Fun Times With Stephen Foster

Caption: Stephen Foster - Photo: A. Duckworth

 Everyone said my experience on Stephen Foster day at Churchill Downs would be totally different than my experiences on Derby day. Man, there is no comparison. Besides not working, I could see and experience a lot of things not accessible during the Derby. It was a much different experience, and at the end of the day, I think it may have surpassed my Derby experience. That is saying a lot. The Derby was just phenomenal.

Upon walking into the park it was fitting that a horse I favor, Grace Happens, won her race. The day ahead would turn out to be quite graceful indeed.

I hit all my bets except one on Saturday, plus I saw many of my favorite horses and took some great pictures of them. Not only did I hang out with them in the paddock, but they stinkin' won and/or proved a lot of themselves. Especially Einstein and Pyro.

Caption: Pyro in the Winners Circle - Photo: Adam Spradling

Other good friends were Old Man Buck, Pure Clan, Hystericalady, and the lovely Dreaming of Anna, who all did very well. Brass Hat, Initforthekandy, Pure Clan, Absolutely Cindy, Recapturetheglory, Visionaire, Wicked Style, and Grasshopper were great to see as well. The day was special just being able to experience these athletes race in person.

For my co-worker Marta, I took pictures of first time starters Shoestrap (by Birdstone, out of Boot Strap) and Oconee (by Congaree, out of Chenoa). Pointing Home was in this race, also and I had to take pictures of that horse, because his coloring was beautiful.

As far as betting angles, the betting was off the hook except, I did not do well in my first bet which was on race 5. I had an exacta box, but my two horses finished second and third, not first and second. I entered four horses on that bet, two favorites and two long shots for the money. I lost $12 dollars.

Caption: My Exacta

I started gaining my money back though with a bet on Pyro to win. Though it was not much of a payoff, it was a start. In the Jefferson Cup, I bet Old Man Buck to show. And yep, he showed up in that race and finished third. Then for the Stephen Foster I bet Curlin, Einstein, Red Rock Creek, and Brass Hat in an exacta. I threw in Red Rock Creek for the money and Brass Hat just because I like him. We know what happened in that race =)

So I had won my money back, and in the last race, with Dreaming of Anna, I wasn't going to bet. Then I looked at the odds and pedigree of Kiss With A Twist. Just off the pedigree I decided to bet her to show. Of course, she finished third and I made money.

I don't need to win a lot of money. I am happy breaking even, but that just wrapped up a great day—Icing on the cake if you will. Watching races from the rail is never going to get old and being in the paddock to see such amazing horses as Curlin and Pyro is just inspiring.

Caption: Einstein and Curlin entering the paddock - Photo: A. Duckworth

Stephen Foster:

Einstein placed 2nd on dirt behind Curlin.

Curlin had this race in the bag. A little anxiety existed for me toward the end of the backstretch into the last turn. Once the final turn was finished, you saw Curlin jump into his classic stretch mode and won easily.

The real excitement in this race for me came from Einstein. I explained in my previous post of 'Stephen Foster's Lawn Care', how I LOVE turf racing, and Einstein has proven himself time after time on the turf. This was his third race on dirt, and I wanted him to win or place second to Curlin with all my might.

So during the race it was tense. He kept himself in the game, not allowing the group to pull away from him and running a good pace. When he hit that final turn though, I started feeling real antsy. He was moving up gradually and had a ways to go. Down the stretch he was dueling and battling to finish second. He had third, but that was not the prize. Originally upon crossing the finish line, from my angle on the rail, I thought Einstein didn't make it even though the race was absolutely thrilling. That race and the Northern Dancer both gave me goose bumps.

Upon the instant replay of the final stretch, immediately shown after the finish, you clearly saw that Einstein actually got up at the finish to get second by a nose! I jumped and yelled very loudly and scared a few people, I believe. It was thrilling to say Einstein beat several veterans and finished second, on dirt, to Curlin! It was just a phenomenal finish.

It was telling how hard Einstein fought to run second because he was dirty and sweaty walking over after the race. His front could have been mistaken for a chestnut or light bay with all the dirt stuck to him.

Caption: Pyro (first pass) - Photo: A. Duckworth

Northern Dancer: 

Pyro won the Northern Dancer in good fashion.

Pyro was going to win this race. He was looking relaxed and confident in the paddock, but when does he not? I told everyone I saw that  the distance was 1 1/16, which was Pyro's favored distance, and this race was in the bag, hands down.

Seeing Pyro rush down that final stretch was just beautiful. He had more of a stalking style about him in this race. I am use to seeing him in a closer position, but he played his pace and raced well. He is back and that is what matters! Maybe if he had not been choked off in the Derby he could have been more of a contender. I won't speculate, but now lets see him race in the Breeders' Cup and win!

