2022 Stephen Foster Stakes Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

2022 Stephen Foster Stakes Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

On Saturday, July 2, the first domestic “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for this fall’s $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic will be held at Churchill Downs, when the iconic Louisville track runs the 41stStephen Foster Stakes.

The $750,000, Grade 2 Stephen Foster is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which means that Saturday’s winner will receive an automatic berth to the Nov. 5 Longines Classic at Keeneland with entry fees waived.

The Foster is one of the annual highlights of Churchill Downs’ spring-summer meet. Held at 1 1/8 miles on the main dirt track, it’s been won by such notable horses as Black Tie Affair (1991), Awesome Again (1998), Perfect Drift (2003), Saint Liam (2005), Curlin (2008), Blame (2010), Fort Larned (2013), Gun Runner (2017), and Maxfield (2021). Black Tie Affair, Awesome Again, Saint Liam, Blame, and Gun Runner all followed up their wins in the Stephen Foster with wins in the Breeders’ Cup Classic later in the year; for more on the Stephen Foster’s history, click here.

This year’s Stephen Foster drew a seven-horse field headlined by Mandaloun, who earlier this year was officially elevated from second place and declared the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after first-place finisher Medina Spirit was disqualified due to a medication violation.

Other leading contenders include Olympiad, who is 4-for-4 in 2022 with three stakes wins, and Grade 1 winner Americanrevolution. 

The Foster will be televised live on NBC during a two-hour broadcast from 4 to 6 p.m. ET. Post time is set for 5:47 p.m. ET.

Read on for information about the 2022 Stephen Foster Stakes field:

1. Caddo River

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Shortleaf Stable

Career record: 13 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $648,900

Earnings per start: $49,915

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Pedigree: Hard Spun – Pangburn, by Congrats

Age: 4

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Caddo River steps back into graded stakes company in career-best form, entering the Stephen Foster on a three-race winning streak dating back to March 18. He won a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park by 5 ¾ lengths that day and followed it up with a 5 ½-length score in another race at the same track and distance on May 1. He then recorded a 4 ½-length win going a one-turn mile in a Churchill allowance on June 5. During his 3-year-old season, Caddo River spent time on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, where he won the Smarty Jones Stakes by 10 ¼ lengths and also ran a strong second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. He’s very consistent and has shown several times before that if he can reel off moderate fractions – either setting or contesting the pace – he’s very tough to run down late. Facing a field bereft of early speed, if he breaks well from the rail post under good pace rider Ricardo Santana Jr. Caddo River might be alone on the lead in the Stephen Foster, and that makes him a threat to win at enticing odds.

2. Americanrevolution

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: China Horse Club and WinStar Farm

Career record: 8 starts – 5 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $953,110

Earnings per start: $119,139

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115

Pedigree: Constitution – Polly Freeze, by Super Saver

Age: 4

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Americanrevolution disappointed in his 2022 debut June 6 when he finished fourth as the 11-10 favorite in the listed Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs, the local prep for the Stephen Foster. That was his first race after a six-month layoff, however, and there’s a good chance that it served as a needed freshening for this talented runner. In the last start of his 3-year-old campaign, Americanrevolution earned a Grade 1 victory with a sharp half-length win over Following Sea in the Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets at Aqueduct, held around one turn. He stalked the pace in the Cigar Mile and overcame some bumping in midstretch to post a game victory (Olympiad finished fourth). Although Americanrevolution checked in fourth in the Blame, he was in contention all the way through the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile, two-turn event only to tire in the stretch. He’ll tackle the same distance and track again in the Foster, but he’s won at this configuration before last summer at Saratoga in a stakes race restricted to New York-breds. Americanrevolution’s Equibase Speed Figures are among the best in the Stephen Foster field, and his stalking running style should be an asset as well, plus he gets Luis Saez, who piloted him to victory in the Cigar Mile, flying in from New York to ride. He’s a definite win candidate.

3. Olympiad

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable, and LNJ Foxwoods

Career record: 9 starts – 6 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $952,240

Earnings per start: $105,804

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Speightstown – Tokyo Time, Medaglia d’Oro

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Several Stephen Foster contenders enter the race in outstanding form, and Olympiad leads that group having won all four of his 2022 starts, the last three of them coming in graded stakes. He first turned heads during his 2-year-old season in 2020 when winning his second career start at Saratoga (defeating Caddo River), but he missed the 2021 Triple Crown season and did not return to the track until September 2021. He won one of three starts to close out the year and was fourth behind Americanrevolution in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Presented by NYRA Bets, and he’s come back as a 4-year-old to dominate. Olympiad won his season debut in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park by 7 ¼ lengths, defeated Silver Prospector by 2 ¼ lengths in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Mineshaft Stakes at Fair Grounds, bested Foster foe Proxy by two lengths in the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile New Orleans Classic Stakes at Fair Grounds, and most recently defeated Grade 1 winner Happy Saver by 2 ½ lengths in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet May 6 at Churchill Downs. This Speightstown colt has not been tested yet in 2022 and that should change Saturday; still, you can make a strong case for Olympiad as horse to beat in the Stephen Foster and he should be perfectly positioned by jockey Junior Alvarado just off of the early pace before making a bid for the lead on the far turn. Hall of Famer Bill Mott won the 2012 Stephen Foster with Ron the Greek, who memorably defeated eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan by a head.

