Saint Liam, the 8-5 morning line favorite for Saturday's $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), was reacquainted with Churchill Downs' one-mile racing oval during a Friday morning gallop.
The 5-year-old son of Saint Ballado arrived at Churchill Downs on Thursday afternoon to prepare for Saturday's 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds and up that is the centerpiece of the track's $1.75 million "Stephen Foster Super Saturday."
Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren's Saint Liam has plenty of experience at Churchill Downs, where he has two wins and a second in three races. He launched his career at the Louisville oval with trainer Tony Reinstedler and scored the first stakes victory of his career in last fall's Clark Handicap (gr. II).
The chestnut Saint Liam was on his toes and his coat glistened in the morning sun as he bounced off the track Friday shortly after the morning break for track maintenance. Mark Reid, the racing manager for the Warrens, liked what he saw in the morning gallop and said he hoped that Saint Liam is ready to make amends in the Stephen Foster for a disappointing effort last time out in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). Saint Liam finished a dull sixth that day to Rock Hard Ten, following his season opening romp over eventual Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Roses In May in the Donn (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
"He has done so well since (the Santa Anita Handicap) that I think you're going to see the regular Saint Liam," said Reid, "and he's pretty formidable."
Saint Liam will be saddled in the Stephen Foster by trainer Bobby Frankel, who took over the training of the horse when Richard Dutrow started a six-month medication-related suspension in New York. Frankel will also saddle Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Badge of Silver in the Foster.
"Bobby trains a horse or two for Mr. Warren, so he's one of the team," said Reid. "Anytime you can get Babe Ruth to pinch-hit for you, that's pretty good."
A big effort by Saint Liam in the Foster, when added to his romp over Roses In May in the Donn, would put the Warrens' star very near the top of the handicap division.
"He's in a tougher spot because now he has to produce," Reid said. "It's always nice to do what he did, win the Donn and the Clark, while there's that monster sitting out there. Well, the monster is home eating grass, and it's time for somebody else to ascend to the throne and we certainly think he has the ability to. Now we hope he can."
Edgar Prado will ride Saint Liam, who is the 121-pound high weight in the Stephen Foster. Saint Liam's record stands at 6-5-1 in 16 career races, and he has earned $1,060,035, which allows him to join $3 million earner Perfect Drift as the only seven-figure earners in the race.