Hoppertunity won the 2014 Clark

Hoppertunity won the 2014 Clark

Anne M. Eberhardt

Hoppertunity, Diversify Head Clark Handicap

Hoppertunity will try to become the fourth two-time winner of the Clark.

Multiple grade 1 winner Hoppertunity will attempt to join an exclusive club of two-time winners when he lines up for his fourth try in the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs

"I'll never forget when he won the 2014 Clark," trainer Bob Baffert said of the 6-year-old Any Given Saturday horse's half-length score in the 1 1/8-mile event. Karl Watson, Michael Pegram, and Paul Weitman's runner finished three-quarters of a length behind Effinex in the 2015 Clark for runner-up honors and ran fourth behind Gun Runner  in last year's edition.

"He's back and doing well," Baffert said. "He's always been right there all the time. He's made $4 million by being right there and has always been a barn favorite. It sounds like it will be a tough Clark, so it won't be a walk in the park by any means."

Hoppertunity enters off a second-place finish in the one-mile Comma to the Top Stakes Oct. 28 at Santa Anita Park, which was his first start since a sixth-place run in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) in March. He won his only other start in 2017, the San Antonio Stakes (G2). 

BALAN: Hoppertunity Grinds Out Another San Antonio Score

Only three other horses have won the Clark twice. The most recent was Bob's Dusty, who took the 1977 and 1978 editions, but Hoppertunity will have to overcome some tough competition in a field of nine to join that group.

Ralph Evans and Lauren Evans' Diversify bypassed the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and comes into the Clark on a three-race win streak, including a one-length score over Keen Ice  in the Oct. 7 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) going 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park

NOVAK-CROSBY: New York-bred Diversify Wins Jockey Club Gold Cup

Before that victory the New York-bred Bellamy Road  gelding won back-to-back New York-bred stakes, the 1 1/8-mile Evan Shipman at Saratoga Race Course—which he dominated by 11 1/2 lengths—and the 1 1/16-mile Saginaw at Belmont. 

After posting a bullet four-furlong work in :46.88 Oct. 28 at Belmont, Diversify's connections opted to not ship to Del Mar for the Breeders' Cup and were eyeing the Dec. 2 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct Racetrack or the Clark. Since that workout the Rick Violette trainee has logged two other timed works at Belmont, including a four-furlong move in :47.43 Nov. 16.

DARRS Inc.'s Honorable Duty aims to redeem himself after running sixth over a sloppy track at Keeneland in the Hagyard Fayette Stakes (G2), behind fellow Clark entrant The Player. One race prior, the 5-year-old Distorted Humor  gelding took Churchill's Lukas Classic Stakes (G3) by 4 3/4 lengths in front-running fashion.

"He's been doing really well overall this year," trainer Brendan Walsh said of Honorable Duty. "I think he's doing as well leading into the Clark as he was from the Fayette. I have to look at the wet surface as to why he didn't run well. Even when he finished second in the Alysheba (Stakes Presented by Big Fish Casino, G2), there was some moisture in the track and I don't think he got over it incredibly well." 

Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Destin comes off a win nearly three weeks ago in the 1 3/4-mile Marathon Stakes Presented by TAA (G2) at Del Mar. The Giant's Causeway  colt finished fifth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. 

SHULMAN: Destin Prevails in Marathon Stakes at Del Mar

Since scoring a minor upset over classic winners in the July 29 Jim Dandy Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2), Good Samaritan has struggled in two top-level events at 1 1/4 miles. The son of Harlan's Holiday is a graded stakes winner on turf and dirt and will seek his first grade 1 win Friday. 

Grade 3 winner Mo Tom and recent allowance winners Goats Town and Seeking the Soul complete the field. 

Entries: Clark H. presented by Norton Healthcare (G1)

Churchill Downs, Friday, November 24, 2017, Race 11

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 5:56 PM (local)
11Hoppertunity (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlorent Geroux123Bob Baffert3/1
22Seeking the Soul (KY)John R. Velazquez116Dallas Stewart6/1
33Good Samaritan (KY)Joel Rosario116William I. Mott8/1
44Destin (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRicardo Santana, Jr.121Todd A. Pletcher10/1
55Goats Town (KY)Chris Landeros114D. Wayne Lukas30/1
66Mo Tom (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.114Thomas M. Amoss20/1
77The Player (KY)Calvin H. Borel119William B. Bradley6/1
88Honorable Duty (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey J. Lanerie120Brendan P. Walsh5/1
99Diversify (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.123Richard A. Violette, Jr.5/2