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.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
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.
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
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.