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Kingsbarns reaches the pinnacle with G1 Stephen Foster triumph

June 30, 2024

Kingsbarns powers to victory in the $1,000,000 Stephen Foster (G1), earning a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic | Nicole Finch photo

Spendthrift Farm’s Kingsbarns earned his first Grade 1 victory and became racing’s newest millionaire and vaulted to the top of the older horse division with a convincing win in Saturday’s $1 million Stephen Foster S. (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Winner of last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2) and this year’s Ben Ali S. (G3) at Keeneland, Kingsbarns is now a three-time graded stakes winner of $1,559,060.

As part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In series, the Stephen Foster win assured Kingsbarns a starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in November.

Kingsbarns, under Luis Saez, came away in good order and settled in mid-pack as the field rounded the first turn. First Mission, the odds-on favorite, controlled the pace for six furlongs, which went in 1:11.86. Kingsbarns made a bold, sweeping move for the lead while three-wide on the turn, swooping past First Mission and Skippylongstocking – the two race favorites that had both entered Saturday off of back-to-back impressive graded stakes wins, respectively.

As the field turned in for the stretch run, Kingsbarns had taken firm command and pulled away powerfully down the lane, hitting the wire all alone by 2 ½ lengths. The final time of 1:48.09 for the 1 1/8 miles was less than a second off the track record, earning the 4-year-old son of Uncle Mo a career-high 4 Ragozin – the fastest number recorded around two turns in 2024.

“We’re extremely proud of this horse’s effort and for the entire team behind him,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “Obviously, winning a Grade 1 is a tremendous accomplishment. I think we’ve seen this year he’s been able to settle better than when he was a 3-year-old, and show that new dimension. He sat a perfect trip today and really kicked well when turning for home.”

Kingsbarns now sports a record of 6-2-0 in nine stars. He has ascended to No. 4 on the latest NTRA’s top Thoroughbreds poll.

“We’re all thrilled for winning a Grade I with this horse,” added Spendthrift’s Ned Toffey. “At Spendthrift Farm, we are in the stallion-making business, and winning a Grade I obviously means we have to get a stall ready for him in the stud barn when he finishes his racing career.”