SEEKING THE SOUL RIGHT FOR THE CLARK
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they try and find themselves. For some it comes early, for others it is down the road a bit. One aptly named Thoroughbred is hoping November 23 will be another one of those affirming moments in his blossoming career.
Seeking the Soul is a five-year old son of the Irish-bred Perfect Soul that hopes to make a statement in the signature race of Churchill Downs’ Fall Meet. This late-running Kentucky-bred has eyes on the grade 1 Clark Handicap as an opportunity to continue his climb up the ladder of life. Trained by Dallas Stewart, the Soul has been very consistent in the past year as he has 3 wins and 2 seconds in his last 7 starts. In fact, his entire career has been reasonably good as he has been in the top 3 in 16 of 22 lifetime starts (6 wins).
“I can say he is doing great,” says Stewart. “I think he is at the top of his game right now. He looks fantastic and has been eating everything in sight. We have taken our time with him this year and the Clark is coming at a good time for us.”
The Clark is an attractive spot for Seeking the Soul for several reasons. As one of the oldest stakes races in the country (144 years), the prestige is obviously there. The fact he won the 143rd running with a stellar stretch run in 2017 is also a huge plus. Last year, Stewart and the Soul’s owner (Charles Fipke) were so impressed with the Clark win, they sent him into the $16 million Pegasus Cup at Gulfstream back in January (5th place finish). If things go the way they want, 2018 could offer more of the same.
“Our goal is to use the Clark as a springboard to the Pegasus again,” says Stewart. “We have figured some things out about him as he has matured. Johnny Velazquez will be in the saddle same as last year and that is another plus. This is a grade 1 race that we have been targeting since the summer. It’s worth $500,000 and that’s not chump change.”
The mile and an eighth Clark will mark Seeking the Soul’s third consecutive start beneath the twin spires. On September 29, Stewart sent him postward in the Ack Ack Stakes. Running his race, the Soul powerfully scored in the grade 3 one turn mile. The win was impressive enough his veteran conditioner sent him to the starting gates for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 3 also at Churchill Downs. Once again closing with a flourish, Stewart’s charge ran a strong second to City of Light. Now he will look to join recent Clark winners Shackleford (2012), Will Take Charge (2013), Effinex (2015), and Gun Runner (2016) that used the Breeders’ Cup to prep for this historic drive over the Churchill dirt.
“If you want to win big races like this you got to have a healthy horse for sure,” says Stewart. “We have been very pleased with how he came out of the Breeders’ Cup. Seeking the Soul will be ready and he loves the track. We are excited for another great opportunity at a place we love to run.”
Seeking the Soul will look to become the fourth horse to win back to back Clarks and the first since Bob’s Dusty back in 1977 and 1978. First post is slated for 1 pm eastern on Clark Day. Likely challengers are Bravazo, Hawaakom, Leofric, Hence, and Prime Attraction to name a few.