The 139th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I), a race that shares a rich history with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), is the premier event on a roster of nine stakes races with total purses of $1.625 million scheduled to be run during Churchill Downs’ Oct. 27-Nov. 30 Fall Meet.
The Clark, a race for 3-year-olds and up that has attracted some of the most talented older horses in American racing in recent years, will be renewed in 2013 in its traditional day-after-Thanksgiving spot on Friday, Nov. 29. All nine stakes races scheduled for the meet are graded events.
The race named for the family of Churchill Downs founder Meriwether Lewis Clark dates back to 1875 and the first racing meet at a new track known as the Louisville Jockey Club. Like the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, which also debuted at that meet, the Clark Handicap has been run annually without interruption since its first running.
The Fall Meet highlights will include a pair of the popular “Stars of Tomorrow” programs devoted exclusively to races for 2-year-olds. Those special programs, staged for the ninth straight year, are scheduled for opening day on Sunday, Oct. 27, and closing day on Saturday, Nov. 30.
The Clark Handicap will be run as a Grade I event for the fourth consecutive year and for the fifth time in seven years. Notable recent winners include Shackelford, the Preakness (GI) and Metropolitan Mile (GI) winner who ended his racing career in last year’s running; 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, who capped his championship season with a win on grass in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) after closing 2011 with a victory on dirt in the Clark; Blame, whose victory in the 2009 Clark preceded a 2010 campaign that concluded at Churchill Downs with his riveting win over previously unbeaten 2009 Horse of the Year Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and Eclipse Award honors as champion older male; Einstein, the 2008 winner and an Eclipse Award finalist for both top older male and best turf horse; Premium Tap, who rolled to a dominating victory in the 2006 Clark following a third-place performance behind Invasor and Bernardini in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; Saint Liam, who won the Clark in 2004 and went to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and earn Horse of the Year honors in 2005; Surfside, a 3-year-old filly who defeated males in the 2000 Clark on her way to Eclipse Award honors as the best in her division; and 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, who returned the following year to win the Clark and become the first Derby winner to earn the Derby-Clark double since Whirlaway, who won the roses for Calumet Farm in 1941.
The featured events on the Opening Day “Stars of Tomorrow I” program include a pair of new overnight stakes events with purses of $65,000-added: the Street Sense and Rags to Riches, both to be run at one mile on the main track. The Street Sense is an open race for juveniles named in honor of the winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby and 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. The Rags to Riches, a race restricted to 2-year-old fillies, honors the 2007 Kentucky Oaks winner who later defeated Preakness (GI) winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in the Belmont Stakes (GI) and was named the Eclipse Award champion 3-year-old filly. Both Street Sense and Rags to Riches made their racing debuts as 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
The headline events of “Stars of Tomorrow II” are more familiar as the $175,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) and the $175,000-added Golden Rod (GII) for fillies will share the spotlight on Saturday, Nov. 30. The races are stops on the respective Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks point systems that will determine the participants in the 2014 renewals of the Derby, America’s greatest race, and the Oaks, the nation’s top race for 3-year-old fillies.
Other Grade II events on the Fall Meet stakes schedule include the $150,000-added Chilukki, a race for fillies and mares ages three and up at one mile that will have the on-track spotlight on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, Nov. 2; the $175,000-added Mrs. Revere on Saturday, Nov. 16, a 1 1/16-mile turf test that offers 3-year-old fillies one of the their final opportunities to compete in members of their age group; and the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares ages three and up on the main track that is the annual racing centerpiece of the Thanksgiving Day celebration at Churchill Downs on Thursday, Nov. 28.
Grade III events on the Fall Meet schedule include the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap on Saturday, Nov. 9, a race for fillies and mares ages three and up at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course; the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf, a race for 3-year-olds on the grass on Saturday, Nov. 16; and the $100,000-added River City Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up on turf scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23.
The 2013 Churchill Downs Fall Meet stakes scheduled can be viewed here.