NEW YORK (June 13, 2019) – The second automatic berth into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is on the line this Saturday evening, June 15, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster, live at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The race is part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – presented by America’s Best Racing.” The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster (G2) will follow the 1 1/8 mile, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, which will offer a free berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Saturday evening’s 90-minute program marks the second of 11 telecasts in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge: Win and You’re In Series,” on NBC and NBCSN from some of America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., on Nov. 1-2 on NBC and NBCSN. Complete series TV schedule can be accessed here:http://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series
NBC Sports’ coverage will be led by Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who will be joined by reporter Donna Brothers, reporter/handicapper Britney Eurton, and handicapper Matt Bernier.
Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) also will provide live coverage of the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs from 8-10 p.m. on Sirius/XM 156, and streamed live on horseracingradio.net
Hronis racing’s 6-year-old Gift Box leads a deep and talented 10-horse field in the Foster, whose starters have combined to win 25 stakes races and more than $11.4 million in career earnings. Trained by John Sadler, who saddled Hronis Racing’s Accelerate to victory in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, Gift Box won the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in March, and was second in the 1 ¼-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) on May 27. Gift Box, the 3-1 morning line favorite, is ranked No. 3 in the first Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings poll released earlier this week. In the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), Gift Box finished a nose in front of McKinzie, who is the top rated horse in the first set of Classic rankings. (Link to full rankings can be found here)
Challenging Gift Box will be Charles Fipke’s 6-year-old Seeking the Soul, who has had four starts at Churchill Downs since last September, when he won the Ack Ack Stakes (G3) and followed up that effort with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He finished the year with a third-place finish in the Clark Handicap (G1). Trained by Dallas Stewart, Seeking the Soul finished second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park in January, and finished third in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill on May 3.
The 5-year-old Yoshida, trained by Bill Mott, has been a versatile horse on both dirt and turf. Owned by China Horse Club International Ltd., WinStar Farm, LLC, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Yoshida won two Grade 1 races last year, taking the Old Forester Turf Stakes at Churchill in May and then the Woodward in Saratoga in September. After concluding last year with a fourth- place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Yoshida has finished sixth in the Pegasus World Cup and sixth in the Dubai World Cup (G1) at Meydan in March.
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing has entered the 4-year-old Quip, who won the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn Park in his last start on April 13 for trainer Rodolphe Brisset.
The Stephen Foster has had a strong influence on the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Horse of the Year honors. Four horses used victories in the Stephen Foster as part of their résumés in Horse of the Year campaigns: Black Tie Affair (1991), Saint Liam (2005), Curlin (2008) and Gun Runner (2017). In addition, two runners-up were crowned Horse of the Year: Mineshaft (2003) and Wise Dan (2012). Also, Awesome Again (1998) and Blame (2010) completed same-year Foster-Classic doubles. Fort Larned won the Classic in 2012, and won the Foster the following year prior to a fourth-place run in his bid for a second Classic win.
Fleur de Lis is Longines Distaff Qualifier
Bradley Thoroughbreds, Whispering Oaks Farm, Team Hanley, Madaket Stables and Tim and Anna Cambron’s 4-year-old filly She’s a Julie, and Merriebelle Stable’s 6-year-old mare Blue Prize (ARG) have been installed as co-2-1 favorites in the 44th running of the $250,000 Fleur de Lis for an automatic berth into the Longines Distaff. Trained by Steve Asmussen, She’s a Julie has won both her starts this year, capturing the Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park in February and the La Troienne Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 3. Blue Prize gained a “Win and You’re In” berth into last year’s Distaff by winning the 2018 Fleur de Lis for trainer Ignacio Correas IV. Also of interest is Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s 5-year-old mare, Elate, a two-time Grade 1 winner, who is coming off a third-place finish in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn on April 14.
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 championship races (13 Grade 1 events and one Grade 2 race) with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held on November 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Royal Ascot, and Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown. The 2019 Kentucky Derby posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 16.5 million viewers across NBC and NBC Sports Digital platforms – up 10% from last year’s race (15.0 million) featuring eventual Triple Crown winner Justify and marking television’s largest Saturday audience since the NFL Divisional Playoffs (Jan. 12, 2019).