Clark Stakes 2021: Odds and analysis

Clark Stakes 2021: Odds and analysis
Photo: Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

The $750,000 Grade 1 Clark Stakes, which drew a field of eight, will be run on Friday at Churchill Downs at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Here is a full field analysis for the Clark, which is carded as race 11 out of 12 with post time set for 5:56 p.m. EST. The odds are provided by the Horse Racing Nation staff.

1. Midnight Bourbon (9-5 – TiznowSteve Asmussen / Joel Rosario – 12: 2-5-3 - $1,094,920) The 3-year-old Midnight Bourbon will make his first start against older horses after five consecutive Grade 1 runs against his age group. He has five career place finishes, including his last two starts in the Travers and the Penn Derby and the Preakness. The pair of 107 Beyer Speed Figures that he earned in his two recent starts tops this field. It must be noted that his last victory was in the Lecomte (G3) in January on the Kentucky Derby trail. He prefers to race right on the early pace, and he should be on the lead in this field that is lacking in speed. His recent workouts were fast, which is not typical for Steve Asmussen, and also point to a speedy effort from Midnight Bourbon. Win contender.

2. Night Ops (12-1 – Warrior’s RewardBrad Cox / Florent Geroux – 26: 6-7-4 - $898,656) Night Ops has not won a race since July 2020 in the Cornhusker Handicap (G3) at Prairie Meadows. He finished second four times in a row this year, including in a pair of Grade 3s. Most recently, Night Ops was fourth in the Fayette (G2) at Churchill Downs and fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Toss.

3. Dr Post (5-1 – Quality RoadTodd Pletcher / Irad Ortiz Jr. – 11: 4-1-3 - $880,635) Dr Post was last seen in the Woodward (G1) at Belmont Park finishing behind Art Collector and Maxfield. He also shipped out to Del Mar to run third in the Pacific Classic (G1) after his victory in the Monmouth Cup (G3) at Monmouth Park. Dr Post had a bullet work at Belmont in preparation for the Clark. He figures to sit a stalking trip behind Midnight Bourbon. As you can see from his career record, he rarely runs a bad race. He has past races that make him a factor in this race, but he is a bit unpredictable. Win contender.

4. Happy Saver
(9-2 – Super SaverTodd Pletcher / Tyler Gaffalione – 7: 5-1-1 - $559,200) The winner of his first five starts, Happy Saver has since lost twice, finishing third in the Suburban (G2) and second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Irad Ortiz Jr., who has been Happy Saver’s regular rider, will switch to ride Dr Post for Todd Pletcher as Churchill’s leading rider Tyler Gaffalione gets on board. His only triple-digit Beyer came last year in his Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) victory. Win contender.

5. King Fury (8-1 – CurlinKen McPeek / Brian Hernandez Jr. – 11: 4-1-1 - $599,449) King Fury was third in the Fayette (G2) in his first try against older horses. In restricted company against 3-year-olds, King Fury picked up two wins, including the Bourbon Trail by 13 lengths under the Twin Spires and in the Lexington (G3) on the Derby trail. All three of King Fury’s attempts in Grade 1 stakes resulted in uncompetitive finishes, most recently in the Travers, where he was fifth by almost 10 lengths. He will have to bring a career best effort to compete against this talented field. Live long shot.

6. Chess Chief (30-1 – Into MischiefDallas Stewart / Joe Talamo – 28: 4-4-4 - $743,838) Chess Chief was fifth in the Lukas Classic (G3) and the Jockey Club Gold Cup in his last two starts at odds of 44-1 and 21-1. The Virginia-bred won the New Orleans Classic (G2) in March for his only victory in 2021. Toss.

7. Militarist (30-1 – Liam’s MapCarlo Vaccarezza / Rafael Bajarano – 8: 2-0-2 - $91,630) Militarist has two wins in his career and they were both on the turf. He made his first start in a stakes in the Fayette and faded to fifth after briefly pushing the pace. Toss.

8. Maxfield (2-1 – Street Sense Brendan Walsh / Jose Ortiz – 10: 7-2-1 - $1,550,902) Maxfield has a 4-for-4 record at Churchill Downs where he broke his maiden, won his only Grade 1 in the Breeders’ Futurity as a juvenile, and added Grade 2 victories in the Alysheba and Stephen Foster this year. Maxfied has never finished worse than third and was second in his last two starts in the Grade 1 Whitney and Woodward in New York. In the Whitney he lost to the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Knicks Go and then was beaten by Art Collector in the Woodward with blinkers on. He earned Beyers from 103 to 105 in his four most recent starts. The Clark is announced to be the last race of his career. Win contender.

Summary
: Earnings, speed figures, past competition and morning-line odds make Maxfield and Midnight Bourbon the horses to beat in the Clark.

Maxfield has a stellar career record and never has lost at Churchill Downs. Trainer Brandan Walsh has handled him carefully, with only 10 starts in 26 months. As an older horse, his victories in the Alysheba and the Foster stand out, but he lost in all three of his tries in Grade 1 stakes. Was it the step up in class or the fact that those defeats were away from his favorite track and home base?

Midnight Bourbon has a distinct pace advantage in this field and has trained smartly for his first try against older horses. Joel Rosario gets on board for the first time as they break from the rail. His five second-place finishes have to make you wonder if he is a bit reluctant to get in front down the stretch.

Maxfield and Midnight Bourbon both will come with short odds, and with their shortcomings, bettors may be reluctant to wager on them to win.

Happy Saver, Dr Post and King Fury are the horses that will come with value as the probable third, fourth and fifth choices. All three are win contenders with their best effort.

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