News and STORIES

Foster Has Primetime-Worthy Field, Max is Back

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Friday June 14, 2019

Foster Has Strong Field Despite Downgrade
Considered one of America’s best races for older horses, Stephen Foster has a list of winners including Breeder’s Cup Classic victors Blame, Curlin and Fort Larned. Since 1982, the race, named in honor of the songwriter bearing its name, has been part of the calendar of America’s elite runners. Over the winter, the race lost its Grade I status and became a Grade II affair. It still features some of the best horses in training and will entertain fans Saturday night during NBCSN’s live telecast from Churchill Downs.

Gift Box, Tenfold, Yoshida, Seeking the Soul, Quip, and Tom’s d’Etat form a core of favorites in a 12-horse field that would be the envy of many a Grade 1 race on this continent. Run as a handicap since its 1982 inaugural, the Foster will be run for the first time under allowance conditions, with weights ranging from 125 pounds (Gift Box) to 123 (Quip) to 121 for all the rest.

Gift Box, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap in March in a ferocious duel with the highly regarded McKinzie, arrived here Tuesday in good stead from his Southern California base. The 6-year-old horse is owned by Hronis Racing, trained by John Sadler, and will break from post 6 with Joel Rosario aboard. That’s the same trio who teamed to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic here last fall with Accelerate.

“You don’t want to get ahead of yourself, but yes, the Win and You’re In was a good reason for flying him back east,” Sadler told “The horse is very sharp, training very well.”

Tenfold, winner of the May 17 Pimlico Special last out in what trainer Steve Asmussen described as “a breakthrough performance,” will have Ricardo Santana Jr. back aboard when they leave from post 7.

“We always believed he had the talent to compete at this level,” Asmussen, whose two Foster winners, Curlin (2008) and Gun Runner (2017), both earned Horse of the Year honors in those years, told

Maximum Security to Make a Return
Jason Servis is based at Monmouth Park and has a long history with the MP racing office despite its revolving door of Racing Secretaries. To that end, the veteran conditioner has decided to enter his prized pupil Maximum Security in the Pegasus, a $150,000 ungraded stakes on the dirt going 1 1/8 Sunday. The spot is a tuneup for the Haskell and possibly the Travers, two races that Servis’ horse will likely face stiff competition and will definitely run for purses exceeding $1M.

Servis considered training Maximum Security — first across the wire last time in the Kentucky Derby, but disqualified to 17th due to interference — straight up to the Haskell. Earlier this week, the trainer also ordered bloodwork, as he wondered whether the Gary and Mary West homebred had returned to his Derby levels.

“He’s fit,” Servis told after receiving the results. “It’s just that I am looking at three races in (69) days – the Pegasus, the Haskell, and then you have the Travers. The spacing is good. From the Kentucky Derby to (the Pegasus) is six weeks. Then you get 34 days (until the Haskell), and then you get 35 days (until the Travers). You put it all together, and it’s three races in (69) days. That’s a lot.”

Maximum Security landed Post 2 in a Pegasus field of six. Servis also has winner Direct Order in, while the primary competition figures to come from the Todd Pletcher barn. Last Judgment joins King for a Day, winner of the Sir Barton on Preakness Stakes day.

Since the first Saturday in May, Servis has breezed his star sophomore twice, with Servis saying along the way that “he’s 5-for-5 in my eyes.”