Twelve Fun Facts About the Stephen Foster


By Christina Moore, courtesy America's Best Racing

A great day of racing is slated for Saturday at Churchill Downs, headlined by Gun Runner’s return in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. From the race’s namesake to some notable winners, get the scoop on the race below.

1. The Stephen Foster was first run in 1982. This year marks the 36th edition of the race.

2. Since 1996, four Dubai World Cup winners made their next start in the Stephen Foster with two of them, Curlin (2008) and Street Cry (2002), winning. This year’s Stephen Foster features 2017 Dubai World Cup runner-up Gun Runner in his first race since finishing second to Arrogate in Dubai.

3. The Stephen Foster offers a $500,000 purse. Last year the winner, Bradester, took home $303,800, with the rest divided among the other contenders.

4. Jockey Robby Albarado won three straight editions of the race from 2007 through 2009, tying Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day for the most Foster wins by a jockey.

5. The race is named after famed composer Stephen Foster, “the father of American music” who wrote the state song of Kentucky, “My Old Kentucky Home,” as well as “Oh! Susanna” and “Camptown Races,” among other timeless compositions.

6. Two horses won two consecutive editions of the race: Vodika Collins in 1982-83 and Recoup the Cash in 1994-95.

7. The Stephen Foster is one of two Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races at Churchill Downs this weekend. The race winner earns a berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4.
Wise Dan (left) finishes second to Ron the Greek in the Stephen Foster.
Wise Dan (left) finishes second to Ron the Greek in the Stephen Foster. (Eclipse Sportswire)

8. Four horses won the Breeders’ Cup Classic after winning the Stephen Foster in the same year: Black Tie Affair (1991), Awesome Again (1998), Saint Liam (2005) and Blame (2010).

9. Perfect Drift ran in four straight editions of the race from 2003 through 2006, winning his first try and finishing third twice and second once.

10. No trainer has more than two wins in the race. Mark Casse, Patrick Byrne, Jere Smith Jr. and Forrest Kaelin each have a pair of victories.

11. Three horses won the Stephen Foster during their Horse of the Year campaign: Black Tie Affair, Saint Liam and Curlin. Several others, including 2012 runner-up Wise Dan, ran in the Foster but didn't win during their Horse of the Year seasons.

12. Seek Gold won the race by a nose at odds of 91.70-1 in 2006, paying $185.40 for every $2 win bet.