First Mission heads Clark field of 10

Churchill Downs stakes advances by Kevin Kerstein (Coady photo of First Mission winning Keeneland’s Lexington)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, Nov. 17, 2023) – Godolphin’s First Mission, a well-regarded and lightly-raced 3-year-old colt, will take on a field of 10 older horses that entered Friday’s 149th running of the Grade II, $600,000 Clark presented by Norton Healthcare at Churchill Downs.

The Clark field will head to post in Race 11 of 12 at 5:56 p.m. (all times Eastern). The annual “Black Friday” program from Churchill Downs also will feature the $300,000 Mrs. Revere (GII) in Race 10. First post is 1 p.m.

Trained by Brad Cox, First Mission sports a solid record of three wins from just four starts including a half-length score earlier this year in the Lexington Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland. The late-developing First Mission entered this year’s Preakness (GI) as one of the favorites but was scratched prior to the race with an ankle injury. First Mission returned six months later in a second-level allowance contest at Keeneland where he overcame a troubled trip to defeat Commandperformance by a neck. Jockey Luis Saez will be on board First Mission in the Clark and break from post No. 2.

Another accomplished 3-year-old that entered the Clark is Alexandres LLC’s Il Miracolo. Trained by Antonio Sano, Il Miracolo has been well-traveled throughout the second half of the season. The Clark will mark the sixth different track Il Miracolo has competed at in the past six months. The Florida-based son of Gun Runner scored the highlight of his career three starts ago when he cruised to a three-length victory in the Smarty Jones (GII) at Parx. Four weeks ago, Il Miracolo dueled with O’Connor in the Fayette (GII) at Keeneland but finished a head behind in second. Leading rider Tyler Gaffalione will have the call from post 3.

Harrell Ventures and CHC INC’s Gasoline will attempt his first try at graded stakes company. The Todd Pletcher trainee rose through his allowance conditions when he easily won a third-level allowance event by 5 ¼ lengths at the beginning of the Fall Meet. The 4-year-old son of Curlin will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post 4.

If Gasoline won the Clark, Pletcher would tie trainers Smiley AdamsBob Baffert and Ben Jones for the most wins in the race with three. Pletcher previously won the Clark with Magna Graduate (2005) and A.P. Arrow (2007).

Other notable entrants in the Clark include Lukas Classic (GII) runner-up and third-place finishers Trademark and Blue Devil; R.A. Cowboy Jones winner Stage Raider, the half-brother to 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify; Grade III winner Giant Game; and New York-bred stakes winner Straight Arrow.

The field for the Clark from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Straight Arrow (Florent Geroux, Mike Dini); First Mission (Saez, Cox); Il Miracolo (Gaffalione, Sano); Gasoline (Prat, Pletcher); Trademark (Fernando De La Cruz, Vicki Oliver); Film Star (Jose Lezcano, Linda Rice); Giant Game (Martin Garcia, Dale Romans); Happy American (Declan Cannon, Neil Pessin); Stage Raider (Brian Hernandez Jr., Cherie DeVaux) and Blue Devil (Javier Castellano, Jeff Hiles).

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GRADE II WINNER HEAVENLY SUNDAY TOPS $300,000 MRS. REVERE – Miacomet Farm’s Edgewood Stakes (Grade II) winner Heavenly Sunday is set to face a field of 12 3-year-old fillies entered in Friday’s 32nd running of the $300,000 Mrs. Revere (GII) at Churchill Downs.

The Mrs. Revere, scheduled to run at 1 1/16 miles on turf, was carded as Race 10 with a post time of 5:27 p.m. The race shares the Friday spotlight with the $600,000 Clark presented by Norton Healthcare (GII), which will go as Race 11. First post on the 12-race card is 1 p.m.

Heavenly Sunday, trained by Brad Cox, is a three-time winner from eight starts. The daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) enters the Mrs. Revere following her narrow runner-up effort to Surge Capacity in last month’s Valley View (GIII) at Keeneland. Heavenly Sunday recorded her most notable win at Churchill Downs when she went wire-to-wire in the Edgewood on Kentucky Oaks Day. Jockey Florent Geroux will have the mount in the Mrs. Revere from post No. 12. 

Other notable fillies that entered the Mrs. Revere include Fergus Galvin and Rebecca Hillen’s Pucker Up (GIII) winner SafeenMichael Milam’s Grade II placed Neecie Marie; and G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Valley View third-place finisher Bling.

Here is the complete Mrs. Revere field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Beach Walkn (Luan Machado, Ben Colebrook); Cha Cha Tap (Julien Leparoux, Milan Milosevic); Neecie Marie (Flavien Prat, Butch Reid); Hay Stack (Javier Castellano, Whit Beckman); Sabalenka (Declan Cannon, Whit Beckman); Financial Advice (FR) (Joe Talamo, Steven Chircop); Bling (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver); Make the Boys Wink (Tyler Gaffalione, Robert Medina); Safeen (Luis Saez, Eddie Kenneally); Watch This Birdie (Vince Cheminaud, Ignacio Correas IV); Callie’s Grit (Brian Hernandez Jr., Joe Sharp); and Heavenly Sunday (Geroux, Cox).

DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing resumed Friday for a nine-race card that began at 1 p.m. There was a $131,959 carryover in the 20-cent Derby City 6 Jackpot that spanned Races 4-9. … Trainer Brad Cox will be the special guest Friday’s season finale of “Inside Churchill Downs” that airs at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7. Those outside the Louisville area can listen live on

… For more information about the Churchill Downs Fall Meet, visit

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.