Kettle River will attempt to rebound from an eighth-place finish in the Grade III Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 6 when he takes on 11 rivals in Saturday's Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.
Though Kettle River is without a stakes win in four career starts, he was made the lukewarm 4-1 morning-line favorite in the 11⁄16-mile race.
Kettle River, trained by Eoin Harty, broke his maiden over the turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 15 and won his 3-year-old debut over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita on Jan. 6.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Connemara is the only graded stakes winner in the Lexington field after winning the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 20.
With $138,500 in graded stakes earnings, Connemara is the only horse in the Lexington field with enough money to potentially make the 20-horse cut for the Kentucky Derby should he earn the $180,000 winner's share on Saturday.
In addition to Connemara, Pletcher will saddle the improving Exhi, winner of the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway on March 27 in his first try over a synthetic track.
Stakes winner Uptowncharlybrown is the 5-1 second choice on the morning line but will be the sentimental pick after his trainer Alan Seewald died on Monday at the age of 62.
Linda White, the longtime assistant to Seewald, will be the trainer of record for Uptowncharlybrown, who won his first two career starts by a combined 15 lengths.