Saturday is “Stephen Foster Preview Day” at Churchill Downs, featuring six stakes that serve as preps for Stephen Foster Day on July 2, and two of the three dirt stakes have drawn Grade 1 winners.
Blame S. – Race 10 (5:26 p.m. ET)
Americanrevolution really came on at the end of his three-year-old season, romping by 11 lengths over New York-bred rivals in the Empire Classic H. before notching his first graded success in the Cigar Mile H. (G1) in early December, and the Todd Pletcher-trained colt will look to make a serious impact in the older male dirt division as a four-year-old.
The chestnut son of Constitution is set to return from a 182-day layoff in the $200,000 Blame S. at 1 1/8 miles, and Americanrevolution looms as the probable favorite among eight rivals. Florent Geroux will pick up the mount.
Scalding merits serious respect for Shug McGaughey. A maiden scorer when making his third career start at Gulfstream Park in early January, he followed with a convincing entry-allowance triumph, and the four-year-old colt stretched his win streak to three in his stakes debut, taking the Challenger (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in mid-March.
The improving son of Nyquist exits a 1 1/4-length decision in the April 23 Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland, his first attempt at nine furlongs, and Scalding has netted century-topping Brisnet Late Pace numbers while utilizing stalking tactics in his last three outings. Javier Castellano retains the assignment.
Other runners of note include Alysheba (G2) third Title Ready and multiple Grade 2 runner-up Proxy.
Shawnee S. – Race 7 (3:50 p.m. ET)
Following a game win in the La Troienne (G1) on the May 6 Kentucky Oaks undercard, Pauline’s Pearl will take some beating in the $200,000 Shawnee S. at 1 1/16 miles. The surging four-year-old filly has won three of her last four starts for Steve Asmussen, and Luis Saez will take the call on the daughter of Tapit.
Pauline’s Pearl will meet five challengers, including Grade 2 winner Army Wife, who will open her four-year-old season; multiple Grade 2 queen Crazy Beautiful; and La Troienne third Ava’s Grace.
Aristides S. – Race 9 (4:55 p.m. ET)
A six-time winner under the Twin Spires, Bango will make a title defense in the $200,000 Aristides S. at six furlongs. He always merits respect over the track, but the five-year-old horse will need to turn things around after recording fourths in his last two stakes appearances at Churchill Downs. However, the most recent outing, the St. Matthews on May 6, came after a lengthy layoff, and Bango is eligible to show more in the second start back for Greg Foley and Tyler Gaffalione.
Bob’s Edge, winner of the Whitmore (G3) at Oaklawn Park two back, is a contender in the eight-horse field. Larry Jones trains the four-year-old gelding, and Bob’s Edge is a two-time winner at Churchill. Adam Beschizza rides.
St. Matthews victor Top Gunner has won two straight for John Ortiz, and Reylu Gutierrez guides the frontrunning gelding. Jalen Journey and Necker Island are also part of the mix.