FLAT OUT, RULER ON ICE, DEFENDING CHAMP GIANT OAK, WISE DAN HEAD TALENTED NOMINEES TO 137TH CLARK ‘CAP – Preston Stable’s Flat Out, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade I), George and Lori Hall’s Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Ruler On Ice, the Virginia Tarra Trust’s defending champion Giant Oak and Morton Fink’s Fayette (GII) winner Wise Dan head strong roster of 25 accomplished older horses nominated to run in the $137th running of Churchill Downs’ $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Friday, Nov. 25.
The history of the 1 1/8-mile Clark, named for the family of Churchill Downs founder Meriwether Lewis Clark, dates to the historic track’s first year of operation as the Louisville Jockey Club in 1875. Like the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands (GI) and the Kentucky Oaks, the Clark has been run annually without interruption since that first racing meet.
Along with the Clark, nomination lists were released Friday for the other three stakes races on the Thanksgiving/Closing Weekend schedule. Those races are the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII) for older fillies and mares on Thanksgiving Day and the pair of Grade II stakes events for 2-year-olds set for “Stars of Tomorrow II” on Saturday, Nov. 26: the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club and its counterpart for fillies, the $150,000-added Golden Rod.
The 21-day Fall Meet at Churchill Downs will close on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Flat Out (sixth) and Ruler On Ice (third) join Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Headache and Robert LaPenta’s Ice Box as Clark nominees that competed in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) won by WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer. Prior to his Breeders’ Cup run, Headache won the Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII) and Prairie Meadows Cornhusker (GIII) for trainer Mike Maker. Ice Box was the runner-up to Super Saver in the 2010 Kentucky Derby and won the 2010 Florida Derby (GI) for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.
Zayat Stables LLC’s Prayer for Relief, who was entered in the Classic by trainer Bob Baffert but scratched the following day, was also made eligible for the Clark The 3-year-old son of Jump Start enjoyed a successful summer with wins in the Super Derby (GII), West Virginia Derby (GII) and Iowa Derby (GIII).
The Clark nominees also include the top four finishers in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon (GII) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. Kasey K Racing Stable’s Afleet Again, the upset winner; Preston Stables’ Birdrun, the Marathon runner-up and winner of the Brooklyn (GII); third-place Giant Oak, the defending Clark champ and winner of the Donn (GI) at Gulfstream Park; and the Ramseys’ Pleasant Prince, fourth in the Marathon after setting the pace for trainer Wesley Ward, could meet again in the Clark.
Trainer Charlie Lopresti’s versatile Wise Dan would enter the Clark off an impressive four-length romp over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack in the Fayette, a race that has been a key prep for the Clark in recent years. Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame took both races as a 3-year-old in 2009 and returned to Churchill Downs in 2010 to defeat previously unbeaten Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and earn an Eclipse Award as America’s top older horse. Last year’s Fayette winner was Successful Dan, a stablemate of Wise Dan who finished first in the Clark for Fink and Lopresti, but was disqualified for interference in the stretch and Giant Oak was elevated to victory in the stewards’ decision.
Other notables among the 25 3-year-olds and up nominated to the Clark Handicap include the Tom McCarthy-owned and trained General Quarters, winner of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs and Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass (GI) on Polytrack; Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Mucho Macho Man, third to Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and an easy winner in a return to competition in a recent allowance race at Aqueduct; Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible, a close runner-up to Pool Play in the 2011 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) at Churchill Downs; Thomas and Jack Conway’s Stately Victor, winner of the 2010 Toyota Blue Grass and fifth to St. Nicholas Abbey in the recent Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI); Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Tapizar, the 3-year-old winner of the Robert B Lewis (GII) at Santa Anita and fifth to Caleb’s Posse in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI); and the Dodson Skaggs-owned and trained Future Prospect, winner of the Kentucky Cup Classic (GII) on Polytrack at Turfway Park.
