Bradester and Joe Bravo get the victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap

Bradester and Joe Bravo get the victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap

Anne M. Eberhardt

Bradester Speeds to Foster Victory

Wire-to-wire performance was his first grade I victory.

Joseph Sutton's Bradester  fired his best shot June 18 to earn his first grade I victory in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs

Video: Stephen Foster H. (G1)

The speedy 6-year-old son of Lion Heart set the pace, with fractions of :23.64, :47.58, and 1:11.67 through six furlongs in the 1 1/8-mile test and held off a last-to-first closing drive by Eagle  to win by a half-length.

In his first victory at the distance, Bradester hit the wire in 1:48.85 under the guidance of jockey Joe Bravo and paid $20.40 to win at odds of 9-1. Majestic Harbor  finished a game third and 3-5 favorite Effinex came in sixth in the seven-horse field, a length ahead of International Star.

“He’s a pretty fun horse. He does all the hard work for you," Bravo said. "He kind of reminds me of his father Lion Heart, who I rode in the Haskell (gr. I). I just kind of rode him like his dad and you saw what he did today.”

Eagle, who won the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland, trailed by eight lengths early and made his move in the final turn, but had to fan nine wide entering the stretch and just missed.

“He ran hard. I wish we’d have got there," said Eagle's jockey, Brian Hernandez Jr. "We were just a little late. I mean, coming from that far back, he ran a big race. He did all we can ask for. We just weren’t lucky enough to get the bob today.”

The Foster score was Bradester's fifth graded victory and ninth win overall from 23 starts for trainer Eddie Kenneally. In his 2016 debut May 21, Bradester also won wire to wire in the Majestic Light Stakes at Monmouth Park. In 2015 he won the Monmouth Cup Stakes (gr. II) and Salvator Mile Stakes (gr. III), both at Monmouth, and in 2014 he scored in the Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) and Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III).

Saturday's win also pushed his earnings over $1.05 million.

"He’s won five or six graded stakes prior to today, but to win a grade I with him is phenomenal," Kenneally said. "Now he has established himself. He is a beautiful horse, so now he’s got credentials to be a stallion, hopefully, at some point in his career here in Kentucky and I think he’s earned that right."