(First Mission / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team / Darren Rogers & Kevin Kerstein:



LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, June 22, 2024)Godolphin’s talented homebred First Mission, an impressive winner of the Alysheba Stakes (Grade II) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, headlines a competitive field of nine older horses that entered next Saturday’s 43rd running of the $1 million Stephen Foster Stakes (GI) at Churchill Downs.

Carded as Race 11 of 12, the Stephen Foster is the highlight of a stakes-filled program at Churchill Downs that also includes the $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Fleur de Lis (GII); $500,000 Wise Dan (GII); $250,000 American Derby (Listed); $250,000 Kelly’s Landing (Listed); and $250,000 Tepin (Listed). First post is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the field for the Stephen Foster will go to post at 6:03 p.m.

Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Stephen Foster is the marquee race of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet following Kentucky Derby Week. The Stephen Foster also is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series and is a “Win and You’re In Classic Division” race. The winner will earn a spot in the starting gate for the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Del Mar with a free automatic entry to the race.

First Mission, a 4-year-old son of Street Sense, is based locally for trainer Brad Cox. The five-time winner has an impressive resumé with other graded stakes scores in the Lexington Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland and Essex Handicap (GIII) at Oaklawn Park. First Mission will be ridden in the Stephen Foster by Florent Geroux out of post No. 2.

Another talented runner in Saturday’s race is Daniel Alonso’s eight-time winner Skippylongstocking, who enters the Stephen Foster following a two-length score in the Oaklawn Handicap on April 20. Trained bySaffie Joseph Jr., Skippylongstocking was highly regarded from a young age. As a 3-year-old, the son of Exaggerator won the West Virginia Derby (GIII) and Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (GIII). Last year, Skippylongstocking tallied graded stakes scores in the Challenger Stakes (GIII) and Charles Town Classic (GII). To begin his 5-year-old season, Skippylongstocking had a troubled journey in the Pegasus World Cup (GI) and pulled up halfway through the race. However, Skippylongstocking returned six weeks later and defended his title in the Challenger Stakes before his victory in the Oaklawn Handicap. Jockey Jose Ortiz will have the mount in the Stephen Foster from post 9.

The Stephen Foster field also includes trainer Todd Pletcher’s duo of 2023 TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Kingsbarns and Pennsylvania Derby (GI) runner-up Dreamlike; Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 2023 Travers (GI) runner-up Disarm; Alexandres’ multiple graded stakes winner Il Miracolo; and Gulfstream Park Mile (GII) winner Steal Sunshine.

Here is the complete field for the Stephen Foster from the rail out (with jockey and trainer):

  • Pyrenees (Brian Hernandez Jr., Cherie DeVaux)
  • First Mission (Geroux, Cox)
  • Happy American (Corey Lanerie, Neil Pessin)
  • Disarm (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen)
  • Dreamlike (Irad Ortiz Jr., Pletcher)
  • Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux, Kenny McPeek)
  • Kingsbarns (Luis Saez, Pletcher)
  • Steal Sunshine (Paco Lopez, Bobby Dibona)
  • Skippylongstocking (Jose Ortiz, Joseph)

Fans can watch and wager on all the action from Churchill Downs on www.twinspires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday is the penultimate day of the 2024 Spring Meet. Fans can purchase tickets onwww.churchilldowns.com. Admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m.

In addition to the stellar racing action, the winning connections of this year’s Kentucky Derby (Mystik Dan) and Kentucky Oaks (Thorpedo Anna) will be presented with their engraved trophies during a winner’s circle ceremony between races. Also, the trophies will be on display beforehand for guests to take photos.