Rocket Fuel
ABR Sweepstakes
Please provide a valid email address.
Close

Blog - RACING

Game On Dude's first Grade 1 victory of the year came in the Santa Anita Handicap (Photo courtesy of Benoit Photos).

When looking at the entries for the big races around the country this weekend, it’s easy to see there is much to be thankful for this holiday season. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships were earlier this month, but that didn’t stop some of the country’s biggest stars from returning to the track in a weekend that is sure to have championship implications.

Will Take Charge is a front-runner in the 3-year-old male championship race but a win in the $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs over Game On Dude would solidify his position in the championship race. The colt is coming into the Clark after a nose loss to Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Clark will be the third time the colt has run at the 1 1/8-mile distance since this year’s Triple Crown races. In those two attempts, he hasn’t finished worse than second, winning the Pennsylvania Derby by 2 ¼ lengths and finishing second in the Jim Dandy Stakes by one length.

But Will Take Charge will face a formidable opponent in Game On Dude.

Game On Dude last finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but before that, he had won six straight races. Game On Dude was assigned high weight in the race at 126 pounds and was named the race’s morning-line favorite. Game On Dude is still in the running for the champion older male Eclipse Award, so a win in the Clark, especially over Will Take Charge, would go a long way.

Other horses to keep a close eye on in the Clark are Golden Ticket and Prayer for Relief. Golden Ticket was the co-winner of last year’s Travers Stakes and most recently finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Prayer for Relief last finished fifth in the Homecoming Classic Stakes at Churchill but has been first or second in four of five races this year, including the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap.

Another key race this weekend that could have championship implications is the Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct on Saturday. Click here for complete Cigar Mile analysis.

Saturday’s $400,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct drew nine entries but it’s a sure bet that Honor Code will be getting the bulk of the attention going into the race.

From A.P. Indy’s last crop, Honor Code won his maiden impressively in last August before coming up just a neck short in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes on Oct. 5. A dead closer, Honor Code will be better off with a swift pace but the past performances of the field suggest that even if things don’t go his way he will still be able to win.

HONOR CODE (inside) WORKED OUT EARLIER THIS WEEK IN PREP FOR THE RACE

Honor Code

Photo courtesy of Susie Raisher/NYRA

The biggest threat to Honor Code could be undefeated Cairo Prince. The son of Pioneerof the Nile won the $250,000 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct four weeks ago by 2 1/2 lengths over a field that included three other Remsen contenders. Cairo Prince’s form suggests that he will be closer to the lead, if not the actual leader of the race in the later stages. The colt has always been the leader in the stretch, and if he gets his way may be a tough target to catch for Honor Code.

While those two are the most interesting entries in the field, it should be noted that this is a 1 1/8-mile race and neither colt has gone longer than a mile. In fact, the only entrant who has won at more than a mile on the dirt is Master Lightning, who was soundly beaten by Cairo Prince in the Nashua when he finished ninth.

CAIRO PRINCE WINNING THE NASHUA

Cairoprince

Photo courtesy of Adam Coglinese/NYRA

Mental Iceberg, a 2-year-old Freud gelding, did win his debut at 1 1/16 miles but that race was on the turf.

The Remsen is a Kentucky Derby points race, giving the winner 10 valuable points, which should make it an interesting race to watch. Some of these horses will most likely be seen on the Derby trail next spring with potential entries in the Kentucky Derby next May as well.

Another important Kentucky Derby prep race is the $150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Run on the Churchill Downs dirt main track, it gives the 2-year-olds valuable experience on the same track the Kentucky Derby is run on while also giving the winner 10 points toward Kentucky Derby qualification.

Almost Famous is expected to be the race favorite with two wins in three starts including a victory at the 1 1/16-mile distance of this race. He almost certainly will be setting the pace after taking the lead early on in all three of his races. Almost Famous sold for $500,000 at a 2-year-olds in training sale in March and has started to live up to the expectations around that price. A win in the Jockey Club would solidify him as a colt to watch in the coming months.

Culprit, a Street Sense colt, failed in his only graded stakes start, finishing seventh. However, the race was on Keeneland’s Polytrack surface and not traditional dirt so it shouldn’t be judged too harshly. On the Churchill dirt surface, Culprit has a win and a third-place finish, showing that he obviously prefers the dirt over the Polytrack.