4. Title Ready

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Charles Fipke

Career record: 31 starts – 5 wins – 6 seconds – 6 thirds

Career earnings: $752,880

Earnings per start: $24,286

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: More Than Ready – Title Seeker, by Monarchos

Age: 7

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Charles Fipke’s homebred Title Ready is the veritable “old man” in this year’s Foster field, a 7-year-old going up against a bunch of 4-year-olds. He’s also a good bet to carry the longest odds when the starting gates open under the Twin Spires Saturday afternoon. Through five-plus seasons racing at an astounding 13 different tracks in the U.S. and once in Dubai, he’s earned more than $750,000 without ever securing a win above the Grade 3 level, his only career stakes victory coming in the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes in 2021 at Fair Grounds. So far in 2022, he has been soundly defeated by sensational Life Is Good in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park (along with the rest of the field) and subsequently posted Equibase Speed Figures of 100 and 101 when a close fourth in an Oaklawn Park allowance-optional claiming race held at one mile and then third by four lengths to Olympiad in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet May 6 at Churchill Downs. He’s a lunch-pail type of a racehorse who usually gives a good effort and makes up some ground late in the stretch to earn a modest check. That should be considered a success against a Foster field that is not large in number but is, for the most part, more accomplished. Dallas Stewart has two Stephen Foster wins, with Macho Again in 2009 and Seeking the Soul in 2019. Fipke owned and bred Seeking the Soul. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. won the 2013 Stephen Foster on Fort Larned, several months after riding him to victory in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

5. Proxy

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Michael Stidham

Owner: Godolphin

Career record: 11 starts – 3 wins – 5 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $438,650

Earnings per start: $39,877

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110

Pedigree: Tapit – Panty Raid, by Include

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Godolphin homebred has earned more than $430,000 by running consistently against good competition in graded stakes without winning them. He’s hit the board in 9 of 11 career starts and finished fourth in the other two, and has posted his three career-best Equibase Speed Figures (all over 105) in his three most recent starts. Proxy started off 2022 with a comfortable 3 ¾-length win in an allowance-optional claiming race at Fair Grounds, going off as the 4-5 favorite; he then ran a solid second behind budding star and Foster foe Olympiad in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 New Orleans Classic Stakes. He shipped to Keeneland and finished third behind Scalding and Dynamic One in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Ben Ali Stakes in April, and then, in perhaps his best career race, came back to edge Scalding for second behind Dynamic One in Churchill Downs’ 1 1/8-mile Blame Stakes on June 4, the local prep for the Stephen Foster. He posted a 110 figure in the Blame and was moving well in deep stretch to check in a length behind Dynamic One (Americanrevolution finished fourth in the Blame). Proxy will travel a mile and an eighth for the fourth time in a row Saturday and should be getting into gear at the top of the stretch from a position near the back of the field. This well-bred Tapit colt is a must-use for exacta, trifecta, and superfecta bets, but he’ll have to run a career-best race and show a quicker turn of foot against the likes of Olympiad and Mandaloun to post the upset. Perhaps getting Joel Rosario to ride for the first time will help, as the reigning Eclipse Award-winning jockey is known as one of the best closers in the sport. Owner-breeder Godolphin won the 2002 Stephen Foster with Street Cry (sire of the great Zenyatta) and won last year’s race with Maxfield.

6. Mandaloun

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Career record: 10 starts – 6 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $2,041,252

Earnings per start: $204,125

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Brooch, by Empire Maker

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The probable post-time Stephen Foster favorite, Mandaloun touts two Grade 1 victories on his résumé without finishing first in either of them. He was declared the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner back in February after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stripped Medina Spirit of his win based on a betamethasone positive, and last summer he was placed first in the TVG Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park after first-place finisher Hot Rod Charlie was disqualified for causing another horse to alter course and toss his rider. (Note: Mandaloun’s career record and earnings listed above do not reflect his awarded win in the Kentucky Derby as of June 29 as Equibase, the official statistical database for North American horse racing, has not adjusted the 2021 order of finish.) Even though Mandaloun may have yet to cross the finish line first at racing’s top level, he’s certainly held his own, checking in a half-length behind Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby and a nose shy of Hot Rod Charlie in the Haskell. The son of top sire Into Mischief started his 4-year-old campaign back in January with a solid three-quarter-length win over the late Midnight Bourbon in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds, but he faded badly after stalking the early pace when shipped half a world away to compete in the lucrative Saudi Cup on Feb. 26, finishing 9th of 14 in the one-turn race held at about 1 ¼ miles. Is he ready to run his best race coming off of that taxing and fruitless trip, even after four months rest? Mandaloun certainly deserves much respect in the Stephen Foster but he’s very likely to be overbet. Jockey Florent Geroux, who’s been aboard Mandaloun for all of his starts, won the 2017 Foster riding Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

7. Last Samurai

Jockey: Jon Court

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Willis Horton Racing

Career record: 15 starts – 4 wins – 3 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $946,744

Earnings per start: $63,116

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Malibu Moon – Lady Samuri, by First Samurai

Age: 4

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last Samurai is worthy of considering for vertical bets such as the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta in the Stephen Foster and is not without an outsider’s chance at posting the upset at high odds. He made no impression in spring of 2021 in two Kentucky Derby preps at Oaklawn Park but since then has been quite consistent on both dirt and turf, finishing a very close second in two stakes races at 1 ½ miles and, in his most recent start, breaking through with a win in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 23 at 12.90-1 odds. He stalked the pace in that 1 1/8-mile, two-turn race and shot clear in the stretch to defeat Fearless by four lengths (Fearless subsequently came back to win the Grade 2 Brooklyn Stakes June 11 at Belmont Park in an impressive performance). While Last Samurai cedes good Grade 1 form to some of his opponents in the Foster, he’s proved capable of running very well at long distances and both he and his regular jockey Jon Court have ample experience running on Churchill’s main track (Last Samurai is 1-1-2 in six career starts under the Twin Spires). He should be running late and, as noted above, has a chance to spice up the exotic tickets. Dallas Stewart won the 2009 Foster with Macho Again and the 2019 renewal with Seeking the Soul. Owner Willis Horton finished second in the 2014 Foster with champion Will Take Charge.