Edited Churchill Staff Release – Churchill Downs’ Fall Meet is set to close with a flourish as the Louisville racetrack will feature nine stakes events during Thanksgiving Weekend, headlined by the 149th running of the $600,000 Clark presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade II).
Entries for the 1 1/8-mile Clark will be taken Friday and the race will run seven days later on Nov. 25. This year’s Clark field is likely to be led by Godolphin’s Grade III winner First Mission and Alexandres LLC’s accomplished Florida-based 3-year-old Il Miracolo.
Other probable entrants include Rocket Ship Racing’s Lukas Classic (GII) third-place finisher Blue Devil and Harrell Ventures and CHC INC.’s recent impressive allowance winner Gasoline.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will resume Nov. 25 for Stars of Tomorrow II and feature the $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) for open company 2-year-olds along with the $400,000 Golden Rod (GII) for 2-year-old fillies. Both races will award the top five finishers points on a 10-5-3-2-1 scale towards the 150th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI), respectively.
Trainer Brad Cox nominated seven 2-year-olds to the Kentucky Jockey Club including Albaugh Family Stables and Donegal Racing’s impressive debut winner Awesome Road.
Another possible entrant in Kentucky Jockey Club is Harry Veruchi’s Iroquois (GIII) winner West Saratoga, who will attempt to rebound from his fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI).
In the Golden Rod, Godolphin’s Frizette (GI) runner-up Central Avenue is a possible contender, according to Churchill Downs assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork.
The Stars of Tomorrow II program also will include two 6 ½-furlong stakes contests: the $225,000 Ed Brown for open company and $225,000 Fern Creek for fillies. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen reported that dazzling debut winner Booth is targeting the Ed Brown.
Entries for Stars of Tomorrow II will be taken Friday.
Thanksgiving Day will feature the return of recent Grade II-winning 3-year-old filly Xigera in the $400,000 Falls City (GIII). Owned by Richard Rigney and trained by Phil Bauer, Xigera recently won the Mother Goose (GII) at Aqueduct. Entries for the Falls City, along with the co-featured $300,000 Cardinal (GIII), will be taken Thursday.
The other stakes scheduled over Thanksgiving Weekend are the $300,000 Mrs. Revere, scheduled on the undercard of the Clark, and $300,000 Commonwealth Turf (GIII) which is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 26.
The full list of nominations and past performances can be found here: https://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbHorsemenAreaSNHW.cfm?trk=CD
GAFFALIONE, ASMUSSEN LEAD FALL MEET JOCKEY, TRAINER STANDINGS – With 10 days remaining at the Fall Meet, jockey Tyler Gaffalione began Wednesday with an 11-7 win advantage in the standings over Florent Geroux and Cristian Torres. Last year’s Fall Meet champion rider Luis Saez loomed in fourth with five wins. … Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen led all trainers with nine wins from 43 starts. Brad Cox was second with six wins and was followed by Kenny McPeek and Joe Sharp who were tied for third with five. … In the owners’ standings, Gary and Mary West’s three victories led the standings. There was an eight-way tie for second with two victories between Steve Asmussen, Calumet Farm, Donamire Farm, Godolphin, JD Thoroughbreds and Joey Keith Davis, Rigney Racing, Three Chimneys Farm and Jordan Wycoff.
‘INSIDE CHURCHILL DOWNS’ CLOSES SEASON 9 FRIDAY – “Inside Churchill Downs” will close its ninth season on Friday at 6 p.m. with a preview of Thanksgiving Weekends stakes contests. Join Churchill Downs’ Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein for the one-hour program that airs locally on ESPN 680/105.7. Fans outside the Louisville area can stream live on www.espnlouisville.com.
DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing resumed Wednesday for a nine-race card that began at 1 p.m. There was a $114,981 carryover in the 20-cent Derby City 6 Jackpot that spanned Races 4-9. … Friday is the first day of racing at Fair Grounds and several local riders will make an early move south for the winter including David Cohen, James Graham, Rey Gutierrez, Corey Lanerie, Mitchell Murrill and Jaime Torres. … On Saturday, Norton Healthcare will hold their second Athlete Wellness and Performance educational meeting with jockeys and their families. The meeting will be held starting at 11:30 a.m. in the Churchill Downs Backside Recreation Center. … For more information about the Churchill Downs Fall Meet, visit www.churchilldowns.com.