FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 15th, 2017
GUN RUNNER HEADLINES STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP FROM CHURCHILL DOWNS THIS SATURDAY LIVE AT 8:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN
Telecast Part of “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Win And You’re In – Presented By Lane’s End Farm And America’s Best Racing”
NEW YORK (June 15, 2017) – Led by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s 4-year-old Gun Runner, a solid field of eight horses will by shooting for a Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) berth in the 1 1/8 mile, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap presented by GE Appliances (G1) this Saturday, June 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET on the live NBCSN telecast at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – Presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing.
Saturday’s 90-minute program is the second of 11 telecasts in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing,” on NBC and NBCSN, featuring 17 “Win And You’re In” races plus other major stakes on the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, November 3-4, at the Del Mar race track outside San Diego, which will also be televised by the NBC Sports Group. Saturday’s show also will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and NBC Sports app. Winners of these Challenge races, which combined offer more than $10 million in purses, automatically qualify for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup.
Krista Voda hosts Saturday’s telecast, and will be joined by Hall of Fame jockey and analyst Jerry Bailey, analyst Randy Moss, and reporter Britney Eurton. Daily Racing Form’s Matt Bernier will serve as the Handicapper.
In addition to the Stephen Foster, Saturday’s program show will also include the 1 1/8 mile $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, which will earn the winner an automatic starting position into the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
The Stephen Foster Handicap, for 3-year-olds and up, has had a rich history of producing Breeders’ Cup Classic winners.: Black Tie Affair (1991), Awesome Again (1998), Saint Liam (2005), Curlin (2008) and Blame in 2010 each won the Foster and the Classic in the same year.
In this year’s Stephen Foster, Gun Runner, the 4-5 favorite trained by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and ridden by Florent Geroux, has had an impressive early season early, starting with a 5 ½-length victory in the Razorback Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn Park in February, and a strong runner-up finish to Arrogate, the Longines World No. 1 rated racehorse, in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March, beaten just 2 ¼ lengths after leading the field into the homestretch. A winner seven times in 14 starts, and career earnings of more than $4.3 million, Gun Runner closed out his 2016 campaign with a second-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita last November, and followed that effort with a powerful victory in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs three weeks later. Gun Runner was also third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
Among the challengers to Gun Runner is David Ross’s 5-year-old gelding Honorable Duty, a winner of three stakes races this winter, including the Mineshaft (G3) and New Orleans Handicap (G2) at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. In his last start, Horonable Duty, trained by Brendan Walsh and ridden in the Foster by Javier Castellano, finished second by 1 ½ lengths to Mary Lou Whitney Stables’ Bird Song in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on May 5. A winner of 2 of 4 starts this year, the 4-year-old Brid Song, trained by Ian Wilkes and ridden by Julien Leparoux, also captured the Fred Hooper Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park in March.
The Stephen Foster Handicap field from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Bird Song (Julien Leparoux, 6-1); Breaking Lucky (Luis Contreras, 8-1); Gun Runner (Florent Geroux, 4-5); Honorable Duty (Javier Castellano, 6-1); Mo Tom (Corey Lanerie, 20-1); Hawaakom (Miguel Mena, 12-1); Texas Chrome (C.J. McMahon, 12-1); and Stanford (John Velazquez, 5-1).
The Fleur de Lis is led by Charles Fipke’s 5-year-old mare, Forever Unbridled, a two-time Grade 1 winner last year, and a third-place finisher in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita for trainer Dallas Stewart. The Fleur de Lis will be the first start for Forever Unbridled since undergoing surgery to remove a bone chip from her left front ankle after last year’s Distaff.
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 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 13 Grade I races with purses and awards totaling more than $28 million, will be held November 3-4 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. The Breeders’ Cup culminates with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, named the Longines World’s Best Horse Race in 2016 by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat 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 a unique array of sports assets, including NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN (NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, nine NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital. 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, PGA of America, Royal & Ancient, Churchill Downs, NYRA, Breeders’ Cup, Premier League, Tour de France, French Open, Formula One, IndyCar and many more.