Trainer Christophe Clement is cautiously optimistic about Proud Man's chances as he prepares for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Franks Farms Turf at 1 1/8 miles.The 6-year-old multiple stakes winner exits a third-place finish in the Appleton Handicap (gr. IIT), and despite the loss, Clement sees several reasons to remain positive about the effort.
"He ran very well and finished a good third in a race with no pace," said Clement about Proud Man's finish behind Millennium Dragon's wire-to-wire victory in the Appleton. "This race has very much been a target. We'll breeze him in a few days and we're very much looking forward to running."Proud Man has won stakes on the Gulfstream turf course, and like most of the Florida-breds pointing toward the race, might expect some edge racing against cross-country shippers on a home course. For Clement, though, the home course advantage isn't necessarily a factor."This is a very competitive race," said Clement, who only recently took over training the son of Manlove for owner Robert Kaufman. "He won his races here for other people. For me, all I know is he finished third on this course. He is a very nice horse, but this race will be very competitive. I don't think I will have a very big advantage."While Proud Man remains on schedule for the Turf, Clement has not made a decision on fellow nominee Sir Brian's Sword, saying he may instead head toward the $100,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap (gr. IIIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf on Jan. 25.