06/15/2011 3:19PM

Churchill Downs: Stall looks for another victory in Stephen Foster Handicap

Justin N. Lane
Apart will try to give trainer Al Stall Jr. a repeat victory in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Al Stall Jr. won the Stephen Foster Handicap last year with Blame, but the 49-year-old trainer refrains from making unfair comparisons when it comes to Apart, the colt he will run Saturday in the Foster.

Blame earned a divisional championship while banking more than $4.3 million for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, and with Apart having earned only a fraction of that ($640,018) for Dilschneider, Stall is content to focus strictly on what Apart might be able to accomplish in the coming months.

“I think he’s an improving horse,” Stall said. “That’s what he’s got going for him. He’s a Grade 2, Grade 3 type of winner, and we just feel like he’s going to get better with time. It’s nothing we’re doing. It’s something Mother Nature will take care of, hopefully.”

Apart was one of 11 older horses entered Wednesday for what shapes up as a very contentious renewal of the Grade 1, $500,000 Foster. The 4-year-old colt will carry 118 pounds when breaking from post 3 in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Giant Oak, winner of the 2010 Clark Handicap at Churchill by disqualification, will carry high weight of 122 pounds when breaking from post 10. Trained by Chris Block, Giant Oak won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap earlier this year and has ranked among the top active handicap runners in North America since late last fall.

From the rail and with weights and riders, this is the field for the 30th running of the Foster: Flat Out, 114, Corey Lanerie; Crown of Thorns, 121, Tyler Baze; Apart, 118, Julien Leparoux; Worldly, 113, Manny Cruz; El Caballo, 115, Jimmy Graham; Regal Ransom, 117, Alan Garcia; Equestrio, 116, Jose Lezcano; Pool Play, 116, Miguel Mena; Duke of Mischief, 118, Joe Bravo; Giant Oak, 122, Shaun Bridgmohan; and Mission Impazible, 118, Javier Castellano.

The Foster, carded as the last of 12 Saturday races, anchors what always is the richest post-Kentucky Derby program of the spring meet and will end an all-graded-stakes pick-four wager. First post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern, with the Foster going at 6:25. Three Grade 3 races also are on tap, along with the first Arabian race in track history. A quick look at those races:

◗ $125,000 Regret (race 11): Kathmanblu, a disappointing sixth in the Kentucky Oaks, returns to turf as the likely favorite among eight 3-year-old fillies in this 1 1/8-mile race. Other contenders include Diva Ash, Bouquet Booth, Holidaysatthefarm, and Excited.

◗ $125,000 Matt Winn (race 10): After declining to enter Derby Trial runner-up Dominus because of what he described as a “foot issue,” trainer Steve Asmussen still holds a strong hand with recent allowance winner Wilburn in this 1 1/16-mile race formerly known as the Northern Dancer. Eight 3-year-olds are entered.

◗ $100,000 Jefferson Cup (race 9): Banned, a runaway winner of the American Turf, was assigned post 4 as the likely favorite among eight 3-year-olds in this 1 1/16-mile turf race.

◗ $50,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (race 6): Grilla, a winner last fall in the only Arabian race ever run at Keeneland, got the outside post among eight entered in the 1 1/4-mile race.