Even though Tapiture is still a maiden, the colt has finished on the board in every start, including a graded stakes race on this very track. It also should be noted that in his debut, he finished second to Grade 1 winner Strong Mandate, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile earlier this month. This race could definitely be Tapiture’s coming-out party as it looks like it is a pretty evenly matched field outside of Almost Famous.

TAPITURE (inside) FINISHED A CLOSE THIRD IN THE IROQUOIS STAKES

Tapiture

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes is part of Churchill Down’s Stars of Tomorrow card on Saturday. All 12 races on the track’s Saturday card are for 2-year-olds, with the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the Golden Rod Stakes for 2-year-old fillies headling the card. 

$500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare

Race 11, Churchill Downs, Friday, 5:35 p.m. E.T.

3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles on the dirt

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

Odds

1

Game On Dude

Mike Smith

126

Bob Baffert

8-5

2

Finnegans Wake

Julien Leparoux

116

Dale Romans

20-1

3

Bourbon Courage

Corey Lanerie

117

Kellyn Gorder

8-1

4

Golden Ticket

Robby Albarado

120

Ken McPeek

9-2

5

Prayer for Relief

Ricardo Santana Jr.

118

Steve Asmussen

12-1

6

Easter Gift

Joel Rosario

116

Chad Brown

12-1

7

Will Take Charge

Luis Saez

123

D. Wayne Lukas

9-5

8

Our Double Play

Fernando Torres

113

Philip Bauer

20-1

9

Jaguar Paw

Shaun Bridgmohan

115

Stephen Lyster

20-1

$400,000 Remsen Stakes

Race 9, Aqueduct, Saturday, 3:49 p.m. E.T.

2-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles on the dirt

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

1

Noble Moon (VA)

Alex Solis

116

Leah Gyarmati

2

Master Lightning (PA)

Jose Lezcano

116

Todd Pletcher

3

Afleet Accompli (KY)

Irad Ortiz Jr.

116

Kelly Breen

4

Honor Code (KY)

Javier Castellano

116

Shug McGaughey III

5

Mental Iceberg (NY)

G Rodriguez

116

Gregory DiPrima

6

Matuszak (KY)

Junior Alvarado

116

Bill Mott

7

Wicked Strong (KY)

Rajiv Maragh

116

Jimmy Jerkens

8

Intense Holiday (KY)

Joel Rosario

116

Todd Pletcher

9

Cairo Prince (KY)

Luis Saez

122

Kiaran McLaughlin 

$150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

Race 11, Churchill Downs, Friday, 5:35 p.m. E.T.

2-Year-olds, 1 1/16 miles on the dirt

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

            Trainer

1

Almost Famous (KY)

Corey Lanerie

122

Pat Byrne

2

Culprit (KY)

Miguel Mena

122

Dale Romans

3

Mygalsal (KY)

Jon Court

122

Garry Simms

4

Awesome Sky (KY)

Shaun Bridgmohan

122

Mark Casse

5

Notability (KY)

Brian Hernandez Jr.

122

Dale Romans

6

Tapiture (KY)

Ricardo Santana Jr.

122

Steve Asmussen

7

Laddie Boy (KY)

Jesus Castanon

122

Chuck Peery

8

Arctic Slope (KY)

Robby Albarado

122

Ken McPeek

9

Dobra Historia (KY)

Julien Leparoux

 122

Bill Mott

10

Buck Magic (KY)

Joe Rocco Jr.

122

Ben Colebrook

Image Description

Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Melissa Bauer-Herzog was born and raised in Vancouver, Wash. where she grew up riding horses in all-around events. After graduating from West Texas A&M with a B.S. in Mass Communication she spent the summer of 2012 interning at the United States Equestrian Federation and working at the Paulick Report. Melissa joined America’s Best Racing in December 2012 while interning with Three Chimneys Farm in their marketing communications division.

Image Description

Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Melissa Bauer-Herzog was born and raised in Vancouver, Wash. where she grew up riding horses in all-around events. After graduating from West Texas A&M with a B.S. in Mass Communication she spent the summer of 2012 interning at the United States Equestrian Federation and working at the Paulick Report. Melissa joined America’s Best Racing in December 2012 while interning with Three Chimneys Farm in their marketing communications division.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Sponsors & Partners

  • FoxSports1
  • NBC Sports
  • Logo 6
  • Saratoga
  • Santa Anita
  • CBS Sports
  • Monmouth
  • Keeneland
  • Gulfstream Park
  • Del Mar
  • Belmont Park
  • Arlington Park
  • OwnerView