Friday night’s Northlands Filly Pace eliminations are races 9 and 10 on the card and both races have seven runners. Cenalta Fireworks is the 2/1 favorite and is coming off a huge second place effort in the $75,000 Super Finals on November 2nd. She’ll be making her first start since then and hasn’t won in her last five starts, so she could be a vulnerable favorite. Contesta Hanover is another with a class edge over some of these rivals and goes for the red-hot Keith Clark barn. Freedoms Treasure took home the Super Finals Consolation on November 2nd and also comes into this race off a four week layoff. The second elimination for the Northlands Filly Pace has Crackers Hot Shot as the 2/1 morning line favorite. She was a winner of her Alberta Marquis elimination three back and has run a couple of good efforts in her last two, including a third place finish in the Super Final. She’ll have to catch Gts Selene who might be the early speed in here and can be tough to catch when she gets on the lead. She won the Super Final going wire to wire.
Saturday night will feature the eliminations for the Western Canada Pacing Derby and it will be a big test for Premium Attaction who is coming off two disastrous races. Premium Attaction dominated four straight races at Alberta Downs before coming to Northlands and putting up two straight eight place efforts. If he’s on his game then he’ll be tough and he’s had a few weeks of training to get his mind right. American Venture drew the outside for Keith Clark and might end up sending for the lead as he has really good speed. Big N Bad has been competing with open runners so he should get some attention at the windows as well now that he’s back with three year olds.
The second elimination came up very tough with recent open pace winners Blue Star Admiral and Beren Hanover in the mix. Playbook has been one of the stars of the season here so far and drew post 8. Playbook took home the Maverick and the Super Final and did so in wire to wire fashion, so look for J. Brandon Campbell to blast out of there early.
North American Simulcast Racing Preview
Clark Handicap Friday; Stakes Double Saturday at Churchill Downs
It’s a big weekend at Churchill Downs as Friday night will feature the biggest event of the fall meet, the $500,000 Grade 1 Clark Handicap. Saturday will have a pair of Grade 2 events for two year olds as part of the Stars of Tomorrow card. The Clark Handicap drew a field of nine including two of the top older horses in training, Game on Dude and Will Take Charge. Game on Dude threw a dud in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but other than that his 2013 resume is spotless. He’ll be making just his third start at Churchill Downs and last time he was in Louisville he ran a huge second in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2011. Mike Smith will once again be on board Game on Dude and it looks like Our Double Play might be their only early pace rival, so they could get a bit of a break early on.
Will Take Charge has become a monster in the second half of his three year old season and most recently missed winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose. He won the Grade 1 Travers and has become ultra-consistent with his late running style since being paired with jockey Luis Saez. Golden Ticket will get some support at the windows after running a good second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on a day where he was the only horse who closed into a very speed favoring track. He’s run some good races at Churchill and could make another late run.
Northlands Selections for the Clark Handicap
- Game on Dude
- Will Take Charge
- Golden Ticket
Longshot: Easter Gift
Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club are Churchill Saturday features
Two year olds will be the center of attention on Churchill’s closing day Stars of Tomorrow card. The Grade 2 Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club are the headliners, both offering up a $150,000 purse. Both races drew fields of ten and both are carded at a mile and one sixteenth. The Golden Rod is for the the two year old fillies and like many two year old races this time of year, features a number of maiden breakers looking to stamp themselves as stakes winners. Madly Truly is already a graded stakes winner as she took home the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine in her last start. She was fourth in the Grade 2 Natalma two starts back on the grass. She’ll be making just her second start on the dirt, her first being a fourth place finish at Churchill in her debut. Stonetastic drew the outside and was Grade 2 placed when she finished second in the Pocahontas Stakes in September. She followed that up with a well beaten fourth in the Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct last time out.
The Kentucky Jockey Club is for the two year old boys and there are no stakes winners in the field. Tapiture is still a maiden, but two starts back he led the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes in mid-stretch and finished a good third, beaten just a half a length. He was third in a tough maiden special weight last time out, beaten by Culprit and Notability, who have both shown up in this spot. Almost Famous is a two time winner and torched allowance/optional claiming rivals last time out. He drew the inside post so look for Corey Lanerie to send from that inside post-position.
Northlands Selections for the Golden Rod
- Playful Love
- Bird Maker
Longshot: Naïve Enough
Northlands Selection for the Kentucky Jockey Club
Longshot: Dobra Historia
Hawthorne Gold Cup is Saturday at Hawthorne
Hawthorne will feature one of the biggest races of the season on Saturday afternoon as nine runners will compete in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup. The race is at a mile and a quarter and carries a $350,000 purse and has drawn an attractive group. Last Gunfighter is the 9/5 morning line favorite and is coming off a fifth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s certainly getting some class relief on Saturday and he’ll be making his first try at Hawthorne. Joe Bravo will have the mount and Last Gunfighter will be looking to come from off the pace, but who will he have to target is the question. The race is kind of void of early speed, with the exception of Alpha. Alpha generally likes to go right to the front but he broke horribly in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and he’ll have to improve his pre-gate antics. Eddie Castro will climb on board of Alpha for the Hawthorne Gold Cup and don’t be surprised if he sends right to the front. Prayer For Relief might have a tactical advantage in this race, as he usually sits a little bit closer than some of the off the pace types and could get first run on Alpha at the top of the daunting Hawthorne stretch.
The Hawthorne Gold Cup is the 8th race at Hawthorne on Saturday evening and post time is 4:35pm.
Northlands Selections for the Hawthorne Gold Cup
- Prayer For Relief
- Last Gunfighter
- Suns Out Guns Out
Longshot: Street Spice