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Effinex and Hoppertunity meet again in Clark

Effinex (right) beats Hoppertunity to win last year's edition of the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, where the pair clash again for the 2016 running on Friday
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Churchill Downs: Clark Handicap (Grade 1) 1m1f | dirt | 3yo+ (10.56pm GMT)

Last year’s one-two Effinex and Hoppertunity meet again as part of a top-class field for the Clark, a highlight of the Thanksgiving weekend featuring four Grade 1 winners plus leading three-year-old Gun Runner.

After finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Effinex (Jimmy Jerkens/Junior Alvarado) took the 2015 running of this $500,000 contest by three-quarters of a length. But he could finish only seventh behind Arrogate in this year’s Classic – three places behind Hoppertunity (Bob Baffert/John Velazquez), who had also beaten him in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at the start of October.

Effinex is joined by stablemate Shaman Ghost (Jimmy Jerkens/Javier Castellano), the Woodward Stakes winner who missed the Classic after spiking a fever the day before the race. Gun Runner (Steve Asmussen/Florent Geroux) beaten by Tamarkuz in the Dirt Mile, has won twice at Churchill Downs, where he was third in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Bidding for his first Grade 1 success, he breaks from the rail in a ten-runner field also featuring talented front-runner Noble Bird (Mark Casse/Julien Leparoux), who comes into the Clark off impressive back-to-back victories in lesser grade and won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at this venue last year.

Also on Friday

Churchill Downs: Mrs. Revere Stakes (Grade 2) 1m½f | turf | 3yo fillies (10.27pm GMT)

A second meeting for Del Mar Oaks winner Harmonize (Bill Mott/Junior Alvarado) and Hawksmoor (Arnaud Delacour/Florent Geroux), separated by a nostril when second and third to Time And Motion in a tight finish to the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. Hawksmoor, twice a Group-race winner for Hugo Palmer, is now trained in the States and has a 3lb pull this time.

Breeders’ Cup Sprint purse money withheld

Prize-money for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint has been withheld by the California Horse Racing Board. Such action sometimes indicates an abnormality in a post-race dope test for one of the placed horses, and purses for the other 12 Breeders’ Cup races have been distributed as normal. "All I know is we got our money," said Bob Baffert, trainer of the winner Drefong, quoted in the Daily Racing Form.

Top two-year-old Not This Time retired after injury

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Not This Time, said by trainer Dale Romans to be the best he has ever trained, has been retired to Taylor Made in Kentucky after being diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury to his off-fore.

The ten-runner field also features talented front-runner Noble Bird, who comes into the Clark off impressive back-to-back victories in lesser grade
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