Suave Works for Clark Showdown Friday

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Jay Em Ess Stable's Suave, a close fifth in Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I), tuned-up for Friday's Clark Handicap (gr. II) with a five-furlong tightener at Churchill Downs on Sunday for trainer Paul McGee.

The 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy, winner of the Saratoga Breeders' Cup (gr. II) and runner-up in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) this year, covered the distance in 1:01 2/5 over a "fast" track.

"It was just a maintenance breeze," said McGee. "He's dead fit after running in the Breeders' Cup Classic. I didn't feel like he needed much."

Suave finished a close fourth to Saint Liam in last year's renewal of the Clark and his affinity for the local racing surface is one reason that McGee is confident heading into Friday's race. The colt scored his first victory at Churchill and won the Northern Dancer (gr. III) over "sloppy" going at 3.

"He's shown that he likes this track," said McGee. "Home court never hurts anything."

The Clark will renew the budding rivalry between Suave and Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, who finished a closing third in the Breeders' Cup Classic, just a half-length in front of Suave. In last year's Clark, Suave finished just 1 ½ lengths behind Perfect Drift, who was third in his only previous bid for the Clark.

"Oh yeah, it's a grudge match for sure," said McGee. "I think it'll be interesting to see who they make the favorite. It'll be interesting to watch the tote board in the race to see the fans settle in on that day, because they're very close to each other when they run."

McGee said that the Clark would be Suave's final race of a productive year, but not for his career.

"He's going to run next year as a 5-year-old," he said. "We're pointing him for the Donn (gr. I at Gulfstream Park). That's our long-term target."

Other Clark hopefuls on the busy Sunday work tab include E.J. Sukley's Purim, who breezed a sharp five furlongs in 1:00 1/5. The move by the Tom Proctor-trained son of Dynaformer ranked third among 64 at the distance. Purim won the Arlington Classic (gr. IIIT) on grass and took a recent allowance race on the main track at Churchill Downs.

Michael Bruder's M B Sea breezed a half-mile in :48 3/5 for trainer Dale Romans.