Red-hot Eric Foster wins William Walker with 29-1 Joe Shiesty


Churchill Downs stakes recap by the publicity department (Coady Media photo of Joe Shiesty winning the William Walker)

LOUISVILLE, KY (Wednesday, May 1, 2024) – Foster Family RacingLonnie ReynoldsVicki Mills and Donald Coomes’ Joe Shiesty took the lead out of the gate and never was headed in posting a 2 ¼-length victory in the ninth running of the $291,000 William Walker for 3-year-olds on Champions Day at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Eric Foster and ridden by Abel Cedillo, Joe Shiesty completed the 5 ½ furlongs on a firm turf course in 1:02.90.

Joe Shiesty shot to the front and led the field through an opening quarter-mile of :22.05 with Silent Heart in closest pursuit. At the top of the stretch, Joe Shiesty hit another gear, opened up and was not threatened in the run to the wire.

No Nay Mets (IRE) rallied for second but was disqualified to fourth for interference in the stretch against favored Mansa Musa (IRE).

Joe Shiesty rewarded his backers with payoffs of $61.06, $19.98 and $10.08. Silent Heart, ridden by John Velazquez, returned $10 and $6.06 and finished a neck in front of Mansa Musa, who paid $3.62 to show underJunior Alvarado.

Completing the field in order were No Nay Mets, Sketch (IRE), Bear RiverAspeniteDebt PaidRefuelDouble Your MoneyThis Is Uscar and Runnin’ Rocket.

NEXT ROMPS BY 11 ¼ LENGTHS IN ISAAC MURPHY MARATHON OVERNIGHT STAKES – Michael Foster’s Next returned to the races in style by romping to an 11 1/4-length victory in the sixth running of the $200,000 Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes for 4-year-olds and up.

Trained by Doug Cowans and ridden by Luan Machado, Next completed the mile and a half on a fast track in a stakes-record time of 2:27.93 in his first start since winning the Greenwood Cup (GIII) at Parx by 25 lengths in September.

Classic Causeway raced off to an unopposed lead through fractions of :24.64, :48.71, 1:13.45 and 1:38.22 with Next chasing in second. Approaching the far turn, Next began to close in and then swept past at the three-eighths pole and the race was over.

With the victory, the fourth in a row for Next, he became a millionaire. The winner’s share of $120,189 increased his earnings to $1,035,861 with a record of 20-10-0-1.

Favored in the field of eight, Next returned $3.94, $3.44 and $2.32. Dai Vernon, ridden by Luis Saez, returned $9.58 and $5.74 and finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of Masqueparade, who paid $3.76 to show under Cristian Torres.

It was another 5 ¾ lengths back to Red Run with Classic Causeway, Master GameO P Firecracker andDonegal Forever following in order.


Abel Cedillo (jockey, Joe Shiesty, winner) – “I just let him go do his own thing and he made the lead easily. I looked back at the top of the stretch and didn’t even need to use stick. He was traveling beautifully.”

Eric Foster (trainer, Joe Shiesty, winner) – “I love this horse. He’s a brute and a half. I was a little bit concerned about putting him on the grass the first time; but I’m not concerned now. I’ve got a bunch of old friends and clients involved in this horse. He’s really fast, so I think the sky’s the limit for him next.”

John Velazquez (jockey, Silent Heart, placed second) – “The horse ran a good race. That was one fast race. It was very hot, very dry, and they kept running. Nothing was stopping the winner.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. (jockey, No Nay Mets (IRE), placed fourth) – “I saw the replay, I didn’t think that horse (1, Mansa Musa) was there. When I hit him with the stick left-handed, my horse started to drift a little, but I tried to correct it right away and stay in my path. I asked my horse to keep going straight to the wire, and he did.”


Luan Machado (jockey, Next, winner) – “Up the backside, I saw Brian (Hernandez Jr.) open up but I was getting closer without even asking my horse. On the far turn, I was just galloping up beside him and I could tell I still had a ton of horse. I was just a passenger from there on.”

Doug Cowans (trainer, Next, winner) – “Last year when we went in this race, I had a little issue with him beforehand, so I trained him light. This time I had him nice and tight and we were ready to go. He’s amazing. He gets in that rhythm and he’s double tough to beat. Today he probably ran the best he ever has. He’ll go next in the Suburban (June 8 at Saratoga).”

Luis Saez (jockey, Dai Vernon, second) – “That horse kept going. I went after him for as long as I could. He was much the best today. That horse can run all day. Next is a nice horse.”

Cristian Torres (jockey, Masqueparade, third) – “He ran a nice race, and we’re happy with it. He was stepping up today in class, and he showed that he really likes the distance. It’s just the second time he’s gone a mile and a half. The first time, the weather was perfect, but today it was a little hot and humid. But he handled it pretty well, he did everything I asked.”

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.