A lot of big horse races on tap as year winds down
By Art Wilson
There are a lot of things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them is that horse racing fans still have nine Grade I races to enjoy this year. Seven of them will be run in Southern California.
The action begins Friday with the $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. The old grizzled veteran, Hoppertunity, will be going in that one.
Del Mar joins the fun Saturday with the $300,000 Hollywood Derby and will follow the next day with the $300,000 Matriarch Stakes. Both races used to be run at Hollywood Park before it closed in 2013.
Aqueduct will host the $750,000 Cigar Mile on Dec. 2, Los Alamitos offers the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity and $300,000 Starlet on Dec. 9, and Santa Anita will round out things when it runs the $300,000 Malibu and La Brea Stakes on opening day, Dec. 26, and then concludes with the $300,000 American Oaks during its opening week.
So lots of action is still on tap this year and some of these Grade I events could carry Eclipse Award implications with them.
Hoppertunity will be trying to become only the fourth horse to win two Clark Handicaps and the first to win in non-consecutive years. He’d join Hodge (1915-16), Bold Favorite (1968-69) and Bob’s Dusty (1977-78) as the historic race’s only two-time winners. The Clark, along with the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, has been run each year without interruption since Churchill Downs’ inaugural meet in 1875 (no, I wasn’t around back then).
Hoppertunity won the Clark in 2014, finished second behind Effinex the following year and then was fourth last year in a race won by Gun Runner, this year’s winner of the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and a slam dunk to be named 2017 Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards ceremony […]