06/12/2013 1:45PM

Churchill Downs: Fort Larned, Successful Dan to meet in Stephen Foster Handicap

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Tom Keyser
Fort Larned, last year's Breeders' Cup Classic winner, most recently was fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap in April.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Six older horses are entered in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, the Grade 1 race that has become the signature leadoff event for the post-Triple Crown half of the racing season in North America.

Fort Larned and Successful Dan are the co-highweights in the 1 1/8-mile race, which also figures to have Ron the Greek and Take Charge Indy among the top wagering choices. Golden Ticket, a dead-heat winner of the Travers Stakes last summer, is one of the two outsiders, along with Pool Play.

“Obviously, it’s a tough race, but that’s okay,” said Ken McPeek, the trainer of Golden Ticket. “We felt it was good timing and a good spot, with it being on our home court. If he’s ever going to beat this kind, maybe this is it.”

The Foster is the first “Win and You’re In” event of the year in North America for the Nov. 1-2 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, with the Foster winner getting an automatic, expenses-paid berth into the $5 million BC Classic.

From the rail, with weights and jockeys, this is the field: Golden Ticket, 117 pounds, Joel Rosario; Fort Larned, 121, Brian Hernandez Jr.; Ron the Greek, 120, Jose Lezcano; Take Charge Indy, 119, Rosie Napravnik; Pool Play, 115, Miguel Mena; and Successful Dan, 121, Julien Leparoux.

The Foster, one of four graded stakes on the night, anchors the first of three straight Saturdays for the Downs After Dark program at Churchill. First post is at 6 p.m. Eastern, with the Foster, the eighth of 11 races, set for 9:39 and the 11th race for 11:10. HRTV will have extensive on-site coverage. Ontrack fans are encouraged to wear all-white attire in keeping with the “White Party” theme for the night.

In the supporting Saturday features:

◗ Grade 2, $175,000 Fleur de Lis (race 6, 8:30): Royal Delta will be a huge favorite when facing just four other fillies and mares in this 1 1/8-mile race. The 5-year-old mare will have Mike Smith aboard when starting from the outside post and spotting the opposition 10 to 11 pounds.

The Fleur de Lis lineup is Funny Proposition, 114, Rosario; Ice Cream Silence, 115, Napravnik; Wine Princess, 115, Shaun Bridgmohan; She’s All In, 114, Ricardo Santana Jr.; and Royal Delta, 125.

Royal Delta will be making her first appearance since finishing 10th against males in the March 30 Dubai World Cup. Last year, she won the Fleur de Lis by eight lengths in her first post-Dubai start en route to an Eclipse Award as the year’s top older female.

◗ Grade 3, $100,000 Matt Winn Stakes (race 7, 9:05): A terrific field of 11 3-year-olds was entered in this 1 1/16-mile race, with Sunbean, Uncaptured, Code West, Treasury Bill, and Bellarmine ranking among the favorites.

◗ Grade 3, $100,000 Regret Stakes (race 9, 10:11): Kitten’s Dumplings, the winner of the Edgewood Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, gets Rosario back as the likely favorite in a field of 11 3-year-old fillies in this 1 1/8-mile turf race.

A rare Churchill race restricted to Arabians is on the program (race 10, 10:42). It’s the Grade 1, $100,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, just the second Arabian race in track history. A field of eight is entered.

Orb’s connections to get trophies

Rosario and trainer Shug McGaughey will be among the connections of Orb on hand Saturday night to receive their engraved trophies for their victory in the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

Rosario and McGaughey will be joined by Daisy Phipps Pulito, the daughter of Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps, who bred and owns Orb in partnership with his cousin, Stuart Janney III. Also present will be Walker Hancock of Claiborne Farm, where Orb was foaled and raised.

The ceremony will take place in the winner’s circle shortly after the fourth race, which is set for 7:26 p.m.