Special Envoy Looks to Continue Streak in Henry Clark

Special Envoy Looks to Continue Streak in Henry Clark

Winner of Two Straight Seeks First Stakes Victory in $100,000 Turf Event

BALTIMORE, MD., 04/16/15 --- Unbeaten in two starts to open his 4-year-old campaign, Special Envoy will have to overcome 13 rivals from post 13 to keep his win streak going in Saturday’s $100,000 Henry S. Clark at Pimlico Race Course.

The 15th running of the one-mile Clark for 3-year-olds and up on the turf is one of six stakes worth $575,000 on Pimlico’s 10-race program that also includes the 34th renewal of the $100,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds.

Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone’s Special Envoy is one of two horses in the Clark trained by Arnaud Delacour, joining Team Valor International’s Captain’s Affair. Special Envoy raced only four times in 2014, the last being a fifth-place finish as the favorite in the one-mile James Murphy on the undercard of the Preakness (G1).

Nine months later the gelded son of Stroll came back with a four-length allowance victory Feb. 14 at Tampa Bay Downs, and followed up with a 1 ½-length optional claiming allowance triumph March 18.

“He was a very immature 3-year-old. It took him a long time to understand what was going on,” Delacour said. “He was a little bit headstrong and a little bit difficult to train. We had a little bit of an issue with him so we gave him a break and gelded him. I think it took a lot of immaturity out of him and it’s helped him in his races. We’ve always liked him a lot.”

Captain’s Affair drew post three in the Clark, which will be his fourth start of 2015 and first at Pimlico. Each of his last four races have come in Tampa, capping his 3-year-old season with a December allowance victory and opening the year with an optional claiming allowance triumph Jan. 7. Most recently he closed to be second, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, Feb. 25 going one mile.

“He’s a very nice horse. He’s a fun horse for us. All the time he runs he tries very hard. He’s been doing great for us,” Delacour said. “The last time he ran well, but the jockey had to take him wide a little bit and that probably cost him, but the winner (Rerun) was a good horse.”

Delacour’s regular rider, Luis Garcia, will be aboard in the Clark and together the two have gotten familiar with how Captain’s Affair prefers to run.

“We learned a little bit how to ride him because we think that he does better when he’s covered up,” Delacour said. “One time he made the lead and didn’t quite finish as well as he usually does, but as long as he’s covered up with a fair pace he always performs well.”

Talk Show Man has won the last two races he’s finished, taking the Maryland Million Turf Oct. 18 and an optional claiming allowance March 26 in his 5-year-old debut, the latter by 5 ½ lengths, both at Laurel Park. In between, he bumped and fell at the quarter pole of the Nov. 15 Richard Small, which turned out to be his last 2014 start.

“His last race was his best effort by far. I didn’t expect that good an effort out of him, but I knew he was ready to go,” trainer Hamilton Smith said. “He really impressed me with the way he won that. Actually, it was an easy race for him. He galloped out good and never backed off the feed or anything of that nature. We’re very pleased with the way he’s doing things.”

Multiple stakes winner Stormin Monarcho is the 122-pound highweight for the Clark, carrying four pounds more than each of his rivals. Also entered are Duluth Stakes winner Chamois, second in last year’s Dixie (G2) at Pimlico for trainer Christophe Clement; Auld Lang Syne Stakes winner Sailor’s Revenge; stakes-placed Roadhog, Paris Vegas and Adirondack King; as well as Jack’s in the Deck, Aztec Brave, Echo Libra, Loves Last Chance and North Star Boy.