Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) – Post time favorite Hoppertunity
successfully continued his comeback to competition by winning Friday’s
$500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, Hoppertunity broke from
the inside post as the 2-1 favorite in the nine-horse field going 1 1/8 miles.
Florida Derby winner Constitution, making just his second start since March,
was the 5-2 second choice.
Hoppertunity pressed the pace being set by Constitution. The two were even
coming out of the final turn, but the favorite took a short lead at the top of
the stretch as Protonico moved into contention.
Hoppertunity had the lead with a 100 yards to run with Protonico drawing
closer. The favorite held on for a half-length win over Protonico with
Constitution getting third and Pick of the Litter fourth.
Rounding out the order of finish were Easter Gift, Prayer for Relief,
Departing, Looking Cool and Knights Nation.
The time for the Clark was 1:49.88 on a fast track.
Hoppertunity, owned by Pegram, Weitman and Watson, added $300,000 to his
bankroll. The 3-year-old colt has earned $922,720 with three wins from seven
starts, all this year.
The colt was fourth in Fair Grounds’ Risen Star Stakes in February and won
Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes the next month. He finish second to California
Chrome in April’s Santa Anita Derby.
However, Hoppertunity was scratched two days before the Kentucky Derby when a
left-front foot injury was discovered.
“It’s disappointing because I think he was very live,” Baffert said.
The colt resumed training in September and came back in a seven-furlong
allowance race on Oct. 29 at Santa Anita, finishing second by a half-length
behind stablemate Pimpernel.
Hoppertunity returned $6.40, $4.60 and $3.40. Protonico paid $6.00 and $4.40,
and Constitution paid $3.80 to show.