The prospective field for the 139th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I) now includes another Grade I winner following trainer Kenny McPeek’s decision to run Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket in the Nov. 29 race.
The 4-year-old son of Speightstown joins Game On Dude, winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic, and the 3-year-old Will Take Charge, runner-up to Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and winner of the Travers (GI) and Pennsylvania Derby (GII), among the Grade I winners being pointed to the 1 1/8-mile “Black Friday” race for 3-year-olds and up.
Golden Ticket finished in a dead-heat for first with Alpha in the 2012 Travers at Saratoga and has run very well in Grade I company this year. His best outings of 2013 include a runner-up finish to Goldencents in the recent Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) and a runner-up finished to Fort Larned in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
McPeek had been weighing options for Golden Ticket that included a possible run in the Cigar Mile (GI) at Aqueduct before he settled on staying home at Churchill Downs for a Clark bid.
"A couple of his better speed figures are here at Churchill, plus he doesn’t have to ship,” McPeek said. “That race in New York looked like it was coming up pretty deep with a big field. The Clark looks like it will have a shorter field.”
The 2013 campaign for Golden Ticket has been strong. He has compiled a record of 3-2-1 in eight races with earnings of $442,988. His career slate stands at 5-6-3 in 20 starts with $1,091,323 in lifetime earnings.
Will Take Charge Set for Friday Work – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the final pre-Clark Handicap work for Willis D. Horton’s Will Take Charge has been moved up to Friday because of concerns about a soggy weather forecast for Louisville over the weekend.
Lukas said Will Take Charge is most likely to work in his first set when the track opens at 6 a.m. (all times Eastern), but would not rule out waiting until after the mid-session break for the grooming of the track. The latter option would put the work at around 8:20 or 8:30 a.m.
“He’s really having a good week,” Lukas said. “It’s not one of those works that we’re looking for anything more than just to open his lungs a little bit.”
With the addition of Golden Ticket to the Clark, the roster of known probable starters for the race includes (with trainers): Bourbon Courage (Kellyn Gorder), Easter Gift (Chad Brown), Finnegans Wake (Romans), Game On Dude (Bob Baffert), Golden Ticket (Kenny McPeek), Prayer for Relief (Steve Asmussen) and Will Take Charge (D. Wayne Lukas). Possible: Jaguar Paw (Stephen Lyster).
KENTUCKY OAKS WINNER BELIEVE YOU CAN OUT OF FALLS CITY – Churchill Downs’ 98th running of the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII), the annual centerpiece of the popular Thanksgiving Day racing program, lost some of its pre-race glamour with news that Brereton C. Jones’ Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Oaks (GI), will not run in next week’s race.
Trainer Larry Jones confirmed via text that the homebred daughter of Proud Citizen would not run in the Falls City, but provided no other information.
Believe You Can last competed in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (GI) on May 27 at Belmont Park, where she ran sixth to Tiz Miz Sue. She has a career record of 14-8-0-2 and has earned $1,280,324.
With the defection of Believe You Can from the Falls City, known starters for the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares on Thursday, Nov. 28 (with trainers) include: Don’t Tell Sophia (Philip Sims), Flashy American (Kenny McPeek), Ice Cream Silence (Rusty Arnold), and Magic Hour (Ian Wilkes). Possible: My Option (Chris Block), Street Girl (Eddie Kenneally), Molly Morgan (Dale Romans), Owl Moon (Romans) and Wine Princess (Steve Margolis).
KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB CONTENDER ALMOST FAMOUS WORKS – Trainer Pat Byrne took a look at weather forecasts over the next few days and decided that Thursday was the best shot at good conditions for the final pre-race work for Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Almost Famous, a contender for the 87th running of the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) on Saturday, Nov. 30.
So the 2-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song headed to the fast main track at Churchill Downs just after the morning maintenance break and breezed three furlongs in :36.40 under jockey Corey Lanerie.
“The weather looked like it was going to be a little rough for the weekend and our track was in super shape this morning, so I took advantage of it,” Byrne said. “We had a good morning and we got all we wanted. He’s all set for next Saturday.”
Almost Famous will enter the Kentucky Jockey Club off an impressive six-length victory in a Nov. 9 Churchill Downs allowance race at the Kentucky Jockey Club distance of 1 1/16 miles. All three of his career races have come at Churchill Downs and include a maiden victory in September followed by a disappointing fourth-place run behind Coastline in the $60,000-added Street Sense overnight stakes on Oct. 27.
