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Clark draws dynamite field of 14

Friday's $400,000 Clark H. (G2) features a number of interesting storylines. Top older horses EINSTEIN (Brz) (Spend a Buck), MACHO AGAIN (Holy Bull) and BULLSBAY (Tiznow) have all garnered major prizes on the main track this season and can make a strong case for championship honors with a victory. The promising four-year-old ETCHED (Forestry), who improved his U.S. record to five-for-five with a victory in the Meadowlands Cup (G2) last out, will look to keep his momentum rolling in his toughest test to date. And a couple of up-and-coming, Grade 2-winning sophomores, MISREMEMBERED (Candy Ride [Arg]) and BLAME (Arch), merit serious respect versus their elders.

A deep and contentious field of 14 runners will head to the starting gate at Churchill Downs for the 1 1/8-mile event.

Macho Again drew clear to a one-length victory in the Stephen Foster, with Einstein (inside) third and Bullsbay (red silks) fourth (EquiSport Photos)
Einstein is the defending champion, winning the 2008 edition by 1 1/2 lengths, and has been installed as the 7-2 favorite on the morning line. After capturing the Santa Anita H. (G1) earlier this season, the Helen Pitts-Blasi runner switched surfaces to garner his second consecutive Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard. He moved back to dirt for the Stephen Foster H. (G1) in June, but could only offer a fast-closing third following a troubled trip. The seven-year-old horse missed by a head in the Pacific Classic (G1) two starts back, but Einstein must rebound from a disappointing 11th in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).

Rajivh Maragh will pick up the mount on the well-built dark bay, who faces a potential wide trip from post 14.

Macho Again notched his first Grade 1 win in the Stephen Foster, rallying boldly to a one-length decision, and he also won this year's New Orleans H. (G2) at Fair Grounds. The gray four-year-old colt gave Horse of the Year contender Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d'Oro) all she could handle in the stretch of the Woodward S. (G1) two starts back, finishing a head short of the tremendous filly, and he didn't appear to handle the sloppy footing when checking in fourth in the Jockey Cup Gold Cup (G1) last out. Freshened for this appearance by Dallas Stewart, Macho Again is three-for-five under the Twin Spires. Listed as the 9-2 second choice on the morning line, the major contender is well-drawn in post 2 with regular rider Robby Albarado.

Bullsbay brings solid credentials into the 135th running of the Clark. Winner of the Whitney H. (G1) three starts back, the Graham Motion five-year-old also scored in the Alysheba S. (G3) on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) undercard and registered a respectable third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Woodward. His last effort, a ninth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), is a potential throw out due to the synthetic track at Santa Anita. Three-for-four at Churchill, Bullsbay finished fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Stephen Foster. The 6-1 co-third early choice will keep Jeremy Rose in the saddle.

The lightly-raced Etched, who is also 6-1, is looking to establish himself as a serious force in the older horse ranks. He opened his racing career in the fall of 2007 with a pair of smashing victories, including a 6 1/2-length tally in the Nashua S. (G3), and wound up wintering in Dubai. He suffered his only career setback, a fourth in the 2008 U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2), when opening his sophomore season, but wasn't seen again until November, winning an allowance/optional claiming event at Aqueduct 12 months ago. Following another lengthy stay on the sidelines, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee returned this year with a good-looking allowance/optional tally at Saratoga, and he exits a narrow but comfortable neck decision in the Meadowlands Cup. The Darley colorbearer has earned BRIS Speed ratings of 102 and 107 in his last two starts, both at Friday's trip, and Alan Garcia will retain the mount on the interesting colt.

Misremembered is a two-time stakes winner this season for Bob Baffert, proving best in the Indiana Derby (G2) and Swaps S. (G2), and he shows a pair of bullet workouts in preparation for his first start against older horses. The improving sophomore will bring jockey Victor Espinoza with him from the West Coast, and he's 8-1 on Mike Battaglia's morning line. Blame could also be a factor. The bay colt knocked off older rivals over the Polytrack at Keeneland last time, defeating Grade 2 winner Parading (Pulpit) by 1 1/4 lengths in the Fayette S. (G2), and the Al Stall Jr. pupil owns commendable form on the dirt this season. He won the Curlin S. at Saratoga prior to a runner-up effort to Regal Ransom (Distorted Humor) in the Super Derby (G2) two starts back, registering BRIS Speed ratings of 103 and 105 for those efforts, and he's trained well at Keeneland since his last start. Jamie Theriot has the return call, and Blame is listed at 6-1.

DEMARCATION (Gulch) will stretch out to nine furlongs off a 1 1/2-length victory in the Ack Ack H. (G3) on November 6, and KISS THE KID (Lemon the Day) and DUBIOUS MISS (E Dubai) will each enter the Clark in solid form for their connections.

The $100,000 River City H. (G3) will be offered earlier on the program. KARELIAN (Bertrando), who dead-heated in the 2008 running with Demarcation and finished second by a nose in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) two starts back, returns for a title defense. Sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Mile (G1) 20 days ago, the seven-year-old gelding will face a stiff group of challengers in the 1 1/8-mile turf affair. Other top contenders in the 10-horse field include 2008 Canadian turf champion RAHY'S ATTORNEY (Crown Attorney), a two-time Canadian Grade 2 winner this season who exits a victory in the Bunty Lawless S. at Woodbine; Grade 1 victor WICKED STYLE (Macho Uno), a good third in the Fayette most recently; Grade 3 winners BRAVE TIN SOLDIER (Storm Cat) and PLEASANT STRIKE (Smart Strike); and the New York-bred turf ace BANROCK (Go for Gin), a nose second to Presious Passion (Royal Anthem) in the Monmouth S. earlier this year.


 


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