Other possible Clark contenders include Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras and Bourque Goldstein Thoroughbreds’ Alma D’Oro, the 1-2 finishers in this year’s Grade III Ack Ack at Churchill Downs; Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation, winner of the 2009 Ack Ack who has competed in the last two renewals of the Clark; Pattons Creek Farm’s Will’s Wildcat, winner of the Jimmy V here on Nov. 4; and WinStar Farm’s Rule, third to Havre de Grace and Flat Out in the Woodward (GI) at Saratoga.
The fillies and mares nominated for the 96th running of the 1 1/8 Falls City Handicap are headed by Dundalk 5 LLC’s defending champion Dundalk Dust; Mrs. Yoshio Fujita’s versatile Ravi’s Song, winner of Fair Grounds’ New Orleans Ladies and Pelleteri Handicap and runner-up in three consecutive graded stakes races on turf; and the improving 3-year-old Juanita, winner of the Indiana Oaks (GII) for trainer Mike Maker.
Other Falls City nominees include the Bill Mott-trained Arena Elvira, winner of the Turnback the Alarm (GIII) at Aqueduct; Super Espresso, seventh to Royal Delta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (GI); and Kentucky Cup Distaff (GIII) runner-up Bella Medaglia, who was scratched from the Ladies Classic.
Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing’s Hansen, the winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) who provided Churchill Downs-based trainer Mike Maker with his first Breeders’ Cup victory, tops a group of 28 2-year-olds nominated to the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club.
Other nominees include Lantern Hill Farm’s Motor City, winner of the opening day Iroquois (GIII) at Churchill Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes; Bluegrass Hall LLC’s Optimizer, eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but a closing third prior to that for trainer D. Wayne Lukas in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland; Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Sabercat, winner of the Garden State at Monmouth for trainer Steve Asmussen and a late scratch from the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; and My Meadowview Farm’s Stephanoatsee, a half-brother to Preakness (GI) winner Shackleford who won a recent maiden race at Laurel Park for trainer Graham Motion.
Anita McCauley’s homebred On Fire Baby, a late-running winner on the Fall Meet’s opening over a strong field in the $150,000-added Pocahontas (GII) at a mile, heads 24 2-year-old fillies nominated to the 68th running of the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod.
The daughter of Smoke Glacken has won 2-of-3 races for veteran trainer Gary Hartlage and jockey Joe Johnson.
Others 2-year-old fillies made eligible for the Golden Rod include Stonestreet Stable’s Glinda the Good, third in the Iroquois for trainer Steve Asmussen; John C. Oxley’s Spirited Miss, a narrowly beaten favorite for trainer Mark Casse in the Mazarine (GIII) on Polytrack at Woodbine; Glen Hill Farm’s Customer Base, 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GII) won by Stephanie’s Kitten; Alex Campbell Jr.’s Karlovy Vary, a winner at Keeneland for trainer Rusty Arnold who failed to draw in from the list of also-eligibles for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; and Debby Oxley’s Sweet Seventeen, an unbeaten daughter of Hard Spun trained by Graham Motion.
ATTFIELD SHIPS IN SMART STING FOR MRS. REVERE BID – Smart Sting, who dominated the field in the Selene (Grade III) at Woodbine in her most recent start, has shipped into Louisville for a bid in Saturday’s 21st running of the $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) for trainer Roger Attfield.
Stronach Stable’s Smart Sting, who will break from post six under John Velazquez, beat a competitive field in the Selene, including Inglorious, who beat the boys in the $1 million Queen’s Plate.
"She’s doing very well and ran a great race last time,” Attfield said. “She’s developing into the kind of filly we always thought she would be.”
The Mrs. Revere, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs, will be the second start on the grass beneath the Twin Spires for the 3-year-old daughter of Smart Strike. Smart Sting ran third to Diva Ash as the 2-1 favorite in the Edgewood on the Kentucky Oaks Day undercard.
“She’s a different horse now then she was that day,” Attfield said. “She has continued to develop and improve.”
