July 19, 2024

Seeking the Soul faces Leofric, Bravazo in Clark title defense

Seeking the Soul earns his first stakes win taking the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 24, 2017 (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Since 1902, when the race was first open to older runners, only three horses have managed to win the Clark H. (G1) twice. Seeking the Soul will attempt to become the fourth when the signature event of Churchill Downs’ Fall meet is renewed Friday.

Trained by Dallas Stewart, Seeking the Soul captured the $500,000, 1 1/8-mile event by a half-length last season in what was his first career stakes victory. After a few clunkers earlier this season, including a fifth in the Pegasus World Cup (G1), Charles Fipke’s homebred son of Perfect Soul has captured the one-mile Ack Ack (G3) and finished second best to City of Light in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in his two most recent outings.

“He’s just getting better as the year goes on,” Stewart said. “Similar to his campaign last year when he won the Clark, he was peaking during this time. I would’ve liked to him to have had a shot to run in the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic (G1) but it is what it is. Hopefully he runs well in the Clark and he can get another shot at the Pegasus in January.”

Previous dual winners of the Clark were Hodge (1915-16), Bold Favorite (1968-69), and Bob’s Dusty (1977-78).

The always-dangerous Brad Cox barn sends out Leofric, who’s won or placed in all four graded outings this term. Third in the Woodward (G1) two back while Seeking the Soul struggled in 13th, Leofric bounced back to wear down front-running Prime Attraction by a head in the October 27 Fayette (G2) at Keeneland.

Risen Star (G2) winner Bravazo, 2 1/2 lengths adrift of Seeking the Soul when finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, will look to give Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas a third win in the Clark. He won the race in 2000 with Surfside and in 2013 with Will Take Charge, both of whom clinched three-year-old titles by winning.

While Prime Attraction is the one likely to set the pace, Hence figures to lag far back. The Grade 3 veteran has won Listed stakes at Albuquerque and Remington Park this summer, but has otherwise struggled against better. Hawaakom beat Leofric in the Razorback H. (G3) over a muddy track last winter but has struggled since finishing second in the Alysheba (G2) in May.

The field is rounded out by longshots Storm Advisory and Sightforsoreeyes, both owned by Looch Racing Stable.

The supporting feature is the $200,000 Mrs. Revere, a 1 1/16-mile grass test for three-year-old fillies. The likely favorite is the Chad Brown-trained Stella di Camelot, who sprung a mild 8-1 upset of the $200,000 Pebbles at Belmont in her U.S. debut on October 13.

Front-runner Cool Beans and Get Explicit both exit placings in the Valley View (G3) at Keeneland, while Princess Warrior has earned checks in the Pucker Up (G3), Dueling Grounds Oaks, and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) in her last three.