The Clark Handicap has always been one of my favorites on the
calendar, and this year’s rendition sure did not disappoint. Highlighted by the
tough old gelding Game On Dude, and the super talented 3 year old and Breeders’
Cup runner up, Will take Charge, it should be a fantastic race. Game On Dude is
coming in from the left coast to try to prove his naysayers wrong, and possibly
salvage an Eclipse award in the process. While Will Take Charge, who seems to
keep getting better and better, will try to lock up top honors for 3 year olds.
If this race is anything like the last two runnings, in which Shackleford (12’)
and Wise Dan (11’) won respectively, we should be in for a real treat. Let’s
take a look at the field.
1 - Game On Dude: The Dude is a pro’s pro. You have
to respect the heck out of this 6 year old gelding. I knock him quite a bit,
but it’s not out of disrespect. I just feel he always gets everything his own
way and he has been beating up on tomato cans in the older male division out
west. In The BC Classic, I was against him. I thought he wouldn’t get anything
his own way and that 1 ¼ miles is not his best trip. He cuts back for The Clark
to a distance he loves and has been working well in the morning also. Baffert
is not shipping him out here for nothing. While he definitely is a contender,
I’m not completely sold either. Must respect though.
2 - Finnegans Wake: Gets back on the dirt after running
pretty much exclusively on turf. I do not like him at all on the win end. But,
I do think he has a decent shot to hit the board at a monster price if he takes
to the dirt. His last start, in the Fayette on synthetic at Keeneland, he was
involved in a lot of bumping down the lane and he had trouble getting out in
the clear. I thought that was a pretty nice effort and if he can run like that
on dirt, he is a nice horse to round out the Tri and Super as he seems to
settle for minor awards quite a bit.
3 - Bourbon Courage: Can this one finally have a
breakthrough? I was high on him early this year before he went to the shelf. The
issue with this guy is he has been a money incinerator while settling for minor
awards. In his defense, check his company lines, he was catching some serious
horses at the top of their game during that stretch. I have a nagging feeling
now may be the time to have him. He is coming into this 2nd off the
layoff after running on the slop in his comeback race at 7 panels here at
Churchill. He has been working well for this and I think he may have a shot to
take it down. I would include him in multi-race wagers. I think he has a sneaky
chance at waking up and running a big one.
4 - Golden Ticket: I am against this one today. I was
not that impressed with his 2nd in the BC Dirt Mile where he rallied
up a golden rail to get the place. Two back in the Awesome Again wasn’t that inspiring
either. I will let this one beat me if he’s good enough.
5 - Prayer for
believe this guy is in a little bit over his head today. He is a nice horse but
I just feel he doesn’t have the class to tangle with the likes of these. I’ll
6 - Easter Gift: This one is kind of interesting. Joel Rosario jumps aboard for Chad Brown and I have a feeling he may run well. He is
coming in off a short layoff and has been working nice in the mornings. He had
the rail in his last, the Kelso at Belmont,
going a 1-turn mile and he should appreciate a better post position and added
ground today. He may be a cut below the top tier in here but he should run
knows where to spot a horse. I will limit his use underneath but I wouldn’t be
totally shocked if he pulled an upset.
7 - Will Take Charge: This horse has really grown on me. After
a disastrous Triple Crown Trail he bounced back in a huge way while winning the
Travers and Pennsylvania Derby. Add in a pair of seconds in the BC Classic and
Jim Dandy, and you can see he really has matured. I think he definitely has a
shot to take down The Clark, but I do worry that the BC Classic knocked the
snots out of him. Regardless, he is a contender, no doubt.
8 - Our Double Play: Ran a big one in the slop in his last, but he
is in much deeper water here at distance that he is unfamiliar with. I am way against
today, but he still may have a say in the outcome. He is a pace factor that may
be a thorn in the side of Game On Dude. If he were to scratch, I believe G.O.D.’s
chances improve quite a bit.
9 - Jaguar Paw: He gets a barn change for this, but
I don’t think that is going to help. He is way over his head in here in my opinion.
If he were to win, it would be a complete shock to me. I am way against.
The Play: I found this to be a pretty tricky betting
race. The way I see it is that there are 2 main contenders (The Dude and Will
Take Charge), and 2 fringe contenders (Bourbon Courage and Easter Gift). If I was
playing multi-race wagers I would use G.O.D., Will Take Charge, and Bourbon
Courage. I am going to take a shot and play an Exacta keying Will Take Charge
and Bourbon Courage on top, with those two, The Dude, and Easter Gift
underneath. If I was playing a Trifecta I would throw Finnegans Wake in the
mix, I have a feeling he just may hit the board. Good luck everyone, have a