The second high-weight at 118 pounds is Mark Casse’s Pool Play, who will have the meet’s leading rider, Corey Lanerie, in the irons. In his last start, Pool Play finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), but won the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) one start prior. The seven-year-old son of Silver Deputy has one victory in as many starts at Churchill Downs—an upset win in last year’s Stephen Foster Handicap (G1).
“Pool Play loves Churchill Downs,” Casse said. “It’s coming back a little quick (20 days), but I think he just kind of went around the track in California. Also, this race is hard to pass up when we know he likes it here.”
Three-year-old Take Charge Indy will make his second start after an injury sustained in this year’s Kentucky Derby sidelined him for nearly six months. The Florida Derby (G1) winner finished third in his last start, the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland Oct. 27. Jockey Calvin Borel, who’s on the cusp of his 5,000 victory, will retain the mount.
“He got so much out of (the Fayette),” trainer Pat Byrne said. “I bet he’s five or six lengths better (now). I was so apprehensive going into the Fayette off a six-month layoff, but I could only train him so much. He nearly pulled it off.”
Take Charge Indy is one of a trio that will carry 117 pounds. The others being Super Derby (G2) winner Bourbon Courage and Hawthorne Gold Cup second-place finisher Cease.
Rounding out the field is Eye of the Leopard, Fast Falcon, Stealcase, and Mission Impazible.
The 1 1/8 mile race on the dirt for three-year-olds and up is the 11th race on Friday’s 12-race card, with a scheduled post time of 5:35 p.m. As Friday’s sunset is forecast to occur at 5:25 p.m., the race will be run under lights. The race can be seen on HRTV and TVG.
Photo: Courtesy Churchill Downs