FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 14th, 2018
BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE SERIES CONTINUES WITH STEPHEN FOSTER & FLEUR DE LIS FROM CHURCHILL DOWNS THIS SATURDAY LIVE AT 8:30 PM ET ON NBCSN
Telecast to Include ‘victory lap’ from Triple Crown winner Justify
Telecast is Part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, Presented by America’s Best Racing”
NEW YORK (June 14, 2018) – The second automatic berth into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is on the line this Saturday evening, June 16, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The race is part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, presented by America’s Best Racing.” Saturday’s telecast will also include coverage of a special tribute to thoroughbred racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner Justify, as well as interviews with jockey Mike Smith and trainer Bob Baffert one week after their historic victory.
The 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), and the 1 1/8 mile, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G1) for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, offer a berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and mark the second of 11 telecasts in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge: Win and You’re In Series,” on NBC and NBCSN from some of America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads into the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs Nov. 2-3 on NBC and NBCSN. Complete series TV schedule can be accessed here:http://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series
NBCSN’s coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series on Saturday evening will be hosted by Laffit Pincay III, who will be joined by analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, as well as reporters Donna Brothers and Britney Eurton.
The 3-year-old Justify, who last Saturday became the 13th horse to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, will parade in front of the crowd at Churchill Downs. Principle owners WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith will be on hand for the official engraving of the 2018 Kentucky Derby trophy.
The Stephen Foster begins North American qualifying for potential challengers to Justify in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Backyard Heaven, an impressive 4 ¼-length winner of the $400,000 Alysheba presented by Sentient Jet (Grade II), and Irish War Cry, the 4 ½-length gate-to-wire hero of the $300,000 Pimlico Special (GIII), are the main contenders. The field of nine features a trio of millionaires – Irish War Cry ($1,252,060), Lookin At Lee ($1,126,245) and Hawaakom ($1,006,305). Two of those three comprise a trio of graduates from the 2017 Kentucky Derby: Lookin At Lee, who was second behind winner Always Dreaming, 10th-place finisher Irish War Cry, and Patch, the wildly-popular one-eyed colt who finished 14th in the “Run for the Roses.”
The Stephen Foster Handicap field from the rail out includes: Honorable Duty (ridden by Corey Lanerie, trained by Brendan Walsh, 6-1 morning line odds); Patch (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher, 10-1); Hawaakom (Brian Hernandez Jr., Wes Hawley, 2-1); Uncle Mojo (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 10-1); Matrooh (Santo Sanjur, Cipriano Contreras, 20-1); Backyard Heaven (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Chad Brown, 6-5); Lookin At Lee (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 12-1); Irish War Cry (Jose Ortiz, Graham Motion, 5-1); and Pavel (Mario Gutierrez, Doug O’Neill, 5-1).
The Stephen Foster Handicap, which was elevated to Grade I status in 2002, has had a strong influence on the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Horse of the Year honors. Four horses used victories in the Stephen Foster as part of their résumés in Horse of the Year campaigns: Black Tie Affair (1991), Saint Liam (2005), Curlin (2008) and Gun Runner (2017). In addition, two runner-ups were crowned Horse of the Year: Mineshaft (2003) and Wise Dan (2012). Also, Awesome Again (1998) and Blame (2010) completed same-year Foster-Classic doubles. Fort Larned won the Classic in 2012, and won the Foster the following year prior to a fourth-place run in his bid for a second Classic win.
Fans can also get in on the excitement of the Stephen Foster by playing The $100,000 Capture the Classic Challenge where participants have the chance to predict the winners of designated Classic Division Races televised live on NBC or NBCSN – the Stephen Foster Handicap, Suburban Handicap, Haskell Invitational, Travers Stakes and Awesome Again Stakes – for an opportunity to become a virtual owner of each winning horse. By properly selecting the winning horse of one of these Classic Division races virtual owners will receive insider access to premium content about their horse(s), such as behind-the-scenes videos and in-depth profiles, as well as a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize should their horse go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 3.
Fleur de Lis is Longines Distaff Qualifier
Coffeepot Stables multiple graded stakes winner Farrell leads a field of nine fillies and mares as Saturday’s 43rd running of the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap for an automatic berth into the $2 Longines Distaff.
Trained by Wayne Catalano, Farrell (15-7-1-2—$916,377) nearly missed winning her first Grade I in the La Troienne on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs after tiring in the late stages to finish second behind Salty. Farrell drew the outside Post 9 and will be ridden by Catalano’s son- in-law Channing Hill. Chief among Farrell’s challengers are the 1-2 finishers in the May 18 DuPont Distaff (GIII) at Pimlico – Stoneway Farm’s Song of Spring and Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize (ARG), respectively.
The Fleur de Lis field from the rail out includes: Fuhriously Kissed (ridden by C.J. McMahon, trained by Tony Quartarolo); Mopotism (Mario Gutierrez, Doug O’Neil); Blue Prize (ARG) (Jose Ortiz, Ignacio Correas IV); Streamline (Chris Landeros, Brian Williamson); Song of Spring (Ricardo Santana, Neil Howard); Awestruck (Irad Ortiz Jr., Rusty Arnold II); Valadorna (Brian Hernandez Jr., Mark Casse); Apologynotaccepted (Julien Leparoux, Brendan Walsh); and Farrell (Hill, Catalano).
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 races (13 Grade 1 events) with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held November 2-3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About NBC Sports Group
When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN, Golf Channel, NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital, which includes NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com, GolfChannel.com, the digital assets of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, Rotoworld, the NBC Sports Talk franchise, multiple apps, and two transactional sports businesses, GolfNow and SportsEngine. NBC Sports Group possesses an unparalleled collection of television rights agreements, partnering with some of the most prestigious sports properties in the world: the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic Committee, the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, PGA TOUR, The R&A, PGA of America, Churchill Downs, NYRA, Breeders’ Cup, Premier League, INDYCAR, Rugby World Cup, Six Nations Championship, Tour de France, French Open, and many more.
No purchase necessary – Promotion is sponsored by Breeders’ Cup Limited. Breeders’ Cup Limited is the sole sponsor of the Promotion. NBC Sports and NBCUniversal Media, LLC are not sponsors of the Promotion and are not associated with the administration of the Promotion in any way. Entrants are providing information to sponsors and not to NBC Sports and NBCUniversal Media, LLC.