When Churchill Downs opened in 1875, the centerpiece of its meet wasn’t the inaugural Kentucky Oaks or Kentucky Derby, it was the track founder’s eponymous Clark Handicap.
The race named for the family of founder M. Lewis Clark, like the Derby and Oaks, is being run for the 141st time this year. While the others remain in the spring meet, the Clark is now the centerpiece of the fall meet on the Friday-after-Thanksgiving card. This year the Grade III Commonwealth Turf also is on the menu with an ungraded sprint stake.
Race 9 | Dream Supreme Stakes | 6 furlongs
1. Spring Included
3. House of Sole
4. White Clover
Comment: In her third start off a layoff, Spring Included has a shot at a little bit of a price if she returns to her best form. Draw a line through her turf race and she hasn’t run a bad race all year, including against tougher in the Grade III Winning Colors Stakes over the Churchill oval. Milam also ran in the Winning Colors, is fast enough and has the hottest jockey at the track in Corey Lanerie. House of Sole is the logical pick, but, at 5-2, will try to beat.
Race 10 | Grade III Commonwealth Turf Stakes | 1 1/16 miles turf
1. One Go All Go
3. Wayward Kitten
4. Magic of Believing
Comment: At 6-1 in the morning line and gaining Julien Leparoux, One Go All Go looms large getting a race that’s a sixteenth shorter than his last outing where he led most of the way. Salam is a graded stakes winner on the Matt Winn Turf Course and wouldn’t surprise but probably isn’t helped by the post position. Wayward Kitten also comes out of the Bryan Station and factors here, not to mention sporting the Ramsey colors that are must-includes for all multi-race wager tickets in the final week of any Churchill meet.
Race 11 | Grade I Clark Handicap | 1 1/8 miles
3. Race Day
4. Keen Ice
Comment: A very competitive Clark completes the Friday stakes lineup. As the “best of the rest” in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, where Triple Crown winner American Pharoah took what seemed to be a victory lap, Effinex gets a slight edge here. Hoppertunity tries to repeat last year’s Clark score and Race Day comes off an eye-popping win in Keeneland Race Course’s Fayette Stakes over Hoppertunity. Keen Ice is the Grade I Travers winner, but needed to see more in the BC Classic to back here.