06/08/2013 1:11PM

Churchill Downs: Successful Dan among four Stephen Foster prospects working out

Barbara D. Livingston
Successful Dan , the starting co-highweight at 121 pounds, is among six horses considered likely for next Saturday's Stephen Foster Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Successful Dan and Fort Larned have been assigned 121 pounds apiece as the starting highweights for the Stephen Foster Handicap, the Grade 1 race to be run next Saturday night as the annual post-Kentucky Derby highlight of the Churchill Downs spring meet.

Wise Dan, the 2012 Horse of the Year and younger half-brother to Successful Dan, actually was assigned 125 pounds for the Foster by Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman. However, Wise Dan will not race until two weeks later in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on the Churchill turf, affirmed Charlie LoPresti, who trains both Wise Dan and Successful Dan for owner-breeder Morton Fink.

A field of six older horses has firmed up for the $500,000 Foster. With jockeys and weights, they are Successful Dan, 121, Julien Leparoux; Fort Larned, 121, Brian Hernandez Jr.; Ron the Greek, 120, Jose Lezcano; Take Charge Indy, 119, Rosie Napravnik; Golden Ticket, 117, Joel Rosario; and Pool Play, 115, Miguel Mena.

Meanwhile, four of the Foster runners were out for their final pre-race works Saturday, led by Successful Dan, who went a half-mile in 48.40 seconds over the Keeneland Polytrack.

“He was hard to pull up after the work because he wanted to do more,” LoPresti said. “We didn’t want to go fast today.”

Also, over a fast track at Churchill, Take Charge Indy got a half-mile in 47 seconds, while five-furlong breezes were posted by Golden Ticket (1:00.80) and Pool Play (1:01.20).

Ron the Greek, the defending Foster champion, was scheduled to work Sunday morning at Belmont Park before being flown here later in the day along with his Bill Mott-trained stablemate, Royal Delta, and a number of other Churchill-based horses who raced in New York this weekend.

Fort Larned, winner of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, will have his final work Tuesday or Wednesday, trainer Ian Wilkes said.

Weights also were released Saturday for the Grade 2, $175,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap, the main supporting feature on Foster night. These are the four fillies and mares considered likely to run: Royal Delta, 125 pounds, Mike Smith; On Fire Baby, 119, Joe Johnson; Wine Princess, 115, Shaun Bridgmohan; Funny Proposition, 114, Rosario.

All Saturday entries will be drawn Wednesday. Both the Foster and Fleur de Lis are run at 1 1/8 miles.

Maidens will run for $90,000 at Kentucky Downs

Horsemen are buzzing about Kentucky Downs planning to offer $90,000 for maiden races at its five-day, turf-only meet in September. Although the Kentucky Downs condition book is not scheduled for release until next month, track officials made that revelation this week at a meeting of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Half of those purses include bonuses from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

Those inflated purses, along with Churchill running a 12-day September meet for the first time, surely will enhance the horse population in the state this fall.

“I know I’m sticking around, when otherwise I might ship out,” trainer Bret Calhoun said.

Kentucky Downs will run two Saturdays (Sept. 7 and 14) that will conflict with Churchill dates. Otherwise, its three Wednesdays (Sept. 11, 18, 25) do not. Churchill will run four Friday-through-Sunday weekends.

Teenage rider gets first Churchill win

C.J. McMahon gave a happy wave of his whip passing under the wire Friday aboard Wild Pantera, his first-ever winner at Churchill. Wild Pantera, trained by Jeff Engler, was a three-length winner of the 1 1/16-mile race.

McMahon, 18, has vowed to continue trying to make his presence felt on the Kentucky circuit after enjoying a fine start to his riding career in Louisiana. His agent, Rocco O’Connor, also is 18.

◗ Golden Gulch, an earner of $250,414, had to be euthanized Saturday morning after suffering from an acute case of colic, according to Harvey Diamond, whose Skychai Racing partnership just claimed the 5-year-old ridgling for $80,000 and had not yet had an opportunity to race him. “Tough, tough game,” Diamond said.