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Jun 15, 2007

Pletcher has two in Stephen Foster Handicap


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Belmont Stakes winning trainer Todd Pletcher has the expected morning-line favorite for Saturday's $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. Master Command, undefeated this year, is the probable favorite versus seven rivals in the 1 1/8 mile race.

Master Command has picked up victories this year in the Mineshaft, New Orleans and National Jockey Club Handicaps. John Velazquez, who has been aboard for all three races, is back after his win in the Belmont Stakes. Horse and jockey will start from post two.

Owned by Aaron and Marie Jones, Master Command has won eight of 15 career starts for $1.1 million. Last year his two stakes wins were in the William Schaefer Handicap and Meadowlands Breeders' Cup.

Pletcher also sends out Magna Graduate in the Foster Handicap. The five-year- old will be ridden by Garrett Gomez from post three. Velazquez is the usual rider on Magna Gratuate.

Magna Graduate is owned by Elisabeth Alexander and is on a two race win streak. He is coming off a victory in the Excelsior Handicap after taking the Razorback Handicap. In 22 lifetime starts, Magna Graduate has won nine times for better than $2 million.

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito will saddle local winner Wanderin Boy. The six- year-old will start from post six with Corey Nakatani riding.

Wanderin Boy is coming off a win in the Alysheba Handicap here in his first start of the year. Owned by Arthur Hancock, Wanderin Boy won the Brooklyn Handicap in 2006 and was second in the Pimlico Special to Invasor as the favorite. He has earnings of $722,215 in 16 career starts with eight victories.

Here is the complete field for the Foster in post position order: Diamond Stripes, Edgar Prado; Master Command, John Velazquez; Magna Graduate, Garrett Gomez; Mr. Umphrey, Phil Teator; Wiggins, Rafael Bejarano; Wanderin Boy, Corey Nakatani; Flashy Bull, Robby Albarado and Jonesboro, Corel Borel.

The Stephen Foster Handicap has a scheduled post-time of 5:51 p.m. (et).

It was announced on Wednesday that these and other older thoroughbreds will once again be able to run in the Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs. The track has set the 1 1/8 mile event for Saturday, September 22.

The MassCap will have a guaranteed total purse of $500,000 along with a pair of bonuses to the winner. A $200,000 bonus will be awarded if the winner won more than one Grade 1 or Group 1 stakes races at a mile or longer in 2007. An additional $100,000 will be awarded if the winner won one Grade 1 or Group 1 stakes race and at least one other graded stakes race at a mile or longer this year.

"The combination of a strong base purse, the substantial bonuses that we have in place, and the positioning of the race on the racing calendar will enable us to attract the strongest possible field," said Jim Pambianchi, Suffolk Downs' director of racing and racing secretary.

The MassCap was last conducted in 2004 when Offlee Wild defeated 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide.

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