This is the time of year when a person can enjoy lots of good food. Whether it’s Aunt Hattie Mae’s buttermilk pie or Cousin Joe Bob’s fried turkey, we all like to have a big plate that offers plenty. For those that are looking for something extra to sink their teeth in, look no further than the Clark at Churchill Downs on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The 145threnewal of this grade 1 event looks more promising than some peach cobbler. Run every year since Louisville’s iconic oval opened back in 1875, this particular edition contains a very competitive field. The $600,000 in prize money will bring twelve runners to the table. Here’s a quick run down on the entrants.
The likely favorite could be local standout Seeking the Soul. Earlier this year, the Soul won the grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill and in 2017 was victorious in the Clark. Trainer Dallas Stewart has been very pleased with his charge since returning from a West coast swing that saw him finish 7thin the Pacific Classic, 4thin the Awesome Again, and 6thin the Breeders’Cup Classic. The Soul will try and become just the fourth horse to win this prestigious event twice and first to do so in non-consecutive years.
Another runner that may be popular with the public is Tom’s d”Etat. This Al Stall Jr. trainee is looking for his 9th career win from 16 starts and is fresh off a score in the grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Kenneland. This son of Smart Strike has finished in the top three 11 times but has yet to win a grade 1 event.
Owendale is the lone three-year old in the group but brings a lot of promise. This well-traveled colt has raced at 10 different tracks in 13 career starts for trainer Brad Cox. Wins this year in the Lexington Stakes, Ohio Derby, and Oklahoma Derby have been sandwiched around a third place finish in the Preakness. For good measure, Cox saddled last year’s Clark winner (Leofric).
Legendary conditioner D. Wayne Lukas brings hard-knocking Bravazo to the table. Coming in off a 10-month layoff, this son of Awesome Again will be making a 10thconsecutive appearance in a grade 1 race. Bravazo has not made it to the winner’s circle in any of these events, but did finish second in the 2018 Preakness, Haskell, and last year’s Clark.
The winner of the 2019 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs, Mocito Rojo is another prime timer in the mix. With five victories in seven starts this year, this Shane Wilson trained son of Mutaada hopes to break through with his first grade 1 win here.
Draft Pick will be invading from the left coast for trainer Peter Eurton. Four starts this year has produced 1 win (allowance) 1 second (Pacific Classic) and 1 third (San Diego Handicap). Also looking for his first grade 1 win, this son of Candy Ride last started in the Awesome Again Stakes (5thplace finish) at Santa Anita.
Ack-Ack Stakes winner Mr. Freeze will look to make it two in a row beneath the twin spires. Conditioned by Churchill’s all-time leader in wins, Dale Romans, this son of To Honor and Serve has finished first or second 7 times in 9 trips to the starting gate. His last start was a runner-up finish behind Tom’s d’Etat in the Fayette.
Kentucky Downs hero Snapper Sinclair comes to Churchill for Bloom Racing Stables with eyes on adding to his million dollar earnings bankroll. Saddled by Steve Asmussen, Snapper finished fourth in the Breeders’Cup Dirt Mile last out.
Rounding out the field and not to be discounted are the Charlie LoPresti trained Fact Finding, New York-based Mr. Buff, ten-time winner Pioneer Spirit, and the Peter Miller-trained Major Cabbie.
With all this competition, the Clark promises to be a great betting race with no overwhelming favorite. Slated as race 11 on a 12 race card, first post is scheduled for 1 pm eastern with the Clark going off at 5:56 on November 29.