Stronach Stables’ Einstein (Brz) will carry high weight of 123 pounds and break from the outside post in a field of 14 as he shoots for back-to-back victories in Friday’s 135th running of the $400,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII) at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Helen Pitts-Blasi, Einstein will attempt to become the first back-to-back winner of the Clark since Bob’s Dusty in 1977-78. Only two others have posted consecutive victories in the Clark: Hodge (1915-16) and Bold Favorite (1968-69).
The Clark, run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, will go as the 11th race on Friday’s 12-race card that begins at 11:30 a.m. (all times ET). The race, like the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and the Kentucky Oaks (GI), has been renewed annually without interruption since the first race meet at Churchill Downs, then known as the Louisville Jockey Club, in 1875. Approximate post time for the 2009 Clark Handicap is 4:29 p.m.
Despite his outside post in the large field, Einstein was installed as the 7-2 favorite by Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia.
Einstein, who will be ridden for the first time by Rajiv Maragh, is one of three Grade I stakes winners in the Clark field. Einstein has accumulated four of his five Grade I victories on the grass with the fifth coming over the Pro-Ride surface at Saint Anita where he took the Santa Anita Handicap in March. He was a hard-luck third in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) in his most recent trip over the dirt surface at his home track. Einstein will concede 2-10 pounds to his rivals in the Clark.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again claimed his Grade I over the Chruchill Downs dirt in June at the expense of Einstein in the Stephen Foster. The Dallas Stewart-trained Macho Again, who got seven pounds from Einstein in the Stephen Foster, will carry 121 pounds in their Friday rematch and be ridden by Robby Albarado. Macho Again, the 9-2 second choice on the morning line, will start from post position two.
Mitchell Ranch, Frank Lewkowitz and Joe Rice’s Bullsbay got his Grade I victory at Saratoga this summer in the Whitney in which he defeated Macho Again. Bullsbay, ninth to Furthest Land in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, will tote 119 pounds in the Clark. The Graham Motion-trained son of Tiznow will break from post position nine under Jeremy Rose.
Three Clark entrants come into Friday’s race off Grade II victories: Godolphin Racing’s Etched, Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Blame and Jill Baffert and George Jacobs’ Misremembered.
Etched, who will be ridden by Alan Garcia and carry 120 pounds, won the Meadowlands Cup for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin last out on Oct. 16; Blame, who will be ridden by Jamie Theriot and carry 117 pounds, won the Fayette for trainer Al Stall, Jr. at Keeneland on Oct. 31; and the Bob Baffert-trained Misremembered, who will be ridden by Victor Espinoza and carry 116 pounds, won the Oct. 3 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.
The field for the Clark Handicap, from the rail out, is as follows: You and I Forever (J. Valdivia Jr., 115 pounds, 20-1), Macho Again (R. Albarado, 121, 9-2), Giant Oak (S. Bridgmohan, 115, 20-1), Demarcation (J. Castanon, 116, 20-1), Blame (J. Theriot, 117, 6-1), Anarko (Chi) (L. Goncalves, 113, 50-1), Anak Nakal (J. Bravo, 116, 30-1), Etched (A. Garcia, 120, 6-1), Bullsbay (J. Rose, 119, 6-1), Kiss the Kid (P. Lopez, 118, 15-1), Timber Reserve (K. Desormeaux, 114, 20-1), Misremembered (V. Espinoza, 116, 8-1), Dubious Miss (C. Borel, 116, 10-1) and Einstein (Brz) (R. Maragh, 123, 7-2).
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