Bradester just holds off Eagle, Majestic Harbor to wire Stephen Foster

Profile Picture: Jen Caldwell

Jen Caldwell

June 19th, 2016

Joseph W. Sutton’s Bradester took command of Saturday night’s $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs and had just enough left to hold off the combined rallies of Eagle and Majestic Harbor to score under jockey Joe Bravo.

The six-year-old son of Lion Heart was sent to post the 9-1 fifth choice in the seven-horse field despite wiring his last race, the Majestic Light Stakes, by 2 1/4 lengths at Monmouth Park.

Bradester employed the same tactics under the lights at Churchill, immediately heading to the front when the gates opened and setting splits of :23.64, :47.58 and 1:11.69. Majestic Harbor was keeping in close attendance, settled just off the leader’s flank all the way down the backstretch, while Eagle took up a spot in the rear of the field.

Bradester still held control of the race rounding the turn but Majestic Harbor was keeping pace to his outside. Eagle hit his best stride entering the lane and quickly closed to challenge as well.

It all proved for naught as Bradester dug deep and held off Eagle to score by a half-length with Majestic Harbor another neck back in third. The Eddie Kenneally-trained bay finished 1 1/8 miles over Churchill’s fast main track in 1:48.85 to return $20.40.

El Kabeir, the 23-1 longest shot on the board, filled out the superfecta and was followed under the wire by Are You Kidding Me, 3-5 favorite Effinex and International Star.

Bradester is now 9-6-2 from 23 career starts and has banked $1,056,532 in lifetime earnings. The Kentucky-bred is two-for-two in 2016 after kicking off the year in the Majestic Light Stakes, and also boasts four other stakes wins in the Monmouth Cup Stakes (G2), Mineshaft Handicap (G3), Salvator Mile Stakes (G3) and Ack Ack Handicap (G3) in the past two years. He’s placed in four graded contests, including the Indiana Derby (G3) as a sophomore.

Bred by Doug Branham, Bradester is out of the Grand Slam are Grandestofall and counts as his third dam Grade 2 heroine Zealous Connection, who produced Grade 3-scoring sire Here’s Zealous.

Bradester photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography


Joe Bravo, jockey Bradester, winner: “He’s a pretty fun horse, he does all the hard work for you. He kind of reminds me of his father Lion Heart who I rode in the Haskell. I just kind of rode him like his dad and you saw what he did today.”

Eddie Kenneally, trainer Bradester, winner: “He’s won five or six graded stakes prior to today, but to win a Grade 1 with him is phenomenal. Now he has established himself. He is a beautiful horse so now he’s got credentials to be a stallion hopefully at some point in his career here in Kentucky and I think he’s earned that right. He’s been a durable and hard-knocking horse and it’s great to finally win a Grade 1. He was coming into the race great so we decided to take a shot.

“For a six-year-old he’s relatively light and has been lightly raced and he’s a horse that runs well fresh so we gave him the winter off after the Breeders’ Cup. He came back with a huge run at Monmouth a month ago.

“This race came up with a shorter field than in past years, so we figured it was a good opportunity for him to take a shot at some Grade 1 horses. Looking at the form he is the true speed of the race. We didn’t know if he was going to be pressed through the first part of the race too hard and maybe just get the air knocked out of him, but I felt like if he could dictate the pace all alone on the front end that he could run them into the ground. (Jockey) Joe (Bravo) rode him with so much confidence and we are just so delighted for the whole team. We have a great crew and we couldn’t have done any of this without them.”

Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey Eagle, second: “He ran hard. I wish we’d have got there. We were just a little late. I mean, coming from that far back, he ran a big race. He did all we can ask for. We just weren’t lucky enough to get the bob today.”

Neil Howard, trainer Eagle, second: “He ran great. I knew we’d be back there, but he looked comfortable. He ran good. You know these Grade 1s are hard to win. We were pleased.”

Corey Lanerie, jockey Majestic Harbor, third: “Beautiful trip, sitting right behind him. My horse ran his race. Just wasn’t good enough to be ’em today. But no excuse. We just didn’t get it done. He ran a beautiful race. He tries his butt off. He’s so fun to ride. He breaks sharp. He’s the kind of horse every rider wants to ride because you don’t really have to overcome much trouble. He puts you in a good spot and does his thing.”

Paul McGee, trainer Majestic Harbor, third: “He dug in and ran hard.”

Gary Stevens, jockey 3-5 favorite Effinex, sixth: “He didn’t get away real clean, but I got to where I wanted to be into the first turn on the outside part, three wide and the two horses I thought would be in front of me were. But I was done early. I hate to say it. I wasn’t traveling like a winner at any point during the race. I was just hoping things would change. A lot of times with these good horses you can’t really tell what you got. We got into the turn and I was empty…I was done early.”