Clark Handicap Friday; Stakes Double Saturday at Churchill Downs
It’s a big weekend at Churchill Downs as Friday night will feature the biggest event of the fall meet, the $500,000 Grade 1 Clark Handicap. Saturday will have a pair of Grade 2 events for two year olds as part of the Stars of Tomorrow card. The Clark Handicap drew a field of nine including two of the top older horses in training, Game on Dude and Will Take Charge. Game on Dude threw a dud in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but other than that his 2013 resume is spotless. He’ll be making just his third start at Churchill Downs and last time he was in Louisville he ran a huge second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2011. Mike Smith will once again be on board Game on Dude and it looks like Our Double Play might be their only early pace rival, so they could get a bit of a break early on.
Will Take Charge has become a monster in the second half of his three year old season and most recently missed winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose. He won the Grade 1 Travers and has become ultra-consistent with his late running style since being paired with jockey Luis Saez. Golden Ticket will get some support at the windows after running a good second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on a day where he was the only horse who closed into a very speed favoring track. He’s run some good races at Churchill and could make another late run.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Clark Handicap
- Game on Dude
- Will Take Charge
- Golden Ticket
Longshot: Easter Gift
Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club are Churchill Saturday features
Two year olds will be the center of attention on Churchill’s closing day Stars of Tomorrow card. The Grade 2 Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club are the headliners, both offering up a $150,000 purse. Both races drew fields of ten and both are carded at a mile and one sixteenth. The Golden Rod is for the the two year old fillies and like many two year old races this time of year, features a number of maiden breakers looking to stamp themselves as stakes winners. Madly Truly is already a graded stakes winner as she took home the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine in her last start. She was fourth in the Grade 2 Natalma two starts back on the grass. She’ll be making just her second start on the dirt, her first being a fourth place finish at Churchill in her debut. Stonetastic drew the outside and was Grade 2 placed when she finished second in the Pocahontas Stakes in September. She followed that up with a well beaten fourth in the Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct last time out.
The Kentucky Jockey Club is for the two year old boys and there are no stakes winners in the field. Tapiture is still a maiden, but two starts back he led the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes in mid-stretch and finished a good third, beaten just a half a length. He was third in a tough maiden special weight last time out, beaten by Culprit and Notability, who have both shown up in this spot. Almost Famous is a two time winner and torched allowance/optional claiming rivals last time out. He drew the inside post so look for Corey Lanerie to send from that inside post-position.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Golden Rod
- Playful Love
- Bird Maker
Longshot: Naïve Enough
BetPTC.com Selection for the Kentucky Jockey Club
Longshot: Dobra Historia
Hawthorne Gold Cup is Saturday at Hawthorne
Hawthorne will feature one of the biggest races of the season on Saturday afternoon as nine runners will compete in the Grade 2 event. The race is at a mile and a quarter and carries a $350,000 purse and has drawn an attractive group. Last Gunfighter is the 9/5 morning line favorite and is coming off a fifth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s certainly getting some class relief on Saturday and he’ll be making his first try at Hawthorne. Joe Bravo will have the mount and Last Gunfighter will be looking to come from off the pace, but who will he have to target is the question. The race is kind of void of early speed, with the exception of Alpha. Alpha generally likes to go right to the front but he broke horribly in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and he’ll have to improve his pre-gate antics. Eddie Castro will climb on board of Alpha for the Hawthorne Gold Cup and don’t be surprised if he sends right to the front. Prayer For Relief might have a tactical advantage in this race, as he usually sits a little bit closer than some of the off the pace types and could get first run on Alpha at the top of the daunting Hawthorne stretch.
The Hawthorne Gold Cup is the 8th race at Hawthorne on Saturday evening and post time is 6:35pm EST.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Hawthorne Gold Cup
- Prayer For Relief
- Last Gunfighter
- Suns Out Guns Out
Longshot: Street Spice
Saturday Stakes Double at Betfair Hollywood Park
Two year olds will be on display at Hollywood Park on Saturday as the $100,000 Generous and the $100,000 Miesque Stakes will be run on the Hollywood Turf. The Generous drew six two year olds to go a mile on the grass. Pablo Del Monte is an intriguing shipper as he comes over to the west coast after two huge wins on the synthetic surface at Keeneland. He’s shown really big early speed, but will have to show that he can stretch out in this spot. Aoteroa was a winner at a mile on the grass in the Zumia Beach at Santa Anita two starts back and then tried the big boys in the Juvenile Turf on Breeders’ Cup day, finishing seventh in that Grade 1 event. Royal Banker will be making his US debut in the Generous Stakes after a nice maiden win in Great Britain last time. He’s trained by Eoin Harty who hits well shippers coming to the States.
The Miesque Stakes also drew six runners including multiple stakes winner Clenor who will carry the high weight in the race. Clenor is three for four at a mile on the grass and her only loss was in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Nesso was second to Clenor in two of those stakes events and was a contender in the Juvenile Fillies Turf all the way into mid-stretch before fading late. She could improve and jump up to upset her nemesis.
Sunday will also be a huge day at Hollywood Park as the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby and the Grade 1 Matriarch will be run. The Hollywood Derby is expected to draw some top names like Admiral Kitten and Summer Front. The Matriarch is expected to see Pianist and Discreet Marq among the contenders.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Generous
- Pablo Del Monte
Longshot: Royal Banker
BetPTC.com Selections for the Miesque
- Full Ransom
Longshot: Sushi Empire
Saturday Stakes Action at BetPTC.com
Race 2 Generous Stakes 4:00pm EST
Race 4 Miesque Stakes 5:01pm EST
Race 7 Shenandoah Handicap 9:58pm EST
Race 8 West Virginia Futurity 10:25pm EST
Churchill Downs (Friday)
Race 11 Clark Handicap 5:35pm EST
Churchill Downs (Saturday)
Race 9 Golden Rod Stakes 4:35pm EST
Race 11 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes 5:35pm EST
Race 8 Woodchopper Stakes 5:23pm EST
Race 3 Golden Gate Debutante 4:45pm EST
Race 7 Pulpit Stakes 3:34pm EST
Race 9 Wait a While Stakes 4:33pm EST
Race 8 Hawthorne Gold Cup 6:43pm EST
Race 8 Kennedy Road Stakes 4:32pm EST