Nominations to the Grade 1, $750,000 Clark Stakes closed Saturday. The full list of nominees will be released in the upcoming days, but here is a look at some of the known likely runners for the 147th renewal of the 1 1/8-mile race, according to Churchill Downs assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork.
Code of Honor (19: 7-5-2, $2,951,320). Will Farish’s homebred Code of Honor dominated the $1.25 million Travers in 2020 for his first Grade 1 victory. The 5-year-old son of Noble Mission trained by Shug McGaughey recently finished second behind fellow Clark probable Independence Hall in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland. Code of Honor finished second in last year’s Clark to Bodexpress
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Independence Hall (13: 5-2-2, $874,000). Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stable, WinStar Farm, and Kathleen and Robert Verratti’s three-time stakes winner Independence Hall enters the Clark following a dominating 7 1/4-length score over the sloppy surface in the Fayette. The striking dark bay son of Constitution, conditioned by Michael McCarthy, finished second behind eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Knicks Go in the Lukas Classic (G3).
King Fury (11: 4-1-1, $599,449). Three-time stakes winner King Fury finished third in the Fayette last out for trainer Kenny McPeek. Owned by Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farms, the chestnut son of Curlin will attempt to become the first 3-year-old to win the Clark since Gun Runner in 2016.
Maxfield (10: 7-2-1, $1,550,902). Owned by Godolphin and trained by Brendan Walsh, the multiple graded-stakes winner will attempt to notch an elusive Grade 1 victory to his résumé. The talented 4-year-old son of Street Sense is 4-for-4 at Churchill Downs including a convincing, 3 1/4-length victory in the Stephen Foster (G2). Horses have won both the Stephen Foster and Clark seven times, but it has not been accomplished in the same year.
Midnight Bourbon (12: 2-5-3, $1,094,920). Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon was prominent in this year’s Triple Crown campaign. The 3-year-old son of Tiznow trained by Steve Asmussen finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness. Following an eventful run in the Haskell (G1), where he clipped heels and did not finish, Midnight Bourbon sports back-to-back runner-up efforts in the Travers (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1). This will be his first race against older rivals.
Militarist (8: 2-0-2, $91,630). J. and J. Stable and Priscilla Vaccarezza’s two-time winner Militarist finished fifth in the Fayette at odds of 39-1 for trainer Carlo Vaccarezza. The long-shot hope cruised to an impressive, 1 3/4-length win over the turf at Ellis Park three months ago.
Entries to the Nov. 26 Clark close next Sunday.
The Clark is one of six stakes events on closing week of the 132nd fall meet. One day before the Clark, on Thanksgiving, Juddmonte’s multiple graded-stakes winner Bonny South is slated to battle with defending champion Envoutante in the Falls City (G2).
On Saturday, Nov. 27, the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Golden Rod (G2) will award points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale for the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks. The “Stars of Tomorrow II” program will feature the inaugural runnings of the Lively Shively and Fern Creek.