BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE 1-2 FINISHERS TOP CLARK NOMINEES – Dakota Phone and Morning Line, who finished a head apart in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI), top a list of 30 nominees to the 136th running of the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI).
The 1 1/8-mile main track test is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 26. Weights for the race will be announced next Friday, Nov. 19.
The roster of Clark nominees also includes three horses that competed in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI): Etched (sixth), First Dude (eighth) and Pleasant Prince (ninth).
Top names among the Clark nominees that did not compete in the Breeders’ Cup include Apart, winner of Churchill Downs’ Ack Ack Handicap (GIII), Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (GII) winner Redding Colliery and Fayette (GII) winner Successful Dan.
Distinctive Dixie, winner of the Chilukki (GII) here on Nov. 6, heads a list of 15 fillies and mares nominated to the 95th running of the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (GII) slated for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25. Weights for the Falls City, to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, also will be announced next Friday.
Astrology and Dancinginherdreams, the winners of the two opening-day stakes on Oct. 31 on the “Stars of Tomorrow I” card, top the nominees for the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) and Golden Rod (GII), respectively, to be run on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Astrology, winner of the Iroquois (GIII), heads a list of 30 juveniles nominated to the 84th running of the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Last year’s race was won by Super Saver, who came back to win Kentucky Derby 136 in May.
Dancinginherdreams, a 5 ¼-length winner of the Pocahontas (GII), leads the list of 22 nominees for the 67th running of the $150,000-added Golden Rod. Also among the nominees is Aide, a 19 ¾-length allowance winner here on Oct. 31.
YANKEE FOURTUNE RIGHT AT HOME ON THE GRASS – A year ago, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was not too high on the prospects of a 2-year-old named Yankee Fourtune.
The son of Yankee Gentleman had made his debut on Sept. 26 at Monmouth Park on the dirt and ran seventh in a field of 12, beaten 14 ¼ lengths.
“He didn’t run well and we just gave him time off to mature,” McLaughlin said.
When Yankee Fourtune resurfaced this July at Belmont Park, it was on the grass and for a $50,000 claiming price.
“We had no idea what we had,” McLaughlin said after Yankee Fourtune scored by 4 ¾ lengths. “He had trained well before he ran the first time. We thought he’d be a little better on turf and it turned out to be a great decision. He’ll never run for $50,000 again.”
From that maiden score, Yankee Fourtune took two races at Saratoga by a combined 10 ¾ lengths and then scored as the even-money favorite by 2 ¼ lengths in wire-to-wire fashion in the Hawthorne Derby (Grade III).
Yankee Fourtune brought his four-race win streak to Churchill Downs on Tuesday night in preparation for Saturday’s $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (GIII). Victor Santiago has the mount Saturday on Yankee Fourtune, who will break from post position 11 in the field of 13 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
“Victor likes him and suits him well and he’s won four straight on him,” McLaughlin said.
All four of Yankee Fourtune’s victories have come over firm ground and there is a 30 percent chance of rain in Louisville on Saturday.
“A yielding course would be a concern,” said McLaughlin, who has won six stakes at Churchill Downs including the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) with Invasor (ARG). “I don’t like the uncertainty of a yielding course.”
BRASS HAT GEARS UP FOR ANOTHER CLARK HANDICAP TRY – Trainer Buff Bradley’s back was aching Friday morning and he was eagerly in search of relief.
He got it a little after 8:30.
“Watching him work like that makes me feel better,” Bradley said after his father’s Brass Hat worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 under Calvin Borel over a fast track for the second fastest of 27 works at the distance. “I like it when Calvin comes back smiling.”
The 9-year-old Brass Hat was working for the first time since winning the Sycamore (GIII) at Keeneland on Oct. 21. The victory improved Brass Hat’s career record to 10-8-5 in 39 races for earnings of $2,167,92.
The Sycamore came on the turf at 1 ½ miles, but Bradley is looking at the Nov. 26 Clark Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the main track as the next target for Brass Hat.
Calvin has always been telling me to run him back on the dirt,” Bradley said. “This is his home track and if the race was not here, we would not think about it. He was hitting the ground good this morning and Calvin never moved on him.”
Brass Hat tried the dirt once this year, finishing eighth in the Cornhusker Handicap (GII) at Prairie Meadows in June.
“Calvin said the dirt at Prairie Meadows was not the same (as it is here),” Bradley said.
Brass Hat ran in the 2007 Clark, finishing second to A.P. Arrow. His most recent victory on the dirt, which came six dirt starts back, came in the 2007 Massachusetts Handicap and the most recent of his four graded stakes victories on dirt came in the Donn Handicap (GI) in 2006.
Bradley plans to work Brass Hat again next week as the final prep for the Clark, which was won last year by 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame.
BARN TALK – Pretty soon, Sue Lorimer may find herself on permanent resident status in Kentucky. An assistant to trainer Roger Attfield, Lorimer is back in Kentucky for the fifth time in six weeks, this
time to saddle Don Cavallo in Saturday’s Commonwealth Turf. The journeys from Woodbine began in early October when Lorimer brought Society’s Chairman and Stormy Rush to Keeneland for stakes engagements Oct. 9-10. She returned to Canada and then came back to Lexington for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (GI) with Perfect Shirl on Oct. 16. The following weekend had Lorimer returning to Keeneland with Musketier (GER) for the Sycamore (GIII) on Oct. 21 and No Explaining (IRE) for the Pin Oak Valley View (GIII) on Oct. 22. Last week, Lorimer brought Society’s Chairman and Miss Keller (IRE) to Churchill Downs for Breeders’ Cup appearances, returned to Toronto and then came back Thursday morning with Don Cavallo. “I’m flying home Sunday to pack the car for Florida,” Lorimer said, adding with a laugh, “At least that’s the plan for now.” …
Asphalt’s winning time of 1:43.10 for 1 1/16 miles on the turf Thursday was the fastest clocking of the meet at the distance. … Thursday’s card produced the largest Pick 3 and Pick 4 payoffs of the meet through its first eight days. The Pick 3 that began in the fifth race returned $5,874.20 and the Pick 4 beginning in the fourth race returned $108,337.80. Both payoffs were for $2 tickets.