces.

5. Two jockeys have a record three wins apiece in the race: active jockey Robby Albarado and retired Hall of Famer Pat Day.

6. The Stephen Foster winner automatically earns a berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic this fall. The Foster is one of two Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races at Churchill this weekend. Both the Stephen Foster and the Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by Budweiser will be televised by NBCSN.

7. Five horses have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic after winning the Stephen Foster in the same year, including 2017 winner Gun Runner. The others: Black Tie Affair (1991); Awesome Again (1998); Saint Liam (2005); and Blame (2010).

8. Perfect Drift ran in four straight editions of the race from 2003 through 2006, winning his first try and finishing third twice and second once.

9. Four Stephen Foster winners were named Horse of the Year that same year: Gun Runner (2017), Curlin (2008), Saint Liam (2005), and Black Tie Affair (1991).

10. Seek Gold won the race by a nose over Perfect Drift at odds of 91.70-1 in 2006, paying $185.40 for every $2 win bet.

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