BradesterLOUISVILLE, Ky. – Bradester seized early command and never looked back in posting a 9-1 upset Saturday night in the 35th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at
Churchill Downs.

With Joe Bravo aboard, Bradester repelled a sustained bid by his race-long chaser, Majestic Harbor, before finishing a half-length ahead of late-running Eagle. Majestic Harbor was just another neck back in third, while Effinex, the 3-5 favorite and 122-pound highweight, was a huge disappointment when sixth.

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Bradester is owned by Houston businessman Joe Sutton, who said winning the race was “the most excited I’ve been in sports.”

The 6-year-old Bradester is named for Sutton’s grandson, Brady, who also was on hand for the race.

On a warm evening, and under the lights, Bradester broke sharply from post 2 before gradually opening daylight on Majestic Harbor down the backstretch. At the quarter-pole, Majestic Harbor inched closer, but after Bravo put his mount to a fierce drive, there was no getting past Bradester, who finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.85 over a fast track.

“He’s a pretty fun horse,” said Bravo, in from New Jersey. “He does all the hard work for you.”

Bradester earned an expenses-paid berth into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita, but trainer Eddie Kenneally said he was unsure whether that 1 1/4-mile race will be an eventual goal.

“He’d never won at a mile and an eighth before,” said Kenneally. “We’re going to take this a day at a time and enjoy it.”

Right up until entries were taken Wednesday, Kenneally wasn’t sure Bradester would even run in the Foster.

“We weren’t sure whether to enter or not,” he said, but Sutton “encouraged me to go ahead. The horse had been training so well, and it was right here. It was a great call by Joe.”

Bradester, carrying 116 pounds, returned $20.40 with his ninth win from 23 career starts. A Kentucky-bred son of Lion Heart, Bradester earned $303,800, lifting his career bankroll to $1,056,532. His biggest prior win came in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup last summer.

Neil Howard, trainer of Eagle, said: “These Grade 1 races are just so tough to win. Our horse ran his heart out. I really would’ve liked to win this, but we congratulate the winner.”

Meanwhile, there was no apparent excuse for the New York-bred Effinex, who won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap here last fall.

“I got to where I wanted to be into the first turn on the outside part,” said Gary Stevens, who rode Effinex in place of Mike Smith, who was otherwise occupied with Songbird on Saturday.

“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.”

The $2 exacta (2-7) paid $95.80, the $1 trifecta (2-7-4) returned $175.60, and the 10-cent superfecta (2-7-4-5) was worth $152.36.

The Foster was part of a Single Six sequence that included four other graded stakes and returned $3,622 for a perfect 20-cent ticket. A jackpot carryover of about $602,000 awaits fans for the 10-race Father’s Day card Sunday.