Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) winner Pool Play was scratched from the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. I) the morning of the race, but not due to tendon issues similar to those he has battled in the past.
Trainer Mark Casse said Nov. 23 that William S. Farish Jr.'s 7-year-old son of Silver Deputy was "100 percent sound" when training at Churchill Downs in the days leading up to the race, but that he had been "a little sour" coming off an eighth-place finish in the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
"We know him pretty well, we've had him for five years," Casse said. "We know when he's happy and when he's not happy, and he just hasn't been himself the past couple days. We were a little worried about bringing him back so quickly from the Breeders' Cup. He breezed okay but when I talked to Mr. Farish we both agreed the best thing to do was to give him some time off and point for a Florida race."
Pool Play, who was 5-1 on the morning line for the Clark, won the Stephen Foster (gr. I) at Churchill in 2011 before going to the sidelines with a torn tendon last July. He successfully rehabbed from the injury and made five starts this season, winning the Hawthorne Gold Cup Oct. 6.
"He probably could have run but we don't know if he would have run his best race," Casse said. "He'll go to Ocala for a couple weeks and get a little break."
Pool Play was bred in Ontario by Windfields Farm out of the Cox's Ridge mare Zuri Ridge. From 33 starts he has a 7-6-6 record, with earnings of $1,240,615.