Also working toward a possible Kentucky Jockey Club bid on Thursday was Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Ichiban Warrior, who breezed a bullet four furlongs in :47.80. The move was the fastest of 26 at the distance.
The Todd Pletcher-trained son of First Samurai was runner-up in the Street Sense in his most recent outing.
Known probable starters for the 87th running of the $175,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds on Saturday, Nov. 30 (Stars of Tomorrow II/Closing Day) (with trainers): Almost Famous (Pat Byrne), Awesome Sky (Mark Casse), Dobra Historia (Bill Mott) and Laddie Boy (Chuck Peery). Possible: Culprit (Romans), Financial Mogul (Rick Violette Jr.), and Ichiban Warrior (Todd Pletcher). Sheikinator (McPeek) is listed as “possible.”
CANARYINACOALMINE ‘LEANING TOWARDS’ GOLDEN ROD AFTER THURSDAY WORK – A sharp Thursday morning work by Hidden Brook Fam’s Canaryinacoalmine has put the 2-year-old daughter of Birdstone in the picture for the 70th running of the $150,000-added Golden Rod (GII), a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday, Nov. 30 (Stars of Tomorrow II/Closing Day).
The Steve Margolis-trained filly, who was a 3 ½-length winner in a six furlong maiden race on the “Stars of Tomorrow I” program on Oct. 27, zipped five furlongs over a fast track in 1:00.80. The move ranked as second-fastest of 15 on the day.
Margolis spoke with Hidden Brook’s Dan Hall after the work, and said the Golden Rod is now a possibility for the filly.
“It going to be a tough race, but she is improving and she’s got a pedigree that says she’ll run long.” Margolis said. “There’s also an allowance the same day and we’ve got a few days to think about it. But right now we’re leaning towards the Golden Rod.”
With the addition of Canaryinacoalmine, known probable starters for the Golden Rod (with trainers) include: Bird Maker (Ian Wilkes), Canaryinacoalmine (Steve Margolis), Madly Truly (Casse), Naïve Enough (Ignacio Correas IV), Playful Love (Wilkes), Stonetastic (Kelly Breen), Streethomealabama (McPeek) and Vexed (Al Stall Jr.). Possible: Daddy’s Memory (Cecil Borel), Room Service (Wayne Catalano) and Spangled Banner (Eoin Harty).
HORSES & HOPE RETURNS SUNDAY – “Horses and Hope,” the initiative created in 2008 by Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear with the Kentucky Cancer Program and the Pink Stable, will return on Sunday (Nov. 24). The mission is to increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky’s horse industry workers and their families. The color of pink will be scattered throughout Churchill Downs that day, including saddle towels for a featured race, jockey arm bands, groom’s vests, outriders, the bugler, flags, bunting and trophies for winning horse owners. To help celebrate, Churchill Downs’ world famous Twin Spires will be bathed in pink light, as well. Also, the 2014 Kentucky Oaks Lily glasses will debut that day.
BARN TALK – Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. missed a third consecutive day of riding on Thursday’s racing program. Rocco was injured in a starting gate mishap prior to the second race on Sunday. Rocco injured his ankle and shoulder when he was tossed from the saddle by his scheduled mount, Desert Dew, who was scratched from that race. That mount was to have been the first of the day for Rocco, who cancelled his mounts for the remainder of the Sunday program … Reserved indoor premium seating at Churchill Downs is going fast for closing weekend. Thanksgiving Day is nearly sold out. Some $37.50 seats with Chef’s Table dining in Skye Terrace 6 and the Winn Show Place Lounge on the second floor clubhouse remain for Friday, Nov. 29. Inventory is still available for Saturday, Nov. 30, which doubles as Stars of Tomorrow II and Closing Day … A reminder: Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager will be held Wednesday, Nov. 27 through Saturday, Nov. 30. The 23 individual wagering interests will be announced Monday (Nov. 25). The pool will open Nov. 27 at noon and close Nov. 30 prior to post time for either the Remsen at Aqueduct or Kentucky Jockey Club, whichever comes first … Sunday’s final Family Fun Day Presented by Kroger of the Fall Meet will feature a petting zoo, pony-pulled sleigh rides and a special appearance by Santa Claus. Kiddos also can decorate holiday ornaments. The activities will take place in the Plaza and Plaza Balcony from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.