Attfield chose the Mrs. Revere as the next spot for Smart Sting for the same reason as many of the other trainers in the field: to keep her against her age group.
“This race made a lot of sense and we get to give her one more shot against 3-year-olds,” Attfield said. “She’s improving and I think she’ll be even better at ages four and five.”
While Smart Sting does avoid older fillies and mares in the Mrs. Revere, the race is anything but an easy spot. The field includes graded stakes winners Hungry Island, Bizzy Caroline, Groupie Doll, New Normal and Marketing Mix and stakes winners Trac N Jam, Tourmaline and Louvakhova.
“It looks like a very tough race, but that’s what good races are supposed to look like, right?” Attfield said.
The Mrs. Revere will be the ninth race on Saturday’s 10-race card. Post time for the first race is 12:40 p.m. (all times EST) with the Mrs. Revere scheduled for 4:37 p.m.
GUAM TYPHOON RETURNS TO HIS FAVORITE TRACK SATURDAY – Guam Typhoon, a four-time winner beneath the Twin Spires, will return to the Louisville track in a very tough allowance/optional claiming race Saturday that includes graded-stakes winner Riley Tucker.
“He (Guam Typhoon)’s got some back class to him and can really run,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “He beat (Champion Older Horse) Blame here (Churchill Downs) as a 3-year-old and (Grade I winner) Here Comes Ben when he broke his maiden.” SIGI Racing’s Guam Typhoon, who will break from post two under leading-rider Julien Leparoux, will enter Saturday’s third race off a ¾-length victory in an allowance/optional claiming race at Hoosier Park in September. It was the first race for the 5-year-old gelded son of Distorted Humor since February.
“He just needed some time to get over a few minor issues, but it was nothing serious,” Wilkes said. “He came back and ran really well at Hoosier and I was going to run him back in another race there, but the track came up sloppy and I scratched him. He doesn’t want to run on Polytrack, so we didn’t bring him to Keeneland.”
Guam Typhoon’s main rival could be Zayat Stables LLC’s Riley Tucker, a six-time winner with earnings of $588,094. Riley Tucker’s biggest victory came in the Aristides (GIII) at Churchill Downs in 2010. The 6-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday will break from post three under Corey Nakatani.
“It’s not an easy spot for him, but we’ll see how it goes,” Wilkes said. “He likes this track and I think he’ll run well. We’ll see where he takes us.”
Another stakes winner in the field is Thomas Galvin’s Su Casa G Casa, who has not raced since winning the Premier Night Prince at Delta Downs in February. The 3-year-old Louisiana-bred son of During has a record of 4-3-0 from seven career starts with earnings of $270,800. He will be ridden by Miguel Mena and break from post four.
Post time for Saturday’s third race is 1:37 p.m.
BARN TALK – Rosemary Homeister Jr., the second all-time leading female rider in North America with 2,438 victories, recorded her first win since Feb. 6 in Thursday’s second race at Churchill Downs aboard Eden Star. Homeister Jr., who gave birth to a daughter on Aug. 21, has ridden 17 winners in her career at the Louisville track. …
Happy 59th birthday to trainer Jimmy Baker, who got an early birthday present last Friday when Will’s Wildcat won the Jimmy V. “Don’t Give Up…Don’t Ever Give Up!” on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard. It was the fourth stakes win at Churchill Downs for Baker, whose biggest victory beneath the Twin Spires came in the Churchill Downs (Grade II) with Elite Squadron in 2008.
WORKTAB – Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike, winner of three Grade III races at Gulfstream Park this year, breezed three furlongs over the fast main track at Churchill Downs in :38.80 for trainer Dale Romans. The 4-year-old gelded son of Spanish Steps has not raced since winning the Emirates Airline Appleton Stakes (GIII) on April 3. …
Beat the Blues, a 4-year-old stakes-winning daughter of Great Pyramid-IRE, breezed four furlongs on the main track in :49.40 for trainer Bret Calhoun. The work was the seventh fastest of 46 at the distance.