Trainer Bob Baffert confirmed that Stonerside Stable's Congaree would run in Saturday's $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs despite his top weight assignment of 121 pounds, where he'll concede from one to 11 pounds to the other probable starters.
The horse breezed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 Monday at Churchill Downs. With jockey Sal Gonzalez, Jr. aboard, the 4-year-old son of Arazi was timed by Churchill Downs clockers in fractions of :12 4/5, :25, :37 2/5 and :49 2/5.
"He worked nice," said Baffert. "He cruised on around there. He's looking really good."
Baffert had considered sending the Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. II) winner to California to contest Saturday's $500,000 Californian (gr. II) at Hollywood Park in lieu of the weight assignments.
"The weights aren't fair. If these racing secretaries can't get the weights right for a handicap, I wish they would just go to weight-for-age races. The spread to some of these good horses is just too much.
"I'm looking out for the horse," said Baffert. "We had similar spreads with Silver Charm and Captain Steve and it took its toll on those horses. It takes a special toll on a horse coming off just one race. I want to keep this horse together for the Breeders' Cup."
Last year, Baffert's Dubai World Cup (gr. I) winner Captain Steve finished second in the Stephen Foster while carrying 10 pounds more than eventual winner Guided Tour. Baffert's Silver Charm conceded 14 pounds to the victorious Awesome Again in his runner-up finish in the 1998 edition of the race.
The Stephen Foster, the feature on a card that includes four stakes with total purses of $1.3 million, is also expected to Street Cry (120), Hail The Chief (117), Invisible Ink (116), Tenpins (115), Unshaded (115), Dollar Bill (114), Parade Leader (113), Connected (112), Slider (111), and Proper Man (110).
The other stakes on the Stephen Foster card are the $300,000-added Fleur De Lis (gr. II), a1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares 3 & up; the $150,000-added Regret (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16-miles on turf; and the $100,000-added Northern Dancer for 3-year-olds at a mile.
The Stephen Foster will be televised live as part of CBS Sports' inaugural telecast of the "NTRA Summer Racing Tour," which will air Saturday from 5-6 p.m. (EDT).