06/08/2012 3:23PM

Churchill Downs: Successful Dan will serve as Lopresti's backup for Foster

Tom Keyser
Successful Dan, shown winning the Alysheba, will be entered in next weekend's Stephen Foster but will only start if something prevents stablemate Wise Dan from running.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Charlie Lopresti has settled on entering Successful Dan in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs next weekend, but only as insurance in case Wise Dan is not able to make the race.

Lopresti noted that Wise Dan “has been working lights out” after the 5-year-old gelding drilled five furlongs in a bullet 59.40 seconds Thursday over the Keeneland Polytrack in preparation for the $400,000 Foster, which will be run next Saturday night, June 16. But Lopresti noted that “anything can happen – just look what happened with the Triple Crown,” and therefore will safeguard his chances by also entering Successful Dan in the 1 1/8-mile race.

“We don’t intend to run Successful Dan because we’d rather not run them against each other yet,” said Lopresti. “If everything goes the way we hope, we’ll run Wise Dan in the Foster and save Successful Dan for the Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows or the Suburban at Belmont.”

Wise Dan and 6-year-old Successful Dan, both bred and owned by Morton Fink, are half-brothers, having been produced by the mare Lisa Danielle. Both come off sensational wins and are widely regarded as being among the top handicap horses in training.

Wise Dan will not breeze again before the Foster, said Lopresti. “I’m thinking about bringing him there Sunday to school him in the paddock,” he said.

Wise Dan, with John Velazquez to ride, is expected among the highweights when those assignments are released Saturday by Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman. Entries will be taken Wednesday.

The list of other probables for the 1 1/8-mile Foster is led by Alternation, winner of the Oaklawn Handicap and Pimlico Special in his last two starts; Ron the Greek, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap in March; either of the Steve Asmussen duo of Astrology and Nehro; and Fort Larned, Rogue Romance, and maybe a couple more.

The Foster is one of four stakes set for the second of three Downs After Dark programs this month, with the others being the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis, Grade 3 Regret, and Grade 3 Matt Winn.

Royal Delta, with Mike Smith as her new rider, will make her first start since the Dubai World Cup as the favorite in the $150,000 Fleur de Lis. The 4-year-old filly will be among the arrivals here Monday from New York.

St. John’s River, second in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks and in the La Troienne last month, will be among the chief opposition for Royal Delta in the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis.

My Miss Aurelia back at the track

My Miss Aurelia, the 2-year-old filly champion of 2011, was scheduled to return to the Churchill barn of Steve Asmussen early Saturday after recovering from a shin injury that has kept her from racing since she captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies here last November.

There are no definite plans yet for a comeback race for My Miss Aurelia, according to Amy Kearns, publicist for the Stonestreet Stables that co-owns the filly with George Bolton. My Miss Aurelia resumed light training in March at Vinery in Ocala and had her first breeze there on May 15 when going an easy three furlongs in 39 seconds.

Stephanie’s Kitten tunes up for Coronation

Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall and the Edgewood Stakes on the May 4 Kentucky Oaks undercard, continued her preparations for her next start in Britain when breezing seven furlongs with the cones up in 1:31.40 Thursday morning on the Churchill turf course.

Bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Wayne Catalano, Stephanie’s Kitten is scheduled to race June 22 in the Group 1 Coronation at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet.

Trainer standings remain close

Asmussen obviously has the firepower to win the Churchill training title for the 12th time, but that hasn’t kept the race for top honors from being incredibly tight as the two-thirds marker of the spring meet neared.

Into the 11-race Friday twilight card, the 25th of 39 days, eight trainers were within one win of the lead: Asmussen, Bret Calhoun, Brad Cox, and Dale Romans all had sent out nine winners, while Tom Amoss, Wayne Catalano, Dane Kobiskie and Ken McPeek were right behind with eight.

◗ Churchill Downs and Seth Hancock of Claiborne Farm were among the inductees Thursday night at the annual Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame ceremonies at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Louisville.