News and STORIES

Tom’s d’Etat Looks To Clark At Churchill

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday November 27, 2019
Twelve runners will be looking to score a grade 1 prize in the Nov. 29 Clark Presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) at Churchill Downs. 

While the race does have a purse of $600,000, contenders are more concerned with the prestige of the race. Leading the field is G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat, who took the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland on Oct. 26. 

He is a 6-year-old Smart Strike horse, and he has eight wins from 15 starts with earnings around $886,892. He is a potential sire, and a grade 1 win would help with his stud prospects. 

The Clark is an alternative to some of the other grade 1s like the Breeders’ Cup earlier in the month and the Dec. 7 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct. That race is expected to have Maximum Security, Spun to Run, and Whitmore running. 

Five of the horses in the Clark have not yet won a graded stakes race, and six of them have. The only one to win the Clark before is Seeking the Soul, who took the race two years ago. 

A lot of the horses in the 1 1/8-mile race are more grade 2 or grade 3 runners. Some of them, such as Draft Pick, Owendale, and Bravazo, have placed in grade 1s. Bravazo has made it on the board in six grade 1s, and most of them came last year in races such as the Runhappy Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). 

Tom’s d’Etat has started twice in grade 1s, and he finished fourth in the Aug. 31 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and ninth in the Jan. 26 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park. In that race, Seeking the Soul finished second and Bravazo fourth. 

According to Tom’s d’Etat’s trainer, Al Stall Jr., the Clark “was the perfect race to go after the Fayette. He is stabled and handles Churchill very well.”

He has finished behind Seeking the Soul in two of three matchups, the most recent being third in the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) on June 15 at Churchill. He has also finished ahead of other rivals in different meetings since the fall of 2018. In a sloppy Fayette, he beat Mr. Freeze by 4 1/4 lengths. 

His record is at 2-2-1 in six races over the Churchill Downs main track for Stall, the winner of the 2009 Clark with Blame. That came a year before the colt’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) victory.

Joel Rosario will be aboard Tom’s d’Etat for the race. He was the jockey for the Fayette and an earlier summer win in the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga. 

Seeking the Soul

Seeking the Soul will be looking to make a comeback from an unimpressive summer and fall in California. He is a 6-year-old son of Perfect Soul, and he was taken out West after winning the Stephen Foster. 

That race awarded him an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. He also ran seventh in the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1), fourth in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1), and sixth in the Classic, after being beaten by 15 1/4 lengths by Vino Rosso. 

"We're back at Churchill, where we know he likes to win," Stewart said.

Four of Seeking the Soul’s seven victories out of 30 starts have come locally for owner Charles Fipke. 

Brian Hernandez Jr. will be the jockey aboard Seeking the Soul, and he will attempt to be only the fourth horse to win multiple editions of the Clark. Friday’s race will be the 145th renewal.

Owendale, Bravazo, Draft Pick

Owendale also didn’t perform well in the Classic, finishing 22 1/2 lengths behind in 10th. He took three grade 1 races earlier in the year. They were the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3), Ohio Derby (G3), and Oklahoma Derby (G3). He also ran third in the Preakness Stakes (G1) in May. 

Bravazo finished second to Triple Crown winner Justify in the Preakness, and he has been out of action since the Pegasus Jan. 26. He has been training under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. 

Draft Pick is a new addition to Kentucky, and he was moved towards the Clark after his owners got Midcourt ready for last week’s Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar, according to trainer Peter Eurton. He finished second in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar this summer, and he ran fifth in the Awesome Again at Sant Anita on Sept. 28.