- The Clark is a Grade 1 at nine furlongs to be run Friday at Churchill, where the weather is expected to be perfect. The field, however, is not. It's a Grade 1 without true Grade 1 quality - only Premium Tap, the expected post-time favorite, has won a Grade 1 race, and the field includes Andromeda's Hero, enuf said.
Master Command and Wild Desert ran 1-2 in the Meadowlands Cup, earning flashy Beyers that were way beyond anything either had run before. There's nothing wrong with looking at those figs with some skepticism if they are both bet accordingly, sporting as they do the highest figs in the field. The Meadowlands track played fast all evening that day and seemed to favor speed; the Racing Form track variant was 07.
Master Command had things all his own way at the Meadowlands, breaking from the three post and wiring the field. Here he moves out to the 12 post; only twice in his career has he started beyond the five, and he's run out of the money both times. He's in trouble from this post with his main foes drawing way inside and possessing good early speed. Wild Desert to me is a throwout who I hope attracts some money based on his number; he just sucked along behind the winner on the speed favoring track.
Premium Tap definitely seems like the horse to beat. He seems to have blossomed at four into a legitimate Grade 1 horse. The only concern I have is that his excellent third after a troubled start in the Classic may have taken something out of him. He was a relatively fresh face when he surprised us in the Woodward, but has accumulated some mileage now after his last two very eventful tries. He doesn't have a listed workout since that race two and a half weeks ago, which was his third straight huge effort. But trainer John Kimmel says: "I think he might be able to run better," [Bloodhorse] and Kent Desormeaux, back in the saddle after a one race sacking after running up on heels at Turfway, says: "he is doing super."
Bright One is one of two three-year olds in the field. He was 3-5 in the Indiana Derby, and ran a distant 7th in a performance that Dale Romans said he had no explanation for. "We sure couldn't find a legitimate excuse for him that night....I was as stunned as anybody." [Daily Racing Form] He bounced back with an allowance win over this track, for which he has shown an obvious preference. But he'll be tested for class and speed here, and Romans seems to be looking down the road with him:
"You know he's still lightly raced and will be a lot less seasoned than the rest of them in there. But he has so much natural talent that I think that by the end of next year, he's going to be heard from." [Bloodhorse]Irene's Mon is the other three-year old; at 20-1, he rode the rail until swinging wide in the stretch to finish second in the Ack Ack, the first race on the Breeders Cup card. Did he benefit from a rail bias? Or was it just part of an evident cycle of improvement?
Wanderin Boy figures to go off as the second choice, and will certainly flash his usual speed fromn an advantageous post. But those two races at the pre-Polytrack Keeneland still stick out like a sore thumb, and it seems as if he'll face pressure from the likes of It's No Joke and Bright One, and perhaps Master Command. I prefer Super Frolic, 8-1 morning line, to try and complete the exacta with Premium Tap, who figures to get a nice trip from a good post if he doesn't lose action or clip heels this time. Super Frolic has had a decent year chasing Lava Man, and has shown in the past that he can compete east of the Rockies. It's his final start before retiring to stud.