Saturday night's 33rd running of the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs offers the chance for the winning horse to gain a place in the starting field of the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic in November.
Nine older thoroughbreds have been entered in the 1 1/8-mile Foster, part of the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" series, including last year's Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Will Take Charge.
Trained by Hall of Fame member D. Wayne Lukas, Will Take Charge has been installed as the 5-2 second choice in the field only topped by 2-1 favorite and fellow 4-year-old Revolutionary. The favorite will start from the rail with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and another Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will be aboard Will Take Charge in the four-hole.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by WinStar Farm, Revolutionary is coming off a neck victory in the Pimlico Special in Baltimore the day before the Preakness Stakes. The colt opened the season with an allowance win followed by a seventh in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and was runner-up to Will Take Charge in the Oaklawn Handicap.
Revolutionary has posted five wins in 12 career starts for $1,347,600.
Will Take Charge needs a solid effort Saturday after a sixth-place result in the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill on May 2 as the 3-5 favorite. The chestnut colt, owned by Willis Horton and Three Chimneys Farm, opened the year with consecutive seconds in the Donn and Santa Anita Handicaps before winning at Oaklawn Park.
In 19 career starts, the 2013 champion 3-year-old colt has seven wins and five seconds for $3,668,568.
Getting the nod as the 9-2 third pick for the Foster is another 4-year-old, Departing. Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Departing will start from post 6 with Robby Albarado in the saddle.
"We're ready and we're excited," said trainer Al Stall Jr. who won the 2010 Foster and Breeders' Cup Classic with Blame for Departing's owners.
Departing starts for just the second time this year on Saturday, but captured an allowance race at the track on April 30. Last year the gelding posted victories in the Illinois Derby, West Virginia Derby and Super Derby.
Departing brings a career mark of seven wins in 10 starts for $1,438,300.
From the rail out here is the field for the Stephen Foster: Revolutionary, Mike Smith, 2-1; Jaguar Paw, Shaun Bridgmohan, 30-1; Moonshine Mullin, Calvin Borel, 10-1; Will Take Charge, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Mylute, James Graham, 12-1; Departing, Robby Albarado, 9-2; Golden Ticket, Julien Leparoux, 8-1; Long River, Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1 and Prayer for Relief, John Velazquez, 8-1.
Post time for the Foster will be approximately 9:39 p.m. ET.