06/09/2009 11:00PM

Four stakes supporting Foster


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It was in 2001 that Churchill Downs began the practice of surrounding the Stephen Foster Handicap with other graded stakes, further perpetuating the multiple-stakes packaging concept employed by most major North American racetracks for their biggest days of racing.

In 2008, Churchill ran six stakes, all graded, on its Foster Day card, but that number was reduced by one for the 2009 Foster program when the track opted to run the Mint Julep a week earlier. Once again, the Fleur de Lis Handicap serves as the richest secondary feature Saturday on the 11-race Foster program, for which entries were drawn Wednesday.

Churchill has slotted the stakes as the last five races Saturday, with the Foster going as race 10. In those other races:

* Grade 2, $150,000 Jefferson Cup (race 7): Advice, 13th in the Kentucky Derby after upsetting the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, drew post 1 for his turf debut. The other six 3-year-olds in this 1 1/8-mile turf race have less name recognition but established grass form, most notably No Inflation, El Crespo, and Florentino.

* Grade 3, $100,000 Northern Dancer (race 8): Warrior's Reward is sure to be favored in this 1 1/16-mile race after earning a 113 Beyer Speed Figure in a recent allowance win at Churchill. The lone stakes winner in a field of eight 3-year-olds is Parade Clown, who captured the WEBN at Turfway in February.

* Grade 2, $200,000 Fleur de Lis (race 9): Miss Isella, already a two-time graded stakes winner at Churchill, is the 122-pound highweight in a field of nine fillies and mares. Santa Teresita (121) ships in from California to give the race an interesting look.

* Grade 3, $150,000 Regret (race 11): While this 1 1/8-mile turf race has just one stakes winner (Hot Cha Cha, the Bourbonette at Turfway) among the 11 3-year-old fillies entered, it does have excellent depth. Contenders include Excelente, Rena, Banker's Choice, and Keertana.

Arson Squad seeks to bounce back

Arson Squad arrived Monday at Churchill from New York for the Stephen Foster and breezed a half-mile the following morning, going in 49.60 seconds over a fast track. Michelle Nevin, who was prominent during the 2008 Triple Crown campaign for Big Brown as the assistant to trainer Rick Dutrow, was aboard for the work and will be here for the balance of the week to oversee the 6-year-old gelding in Barn 39.

Arson Squad, an earner of nearly $900,000, will be trying to rebound from a 30-length defeat in his last start, the March 28 Dubai World Cup, in which he was impeded badly midway through the 1 1/4-mile race.

"I don't know how he didn't go down," said Samantha Siegel, who owns Arson Squad with her father, Mace, in the Jay Em Ess Stable. "It was a shame to go halfway around the world and have that happen. He's such an honest, hard-trying horse."

Saturday could be a big day for Jay Em Ess. The stable also has Rail Trip as a major contender in the Grade 2 Californian at Hollywood Park.

Gomez will ride three on Friday card

Garrett Gomez, the Eclipse Award-winning jockey the last two years, has been named to ride the last three races on the Friday card at Churchill, which begins at 2:45 p.m.

Gomez, based again in Southern California after two months of riding mostly at Keeneland, Churchill, and Belmont, would have had difficulty riding the Friday night card at Hollywood Park and then making the Saturday program at Churchill on time. By taking an early morning flight Friday, Gomez will be able to ride here later in the day.

Gomez is returning to Churchill primarily to ride Arson Squad in the Foster. He also will ride Advice in the Jefferson Cup, Gresham in the Northern Dancer, Swift Temper in the Fleur de Lis, and Rena in the Regret.

Beverly D. an option for Acoma

David Carroll said he is considering several options, including the Aug. 8 Beverly D. at Arlington Park, for the next start for Acoma, winner of the Mint Julep last Saturday. Carroll said the Diana Handicap and Go for Wand, both at Saratoga, are other possibilities.

Pure Clan, the Mint Julep runner-up, is likely for the Beverly D.

* Trainer Ken McPeek unveiled a particularly impressive 2-year-old filly here last Friday when Beautician earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure in winning by two lengths. Beautician, by Dehere, could run back June 27 in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill or wait for the July 29 Schuylerville on opening day of the Saratoga meet.

* Jockey Calvin Borel will be available for autographs for one hour before the races Saturday in the second-floor intertrack wagering area, starting at 11:30 a.m.