Courtesy of Churchill Downs publicity team:
The prospective field for the Grade I, $500,000-added Clark Handicap next Friday now includes another Grade I winner following trainer Kenny McPeek’s decision to run Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket in the Nov. 29 race.
The 4-year-old son of Speightstown joins Game On Dude, winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic, and the 3-year-old Will Take Charge, runner-up to Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and winner of the Grade I Travers, among the Grade I winners being pointed to the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds and up.
Golden Ticket finished in a dead-heat for first with Alpha in the 2012 Travers at Saratoga and has run very well in Grade I company this year. His best outings of 2013 include a runner-up finish to Goldencents in the recent Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and a runner-up finished to Fort Larned in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
McPeek had been weighing options for Golden Ticket that included a possible run in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct before he settled on staying home at Churchill Downs for a Clark bid.
“A couple of his better speed figures are here at Churchill, plus he doesn’t have to ship,” McPeek said. “That race in New York looked like it was coming up pretty deep with a big field. The Clark looks like it will have a shorter field.”
The 2013 campaign for Golden Ticket has been strong. He has compiled a record of 3-2-1 in eight races with earnings of $442,988. His career slate stands at 5-6-3 in 20 starts with $1,091,323 in lifetime earnings.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the final pre-Clark Handicap work for Willis D. Horton’s Will Take Charge has been moved up to Friday because of concerns about a soggy weather forecast for Louisville over the weekend.
Lukas said Will Take Charge is most likely to work in his first set when the track opens at 6 a.m. (all times Eastern), but would not rule out waiting until after the mid-session break for the grooming of the track. The latter option would put the work at around 8:20 or 8:30 a.m.
“He’s really having a good week,” Lukas said. “It’s not one of those works that we’re looking for anything more than just to open his lungs a little bit.”
With the addition of Golden Ticket to the Clark, the roster of known probable starters for the race includes (with trainers): Bourbon Courage (Kellyn Gorder),Easter Gift (Chad Brown), Finnegans Wake (Romans), Game On Dude (Bob Baffert), Golden Ticket (Kenny McPeek), Prayer for Relief (Steve Asmussen) and Will Take Charge (D. Wayne Lukas). Possible: Jaguar Paw (Stephen Lyster).
Trainer Pat Byrne took a look at weather forecasts over the next few days and decided that Thursday was the best shot at good conditions for the final pre-race work for Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Almost Famous, a contender for the Grade II, $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club on Saturday, Nov. 30.
The 2-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song headed to the fast main track at Churchill Downs just after the morning maintenance break and breezed three furlongs in :36.40 under jockey Corey Lanerie.
“The weather looked like it was going to be a little rough for the weekend and our track was in super shape this morning, so I took advantage of it,” Byrne said. “We had a good morning and we got all we wanted. He’s all set for next Saturday.”
Almost Famous will enter the Kentucky Jockey Club off an impressive six-length victory in a Nov. 9 Churchill Downs allowance race at the Kentucky Jockey Club distance of 1 1/16 miles. All three of his career races have come at Churchill Downs and include a maiden victory in September followed by a disappointing fourth-place run behind Coastline in the $60,000-added Street Sense overnight stakes on Oct. 27.
Also working toward a possible Kentucky Jockey Club bid on Thursday was Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Ichiban Warrior, who breezed a bullet four furlongs in :47.80. The move was the fastest of 26 at the distance.
Known probable starters for the 87th running of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes: Almost Famous (Pat Byrne), Awesome Sky (Mark Casse), Dobra Historia (Bill Mott) and Laddie Boy (Chuck Peery). Possible: Culprit (Romans), Financial Mogul (Rick Violette Jr.), and Ichiban Warrior (Todd Pletcher). Sheikinator (McPeek) is listed as “possible.”
Churchill Downs’ 98th running of the Grade II Falls City Handicap, the annual centerpiece of the popular Thanksgiving Day racing program, lost some of its pre-race glamour with news that Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Oaks, will not run in next week’s race.
Trainer Larry Jones confirmed via text that the homebred daughter of Proud Citizen would not run in the Falls City, but provided no other information.
Believe You Can last competed in the Ogden Phipps Handicap on May 27 at Belmont Park, where she ran sixth to Tiz Miz Sue. She has a career record of 14-8-0-2 and has earned $1,280,324.
With the defection of Believe You Can from the Falls City, known starters for the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares on Thursday, Nov. 28 (with trainers) include: Don’t Tell Sophia (Philip Sims), Flashy American (Kenny McPeek), Ice Cream Silence (Rusty Arnold), and Magic Hour (Ian Wilkes). Possible: My Option (Chris Block), Street Girl (Eddie Kenneally), Molly Morgan (Dale Romans), Owl Moon (Romans) and Wine Princess (Steve Margolis).