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Seeking the Soul_Ack Ack 2018_615x400



Photo: Coady Photography

Friday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Clark Handicap
at Churchill Downs is one of the final major races of the year for older
dirt horses. This year’s 1 1/8-miles race for 3-year-olds and up attracted the
2017 winner Seeking the Soul, who is primed to defend his title. The Clark also
gives 3-year-olds a chance to step up outside of Breeders’ Cup competition,
which Kentucky Derby contender Bravazo will take advantage of.

The Clark is scheduled as Race 11 of 12 on Friday’s card. Post time is 5:56
p.m. ET. Here’s a look at the field with projected morning line odds:

1. Prime Attraction, 6-1
(Unbridled’s Song – James Cassidy/Kent
Desormeaux – 19:4-4-2 – $499,545):
In this round of Grade 1 company, Prime
Attraction will get away from leading horse Accelerate. He’s searching for his
first win since the Native Diver (G3) a year ago and lost by a head last out in
Keeneland’s Fayette (G2). He’s run against the big West Coast horses most of
the year, showing versatile running styles, and should benefit while away from the
division leaders. Competitive in this spot.

2. Hence, 8-1
(Street Boss –
Steve Asmussen/Ricardo Santana Jr. – 18:5-1-1 – $888,731):
Hence will attempt
to rebound from fourth in the Fayette for Calumet Farm. Although the multiple
Grade 3 winner has picked up stakes wins in New Mexico, Iowa and Oklahoma, he’s
yet to break through on a major circuit. He gets to avoid leading older horses
and 3-year-olds in the Clark, but there’s other knocking on the door that have fared
better in Grade 1 company. Needs his best effort yet.

3. Seeking the Soul, 2-1
(Perfect Soul – Dallas Stewart/John Velazquez – 22:6-5-5 – $1,652,542):
Like last year, the defending winner is peaking in the fall and looms as the
horse to beat. Seeking the Soul rebounded from a poor Woodward (G1) effort to
win the Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill Downs before running second in the Breeders’
Cup Mile (G1). Off those two efforts, the Clark is his race to lose, and he has
the home track advantage. Fit to defend his title.

4. Hawaakom, 10-1
(Jazil – Wes Hawley/Joe
Rocco Jr. – 45:9-8-8 – $1,034,305):
The former claimer earned Grade 3 status
when he won the Razorback Handicap in February. From seven starts this year, he’s
hit the board three times. Last time he tried Grade 1 company at Churchill Downs
he was fourth in the Stephen Foster. The 8-year-old most recently finished off
the board in Grade 3 company at Mountaineer and Parx. Recent reverse in form.

5. Leofric, 9-2
(Candy Ride –
Brad Cox/Florent Geroux – 13:7-1-3 – $650,340):
Second to Hawaakom in the
Razorback, Leofric improved to break through in the West Virginia Governor’s
Stakes (G3) and run third in the Woodward. He then came back to beat Prime
Attraction in the Fayette. This horse has been on or near the lead recently,
but has also won from last, and could find himself running on the front with
Prime Attraction again. Improving and dangerous.

6. Bravazo, 4-1
(Awesome
Again – D. Wayne Lukas/Joel Rosario – 15:3-3-3 – $1,206,528):
The Clark Handicap will be the eighth consecutive
Grade 1 race Bravazo, also owned by Calumet, has run in, and his second against
older horses. The Preakness runner-up was last seen running third in the
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He was also second in the Haskell and third in the
Travers this year, and should come running if he shows up. Picks up the pieces.

7. Storm Advisory,
15-1
(Weigelia – Anthony Quartarolo/Albin Jimenez – 50:10-8-8 – $444,652):
Storm Advisory is making his graded stakes debut in the Clark. The 6-year-old
Loooch Racing runner has a listed stakes win to his name and won his last two
races in allowance company at Churchill Downs and Thistledown. Those were both
sprinting, and he’ll be stretching out against those experienced at longer
distances. A hard task to accomplish.

8. Sightforsoreeyes,
15-1
(Sightseeing – Anthony Quartarolo/Tyler Gaffalione – 26:5-2-5 – $191,063):
This is another Loooch runner taking a major step up. Sightforsoreeyes was fourth
in the Vosburgh (G1), then rebounded to win a 1 1/16-miles allowance race at
Thistledown. His lone stakes win came at a mile in Nebraska before running for
Loooch. The Vosburgh came after two attempts on the turf.
The right experience is
questionable.



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