Thursday, June 11, 2009

Einstein Seeks History in Stephen Foster

Einstein Seeks History in Stephen Foster
Einstein is the likely favorite for the 2009 Stephen Foster.

Einstein, a leading candidate for 2009 Horse of the Year midway through the season, will try to make history by becoming the first horse to win grade I events on dirt, turf and synthetics in the same year in the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs June 13 .

Lava Man is the only horse to have won grade I races on all three surfaces, but he did it over the course of three seasons. Einstein, trained by Helen Pitts, has already bagged the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on the Pro-Ride surface and the May 2 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) at Churchill this year, and will be looking for the trifecta on a strip where he has already won twice.
Einstein will face seven rivals in the nine-furlong Stephen Foster, an event in which he finished runner-up to eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in 2008. He was assigned top weight of 124 pounds.
Is Curlin the best horse to have won the Stephen Foster? You Make the Call.
Owned by Midnight Cry Stable, Einstein outdueled Cowboy Cal by a head to win the Turf Classic for the second straight year. It was his fourth grade I score on turf and upped his career earnings to more than $2.6 million from 25 starts.
A 7-year-old son of Spend a Buck—Gay Charm, by Ghadeer, Einstein’s biggest win on natural dirt came in last November’s Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill. His only defeat in three tries on the Churchill dirt came in last year’s Stephen Foster when he was beaten 4 1/4 lengths. But the dark bay is vastly improved since then.
“I think the older he’s gotten the more mature he’s gotten, and that has helped him,” Pitts said. “He’s always loved the game, but he might understand it more now. He seems to get better with age.
“It would be very special (to win three grade I races on different surfaces). He’s already proven that he is a special horse but to accomplish that would be terrific. This might not be his best surface, but he sure likes the dirt at Churchill better than anywhere else. He’ll handle anything.”
Bred in Brazil by Fazenda Mondesir, Einstein drew post 3 and will be guided by regular rider Julien Leparoux. He was installed as the 2-1 favorite.
Pitts has said that Einstein may be pointed to the Aug. 8 Arlington Million (gr. IT) for his next race.