Gun Runner Ready for Stephen F. Foster Stakes

LOUISVILLE, KY (June 11, 2017) – All hands are on deck and all eyes (and some of the world’s best horses) are being pointed towards this Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” program – which will be highlighted by the 36th running of the $500,000 Stephen F. Foster Stakes.

Stephen F. Foster Stakes
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner. (Coady Photography, Churchill Downs)

The Grade 1 Stephen F. Foster is the show-stopper on a program that will feature five Graded Stakes races and includes purses worth more than $1.3 million. It is the most lucrative day of racing at Churchill Downs outside of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.

The headliner for the Foster is none other than Gun Runner, who is rated as one of the Top Five horses in training at this time. Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney’s Farm (where he will stand at stud upon retirement), Gun Runner is trained by Steve Asmussen, who is already in the Racing Hall of Fame.

Gun Runner won the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs last fall before running a very game second to the fast-closing Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup in March. Overall, Gun Runner has a record of 7 wins, 3 seconds and 2 thirds in 14 lifetime starts and earnings over $4.3 million.

In addition to Gun Runner, the Foster is expected to attract Bird Song and Honorable Duty – who ran first and second in the $400,000 Alysheba Stakes on the undercard of the Kentucky Oaks. In addition, the field is expected to include Breaking Lucky, Stanford and Mo Tom.

In addition to the Stephen F. Foster, Churchill Downs will host four other stakes races on Saturday night. They include the following:

G2, $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap for Fillies & Mares at 11/8-miles (which should feature a rematch between the top two finishers in the La Troienne – Big World and Romantic Vision.
G2, $200,000 Wise Dan for 3YOs at 11/16-miles on the Turf (led by defending champion Pleauven)
G3, $100,000 Matt Win for 3YOs at 11/16-miles (which should mark the return of one-time Derby favorite McCraken)
G3, $100,000 Regret for 3YO Fillies at 11/8-miles on the Turf (which is expected to draw both Sweeping Paddy and Proctor’s Ledge – the third and fourth place finishers in this year’s Edgewood Stakes).

The Stephen F. Foster and the Fleur de Lis are both part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Series, which means that if you win either of the Stakes on Saturday, you are guaranteed a spot in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the G1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at Del Mar.

The Foster will be the first “Win & You’re In” for the 2017 Classic.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series will be aired on NBCSN, and the crew will be on site at Churchill Downs, airing live from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET

For ticket information, please contact Churchill Downs immediately.



The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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