Weekend Lineup: Clark Handicap, Cigar Mile Highlight Holiday Weekend

by | 11.25.2016 | 1:51pm
Gritty Gun Runner will face his elders Friday in the Clark Handicap
Gritty Gun Runner will face his elders Friday in the Clark Handicap

This Thanksgiving weekend's graded stakes racing is highlighted by a pair of Grade 1 events: the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Friday, and the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Saturday.

Kicking things off on Friday afternoon is the rescheduled G2 Kennedy Road Stakes (4:46 p.m. EST) at Woodbine, canceled due to weather last Sunday. Re-entered is 2-1 morning line choice Stacked Deck, who has put together a solid Canadian campaign this season. Puntrooskie, however, will definitely pose a threat in the eight-horse field.

At Churchill Downs, the G2 Mrs. Revere Stakes (5:27 p.m. EST) starts the action on Friday, with 14 3-year-old fillies set to go 1 1/16 miles on the turf course. Favored in the full field are Harmonize and Hawksmoor, a pair who finished second and third, respectively, to Time and Motion last out in Keeneland's G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge.

Del Mar will hold the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup (5:55 p.m. EST) on Friday, with a field of seven to go 12 furlongs on the turf. Ashleyluvssugar was a very respectable fifth in the Breeders' Cup Turf last out, and is the deserved favorite here. Also posing a challenge in the salty field are Texas Ryano, Flamboyant, and Ralis.

Back at Churchill Downs, the G1 Clark Handicap (5:56 p.m. EST) has drawn a very good field of 10. Top choice Hoppertunity was just fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, and sophomore Gun Runner was a most impressive second in the Dirt Mile. Effinex won this race last year and has returned to give his account, and likely lone front-runner Noble Bird will be very difficult to beat over his home track on an uncontested lead.

On Saturday, Aqueduct gets the action started with the G3 Comely Stakes (12:50 p.m. EST), for sophomore fillies at nine furlongs on the main track. Lewis Bay is favored in the seven-filly field for trainer Chad Brown, but newcomer Unbridled Mo was very strong winning the Remington Park Oaks last out and should be competitive for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Gulfstream Park West will host the G3 My Charmer Handicap (2:00 p.m. EST), with Isabella Sings and Strike Charmer facing off against French-bred invader Stormy Victoria. The 1 1/16-mile turf contest drew a field of nine, with the Christophe Clement-trained Stormy Victoria as the morning-line favorite.

Back at Aqueduct, the G2 Demoiselle Stakes (2:20 p.m. EST) features juvenile fillies over nine furlongs on the main track. Jamyson ‘n Ginger, Libby's Tail and Miss Sky Warrior are all legitimate chances in the nine-filly field, which offers points toward the Kentucky Oaks.

Gulfstream West's G3 Tropical Turf Handicap (3:01 p.m. EST) drew a field of nine for the 1 1/16-mile turf contest. Leading the field is Coalport for trainer Mike Maker, with Rose Brier, Granny's Kitten and Lubash all posing a threat as well.

Aqueduct's G2 Remsen Stakes (3:20 p.m. EST) offers points on the Kentucky Derby trail for juvenile colts, contested over nine furlongs on the main track. Takaful is the heavy morning-line favorite off a strong maiden performance for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, but No Dozing and Mo Town both have more experience to offer.

Closing out Aqueduct's card is the G1 Cigar Mile (4:20 p.m. EST). Anchor Down is the top choice for trainer Todd Pletcher off a really good win in the G2 Kelso last out, but Pennsylvania Derby winner Connect has had a break since that win and could be a legitimate threat for trainer Chad Brown. That trainer's other entries, Economic Model and Threefiveindia, both offer a good deal of speed to the race, and Divining Rod should not be left out of the exotics.

At Churchill Downs, the G2 Golden Rod Stakes (4:57 p.m. EST) for juvenile fillies will be contested over 1 1/16 miles on the main track. The competitive 12-horse field is led by Daddys Lil Darling, fourth in the Breeders' Cup, but a number of newcomers could also be threatening here, including Ever So Clever and Lovely Bernadette.

The male race at Churchill is the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (5:56 p.m. EST), where 2-year-olds also face a 1 1/16-mile course. McCraken will stretch out to two turns for the first time for trainer Ian Wilkes and is the deserving favorite, but with a full field of 12, anything can happen in this Kentucky Derby points race.

Over at Del Mar, the G3 Jimmy Durante Stakes (6:00 p.m. EST) features juvenile fillies over a mile on the turf. In a 13-horse field, Keith Desormeaux trainee With Honors is the favorite, drawing Flavien Prat to the saddle.

Golden Gate Fields offers the G3 Berkeley Handicap (6:16 p.m. EST) at 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track. Leading the competitive five-horse field is Emerald Downs star Stryker Phd.

Closing out Saturday's racing action is Del Mar's G2 Seabiscuit Handicap (7:00 pm. EST), over 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Om will look to stretch out to two turns and rebound from his narrow loss in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, though he will be faced with a tough challenge from Vyjack, What A View and Ring Weekend.

On Sunday, Del Mar features the G3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (6:00 p.m. EST) over a mile on the turf for juveniles. Mike Smith will ride Ky. Colonel for Richard Mandella, hoping to rebound from a poor finish in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes. Conscripted is the likely favorite for trainer John Shirreffs.

In Sunday's G3 Native Diver Stakes (7:00 p.m. EST) at Del Mar, held at nine furlongs on the main track, Midnight Storm will return to the dirt to face off with Hard Aces, Imperative and Point Piper.

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