Caption: Pyro winning the Northern Dancer - Photo: Adam Spradling

I was also able to watch races from the press box when my coworkers and friends did not want to be in the paddock or on the rail to watch the race. The air-conditioning was a welcomed relief. The perspective was new though. High above the track, but not too far away. You could see the entire race clearly, without having to watch the giant TelePrompTers, which was nice. We watched several turf races and a couple of dirt races from up there.

I was able to handicap and bet from the press box, and it was peaceful. They have the newer betting machines, unlike the Auxiliary Press room during Derby day.

Caption: Brass Hat in paddock - Photo: A. Duckworth

What is the  best day at the races you have experienced? I would like to hear about it.

Caption: Outrider picking his teeth and blocking my view - Photo: Adam Spradling

Caption: Pyro after winning the ND - Photo: Adam Spradling

Caption: Einstein in the paddock - Photo: A. Duckworth

Caption: Curlin in the paddock - Photo: A. Duckworth

Caption: Curlin's connections in the winner's circle - Photo: A. Duckworth


Leave a Comment:


Thanks so much for your report,

I loved it.

I hope to be at Colonial Downs on Saturday to see up close some of the horses that I have read about and admire.

Thanks again -

17 Jun 2008 9:32 PM

Wonderful pictures Adam. I laughed out loud at the outrider picture. I love that you are so into racing and so enjoy your day at the track. That's what it's all about. I'm jealous that you get to see these horses up close and personal but thank you Bloodhorse for Adam and of course Jason. You guys rock!

18 Jun 2008 12:21 AM

so far the day our filly Raised On Promises(Minardi) got beat by a head comming from way back @ Laurel Park in a maiden special is our best day...we are Oh for Nine lifetime...tough game...Long Live The King!!!

18 Jun 2008 3:30 AM

Nice report, Adam. Here's a funny connection for you; the outrider picking his teeth in your photo is Greg Blasi - Scott Blasi's brother!

18 Jun 2008 9:47 AM

Bellwether, that would be way thrilling to see a horse I owned or had trained close a race and just miss the win! I bet you were very proud none the less and the must have been just thrilling.

Wanada/Jean: Thank you for your kind words. The outrider thankfully moved soon after that picture, so I saw Pyro leave the gate just fine. And you will have to come back and report on how things went at Colonial Downs! Let  me know who you were able to see.

18 Jun 2008 10:25 AM

Hey Adam! I was at Churchill Saturday too. Curlin is positively amazing, isn't he? He's so muscular in real life. I think my favorite part of the day was Dreaming of Anna though. She is one of the most beautiful, graceful, delicate fillies I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing your memories. I also got goosebumps during Pyro and Curlin's races but I also got some during Anna's incredible grass race. =]

18 Jun 2008 11:56 AM
Julie L.

I watched the Northern Dancer and Stephen Foster on television and was so happy to see Pyro back in form, I believe that he didn't get a decent chance in the Kentucky Derby as he was squeezed right at the start out of the gate and as for my horse Curlin he is just his usual professional self. He showed that the impost of 128 lbs. did not bother him but then in the Jaguar Trophy in Dubai the 132 lb. impost did not bother him either. This is a horse who is on his way to true greatness, Thank God his racing connections kept him in the game, I haven't been this excited about watching a horse run since Alysheba and that was quite awhile ago. Cigar was fun but Alysheba and Curlin are my standouts. Just one person's opinion.

18 Jun 2008 2:05 PM

Adam- the 1973 Kentucky Derby- I was 11 years old, had seats right on the finish line, could stand next to the rail and see Secretariat in all of his glory.  My first KD and first live races.  Nothing has ever compared.  Jen

18 Jun 2008 2:46 PM

I have been to 3 KY Derbys, and all of them rank at the top of my best racing days.  As for betting days, The last time I went to Oaklawn I hit 5 exactas, which was a very, very good thing for me!

18 Jun 2008 6:01 PM

Your welcome Adam.Here's my "best day at the races".My husband and I owned and trained our own and decided to breed one cheap mare we had.Long story short Larry the Longshot won his first life time start as a 3 year old. I was screaming so loud you'd of thought it was the Kentucky Derby.He retired this year with 100,000.00 in earnings and lives a spoiled rotten life with my in-laws on their farm.

19 Jun 2008 1:06 AM
Jason Shandler

Adam: When I first met you nine months ago you were a gambling novice. Now you are knocking off exactas like their going out of style. I need to start taking betting advice from you!! Nice job.

