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Churchill Downs: Casse must choose among three for Clark Handicap
By Marty McGee
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Another Breeders’ Cup is in the books, and after catching their collective breath, horsemen are turning their attention to their next opportunities before the year is out.
One of those is trainer Mark Casse, who is eyeballing the showcase race of the Churchill Downs fall meet, the Grade 1 Clark Handicap on Nov. 23. Casse has as many as three horses as prospects for the $400,000 race, including two exiting the Nov. 2-3 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
Those horses are Delegation, third in the BC Mile; Pool Play, eighth in the BC Classic; and Stealcase, third in the Ack Ack Handicap here opening day.
Casse said Pool Play, upset winner of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill in 2011, is the most likely to run in the 1 1/8-mile Clark, while Delegation and Stealcase are possible starters.
“I may run two of the three, but not all three,” he said. “Whoever doesn’t run here, I may ship to the Cigar Mile” on Nov. 24 at Aqueduct.
Nominations for the Clark and the other graded races on closing weekend (Nov. 22-25) were scheduled for release Friday afternoon. Among those already confirmed for the Clark are Neck ‘n Neck, winner of the Ack Ack, and Take Charge Indy, who was third in the recent Fayette Stakes at Keeneland.
The most intriguing Clark possibility is Shackleford, who might well be the race favorite if trainer Dale Romans elects to run him. After being shown this weekend in Lexington at an open house at Darby Dan Farm, where he will begin stud duty next year, Shackleford will return to Churchill to train for one final race, which either will be the Clark or the Cigar Mile, said Romans.
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