Foster Handicap (Grade 1) (BC)- $500.000 Purse
CD- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
June 17, 2017
With the 2017 TC now in the history books, we can turn our attention to the BC a little more. From now until early November, gathering as many BC points as possible will be what everyone sets out to do for their best horses. The Foster Handicap is a race with a ton of meaning, as critical BC Classic points are at stake, and even though three year olds are eligible for the race, there is not a single one entered into this handicap. Nine of the ten horses in this field will carry a weight between 117 and 119 pounds, so amongst them, weight is not as big of a factor as it will be in other races. Then, there’s Rajivs Roadblock, who not only drew the ten post, but will have to carry 122 pounds. That’s quite a roadblock, but that one is plenty talented to overcome those odds! There have been plenty of legendary past winners in the history of the Foster, such as Maruzensky, Ghost Walker, Bbff, and last year’s winner, Hardline. As expected, we have some big names set to duke it out here. Let’s meet the field!
#1- Copper Beast (John Henry, ridden by R Bejarano)- After almost two months off, Copper Beast will be looking to turn his season around, as he has failed to hit the board in three races so far in 2017. That said, there are two fourth place finishes there in two very good races: The Pegasus World Cup and the CT Classic. The speed figures dropped a bit in his last two races, and has not been able to close from behind as impressively as we remember him doing up until the BC Classic last year, where he ran second. I get the feeling that this is a very pivotal race for him to determine where he goes for the rest of the season. Hopefully, he steps up, and in having the rail, there will be no excuses. He doesn’t have to win, but he needs to be in the money here.
#2- Swiss Bank Account (Threshold, ridden by F Pennington)- Like Copper Beast, Swiss Bank Account will have had about two months of rest since last running in the CT Classic in April. He was sixth that race, and so far has two out of the money finishes in his two starts this year. Swiss Bank Account made his largest deposits to the trainer’s bank account back in 2015, when he won the Grade 2 Marathon at KEE, the former BC race that still runs that day. Since then, though, and it’s been a while, there’s not a ton to get excited about. Maybe this race will be that one that can reboot that enthusiasm.
#3- Blue Eight (Blushing Meadows, ridden by J L Ortiz)- This one is not that much different then the two starting to his inside in that he has been off to a slow start this year. In four starts in 2017, he has just one in the money finish, a third place run in an optional claimer. The graded stake attempts have seen him finish towards the back. But there’s hope! Blue Eight was given the snip a few weeks ago, and will race as a gelding for the first time. It’s late in his career for that, potentially, but it is just the second start for Blushing Meadows, and the trainer wants better results!
#4- Bay O Fire (Oval Express Farms, ridden by C J McMahon)- This trainer is never shy about entering longshot horses into races like this, because it has paid off for him in the past and I really respect that. Bay O Fire fits the description of the expected high odds horse, but he has shown the ability to turn out triple digit SRF’s when running on the main track. It’s been a while since that 101 at beautiful Saratoga Race Course, but it’s also been quite some time that he has run on dirt. Several tries on the grass did not go that well, including a dismal outing on soft turn at the Man O War at BEL last month.
#5- Black Mojo (Mb Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- In the middle of December, Mb Stables made a big investment to add Black Mojo to his stable, purchasing him for $660.000 in private sales from Heavens Own. It came after the BEL runner up finished third in the BC Classic, and right away the trainer got a nice payout as Black Mojo finished second in the Pegasus World Cup in January. Since then, the trainer has been patient with just two other starts this year, but neither of those outings ended with him being much of a factor. He was four lengths out in each, and failed to hit the board. Like a few others, he was last seen in the CT Classic, so he comes into this race fresh. It was almost a year ago that he was second in the BEL, let’s see if he can uncork another big one in June again!
#6- Water Mummy (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- It took six horses, but Water Mummy is the first one on this list that has won a race during 2017 so far. Pretty surprising stat for a race of this caliber. What is also surprising, or what will at least take some getting used to, is the fact that the 2016 KYD winner is now part of the Mb Stables army. He was acquired in February, a couple weeks after winning an optional claimer, for $100.000. So far, the results aren’t there and Water Mummy still has not won a stake since the KYD. He’s also been sprinting lately, and returns to races of at least a mile for the first time since running in the BC Dirt Mile.
#7- El Gran Black (Luz International, ridden by P Husbands)- Ran in the Grade 2 Wise Dan last year, a race that will also take part here at CD today. That race started a stretch of eight turd races in a row, but he was only able to win one of them, and none of the stakes in which he attempted. For his last race, the trainer moved him back off the grass and on to the main track at WO for an allowance, and he won the race rather convincingly, after a pair of runner ups in grass allowances. So now the trainer aims high, but can take consolation in that his horse is experienced at this level, despite never being in the money in five graded tries.
#8- Royal Prodigy (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- His fourth place finish in the PIM Special last month earned him just enough money to crack the $1,000.000 plateau for his career, so congratulations on that accomplishment! He’s won two of his last five, as he finished last year by winning the Grade 1 Clark Handicap over the likes of Carneyman. Royal Prodigy has shown great versatility over his career as well, with the ability to win from well off the pace, as well as being on the lead. Royal Prodigy is working well, and it is rare that he has two off the board finishes in a row that were not on off tracks. He is my favorite of the trainer’s three horses in this race.
#9- Rising Light (Nakamura Stables, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- This KYD and PRK runner from last season has quietly put together a pretty nice season this year as only Rajivs Roadblock has earned more money then him during 2017. He has been in the money in all four of his starts this year, including a win and two second places finishes, and we could drag that streak into 2016 as well as it has gone on for six in a row. He has primarily accomplished this in Grade 3 races, including the Excelsior at AQU in August. The win comes in his last start, when he dropped into allowance company for the first time since October 2015. It was likely a confidence builder more then anything else, and he gets a tough assignment here, but also one that he can handle.
#10- Rajivs Roadblock (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- Everything seems to be stacked up against Rajivs Roadblock in this race. He is the highweight, and considerably so, as he will carry 122 pounds while everyone else carries between 117-119. Weight plays an enormous factor in this game, as we all know. He also has to deal with the outside post, and they can also be tough to overcome. The good news is that this is one heck of a racehorse who is on great form right now. 2017 has gone great, with three wins in four starts, including back to back wins in his last two: the Grade 3 Ali and the Grade 2 Eclipse. He was also able to win the SSM Classic earlier this year with a thrilling stretch run, passing everyone on the outside. Champions can overcome obstacles, and if anyone can overcome this roadblock, it’s the horse named after one.