‘We’re Excited To Get Him Back To His Favorite Track’: Rich Strike Headlines Compact Field Set For Clark At Churchill Downs

RED-TR Racing’s Kentucky Derby (G1) hero Rich Strike will return to Churchill Downs and face six challengers entered in Friday’s 148th running of the $750,000 Clark (G1).

The 1 1/8-mile Clark, which has been run every year since 1875 at Churchill Downs, will go as Race 11 of 12 with a post time of 5:56 p.m. (ET). First post for the “Black Friday” card is 1 p.m. and also will feature the 31st running of the $300,000 Mrs. Revere (G2) in Race 10. The 1 1/16-mile turf event will feature Chris Walsh’s Grade 2-winning 3-year-old filly California Angel.

Rich Strike, the 80-1 upset winner of Kentucky Derby, has run four times since his historic victory on the first Saturday in May. The son of Keen Ice tested fellow 3-year-olds two times following the Derby, a sixth-place effort in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and a fourth-place finish in the million Travers (G1).

In his first try against older horses, Rich Strike finished a controversial second to Hot Rod Charlie in the Lukas Classic (G2) Oct.1 at Churchill Downs.

Rich Strike returned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 5 at Keeneland where he finished a troubled fourth after being forced extremely wide on the backstretch around faltering Epicenter, whose jockey Joel Rosario was pulling him up.

“After the Breeders’ Cup we weren’t originally thinking the Clark, but he came out of the race so good,” trainer Eric Reed said of Rich Strike. “In the Classic he was forced wide after Epicenter pulled up and he still managed fourth. He ran a good race and he’s trained well (at the Mercury Training Center in Lexington) since then. We’re excited to get him back to his favorite track here at Churchill.”

Although the Clark is the next target on Reed’s radar for Rich Strike, he’s already thinking ahead to 2023. The veteran conditioner stated Rich Strike could run in the Dubai World Cup (G1) March 25.

Jockey Sonny Leon will have the return mount on Rich Strike for the Clark and the duo will break from post No. 4.

Among Rich Strike’s competition in the Clark are the top three finishers in the Hagyard Fayette (G2) Oct. 29 at Keeneland: Gary and Mary West’s West Will Power, Juddmonte’s Fulsome, and Willis Horton Racing’s Last Samurai.

In the Fayette, West Will Power scored a 6 ¾-length front-running victory over his Brad Cox-trained stablemate Fulsome, who finished three-quarters of a length in front of the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Last Samurai.

West Will Power, a homebred son of Bernardini, began his delayed 5-year-old campaign in August at Ellis Park as the 5-2 second choice in the one-mile R.A. Cowboy Jones Stakes. He finished a head behind fellow Clark runner Injunction. In his next start on Sept. 28, West Will Power won a 1 1/8-mile allowance event at Churchill Downs prior to his dominate victory in the Fayette.

Jockey Luis Saez will ride West Will Power from post 7.

Another top entrant in the Clark is Godolphin’s three-time winner Proxy.

Trained by Mike Stidham, Proxy was on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2021, posting runner-up finishes in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2), both at Fair Grounds. The son of Tapit went to the sidelines following his fourth-place effort in the Stonestreet Lexington (G3) April 10 at Keeneland. In his 4-year-old campaign, Proxy has yet to finish outside the top three with runner-up efforts in the New Orleans Classic (G2) at Fair Grounds and Blame Stakes at Churchill and third-place finishes in the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland and Stephen Foster (G2) July 2 at Churchill in his most recent start.

Jockey Joel Rosario will ride Proxy from the rail.

The Clark field is rounded out by J & J Stables and Nicholas Vaccarezza’s Ack Ack (G3) runner-up Injunction and BBN Racing’s recent allowance winner Trademark, a 3-year-old Upstart gelding.

The complete field for the Clark from the rail out (with jockey, trainer): Proxy (Rosario, Stidham); Trademark (Martin Garcia, Vicki Oliver); Injunction (Rafael Bejarano, Carlo Vaccarezza); Rich Strike (Leon, Reed); Fulsome (Florent Geroux, Cox); Last Samurai (Tyler Gaffalione, Lukas); and West Will Power (Saez, Cox).

The early National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for a high of 47 degrees Friday with a 30% chance of showers.

The post ‘We’re Excited To Get Him Back To His Favorite Track’: Rich Strike Headlines Compact Field Set For Clark At Churchill Downs appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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