Happy Horseplaying Holidays!
[Ed. Note]: We have sent an e-mail inquiry to Churchill Downs asking if they knew the source of the story that Hopportunity would be kept out of the the Clark Handicap due to a quarter crack. Will report back when we get a response. Meanwhile, please accept our apologies
SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY, November, 25, 2015—From coast to coast and beyond, this holiday weekend will feature a glut of stakes races, 48 over four days, in fact, 25 of them graded, five of those Grade 1.
Those championship defining events, from Kentucky’s Clark Handicap Friday to New York’s Cigar Mile and Del Mar’s Hollywood Derby Saturday, to Sunday’s Matriarch and even farther West--so far west it’s actually in the Far East--the storied Japan Cup.
What with holiday and race draw schedules, we will take a handicapping look-in on Friday’s Clark and Saturday’s Cigar Mile, along with Kentucky Derby defining G2s for soon-to-be-three-year-olds; Aqueduct’s Remsen and Churchill’s Jockey Club Stakes.
CHURCHILL DOWNS FRIDAY, November 27: CLARK HANDICAP
Like its springtime brother, the G1 Stephen Foster which also is 9 furlongs, this event has become one of the nation’s top handicap attraction.
Perhaps it’s the novelty of having a handicap race at all anymore; though it seems that 126 pounds is the high-weight benchmark these days, with the competition scaled lower.
Thinking Upset in First Kentucky Prep and Other Featured Thoughts
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 21, 2015--Don’t blame me for this extremely early Kentucky Derby preview. Simply point those fingers at Churchill Downs if you must. After all, they have kept the Delta Downs Jackpot in place as a Derby qualifier. In fact, ditto that for the Delta Princess and Kentucky Oaks.
And so Vinton, Louisiana is the place to be Saturday where sunny skies are projected and where an All-Stakes Pick Four with a $200,000 guarantee is in place, the sequence ending with Delta’s million-dollar mile-and-a-sixteenth for juvenile males.
Both are Grade 3 and worth 10 points on the Derby/Oaks qualifying scale. Again, the track is expected to be fast, as is forecast for Louisville and New York.
In South Florida, where there’s always a chance of afternoon thunderstorms this time a year but not specifically expected Saturday, two graded stakes, one for each sex and also at the G3 level, are being offered at Gulfstream Park West, nee Calder.
At Churchill Downs, the G3 Cardinal for fillies and mares 3 & up at eight and a half furlongs is one of its best Fall features each year based on competitiveness and field size—again is an extremely tough puzzle.
But, paraphrasing Manfred Mann, “mama, that’s where the value is.” We’ve left five fillies in our exacta mix: Faufiler (6-1), Sistas Stroll (8-1), Emotional Kitten (12-1), Button Down (7-2) and Kiss Moon (5-1). We believe Button Down is most likely to prove best in show.
Here’s a detailed handicapping look-in at the four other Saturday offerings: