The Dale Romans trainee Shackleford will be making his final start of his career on Friday as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $400,000 Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.
The four-year-old colt has won 5 of his 19 starts and has earned $2,824,047 in his career racing for owners Michael Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge.
The colt will be seeking to rebound off a disappointing seventh place finish at 5-2 in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. The loss was his third in a row since winning the Met Mile (G1) by a had fought nose at Belmont Park back in May.
The 2-1 morning line looks light for a colt that is just 1 for 5 at the distance and looks as if he may be heading in the wrong direction form wise. However, his trainer Romans is having a banner year in graded stakes this year, so proceed with caution if you are going to play against him.
Looking to beat him is a trio of runners that share second choice honors on the morning line at 5-1. Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) winner Pool Play, the runner up Cease, and $1.2 million earner Mission Impazible will each take some action.
In addition, Empire Classic winner Lunar Victory (6-1) and Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy (8-1) have legit shots of being in the mix.
The feature at Aqueduct on Friday is the $200,000 Go For Wand (G2), which drew a compact field of five fillies and mares who will go one mile on the main track.
The Rick Dutrow trained Fantasy of Flight is the 7-5 morning line favorite off a 9 ¾ length win against third level optional claimers. The $725,000 purchase stretches out from seven furlongs and appears to be the lone speed in the race.
Willet (5-2) won the New York bred Iroquois with a career top speed figure and appears to be the main threat to the chalk.
Completing the field are Nefertini (4-1), R Gypsy Gold (7-2), and Hard Life (12-1).
Friday’s Best Plays Report includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Churchill Downs.
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Let’s head out to Churchill Downs for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Churchill Downs Race 11 The Clark Handicap G1 (5:35 ET)
4 Bourbon Courage 15-1
10 Lunar Victory 6-1
6 Take Charge Indy 8-1
3 Shackleford 2-1
Analysis: Bourbon Courage is taking on older for the first time here for the Keller barn and looks as if he could be live here at a generous price. Last out the colt made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in the Indiana Derby (G2) behind Neck ‘n Neck, who came back to win the Ack Ack (G3) here on Nov. 2 and had to skip this race due to injury. Two back our top pick won the Super Derby (G2) at Louisiana Downs for his first graded stakes score. The colt is going to run a near career top here to be in the mix but note he started off his career with back to back triple digit Beyers. He is going to get a good pace set up here as Shackleford and Take Charge Indy are going to assure there is going to be an honest pace up front. The colt has been working very quickly over the main track here over the past month.
Lunar Victory ships in from New York where the Bill Mott trainee win the state bred Empire Classic last out on New York Showcase Day. The five year old has won five of six starts this year, the lone loss a runner up finish in the state bred Promenade All two back going a one turn mile at Belmont Park. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and while he is taking a jump up from the New York bred ranks to Grade 1 company, he looks like he fits here with his best.
Take Charge Indy set the early fractions and weakened to finish third last out in the Fayette (G2) over the polytrack at Keeneland in his first start off a 5 1/2 month layoff. This guy won the Florida Derby (G1) back in March, but then was not a threat in the Kentucky Derby (G1), checking in a distant 19th. The colt figures to move forward off his last effort and he has plenty of pedigree to handle nine furlongs. He is by A.P. Indy out of the multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady ($2.48 million).
Shackleford makes his last career start today and is looking to rebound off a disappointing seventh place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The colt has lost four in a row since taking the Met Mile (G1) with a career top back in May. He has run well her with a couple of wins in four trips, but in his career he is just 1 for 5 at the distance and his form just seems to be going in the wrong direction. He has the look of an underlay in this spot.
WIN: #4 to win at 8-1 or better.
EX: 4,10 / 3,4,6,10
TRI: 4,10 / 3,4,6,10 / 1,3,4,6,10
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