Seeking the Soul Earns Classic Berth in Foster

Seeking the Soul

Seeking the Soul stamped his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) by winning the Stephen Foster (G1) at Churchill Downs on Sunday night. (Photo credit: Breeders’ Cup Ltd.)

Charles Fipke’s 6-year-old homebred Seeking the Soul overtook pacesetters Quip and Tom’s d’Etat in the final hundred yards to win the $600,000, 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs by a neck under jockey John Velazquez, and earned an automatic berth into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held on Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the $150,000 entry fee for Seeking the Soul to start in the 1 ¼ mile Classic. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America, and a $10,000 travel allowance for all domestic horses based outside of California to compete in the World Championships.

Seeking the Soul joins Shegeio Takeda’s 5-year-old Inti (JPN), winner of the February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse on Feb. 17 as the first two horses to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year.

Seeking the Soul, a bay son of Perfect Soul (IRE) out of Seeking the Title by Seeking the Gold, is trained by Dallas Stewart.

“We will definitely be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year,” Stewart said. “This horse is so special to our entire barn. We have to thank Mr. Fipke for allowing us to train him. With family and friends here tonight, this is as good as it gets – we’re in the Classic.”

“Tom’s d’Etat set the pace in the Foster and led the field of 12 older horses through quarter-mile fractions of :24.60, :49.43 and 1:13.44 with Quip matching strides about a half-length back to his outside. Meanwhile, Seeking the Soul had a perfect tracking trip in sixth down the backstretch.

As the horses reached the top of the stretch, Quip drew even with Tom’s d’Etat and took over with three-sixteenths to run. Seeking the Soul moved into third and was full of run in the clear from the outside as he powered down the stretch to engage the leaders. He collared the front-runners with a sixteenth of a mile to run and edged clear for the win.

Seeking the Soul Wins Foster

“As soon as I broke out there and got into the first turn, he was a little more aggressive than I want him to be,” Velazquez said. “He’s never been that close in the first part of the race. But I got him back to where I wanted him to be, got comfortable where he was, and then down the stretch, pulling out, he had it.”

Seeking the Soul covered the 1 1 /8 miles in 1:49.27 over a fast track.

Seeking the Soul rewarded his backers with mutuels of $11.20, $6.20 and $4.20 as the 9-2 third betting choice. Quip, with Florent Geroux aboard, returned $12.20 and $8.20, also at 9-2. Tom’s d’Etat, another 1 ¾ lengths back in third under Shaun Bridgmohan, paid $4.80 to show.

Santa Anita Handicap (GI) winner Gift Box, who invaded from Southern California as the 2-1 favorite, was another 5 ¾ lengths back in fourth and was followed by Thirstforlife, Yoshida (JPN), Exulting, Runaway Ghist, Tenfold, King Zachary, Alkhaatam and Rated R Superstar.

This was the third graded stakes win for Seeking the Soul, who won the 2017 Clark Handicap (GI) and last year’s Ack (GIII) at Churchill Downs. After winning the Ack, Seeking the Soul finished second to City of Light in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) and Pegasus World Cup Invitational (GI). Following an eighth-place finish in the Dubai World Cup (GI), he returned to the states for the Alysheba (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day and finished third behind McKinzie and Tom’s d’Etat.

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