06/10/2007 11:00PM

Einstein will miss Foster


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Einstein has dropped out with a minor injury while Master Command has been named the 123-pound highweight for the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, the Grade 1 race that on Saturday will anchor the second-richest day of the Churchill Downs spring meet.

Six graded stakes worth a combined $1.8 million - second only to Kentucky Derby Day - are on tap for Saturday, with the 1 1/8-mile Foster being the centerpiece. Einstein, the turf specialist who was being pointed to the Foster, instead was withdrawn after being diagnosed over the weekend with a bruised splint bone in his front right leg.

"He worked awesome last week, but he just wasn't right afterward," said trainer Helen Pitts.

Einstein, a multiple graded winner, will be given about three weeks off before returning to gear up for a fall campaign, said Pitts.

Meanwhile, trainer Todd Pletcher, fresh off his victory last Saturday with Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes, holds a very strong hand for the Foster with Master Command and Magna Graduate. Together, the 5-year-old horses already have combined to win five graded handicaps this year, with Master Command taking the National Jockey Club at Hawthorne in his latest and Magna Graduate romping in the Excelsior at Aqueduct.

Both Pletcher horses worked Sunday at Belmont Park, with each horse getting a bullet by finishing five furlongs in 59 seconds, handily. They were scheduled to be flown via charter Tuesday to Louisville, along with several other Foster Day starters from New York.

As of Monday, at least seven older horses were expected for the Foster. With weights, they are Master Command, 123 pounds; Wanderin Boy, 120; Magna Graduate, 118; Diamond Stripes, 116; Gouldings Green, 114; Jonesboro, 114; and Wiggins, 114.

Probably the most intriguing prospect is Diamond Stripes, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. The 4-year-old Diamond Stripes is unbeaten in four career starts, with plenty of space between the races. He blew out for the Foster on Monday morning with a six-furlong breeze in 1:13.60 at Aqueduct.

Entries for all Saturday races will be drawn Wednesday.

Indian Vale breezes for Fleur de Lis

Pletcher also will be right in the mix when the richest secondary feature, the $300,000 Fleur de Lis, is run Saturday. Indian Vale, trying to rebound off a fourth-place finish as the favorite in the May 4 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap, is one of the main contenders in a prospective field of seven fillies and mares for the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis.

Indian Vale - who, unlike many of the top Pletcher horses, remained at Churchill with assistant Michael McCarthy instead of being moved to New York following the Derby - breezed five furlongs Sunday in 1:02.20.

Asi Siempre, winner of the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes last fall, has been named the 122-pound highweight for the 1 1/8-mile Fleur de Lis by racing secretary Ben Huffman. In order of weights, the probables are Asi Siempre, 122; Ermine, 119; Indian Vale, 119; Rolling Sea, 118; Kettleoneup, 117; Baghdaria, 116; and Leah's Secret, 116.

One notable defection from the prospective lineup is Bushfire, the 4-year-old filly who is based at Keeneland with trainer Eddie Kenneally. She will run instead Saturday in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont, where last year she won the Acorn and Mother Goose.

"I wouldn't mind running her at Churchill because it's so much easier to run there," said Kenneally. "But it's better for the value of the filly to run in the race at Belmont - it's a Grade 1, and she likes the track."

Chelokee tops Northern Dancer

Chelokee, the Michael Matz-trained colt who easily won the Barbaro Stakes on the May 19 Preakness undercard at Pimlico in his last start, is the marquee name among the prospects for the balance of the Foster Day card. The colt is the probable favorite in the Grade 3, $200,000 Northern Dancer Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race that is expected to get two horses from the Derby: SamoP. (ninth) and Zanjero (12th).

Chelokee had his final prerace work when he breezed a bullet 1:02 Saturday over the all-weather track at his home base at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

The remaining three stakes on the Foster Day card are all Grade 3 events on turf: the $200,000 Jefferson Cup for 3-year-olds, the $200,000 Regret for 3-year-old fillies, and the $150,000 Mint Julep for fillies and mares.