Stronach Stable's Golden Missile led at every pole on the way to a 2 3/4-length victory in Saturday's $810,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. Over a sloppy track, the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.56 under Kent Desormeaux.
Trained by Joe Orseno, Golden Missile raced wide along the backstretch, repulsed a challenge from Cat Thief, Ecton Park, and Chester House as they came out of the second turn, and crossed the finish line under a hand ride. The victory, on the heels of a two-length score in last month's Pimlico Special (gr. I), stamps Golden Missile as a top handicap horse. "He's at the head of the class now," said Orseno. "We'll have to see in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) how General Challenge runs. We're the only horse in the country that has shown up in all these races. He's at the head of his class at least until he runs in the Whitney (gr. I)."
Under Pat Day, favored Ecton Park finished second, two lengths ahead of Cat Thief. The third-place finish marks Cat Thief's 20th in the money finish in 26 career races. Chester House was fourth, followed by Aly's Alley, and K One King.
Golden Missile finished third in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, 1 1/2 lengths behind Cat Thief. He began his 5-year-old season with a game second-place finish in the Donn Handicap (gr. I), before finishing off the board in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. III). In a prep for the Pimlico Special, he came home second behind Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) winner Yankee Victor in the Westchester Handicap (gr. III). Golden Missile earned $502,200 with the win, his seventh from 19 career starts. He was bred in Kentucky by Bruce Lunsford.
Golden Missile, the second wagering choice, paid $7, $3, and $2.60. Ecton Park returned $2.60 and $2.40. Cat Thief paid $3 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $15. (Chart, Equibase