The final week of racing at the Churchill Downs fall meet is highlighted by the $500,000 Clark (G1). The 1 1/8-mile race has drawn a deep and competitive field with lots of logical contenders for handicappers to consider, setting the stage for enticing payoffs.

Crafty Daddy
Total 12 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (99) when prevailing in the Opening Verse S.
Wins: 5 Total Earnings: $355,105
Place: 2
Show: 1
Owner: Lucky Seven Stable Sire: Scat Daddy
Breeder: Edward A. Cox Jr. Dam: Eager Emma
Trainer: Kenny McPeek Color: Dark bay/brown
Jockey: Brian Hernandez

With a 2-for-2 record over the Churchill Downs main track, there’s no doubt Crafty Daddy has an appreciation for the local racing strip. Winner of the Opening Verse S. during the summer, the son of Scat Daddy enters the Clark off a gritty allowance win racing 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs. However, a seventh-place effort in the Fayette (G2) two starts back suggests jumping into to Grade 1 company will be a stiff challenge for Crafty Daddy.

Title Ready
Total 23 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (103) when finishing second in the Stymie S.
Wins: 4 Total Earnings: $574,180
Place: 6
Show: 4
Owner: Charles E. Fipke Sire: More Than Ready
Breeder: Charles Fipke Dam: Title Seeker
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Color: Dark bay/brown
Jockey: Corey Lanerie

A veteran of 23 starts, Title Ready arguably outran expectations when finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), ahead of fellow Clark contender By My Standards. The Dallas Stewart trainee had previously come home third in the Fayette (G2), charging from behind a slow pace to finish just a length behind the winner. Stewart has a reputation for saddling live longshots in big races, but the Clark is another tough spot, and Title Ready may need improvement to finish on the board.

Code of Honor
Total 14 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (109) when winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).
Wins: 6 Total Earnings: $2,553,320
Place: 3
Show: 2
Owner: W. S. Farish Sire: Noble Mission
Breeder: W. S. Farish Dam: Reunited
Trainer: Shug McGaughey Color: Chestnut
Jockey: John Velazquez

Runner-up in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and victorious in the Travers (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) during a stellar 2019 campaign, Code of Honor has struggled to regain his best form in 2020, losing three of his four starts while compromised by unfavorable distances and pace scenarios. Stretching back out over 1 1/8 miles for the Clark should help his chances, and from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective he’s the fastest horse in the field. But can he be trusted to deliver a winning effort at a short price?

Multiplier
Total 31 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (105) when finishing second in the Santa Anita H. (G1).
Wins: 3 Total Earnings: $545,600
Place: 6
Show: 4
Owner: Wachtel Stable, George J. Kerr, and Gary Barber Sire: Orb
Breeder: Mark Stansell Dam: Trippi Street
Trainer: Peter Miller Color: Gray/roan
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Although beaten just a neck when second in the Mar. 7 Santa Anita H. (G1), Multiplier has been struggling to reach the winner’s circle, with his last victory coming 2 1/2 years ago. He took a step in the right direction when finishing second in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Churchill last month, but this veteran 6-year-old will need better to fight for a spot on the board.

Aurelius Maximus
Total 7 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (103) when winning a Fair Grounds allowance race.
Wins: 3 Total Earnings: $212,114
Place: 1
Show: 1
Owner: Stonestreet Stables, George Bolton, and Peter Leidel Sire: Pioneerof the Nile
Breeder: Martell Bloodstock and Fifth Avenue Bloodstock Dam: La Reina
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Color: Bay
Jockey: Ricardo Santana

A delicate colt whose career has been dotted by layoffs, Aurelius Maximus appears to be putting everything together this fall. After beating fellow Clark contender Bodexpress in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs, Aurelius Maximus fought gamely to finish second in the Fayette (G2), beaten just a neck by four-time graded stakes winner Mr Freeze. However, Aurelius Maximus benefited from tracking a slow pace, and there’s no guarantee he’ll receive a similarly favorable setup against tougher competition in the Clark.

