Reigning 3-year-old champion Will Take Charge looms as the starting high weight in Saturday’s 33rd running of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap presented by Abu Dhabi (Grade I) after being assigned a 123-pound impost for the race by Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Willis D. Horton and Three Chimneys Farm LLC’s 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song, who finished eighth in last year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and defeated Game On Dude last November in the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI), was assigned one pound fewer than Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice for the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up. Palace Malice won Saturday’s Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park and will not compete in the Foster.
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Will Take Charge will concede at least five pounds to his rivals in the Stephen Foster Handicap, which is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division race. The winner of the Foster will earn an automatic starting berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) in November at Santa Anita, along with payment of entry fees and a travel stipend of $10,000 for the journey to the Arcadia, Cal. track.
Other expected contenders in the Foster (with assigned weight) include Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing (118), winner of the 2013 Super Derby (GII), West Virginia Derby (GII) and Illinois Derby (GIII); Randy Patterson’s Alysheba (GII) winner Moonshine Mullin (118); WinStar Farm LLC’s Revolutionary (118), third in the 2013 Kentucky Derby and winner of the recent Pimlico Special (GIII) for trainer Todd Pletcher; Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket (117), runner-up to Fort Larned in the 2013 Foster; Zayat Stables’ Pimlico Special runner-up Prayer for Relief (117); Darley Stable’s Long River (115), runner-up in the Excelsior (III) for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin; GoldMark Farm LLC and Whisper Hill Farm LLC’s Mylute (115), fifth in the 2013 Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness (GI) for trainer Tom Amoss.
Possible Stephen Foster starters include Bellarmine (115) and Carve (114).
Revolutionary arrived at Churchill Downs Sunday on a flight from New York that also carried Belmont Stakes (GI) participants Medal Count, who finished third to the victorious Tonalist; Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, who ran ninth; and General a Rod, who finished seventh.
Prayer for Relief completed his serious preparation for the Stephen Foster on Saturday with a “bullet” five-furlong breeze for trainer Dale Romans in 1:00 – the fastest of 32 moves at the distance. The son of Jump Start has won eight of 29 races and earned $1,682,413 in his racing career.