(Kingsbarns in the paddock before Saturday’s running of the G1 Stephen Foster / All Photos by Holly M. Smith)

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

KINGSBARNS ACHIEVES GRADE I GLORY IN $1 MILLION STEPHEN FOSTER

STEPHEN FOSTER QUOTES

Luis Saez (jockey, Kingsbarns, winner): “There wasn’t a whole lot of speed in the race so I know we had to be closer to the pace. Around the far turn he really found his stride nicely and just took me from there. He fought hard down the entire stretch.”

Todd Pletcher (trainer, Kingsbarns, winner): “We’re extremely proud of this horse’s effort and for the entire team behind him. Obviously winning a Grade I is a tremendous accomplishment. I think we’ve seen this year he’s been able to settle better than when he was a 3-year-old and show that new dimension. He sat a perfect trip today and really kicked well when turning for home.”

Stu Hampson (assistant trainer, Kingsbarns, winner): “It was a huge performance today. Back as a 3-year-old he sort of was head-strong but as he’s gotten older and more mature he’s really rounded into himself. I think we’ve seen that this year in his four starts. Obviously winning a Grade I is a tremendous accomplishment. He’ll head up to Saratoga after this race and Todd (Pletcher) and the Spendthrift team will plot a course backwards from the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).”

Ned Toffey (general manager of Spendthrift Farm, Kingsbarns, winner): “We’re all thrilled for winning a Grade I with this horse. At Spendthrift Farm we are in the stallion making business and winning a Grade I obviously means we have to get a stall ready for him in the stud barn when he finishes his racing career.”

Brian Hernandez Jr. (jockey, Pyrenees, runner-up): “He ran a huge race today. I think he’s going to be a lot of fun this summer and into the fall. He’s really still learning and coming into his own. I think the extra distance will only help him.”

Cherie DeVaux (trainer, Pyrenees, runner-up): “We beat Kingsbarns last time but he beat us today. I think Pyrenees ran a huge effort today. I think the longer the better for him.”

Florent Geroux (jockey, First Mission, fourth): “No excuse. He had everything his own way. We’re obviously very disappointed in his effort.”

Story: 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, June 29, 2024)Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Kingsbarns, winner of last year’s Grade II Louisiana Derby and this year’s Grade III Ben Ali at Keeneland, collected the first Grade I of his career when he powered past leaders First Mission and Skippylongstocking leaving the far turn and drove home to win Saturday’s 43rd running of the $1 million Stephen Foster (Grade I) at Churchill Downs by 2 ½ lengths over Pyrenees while clocking 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.09.

          Luis Saez rode the winner for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher and both collected their first wins in the prestigious Foster.

          “We’re extremely proud of this horse’s effort and for the entire team behind him,” Pletcher said. “Obviously winning a Grade I is a tremendous accomplishment. I think we’ve seen this year he’s been able to settle better than when he was a 3-year-old and show that new dimension. He sat a perfect trip today and really kicked well when turning for home.”

Kingsbarns tuned the tables on Pyrenees, who defeated the Foster winner six weeks ago by three-quarters of a length in the $250,000 Pimlico Special (GIII).

The lofty $601,260 first prize lifted the bay Kentucky-bred colt’s earnings to millionaire status – $1,559,060 from a record of 6-2-0 in nine starts.

The victory in the Stephen Foster, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Classic Division” race, earned Kingsbarns a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the $6 million Longines Classic (GI), which is scheduled for Nov. 2 at Del Mar. Also, his connections will have all Breeders’ Cup pre-entry and entry fees covered and could receive a travel award up to $10,000.

Kingsbarns, at odds of 9-1, rewarded his backers with mutuels of $21.90, $9.20 and $5.44. Pyrenees, with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard, was second and returned $12.10 and $4.64 at odds of 10-1. Skippylongstocking, at 4-1, was another head back in third under Jose Ortiz and paid $4.66 to show.

          First Mission, the odds-on 4-5 betting choice was fourth and was followed by Steal Sunshine, 4-1 second choice Disarm, Classic Causeway and Dreamlike. Happy American was scratched and will run in Sunday’s $300,000 Hanshin (Listed) at Churchill Downs.

          First Mission, with Skippylongstocking tracking off his right hip, set a measured pace in the field of eight older horses with early fractions of :24.13, :48.38 and 1:11.86. Kingsbarns, who broke from post six, was content to relax just behind in fourth and in the clear down the backstretch. Kingsbarns began to advance around the final turn and grabbed the lead with a quarter mile to the finish. He was never threatened down the stretch on his way to Grade I glory.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of speed in the race so I know we had to be closer to the pace,” Saez said. “Around the far turn he really found his stride nicely and just took me from there. He fought hard down the entire stretch.”

          Kingsbarns is a 4-year-old son of Uncle Mo out of the Tapit mare Lady Tapit and was bred by Parks Investment Group LLC.

“We’re all thrilled for winning a Grade I with this horse,” said Ned Toffey, General Manager of Eric Gustavson’s Spendthrift Farm. “At Spendthrift Farm we are in the stallion making business and winning a Grade I obviously means we have to get a stall ready for him in the stud barn when he finishes his racing career.”