BY BROCK SHERIDAN
RRR Racing’s Clapton will make his fourth start at as many tracks in his last four races Saturday when the Florida-bred colt goes to the post in the Grade 2 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs. Trained by Chad Summers, Clapton will take on eight other 3-year-olds and older who are set to go a mile-and-an-eighth in pursuit of the winner’s share of the $500,000 purse.
In his first start after winning the Grade 3 Ghostzapper at a mile-and-a-sixteenth at Gulfstream Park on April 1, Clapton was third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special won by Rattle N Roll, who is also entered for the Lukas Classic. He then traveled to Belmont Park to finish second to Charge It in the Grade 2 Suburban going 10 furlongs on July 8 before finishing fourth, beaten just two-and-a-half lengths by winner Bright Future in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, also at a mile-and-a-quarter, at Saratoga on Sept. 2.
By Arindel stallion Brethren out of Alexandra Rylee, by Afleet Alex, Clapton had five career wins, including last year’s $150,000 Gil Campbell Memorial Handicap at Gulfstream Park in October, all while racing for breeder Arindel before being purchased by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi’s RRR Racing ahead of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Clapton also has four seconds and six thirds in his 23 career starts with earnings of $582,890.
Clapton is 6-1 on the morning line for the Lukas Classic and will have Cristian Torres aboard for the first time when he breaks from post two.
Rattle N Roll is the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Lukas Classic, although he finished sixth, a length-and-a-half behind Clapton, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Trained by Kenneth McPeek for Lucky Seven Stable, Rattle N Roll returns to Churchill where he has won half of his six starts there, including the Grade 3 Blame on June 3, with a second and two thirds. Between the Blame and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Rattle N Roll was second to West Will Power in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, which this year was run at Ellis Park on July 1, going nine furlongs.
Rattle N Roll broke his maiden at Churchill in 2021 and won last year’s $200,000 American Derby under the Twin Spires going a mile-and-a-sixteenth in July.
A 4-year-old son of Connect out of Jazz Tune, by Johannesburg, Rattle N Roll will break from post four with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
Trainer Neil Pessin will try the Lukas Classic with Happy American, who was third in his last two starts in the Stephen Foster and Blame. The 5-year-old son of Runhappy looks to turn the tables on Rattle N Roll after also finishing third, when Rattle N Roll won the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland on April 22.
Happy American is 8-1 in the program and jockey James Graham has the return call. Happy American has drawn post one for the Lukas Classic.
The second choice on the morning line at 5-2 is Americanrevolution, who was second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Constitution has one start since, finishing fourth in the $121,000 Evan Shipman Handicap against state-breds at Saratoga on Aug. 11.
Tyler Gaffalione will ride Americanrevolution for the first time and they have post nine.
The remainder of the field includes Warrant with jockey Florent Geroux, Trademark has Martin Garcia named to ride, Blue Devil will carry Ricardo Santana Jr., Jose Ferrer has the assignment on Whelen Springs and Five Star General will have Corey Lanerie in the saddle.
Return to the Sept. 28 issue of Wire to Wire