Buzzards Bay, authoritative winner of the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) in his last start more than two months ago, takes on grade I winners Brass Hat and Perfect Drift in the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Saturday.
A field of 10 was entered Wednesday to contest the 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster, the main event on a Churchill card that includes six graded stakes races worth $1.75 million. The Stephen Foster, along with the $300,000 Fleur De Lis Handicap (gr. II) from Churchill Downs, the $300,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) from Belmont Park, and the $250,000 Californian (gr. II) from Hollywood Park will be telecast by ESPN from 5 to 7 p.m. ET.
Since winning of the 2005 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), Buzzards Bay had lost five straight races but has flourished since joining forces with trainer Ron Ellis in Southern California. The 4-year-old son of Marco Bay won the All American Handicap (gr. III) on Feb.20 before trouncing the field in the Oaklawn Handicap by 6 1/2 lengths.
To be ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., Buzzards Bay will start from the rail post as the co-high weight along with Brass Hat at 121 pounds. Buzzards Bay, who has not faced grade I competition since finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) last year, is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
Winner of the Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park in February, Brass Hat has been off since finishing second in the $6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 25 at Nad al Sheba. Brass Hat was later disqualified from the World Cup after testing positive for a banned corticosteroid, although that ruling is under appeal.
Besides the Don, Brass Hat won the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs in January. Both of his victories this year have come at the Foster distance of nine furlongs.
The 5-year-old Prized
gelding breaks from post 9 for trainer William Bradley and will be ridden by Willie Martinez as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Winner of the 2003 Stephen Foster and third in the race in both 2004 and 2005, the 7-year-old gelding Perfect Drift has prepped for this year's encounter with a pair of turf starts for trainer Murray Johnson. The son of Dynaformer
ran 10th in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) on the Kentucky Derby Day card at Churchill Downs May 6.
Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. entered a pair in the Stephen Foster – Love of Money, the 7-2 third choice on the morning line, and Wild Desert. Love of Money won the 2004 Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) while Wild Desert captured last year's Queen's Plate at Woodbine and ran second in the Alysheba Stakes on May 5 at Churchill in his only start this year. $750,000-Added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I, Race 10, 6:13 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. HORSE (Weight), Jockey, ML Odds
1. BUZZARDS BAY (121), Jose Valdivia, Jr., 3-1
2. SEEK GOLD (112), Calvin Borel, 30-1
3. WEST VIRGINIA (114), Garrett Gomez, 6-1
4. COSMONAUT (113), Julien Leparoux, 20-1
5. WIGGINS (114), Rafael Bejarano, 15-1
6. M B SEA (113), Rene Douglas, 20-1
7. PERFECT DRIFT (118), Mark Guidry, 5-1
8. WILD DESERT (115), Robby Albarado, 15-1
9. BRASS HAT (121), Willie Martinez, 5-2
10. LOVE OF MONEY (116), Edgar Prado, 7-2