from Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs will supplement the purse for the June 14 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) to $1 million if at least one grade I winner starts in the race.
The supplement comes from track marketing funds and raises the value of the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up to a record $1 million if a single condition is met: at least one winner of a previous grade I stakes must compete in the race.
An all-star cast of veteran stars has been nominated for the 2008 running of the Stephen Foster. The roster of nominees is headed by Stonestreet Stables and Midnight Cry Stables’ Curlin, the reigning Horse of the Year and a dominant winner of the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Other grade I winners nominated include 2003 Stephen Foster winner Perfect Drift, Pimlico Special (gr. I) and Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Student Council, Donn Handicap (gr. I) winner Brass Hat, Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) winner Great Hunter, and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) winner Einstein.
“There are many races matching the best older horses in North America to choose from at this time of year, and the supplement of these marketing fund monies to raise the purse of the Stephen Foster Handicap to $1 million is an effort to guarantee a top-notch field that will take the status of this important race to an even higher level,” said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs and Churchill Downs Inc. executive vice president. “Ideally, we will see several grade I winners compete, but the fact that even one grade I winner and several other accomplished stars would be running for a record $1-million purse provides additional sizzle for a wonderful race and an outstanding day of Churchill Downs stakes competition.”
The addition to the purse of the Stephen Foster raises the total value of purses in the six stakes on Churchill Downs’ “Stephen Foster Super Saturday” to a record $2.025 million. The other stakes scheduled for the day are the $300,000 Fleur De Lis Handicap (gr. II), $200,000 Jefferson Cup (gr. II), $200,000 Regret (gr. III), $175,000 Northern Dancer (gr. III), and the $150,000 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. III).
The Stephen Foster Handicap has carried a purse of $750,000 since 1998, and has held the distinction since then of being the second-richest race on the Churchill Downs stakes schedule. In recent years the Stephen Foster has showcased some of the biggest stars in American racing, and the race was granted grade I status in 2002 by the American Graded Stakes Committee.