Plus Que Parfait
Total 16 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (101) finishing sixth in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2).
Wins: 2 Total Earnings: $1,792,930
Place: 2
Show: 4
Owner: Imperial Racing Sire: Point of Entry
Breeder: Calloway Stables Dam: Belvedera
Trainer: Brendan Walsh Color: Chestnut
Jockey: Robby Albarado

Distant runner-up in the Charles Town Classic (G2) two starts back, Plus Que Parfait hasn’t been the most consistent runner in training, but he’s capable of producing big efforts on his best day. The challenge will be upping his game against Grade 1 competition while running back just three weeks after a fifth-place effort in the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2) racing 1 5/8 miles.

Mr Freeze
Total 17 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (107) when dominating the West Virginia Derby (G3).
Wins: 6 Total Earnings: $1,581,950
Place: 4
Show: 2
Owner: Jim Bakker and Gerry Isbister Sire: To Honor and Serve
Breeder: Siena Farms Dam: Heavenly Cat
Trainer: Dale Romans Color: Chestnut
Jockey: David Cohen

A four-time graded stakes winner with a victory in the 2019 Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill on his resume, Mr Freeze has displayed encouraging form over the last year or so. Victorious over Aurelius Maximus and Title Ready in the Fayette (G2) two starts back, Mr Freeze proved his worth against Grade 1 company when finishing third in the 2019 Clark and second in the Jan. 25 Pegasus World Cup (G1). A spot on the board is well within reach for this capable Dale Romans trainee, though running back 20 days after finishing sixth in a fast-paced renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) could be tricky.

Bodexpress
Total 16 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (107) when dominating a Gulfstream Park West allowance race.
Wins: 3 Total Earnings: $412,500
Place: 4
Show: 3
Owner: Top Racing, Global Thoroughbred, and GDS Racing Stable Sire: Bodemeister
Breeder: Martha Jane Mulholland Dam: Pied a Terre
Trainer: Gustavo Delgado Color: Bay
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

The flashy front-runner Bodexpress enters the Clark off a 1 1/16-mile powerful allowance victory at Gulfstream Park West, where he dominated by 11 1/4 lengths with a career-best 107 Brisnet Speed ratings. But all three of his career victories have come against maiden or allowance company at Gulfstream Park West, hinting that facing Grade 1 company away from his favorite track will be a tough task.

Owendale
Total 19 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (107) when finishing second in the Pimlico Special (G3).
Wins: 6 Total Earnings: $1,302,935
Place: 4
Show: 2
Owner: Rupp Racing Sire: Into Mischief
Breeder: Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings Dam: Aspen Light
Trainer: Brad Cox Color: Bay
Jockey: Florent Geroux

Runner-up in the 2019 Clark, Owendale reiterated his affinity for Louisville’s famous oval when battling to a runner-up effort in the Alysheba (G2) three starts back. A late-charging fifth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) suggests the three-time Grade 3 winner can challenge again for the hot jockey/trainer duo Florent Geroux and Brad Cox, though a top-four finish seems more likely than a trip to the winner’s circle.

Bourbon Calling
Total 20 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (98) when winning a Churchill Downs allowance race.
Wins: 5 Total Earnings: $325,670
Place: 3
Show: 4
Owner: Bourbon Lane Stable and Six Column Stables Sire: Dialed In
Breeder: John W. Phillips and Pamela P. Gartin Dam: Bestowed a Star
Trainer: Ian Wilkes Color: Dark bay/brown
Jockey: Julien Leparoux

A trifecta finisher in seven of his 10 starts at Churchill Downs, Bourbon Calling enters the Clark off runner-up efforts in the Ack Ack (G3) and a Churchill allowance race, beaten in the latter event by Crafty Daddy. His affinity for the local surface is encouraging, though with a career-best 98 Brisnet Speed rating, Bourbon Calling will be a longshot to finish in the money.

