Churchill Downs Release- LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, June 16, 2018) – A team that has earned a pair of Kentucky Derby (Grade I) victories returned to Churchill Downs to win another of the historic track’s major races when Pavel surged to the lead at the top of the stretch and rolled to a 3 ¾-length victory in Saturday night’s 37th running of the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by GE Appliances (GI) before a crowd of 21,053.
The 4-year-old son of Creative Cause scored the most important victory of his 10-race career for owner Reddam Racing LLC, trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez, the team that earned Kentucky Derby victories at Churchill Downs in 2012 with I’ll Have Another and Nyquist in 2016.
“We were very optimistic with him all along and to see him put it together was great,” O’Neill said. “We went through a bit of a funky phase with him and had some traffic troubles in his last couple of races.”
Pavel surged past the pace-setting Uncle Mojo and heavily-favored Backyard Heaven at the top of the stretch, quickly pulled clear and increased his advantage in the run to the finish. The winner returned $15.80, $7.80 and $7.20 as the 6-1 third choice in the field of nine 3-year-olds and up. Honorable Duty edged late-running longshot Matrooh by a head for the runner-up spot under jockeyCorey Lanerie and paid $8 and $7.20. Matrooh, the longest shot in the field at 68-1, returned $26 to show under Santo Sanjur.
Favored Backyard Heaven, the 4-5 favorite following a string of three consecutive victories, faded to finish sixth, 10 ½ lengths behind the winner.