Clark Stakes Predictions, Betting Odds, Top Picks (Churchill Downs)

Clark Stakes Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 MIDNIGHT BOURBON 9/5
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J Rosario S Asmussen
2 NIGHT OPS 12/1
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F Geroux B Cox
3 DR POST 5/1
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I Ortiz Jr T Pletcher
4 HAPPY SAVER 9/2
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T Gaffalione T Pletcher
5 KING FURY 8/1
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B J Hernandez Jr K McPeek
6 CHESS CHIEF 30/1
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J Talamo D Stewart
7 MILITARIST 30/1
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R Bejarano C Vaccarezza
8 MAXFIELD 2/1
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J Ortiz B Walsh

Best Bets for the Clark Stakes

Here are my plays ($45 in total)

$10 Trifecta part wheel – Midnight Bourbon over Maxfield over Dr Post, Happy Saver and King Fury = $30

$5 Trifecta part wheel – Midnight Bourbon over Dr Post, Happy Saver and King Fury over Maxfield = $15

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Midnight Bourbon (9/5).

A Grade 1 showdown on Friday features the older Maxfield against the younger Midnight Bourbon, as they headline a strong field of eight set for the $750,000 Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs.

A Grade 1 winner at 2, Maxfield already has two impressive Grade 2 victories at Churchill Downs this year, having easily scored in both the Alysheba and the Stephen Foster. Most recently the 4year-old son of Street Sense finished second to the speedy Art Collector in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park. Overall, the Brendan Walsh-trained runner has an excellent record of 7-2-1 from 10 career starts. The 9 furlongs Clark will be his final career start.

Midnight Bourbon, meanwhile, is trained by Steve Asmussen and has been a regular factor in important 3-year-old races this year. The son of Tiznow earned his only graded stakes win to begin the season and has been knocking on the door ever since. He was second in the Preakness Stakes in May and most recently finished second in both the Grade 1 Travers and the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher is not ready to concede Clark to the two favorites. He’ll send out a strong pair in Happy Saver and Dr Post. The former is a winner of a 5-of-7 lifetime and comes in off a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a race he won last year. The latter finished just a length behind Maxfield in the Woodward last out and has a pair of Grade 3 victories this year in New York and New Jersey.

Clark Stakes Analysis

Midnight Bourbon

One of two sophomores in the field, this son of Tiznow will break from the rail under top rider Joel Rosario and should go right out for the early lead. That should be a good formula for the Steve Asmussen-trained runner. He won the Grade 3, Lecomte, that way in January and nearly took them all the way in the Grade 1 Travers two starts back. Having run well in ten consecutive graded stakes races there is every reason to believe he will run another good race on Friday. Although this is his first try against older runners, he is already very proven against top company. Tests will come at the head of the lane, but he should be ready for the challenge. He is the top pick.

Maxfield

This Brendan Walsh-trainee will vie for favoritism in what will be his final career start on Friday. With seven wins, six of them stakes, he has been a very consistent runner in his ten-lifetime races. Even in his three losses, including his last two starts, he has turned in very good performances. He also is quite fond of the main track at Churchill Downs, having won all four career starts there, including two impressive wins this year. Much like the last two, when he finished second in big races in New York, he could be vulnerable to the lack of early pace. Even with the advantage going to his rival, though, this classy 4-year-old could still stalk, pounce, and get the job done. He is a big threat to the top pick.

Happy Saver

The first of two from trainer Todd Pletcher, this son of Super Saver has never failed to hit the board in seven career starts. He also has solid Grade 1 experience, having been first and second in the last two editions of the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. He also has enough tactical speed to stay in touch early, before making his move early in the stretch. Having said all that, his season this year has been a bit puzzling, having made only three starts and losing consecutive starts to Max Player. Still lightly raced, perhaps he is ready to turn in his best in his fourth start of the year. He is an interesting alternative to the top two.

Dr Post

Pletcher’s other starter is also a dangerous commodity on Friday. Good enough to be second in the 9-furlong edition of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes last year, this son of Quality Road has yet to win at the Grade 1 level, but has run plenty of very good races both this year and last. Last out in the Woodward, he was out finished by Maxfield, but was still only a length behind him at the wire. If given a more aggressive ride by Irad Ortiz, Jr. on Friday, he should make his presence felt early in the lane of the Clark.

King Fury

The other 3-year-old in the field, this son of Curlin is a two-time stakes winner at Churchill Downs, but unfortunately, both of those wins came against lesser runners than he will see in the Clark. A three-time winner and serious threat in stakes racing a level below this, he has yet to prove he can defeat top-notch horses like the ones he will face on Friday. The 13-length runaway win in the listed Bourbon Trail at Churchill Downs two starts back gives hope that he can be a Grade 1 winner someday, but I only like him fifth-best in this solid field.

Night Ops

While he has finished in the top four in all eight of his starts this year, his least competitive performances came in his last two when he finished fourth in both the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Fayette. He’s also finished behind Dr Post, Happy Saver and King Fury in recent starts. He’s good enough to hit the board if things fall his way, but it’s hard to see him seriously threatening for the win on Friday. The Brad Cox-trained son of Warrior’s Reward is a nice horse who cashes a lot of checks, but looks to be a cut below the top guns in here.

Chess Chief

He is a graded stakes winner this year, having taken down the top prize in the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic back in March, but the son of Into Mischief has not come close to the winner’s circle in his last five tries. He also has been easily handled by Maxfield in all three of their meetings this year. While he has been known to rally up for a lower spot in the exotics against good horses, this looks like a spot where he is more likely to finish near the back of the pack for trainer Dallas Stewart.

Militarist

This lightly raced son of Liam’s Map has won only twice in eight career starts. Both came on the turf and were in either maiden or allowance company. His only stakes experience came when he finished 13 lengths back on a sloppy track in the Fayette at odds of nearly 40/1. Perhaps he can improve on a fast track, but even if he does, he would seem to be a bit overmatched against this Grade 1 field.

How to Watch the Clark Stakes

Clark Stakes Race Information
Race Clark Stakes (Grade 1)
Location Churchill Downs
Time Friday, November 26 — 5:56pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $750,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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