19 Jun 2008 12:30 PM

You're hilarious man.  That was a great report, sounds like you had a heckuva day.  Thanks for all the videos since I couldn't make it.  Next time you head to the track post your picks on here man sounds like you are doing pretty good.  Nice pictures too.  I cracked up at that nasty blockin your view.  

19 Jun 2008 9:16 PM
Joe Camera

Try adjusting the quality of the image you are snapping. Your shooting at too low an image quality. Increase the DPI of the j-pegs snapped - consult the manual to your camera. If you increase the resolution, you decrease the number of images that a card will hold. So, just bring a few cards. When you post the images, 72 dpi is supposedly optional, but 100 loads fast. Your shooting at too low a quality, and posting at 72 dpi exacerbates that and makes your photos look crappy.

20 Jun 2008 8:18 AM

chelz: dreaming of anna is awesome

Julie L.: I am a big Alysheba fan, my co-worker Marta really got me in him and his family tree

Jen: The rail + Secretariat = Amazing and priceless

skipaway: what is your trick with your exacta betting? hitting five is way impressive =)

Wanda: say hi to Larry the Longshot for me, winning your first start is very impressive and I don't blame you for going nuts at his race.

jshandler: I learned a lot from the best out there (cough you)

diggyrun: thank you

Joe Camera: I appreciate your suggestions and input. I will be concious of that next time. I was just happy my friend let me borrow her camera and I have pictures of some beautiful horses =)

20 Jun 2008 8:44 AM

I will do that Adam next time we take a road trip to see the family. You know what's funny he got claimed half way thru his 3 year old year and the owner at the time shipped him and his other horses to Fort Erie in Ontario. Thats clear across Canada for you people without maps. He then shipped down to Finger Lakes(NY) and won and they shipped right back to Alberta! You got to remember he was a bottom claimer and it's not cheap to ship a horse that far even 9 years ago.He had some ankle issues as a 4 and 5 year old and we went and bought him for my in-laws to run on the

"B" tracks here. I never thought I'd see him again and I'm not ashamed to say I cryed when he was claimed.His name is a play on Larry the Legend who won the Santa Anita Derby over Lucas heavy fav. Was it High Yield? Can't remember the horses name.Anyway the racing gods always looked afer Larry and he came home to his family who loves him dearly.Sorry for the ramble Adam but you know I still can remember that high so clearly. Isn't that strange?

20 Jun 2008 11:41 AM
Greg B

I was at both derby and this.  Stephen Foster was good but Derby blows away Stephen Foster in terms of scenary of people and intensity.  Plus it was hot and humid.  Big payouts on derby day.  No money to be made this day.  I hit a $1 super.  Paid $19.  Hit another two exactas but didn't pay much at all.

Derby = 160K people

Stephen Foster = maybe 40K ??

20 Jun 2008 3:48 PM

That is an awesome picture of Curlin.  He is just the perfect equine specimen.

21 Jun 2008 2:27 PM
Glenn B

I too was at Churchill on Stephen Foster Day.  

I read that Curlin was going to be there, soI drove all the the way from Kansas just to see that horse.  We made a little vacation. saw the horse farms, took a river boat ride, and went on a van tour on the backside on Churchill Downs.  My only disappointment was all the elderly men working behind the ticket windows.

23 Jun 2008 12:01 PM

GregB: It was a tough call, but since I was working on site Derby Day, that probably influenced my fun, though both were fun in totally different ways! So I understand where you are coming from. It was a predictable race day betting wise, sorry your super wasnt four digits =)

BlueCollar: I agree 100%, what a great horse.

Gleen B.: What farms did you get to visit? That is awesome that you were willing to travel so far to watch the races. It is good to hear of race fans still willing to go out of their way and experience history =)

23 Jun 2008 12:24 PM
Jed Dog

My favorite Stephen Foster was when Victory Gallop won.  It was amazing.  He flew around the final turn as if the others were standing still. I have seen many races, but never seen a move like it. Jerry Baily rode him and said he has never ridden a horse with that much acceleration. And he has rode some of the best like Cigar. To bad he is breeding Turkey mares now.

24 Jun 2008 11:23 AM
Glenn B

aspradling  We went on Taylor Made Farms, which is home to Northern Afleet and Unbridled Song and about 5 others.  We drove by Calumet ( the Baking Powder Co.) WalMac, and 4 or 5 others.  I spent the IRS refund check.  It was well worth it.  P.S.  I bet the lines were not as long as on Derby Day.

24 Jun 2008 2:16 PM

I am REALLY enjoying your blogs!  Keep it up!!!

07 Jul 2008 9:06 PM

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