Review of Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 23

Clark Handicap, Grade I. For three-year-old and up at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Purse $500,000.

Race 11. Clark Handicap, Grade I.


PP Horse Jockey Trainer M/L
1 Prime Attraction Kent  Desormeaux James Cassidy 3/1
2 Hence Ricardo Santana, Jr. Steve Asmussen 12/1
3 Seeking the Soul John R. Velazquez Dallas Stewart 8/5
4 Hawaakom Joseph Rocco, Jr. Wesley Hawley 15/1
5 Leofric Florent Geroux Brad Cox 3/1
6 Bravazo Joel Rosario D. Wayne Lukas 9/2
7 Storm Advisory Albin Jimenez Anthony Quartarolo 30/1
8 Sightforsoreeyes Tyler Gaffalione Anthony Quartarolo 30/1

The field has two Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile runners: Seeking the Soul and Bravazo making their first starts back, and both of have a chance to win. Bravazo ran well in the 2018 the Triple Crown races. Seeking the Soul was the 2017 Clark Handicap winner.

The other four other main contenders are: Prime Attraction, Hence, Hawaakom and Leofric. They are not in the same class level as the other two Grade I horses.

One of these horses can win with their best races. But nothing is in the past performances shows that their best race is good enough to be out run the top two horses.

Seeking the Soul can have another off day. He lost the Woodward Stakes (GI) at Saratoga by over 11 lengths after staying in contention until the turn for home.
He overcame a slow pace in the Ack Ack Stakes (GIII) to win comfortably by a little over a length and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

At nine furlongs on Churchill dirt, Seeking the Soul is 3: 1-0-2. He is also 9: 3-2-2 on this track overall. He should be on the board since he only failed to finish in the money twice. If he runs his race, he will be hard beat.

Bravazo made a mild bid for third in the Dirt Mile, and he should be on the board in the Clark. He came within a half-length of Justify in the Preakness Stakes. Since then, he has one second, two thirds and two off-the-board finishes. He last grades stakes win was the Risen Star Stakes (GII).  He needs to stay close to leaders and cut the final turn to have a chance of winning. Even though Bravazo turns in the occasional strong race, his main problem comes from the habit of losing ground on the far turn. If he runs the final turn well, Bravazo will make up some ground down  the stretch run and pick up a check.

Leofric and Prime Attraction are the next horses to consider, and they both ran well in the Fayette Stakes (GII) at Keeneland. Leofric won by a head over his rival. Leofric did well to mow down an uncontested leader, too.

Hence finished fourth in the Fayette Stakes and his two 2018 wins came in ungraded stakes races at Remington Park and Albuquerque Downs.

Hawaakom likes the mud, which gives him one interesting angle if rain falls. Without showers, he still has a solid chance of beginning on the board. He ran well in Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) and Alysheba Stakes (GII) earlier in the year. His last two races are a questionable, he lost by over eight lengths in the West Virginia Governors Stakes (GIII) at Mountaineer, and by over 21 lengths in the Greenwood Cup (GIII) at Parx.

Storm Advisory and Sightforsoreeyes complete the field, and those two runners appear overmatched. The former entry is interesting because he mainly runs in sprint races and tends to show some speed, which means he could act as a rabbit for Sightforsoreeyes in this spot. The barn’s plan might be Storm Advisory to set a fast pace for stablemate Sightforsoreeyes. Sightforsoreeyes lost by 1 1/4 lengths to Leofric in a July optional claimer at Prairie Meadows.

Seeking the Soul and Bravazo should be part of an exacta, while also using Leofric and Prime Attraction.

Our Top Three Horses:

  • Seeking the Soul
  • Bravazo
  • Leofric

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