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Jun 17, 2011

Stephen Foster Handicap up for grabs Saturday

By: SPORTS NETWORK


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Older thoroughbreds take the spotlight Saturday in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. An evenly matched field of 11 handicap horses will compete in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Late running Giant Oak will go for his first win since the Donn Handicap in February. Trained by Chris Block, the five-year-old will start from post 10 with Shaun Bridgmohan having the mount. Giant Oak has been assigned high weight of 122 pounds.

"We need a pace, and the shorter the field it seems that the pace doesn't really set up well for us," Block said. "I don't think a big field bothers me too much, because he comes around 'em and he's done that here before. I've got a good rider and I feel good about it."

Owned by the Virginia Tarra Trust, Giant Oak followed his Donn Handicap win with a third-place finish in the New Orleans Handicap as the 3-2 favorite behind Mission Impazible. Last month at Churchill, the veteran runner was a close-up fifth to First Dude in the Alysheba, beaten less than a length.

In his career Giant Oak has earned more than $1.3 million with five wins in 26 starts.

Four-year-old colt Apart will break from post three with Julien Leparoux riding. Al Stall trains for Adele Dilschneider.

"Apart is on target," Stall said. "I think he's an improving horse. That's what he's got going for him. He's a Grade II, Grade III type of winner and we just feel like he's going to get better with time. It's nothing we're doing. It's just something Mother Nature will take care of, hopefully."

Apart is coming off a win in the William Donald Schaefer at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Earlier this year he was second in the New Orleans and Louisiana Handicaps, and third in the Mineshaft, all at Fair Grounds Racecourse.

The colt has won five of 12 lifetime starts for $640,018.

Godolphin Racing's Regal Ransom enters the Foster off second-place finishes in the Alysheba and Sir Shackleton Handicaps. The five-year-old will start the Foster from post six with Alan Garcia riding.

"I think we got a little unlucky last time with an outside post," assistant trainer Ian Grant said about the Alysheba. "If he wouldn't have been so wide, I think he would have been able to hold on. He's really doing well. I think he'll run another big race this weekend."

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Regal Ransom has won four of 14 career starts for almost $1.9 million. His biggest victory came in the 2009 $2 million UAE Derby.

Here is the full field for the Foster from the rail out: Flat Out, Corey Lanerie; Crown of Thorns, Tyler Baze; Apart, Julien Leparoux; Worldly, Manny Cruz; El Caballo, James Graham; Regal Ransom, Alan Garcia; Equestrio, Jose Lezcano; Pool Play, Miguel Mena; Duke of Mischief, Joe Bravo; Giant Oak, Shaun Bridgmohan and Mission Impazible, Javier Castellano.

Post-time for the Stephen Foster Handicap is set for 6:25 p.m. (et).

Last year's Foster was won by Blame, who went on to capture the Breeders' Cup Classic.



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