Coastal Defense
Total 8 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (97) when winning a Churchill Downs allowance race.
Wins: 2 Total Earnings: $132,516
Place: 2
Show: 0
Owner: Albaugh Family Stables and Helen K. Groves Revocable Trust Sire: Curlin
Breeder: Helen K. Groves Revocable Trust Dam: Trensa
Trainer: Dale Romans Color: Chestnut
Jockey: Joe Talamo

A stoutly-bred son of Curlin out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, Coastal Defense has shown improvement since stretching out around two turns on dirt. After wiring a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs by 2 1/2 lengths, the chestnut 4-year-old endured a severely troubled trip in the Fayette (G2), getting checked, bounced around, and blocked in traffic before rallying to finish fourth by 1 1/4 lengths. A clean trip can produce an improved performance at enticing odds in the Clark.

By My Standards
Total 13 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (107) when finishing second in the Stephen Foster (G2).
Wins: 6 Total Earnings: $1,824,430
Place: 4
Show: 1
Owner: Allied Racing Stable Sire: Goldencents
Breeder: Don Ladd Dam: A Jealous Woman
Trainer: Bret Calhoun Color: Bay
Jockey: Gabriel Saez

Four-time Grade 2 winner was a comfortable winner of the Alysheba (G2) back in September, his sixth straight exacta finish during a busy 2020 campaign. But the typically tactical 4-year-old failed to flash his usual speed against tougher company in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), weakening to finish eighth. On his best day, By My Standards is fast enough to vie for victory in the Clark, and he’s a logical candidate to prevail in Friday. The question is, will he rebound to peak form while facing easier foes, or was the Classic a sign that By My Standards is winding down at the end of a long campaign?

Phantom Currency 
Total 11 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (101) when finishing fourth in a Keeneland allowance.
Wins: 3 Total Earnings: $161,475
Place: 1
Show: 0
Owner: Susan and Jim Hill Sire: Goldencents
Breeder: Sally Thomas and New Dawn Stable Dam: Phantom Rising
Trainer: Brian Lynch Color: Bay
Jockey: Declan Cannon

Although Phantom Currency has been campaigning primarily on turf, the son of Goldencents handled dirt just fine in a 1 1/4-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs last month, leading all the way to win by 2 1/2 lengths. But Phantom Currency failed to fire in his lone start against stakes company, fading to finish tenth in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup S., so the jump in class for the Clark is a big hurdle to overcome.

Silver Prospector
Total 11 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (96) when winning the Southwest (G3).
Wins: 4 Total Earnings: $775,314
Place: 0
Show: 2
Owner: Ed and Susie Orr Sire: Declaration of War
Breeder: Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, and Silver Fern Farm Dam: Tap Softly
Trainer: Steve Asmussen Color: Gray/roan
Jockey: Gerardo Corrales

Silver Prospector ranked among the leading 2-year-olds of 2019 after battling to victory in a tough renewal of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, with future Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Tiz the Law among his beaten rivals. And while Silver Prospector’s form deteriorated during the spring, he bounced back after a freshening to defeat Multiplier in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race on Oct. 30 at Churchill Downs. As the lone 3-year-old in a tough field of older horses, Silver Prospector is bound to be overlooked in the betting, especially while breaking from post 14. But if he steps forward in his second start off the layoff, Silver Prospector can outrun expectations for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

In Love
Total 7 start(s) Top Speed Rating: (89) when winning a Keeneland allowane race.
Wins: 2 Total Earnings: $63,110
Place: 1
Show: 2
Owner: Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I Sire: Agnes Gold
Breeder: Fazenda Mondesir/Stud Rio Dois Irmaos Dam: Last Bet
Trainer: Paulo Lobo Color: Bay
Jockey: Robby Albarado

The field’s lone also-eligible runner will need a scratch from the main body of the field in order to compete. A late-running allowance winner racing 1 1/16-mile over the Keeneland turf, In Love was a stakes winner on dirt in Argentina, but returning to the main track while ascending to Grade 1 company is a tough combination.