Cox Confident in First Mission Ahead of Stephen Foster

June 26, 2024

First Mission winning the Alysheba. (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)

Churchill Downs Press Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Godolphin’s First Mission, the 6-5 morning line favorite for the $1 million Stephen Foster (Grade I) at Churchill Downs, continues to finalize his preparations ahead of Saturday’s marquee race beneath the Twin Spires while trainer, Brad Cox, remains confident in the colt’s bid for his first Grade I victory.

“We’ve had this race on our schedule for a long time now,” Cox said. “The plan has been if he ran well in the Alysheba to run him in the Stephen Foster. He came out of the Alysheba very well and has been training great at Churchill. The Stephen Foster is always a tough race year in and year out. It’s a Grade I, so that’s expected. This year’s field is no different but we like our chances to try and get him his first Grade I win.”

First Mission, a talented 4-year-old son of Street Sense, cruised to a four-length win eight weeks ago in the Alysheba Stakes presented by TwinSpires (GII). Overall, First Mission has won five starts with other graded stakes scores in the Lexington Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland and Essex Handicap (GIII) at Oaklawn Park. First Mission will be ridden in the Stephen Foster by Florent Geroux out of post No. 2.

“Florent has been aboard him his last two starts and has been working him in the mornings,” Cox said. “They get along very well and Florent knows how to ride him.”

Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Stephen Foster is the marquee race of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet following Kentucky Derby Week. The Stephen Foster also is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series and is a “Win and You’re In Classic Division” race. The winner will earn a spot in the starting gate for the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Del Mar with a free automatic entry to the race.

Carded as Race 11 of 12, the Stephen Foster is the highlight of a stakes-filled program at Churchill Downs that also includes the $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Fleur de Lis (GII); $500,000 Wise Dan (GII); $250,000 American Derby (Listed); $250,000 Kelly’s Landing (Listed); and $250,000 Tepin (Listed). First post is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the field for the Stephen Foster will go to post at 6:03 p.m.

Here is the complete field for the Stephen Foster from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):

  • Pyrenees (Brian Hernandez Jr., Cherie DeVaux, 12-1)
  • First Mission (Geroux, Cox, 6-5)
  • Happy American (Corey Lanerie, Neil Pessin, 30-1)
  • Disarm (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen, 6-1)
  • Dreamlike (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher, 10-1)
  • Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux, Kenny McPeek, 30-1)
  • Kingsbarns (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher, 6-1)
  • Steal Sunshine (Paco Lopez, Bobby Dibona, 20-1)
  • Skippylongstocking (Jose Ortiz, Saffie Joseph Jr., 5-2)

Fans can watch and wager on all the action from Churchill Downs on www.twinspires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday is the penultimate day of the 2024 Spring Meet. Fans can purchase tickets on www.churchilldowns.com. Admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m.

In addition to the stellar racing action, the winning connections of this year’s Kentucky Derby (Mystik Dan) and Kentucky Oaks (Thorpedo Anna) will be presented with their engraved trophies during a winner’s circle ceremony between races. Also, the trophies will be on display beforehand for guests to take photos.

@Tracking_Trips I'm quite content with the 1/10 ex $(109) multiple times. Better if he won...ya...but im not get too greedy. Great pick 💰💰💰

Kevin West @KFWest003 View testimonials

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