The prospective field for the 139th running of the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. I) Nov. 29 now includes another grade I winner following trainer Kenny McPeek's decision to run Magic City Thoroughbred Partners' Golden Ticket in the "Black Friday" event at Churchill Downs.
The 4-year-old son of Speightstown joins multiple grade I winner Game On Dude and the 3-year-old Will Take Charge , runner-up by a nose to Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) and winner of the Travers (gr. I) and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II), among the grade I winners being pointed to the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.
Golden Ticket finished in a dead-heat for first with Alpha
in the 2012 Travers at Saratoga Race Course
and has run well in grade I company this year. His best outings of 2013 include a runner-up finish to Goldencents
in the recent Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park
and a second behind Fort Larned
in Churchill's Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) this June.
McPeek had been weighing options for Golden Ticket that include a possible run in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct Racetrack
before he settled on staying home at Churchill for a Clark bid.
"A couple of his better speed figures are here at Churchill, plus he doesn't have to ship," McPeek said. "That race in New York looked like it was coming up pretty deep with a big field. The Clark looks like it will have a shorter field."
The 2013 campaign for Golden Ticket has been strong. He has compiled a record of 3-2-1 in eight races with earnings of $442,988. His career slate stands at 5-6-3 in 20 starts with $1,091,323 in lifetime earnings. With the addition of Golden Ticket, the roster of known probable starters for the Clark also includes Bourbon Courage
, Easter Gift
, Finnegans Wake
, and Prayer for Relief
In other Clark-related news, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirmed Willis Horton's Will Take Charge is set for a Nov. 22 work, which has been moved up due to concerns about a soggy weather forecast for Louisville over the weekend.
Lukas said the sophomore son of Unbridled's Song is most likely to work in his first set when the track opens at 6 a.m. EST, but that he would not rule out waiting until after the mid-session break for the grooming of the track. The latter option would put the work at around 8:20 or 8:30 a.m.
"He's really having a good week," Lukas said. "It's not one of those works that we're looking for anything more than just to open his lungs a little bit."
Another piece of news coming from Churchill on Nov. 21 was the defection of 2012 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Believe You Can
from the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II), the annual centerpiece of the Louisville oval's popular Thanksgiving Day racing program; trainer Larry Jones confirmed that Brereton C. Jones' homebred daughter of Proud Citizen
would not run. She last competed in the May 27 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park
, where she finished sixth behind Tiz Miz Sue.