West Point Thoroughbreds' Macho Again found room off the turn and pulled away from a wall of horses to win the $660,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) (VIDEO) June 13 at Churchill Downs.
In posting his one-length score, Macho Again earned his first grade I victory and also denied Einstein becoming the first horse to win a grade I race on dirt, turf and synthetics in the same year. The 7-year-old son of Spend a Buck, who went off as the 6-5 favorite, finished third after a troubled trip.
Macho Again, a 4-year-old son of Macho Uno, was last in a field of eight for half-mile in the 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster, content to let Finallymadeit set the pace for most of the way. Finallymadeit posted splits of :24.03, :48.13 and 1:12.71 under Eduardo Nunez, and still led at the quarter-pole. Researcher tracked in second the whole way, while Alphabet Magic, Bullsbay and Einstein were in the next group.
As they made their way off the turn, a tiring Finallymadeit was about to relinquish his lead to a host of horses. Julien Leparoux, bottled up around the turn, thought he had found a small opening in the three-path with Einstein, but they were bumped and cut off by Asiatic Boy, who was keen on hitting the same spot under Alan Garcia. Leparoux had no choice but to drop to the inside in a bunched-up group. By that time, Macho Again, who had circled five-wide under Robby Albarado for the stretch drive, had gone past them all and had all the momentum to the wire in posting a 7-1 upset.
"The race set up great for us today," said Albarado. "We had an outside trip and got a clear run. It's not by design that I wanted to go that wide, but I just put him in a path where he can run around horses. He prevailed to be the best today."
The final time on a track labeled ‘fast’ was 1:49.75. Asiatic Boy finished a nose in front of Einstein for runner-up. Arson Squad and Bullsbay dead-heated for fourth, a neck further back in hotly-contested finish.
It was the third consecutive Foster win for Albarado, who won aboard Flashy Bull in 2007 and Curlin a year ago. Albarado won five races on the day.
Macho Again won for the second time in four starts this season. The gray/roan colt scored in the slop in the March 14 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Founds, and last out was sixth to Bullsbay in the Alysheba (gr. II) at Churchill. As a 3-year-old, Macho Again won the Derby Trial and Jim Dandy (gr. II).
Bred in Florida by Milan Kosanovich and out of the Wild Again mare Go Donna Go, Macho Again won for the sixth time in 18 starts and has now earned $1,475,247. He is trained by Dallas Stewart, who said the Aug. 8 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga would be the next goal for Macho Again, who ran in the Travers last season and was second to Big Brown in the Preakness (gr. I).
The winner paid $17.40, $6.20 and $3.60. The exacta (2-7) returned $140.20 and the trifecta (2-7-3) was $372.20.
Researcher was sixth, followed by Finallymadeit and Alphabet Magic.