Friday, June 12, 2009

Einstein faces 7 in Stephen Foster Handicap

Race favorite seeking 3rd straight Grade 1 triumph, all on different surfaces

Daily Racing Form

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Einstein was assigned post 3 as the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a field of eight older horses set to clash Saturday in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, the annual highlight of the post-Kentucky Derby segment of the Churchill Downs spring meet.

Einstein will be trying for a third straight Grade 1 triumph - all on different racing surfaces - when ridden by Julien Leparoux in the $600,000 Foster. The 7-year-old Brazilian-bred horse won the Santa Anita Handicap over a Pro-Ride synthetic surface in March, then the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic last month at Churchill.

After Einstein, three horses are grouped closely together on the morning line. Asiatic Boy (122 pounds, post 7) is the second choice at 7-2, while Arson Squad (118, post 4) and Researcher (118, post 5) are co-third choices at 4-1.

Asiatic Boy clearly is the wild card of the group, having never raced in North America. The 6-year-old horse has earned more than any other Foster starter, having banked more than $3 million from 15 starts, but he has been sparingly raced throughout his career while based primarily in Dubai. He will make his first start Saturday under the care of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who won the Foster two years ago with Flashy Bull.

Arson Squad, trained by Rick Dutrow, has been working bullets in recent weeks since returning to Aqueduct after finishing a distant 11th in the Dubai World Cup.

Researcher, based at Charles Town with trainer Jeff Runco, has won 10 of 17 starts, with a victory over Commentator in his last race being the most noteworthy. Researcher will be ridden by Calvin Borel, who won the Foster three years ago on Seek Gold, a 91-1 shot.

The others in the 28th Foster are Finallymadeit, Macho Again, Bullsbay, and Alphabet Magic.

Robby Albarado, who won the last two runnings of the Foster aboard Flashy Bull and Curlin (2008), has the mount on Macho Again.

Bullsbay, based in Maryland with trainer Graham Motion, is 3 for 3 at Churchill. "That's an obvious reason for us trying this race," said Motion. "Clearly he likes the surface. Now we'll have to see how he can handle the company."

Besides the Foster, four other graded stakes and the traditional presentation of engraved trophies to the winning connections from the Kentucky Oaks and Derby also are on tap for Saturday.

Although strong thunderstorms were passing through the Louisville area in mid-week, the forecast for Saturday calls for mostly sunny skies and a high temperature of 82.

HRTV will provide live television coverage of the Foster, with post time set for 5:29 p.m. Eastern.

© 2009 Daily Racing Form

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