From long shot to favorite: Derby winner Rich Strike 2-1 pick in Clark Stakes at Churchill

Grace Ramey/photo@bgdailynews.com

One of America’s oldest races and one of its newest stars will provide the backdrop for an important lineup of horse races on the final weekend of the Fall Meet at Churchill Downs.

Rich Strike, winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby as an 80-1 long shot last May, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a field of seven for the 148th running of Friday’s $750,000, Grade 1 Clark Stakes, a race that has been run every year since 1875 at the Louisville track.

Friday’s 12-race card also includes the $300,000, Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes for 3-year-old fillies headlined by 2-1 morning-line favorite California Angel.

Closing day on Saturday includes 12 races, most notably the $400,000, Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the $400,000, Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile races for 2-year-olds provide qualifying points toward next year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively.

In the Clark Stakes, Rich Strike will be racing for the ninth time in 2022 and for the first time since finishing fourth this month in the $6 million, Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. He has not won in four starts since his stunning victory in the Run for the Roses, finishing sixth in the Belmont Stakes, fourth in the Travers Stakes and second in the Lukas Classic Stakes at Churchill before the Breeders’ Cup.

“After the Breeders’ Cup we weren’t originally thinking the Clark, but he came out of the race so good,” trainer Eric Reed said. “In the Classic he was forced wide after Epicenter pulled up and he still managed fourth. He ran a good race and he’s trained well since then. We’re excited to get him back to his favorite track here at Churchill.”

Among Rich Strike’s competition in the 1 1/8-mile Clark are the top three finishers in the $350,000, Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 29: West Will Power (5-2), Fulsome (6-1) and Last Samurai (10-1). Proxy, who finished third in the Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill in his most recent outing on July 2, is 7-2 on the morning line. The field also includes Injunction (6-1) and Trademark (20-1).

First post Friday is 1 p.m., with the Clark scheduled for 5:56 p.m. (Fox Sports 2).

Saturday’s racing also begins at 1 p.m., with the Golden Rod at 5:27 p.m. and the Kentucky Jockey Club at 5:56 p.m. (FanDuel TV).