Big Four Weekend at Churchill Downs Packed with Talent

The $1.2 million "Big Four Weekend" stakes races at Churchill Downs Nov. 25-27 have attracted an outstanding group of nominees that includes Perfect Drift and Colonial Colony, the last two winners of Churchill Downs' Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I); 2002 "Horse of the Year" Azeri; and some of the most promising 2-year-olds in racing.

Seventy-seven Thoroughbreds are included on the roster of nominees to the four major stakes races over the final three days of Churchill Downs' 21-day "Fall Festival Of Racing."
The races are: $300,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II), a 1 1/8-mile test for fillies and mares 3 & up on Thanksgiving Day; $500,000-added Clark Handicap (gr. II), a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds & up Nov. 26; a pair of $200,000-added, 1 1/16-mile races for juveniles Nov. 27: the Golden Rod (gr. II) for fillies and the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II).

The largest and most competitive field of the star-studded weekend may be assembled for the Clark Handicap. The roster of 20 older horses nominated to the Clark are led by Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift and Lakeside Farm's Colonial Colony, and Arthur B. Hancock III and Gerald F. Healy's Quest, the defending winner of the Clark.

Quest won the 2003 Clark for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito via the disqualification of Evening Attire, who finished a nose in front but was placed second by track stewards for interference in the stretch. The Patrick Kelly-trained Evening Attire was also nominated for another Clark bid.

The Allen Paulson Living Trust's Azeri, heads a list of 14 older fillies and mares nominated to the Falls City Handicap. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas continues to point the 6-year-old daughter of Jade Hunter to the race following a fifth-place finish against males in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) won by Ghostzapper.

Azeri has a career record of 17-4-0 in 24 races and earned $4,079,820 - the highest earnings total in racing history for a filly or mare.

Other nominees to the Falls City include: Mayo On the Side, who upset Azeri in the Humana Distaff (gr. I) on Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Day; Halory Leigh, upset winner of the Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II); Susan's Angel, winner of the Turfway Breeders' Cup (gr. III) and third in the Churchill Downs Distaff; Angela's Love, winner of the Gardenia (gr. III) at Ellis Park; and Edmund Gann's Personal Legend, the Bobby Frankel-trained winner of the Turn Back The Alarm (gr. III) at Aqueduct.

Topping the list of nominations to the Golden Rod is Runway Model, winner of the Darley Alcibiades (gr. II) at Keeneland and a troubled third to Sweet Catomine in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

Other Golden Rod nominees include In The Gold, a close third to Runway Model in the Alcibiades; Kota, winner of the Anna M. Fisher Debutante at Ellis Park and third in the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs; Lady Truffles, winner of the California Cup Juvenile Fillies; and Ragtime Hope, winner of the Catcharisingstar Stakes at Calder Race Course.

The Kentucky Jockey Club for 2-year-olds attracted an accomplished group of 26 nominees that is headed by Straight Line, winner of the Iroquois (gr. III) at Churchill Downs; Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) winner Greater Good; B. B. Best, winner of two legs of the lucrative Florida Stallion Stakes series at Calder Race Course.