(Edited Churchill Downs release)
The 135th renewal of the grade II, $400,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare highlights the 12 stakes races with total purses of $1.775 million for the Nov. 1-28 fall meet at historic Churchill Downs.
The Clark Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 27 and is the richest event on a stakes schedule in which every race has been granted graded stakes status by the American Graded Stakes Committee. Other highlights of the fall meet stakes schedule include a pair of "Stars of Tomorrow" programs devoted exclusively to races for 2-year-olds. Each of those programs includes a pair of graded races, one for open company and one scheduled exclusively for fillies.
The "Stars of Tomorrow" programs are set for Sunday, Nov. 1, the opening day of the meet, and the closing day program on Saturday, Nov. 28. The first of those programs spotlights a pair of grade III races in the Iroquois and Pocahontas, both one-mile contests and the latter restricted to fillies. The final "Stars of Tomorrow" day features two grade II races at 1 1/16-miles in Kentucky Jockey Club and the Golden Rod, with the latter restricted for fillies.
The total purses available in the 12-race stakes program at Churchill Downs have the same value as in the 2008 fall meet. One race was moved to a new position on the schedule as the $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III), a one-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, will be run this year on Friday, Nov. 6. That day’s live race card Churchill Downs will also include the simulcast of the first day of competition in the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.
"Our 2009 fall stakes schedule includes a very strong roster of graded stakes races that are either rich in tradition or growing in stature, and the quality of the overall stakes schedule is a tribute to both our horsemen and our racing office," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. "Despite intensifying competition from tracks in nearby states with purses fueled by casino revenues and the nation’s difficult economic landscape, our purses for stakes races in the 2009 fall meet remain level with those offered during last year’s meet."
Other highlights of the fall meet include the 94th running of the $150,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares ages 3 & up, a traditional Thanksgiving Day fixture that will be renewed on Nov. 26, and the 19th running of the $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies on turf on Saturday, Nov. 14. Like the Clark Handicap, the Falls City dates to the track’s first racing meet in 1875. The Clark, like the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Oaks (gr. I), has been renewed each year without interruption and the Falls City has missed a few years during that span.