By Emily Shields
The last major stakes race for older horses in the country this year is the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on Friday. The historic race drew a full field of 14 with one also eligible on the outside. Several of the biggest names still in training will run, including Code of Honor.
A dual Grade 1 winner last year as a sophomore, Code of Honor has struggled this year with just a single win. That came in June at Belmont Park. The son of Noble Mission then ran third in the Met Mile (G1) and fourth in the Whitney (G1) before finishing second in the Kelso Handicap (G2). The only time the Shug McGaughey trainee ran over this track was the 2019 Kentucky Derby, where he finished third but was placed second following Maximum Security’s disqualification. John Velazquez will ride.
Fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last out was Owendale, who is back for this race. Last year he ran second here, and went on to win the Blame Stakes here in May. Brad Cox trains the son of Into Mischief, who will be ridden by Florent Geroux. He has been top three in 12 of 19 career starts.
Bodexpress drew to his inside. The popular son of Bodemeister was second in allowance company here in September behind fellow entrant Aurelius Maximus. He won an allowance at Gulfstream park West in October by more than 11 lengths for trainer Gustavo Delgado. Rafael Bejarano will ride.
By My Standards is the furthest out of the top contenders. The impressive winner of the Alysheba (G2) here in September, he ran eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last out. The cut back in trip and return to Churchill Downs should help the son of Goldencents, who is trained by Bret Calhoun. He has already won the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap and Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap this year, then finished second in the Grade 1 Whitney. Gabriel Saez will ride.
Mr Freeze is 6-1 for trainer Dale Romans, who calls Churchill Downs home. The son of To Honor and Serve was the winner of the Grade 2 Gayette at Keeneland in October before finishing sixth in the Dirt Mile. He has run here four times, with two wins and a third. He finished third in this race last year.
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