Tim Holland provides his post-Thanksgiving racing picks for Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, and Del Mar.
A competitive field for the Clark (G1) includes #5 Aurelius Maximus (8-1), who narrowly missed when second after being involved from the start in the Fayette (G2) at his distance at Keeneland in his latest in early October. Son of Pioneerof the Nile has shown improvement this year for trainer Asmussen, who wins with 19% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days. 4-year-old can be in good position throughout with Santana remaining aboard.
Trainer Mackey won with two of his last 12 first-time starters and saddles #3 Atlanta (20-1), who has an excellent win-early pedigree being by Speightstown and out of a mare by Indian Charlie. Mackey looks for his first winner of the year but filly has been working well and is worth a look at good odds with Burke riding.
A competitive field for the Gio Ponti includes #2 Ajourneytofreedom (6-1), who finished well when fifth in the Bryan Station S. at Keeneland in his latest this month in his second start since being claimed by Mike Maker. Gelding finished a decent fourth in the Belmont Derby (G1) two back and Maker wins with 17% of his runners on grass. Son of Hard Spun can be along late under Vargas, who has won with one of his last six rides for the barn.
#3 Ice Princess (12-1) closed to finish second at this distance in the Fleet Indian S. at Saratoga in her latest in early September. Daughter of Palace Malice posted a sharp 4-furlong work in :48 a week ago for trainer Gargan, who wins with 25% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days. Gray has won both of two starts on this oval and can be along from off the pace with Alvarado in the saddle.
Chad Brown wins with 28% of his runners in non-graded stakes and saddles #10 Miss Teheran (8-1), who has not raced since narrowly missing when closing to finish second at this distance at Monmouth in early September. Brown wins with 27% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days and daughter of good European sire Teofilo has won two of her five career starts. Chestnut can be closing with Juarez aboard.
#2 Oscar Dominguez (15-1) won this event last year and found little pace to close into when fifth in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) over 10 furlongs at Santa Anita in his latest. Gelding follows the same path that led to his win 12 months ago and trainer Baltas wins with 17% of his runners that have not raced for 46-90 days. 7-year-old should find a decent pace here to suit his running style with Irad Ortiz in the irons.