February 22, 2024

Trademark edges First Mission by a nose in Clark

Trademark (outside) defeated First Mission by a nose in the Clark S. (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Jetta Vaughns/Coady Photography)

Trademark saved ground until angling out for the stretch drive and gamely outfinished First Mission in Friday’s $599,500 Clark (G2) at Churchill Downs, earning his first graded win with a nose decision. Now 4-for-6 at Churchill Downs, and a head runner-up in the Lukas Classic (G2) two starts previously, Trademark pushed his career earnings past $1 million ($1,049,865) from a $22-6-3-1 record.

Vicki Oliver trains the four-year-old gelding for BBN Racing, and Fernando De La Cruz regained the mount on the stalker. Off as the 13-1 seventh choice among nine runners, Trademark completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.95.

“We knew he loves this track and he sure showed it tonight,” Oliver said. “He’s run some of his best races here which gave us confidence going into the race. He doesn’t like to be inside horses and I think when Fernando got him outside that was a big key to get him to show his best run.”

Grade 3 winner First Mission, the 1.22-1 favorite, showed speed from the inside at the break, but Fim Star advanced to show the way in opening splits of :23.27 and :47.97 while being pressured. Trademark settled about two lengths behind the frontrunners along the inside.

First Mission advanced to take a short advantage on the far turn, completing six panels in 1:12.45, and surged to a one-length advantage with a furlong remaining. Trademark shifted to the outside for clear sailing and rallied to reach even terms in deep stretch. First Mission battled determinedly when challenged, but Trademark gained the upper hand late to prevail in a photo finish.

“I thought at the sixteenth pole I had a big shot at winning,” De La Cruz said. “He relaxed early and I saved ground, just waiting for the right opportunity to get him outside. He’s always been a very nice horse. I’ve been on him a couple of times and knew he was pretty tactical in his races. He showed a big turn of foot in the stretch and fought all the way to the wire.”

It was another five lengths back to third-placer Il Miracolo, who was followed by Blue Devil, Gasoline, Film Star, Straight Arrow, Giant Game, and Stage Raider.

Bred in Kentucky Brereton Jones, Trademark was purchased for $42,000 as a yearling at the 2020 Keeneland September sale. He’s the first stakes winner from the unraced Creative Cause mare Creative Trick, a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Include Me Out and Check the Label.

Trademark earned his first stakes victory in the off-the-turf Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs last fall, and the bay captured the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial S. at Horseshoe Indianapolis this summer. He’s recorded three graded stakes placings, including a half-length second in Philip H. Iselin (G3) at Monmouth Park in mid-August.

Oliver said January’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park could be an option for Trademark.

The $298,250 Mrs. Revere S. for three-year-old fillies, a Grade 2 event pending review by the American Graded Stakes Committee, was taken off turf, and Heavenly Sunday made the most of her first main track appearance, scoring in hand by five lengths. A Grade 2 winner on turf, and close second most recently in the grassy Valley View (G3) at Keeneland on Oct. 27, the Brad Cox-trained filly tracked the pace in second before taking over on the far turn.

Florent Geroux was up on the 1.41-1 favorite, and Heavenly Sunday turned 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.69. William Harrigan’s Miacomet Farm campaigns the daughter of Candy Ride.

Beach Walkn, Make the Boys, Callie’s Grit, Neecie Marie, Safeen, Sabalenka, Financial Advice, and Cha Cha Tap completed the order of finish. Heavenly Sunday improved her career ledger to 9-4-2-2.