Indiana Derby (gr. II) winner Neck 'n Neck is the 120-pound starting high weight for his first race against older horses when he headlines the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs.
A. Stevens Miles Jr.'s homebred son of Flower Alley landed post 2 for the one-turn mile affair. He is one of five graded stakes winners in the field of eight 3-year-olds and up for the Ack Ack, which will be run as race nine at 4:38 p.m. EDT on a 10-race program that begins at 12:40 p.m.
Fresh off a length victory in the $513,600 Indiana Derby three weeks ago at Hoosier Park
, Neck 'n Neck will use the race as a steppingstone to the $400,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. I) on Friday, Nov. 24.
The Ian Wilkes trainee has shown an affinity for the Churchill Downs oval with three wins from five starts there, including a 7 1/4-length romp in the Matt Winn (gr. III) in June. Overall, he has won four of his 13 starts and $609,776.
Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride Neck 'n Neck for Wilkes, then one day later the two will team again in an attempt to land the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park
with Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner Fort Larned
, the 5-1 co-second choice on the Classic morning line.
Neck 'n Neck's stiffest competition could be multiple grade II winner Dominus
, a 4-year-old son of Smart Strike
trained by Todd Pletcher who returns to the main track after two tries on turf, including a victory over Data Link in the Bernard Baruch (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course
. As a 3-year-old, he won the Dwyer (gr. II) at Belmont Park
by 1 3/4 lengths.
Also entered is 3-year-old Fort Loudon
, who won the Carry Back (gr. III) in July and finished a half-length back of Willy Beamin
in the King's Bishop (gr. I) at Saratoga. He is trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito.
In addition to the live action, Churchill Downs will simulcast the first of the two-day Breeders' Cup beginning at 2:15 p.m.
Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III, Race 9, approximate post 4:38 p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, one mile (dirt)
PP., Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Zimmer (KY), V. Lebron, 116, P B Byrne, 6-1
2. Neck 'n Neck (KY), B.J. Hernandez, Jr., 120, 3-1
3. Stealcase (KY), M. Mena, 116, M E Casse, 5-1
4. Dominus (VA), S. Brigdmohan, 118, T A Pletcher, 7-2
5. Grand Berry (ARG), J. Rocco, Jr., 116, W I Mott, 12-1
6. Seruni (KY), J.K. Court, 114, P J Oliver, 6-1
7. Good Lord (FL), G. Saez, 116, F Kaelin, 8-1
8. Fort Loudon (FL), J.L. Castanon, 118, N P Zito, 5-1