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Union Jackson, Clearly Now Top Thanksgiving Handicap

Stonestreet Stables’Union Jackson looks to continue his upward trajectory when he takes on six others in next Thursday’s $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap, including Brittlyn Stable’s swift multiple graded stakes winner Clearly Now. The six-furlong event for 3-year-olds and upward is a holiday tradition in The Big Easy and takes place as the ninth of 10 carded races, with a 3:08 p.m. CST post.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Union Jackson is the offspring of Stonestreet principal Barbara Banke’s top stud Curlin and Grade I-winning sprinter Hot Dixie Chick, who raced under Banke’s Grace Stables banner and is the broodmare paddock mate of the great Rachel Alexandra. In seven career starts, the 4-year-old chestnut colt has four victories and was a smart third, beaten a half-length, last out in the Grade III Aristides Stakes on June 4 at Churchill Downs. Journeyman David Flores rides from post three under a 117-pound impost.

Highweight Clearly Now, who carries 120, gets a second chance at a first impression for trainer Ron Faucheux after finishing third in last year’s Thanksgiving at 4-5 odds. Such was his first race for his new connections after Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn purchased the dark bay son of Horse Greeley privately two months prior. Racing only thrice since that effort, including a smart runaway sprint allowance victory in 1:09 2/5, Clearly Now is unraced since finishing eighth in the Grade III Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland on Apr. 9. Richard Eramia will ride from the rail.

A trio of highly regarded and lightly raced sprinters challenge the previously mentioned duo, including Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Tom Amoss-trained multiple stakes-placed sophomore Quijote (James Graham, post six), and a pair of 4-year-olds exiting strong Keeneland allowance efforts in Tommy Ligon’s Larry Jones-trained Totally Drenched (Gabriel Saez, post five) and Yockey’s Warrior (Miguel Mena, post seven), who hails from the barn of Al Stall, Jr. for owners Madison, Landry, Broussard, Broussard and Stall, himself.

The field for the Thanksgiving Handicap is completed by a pair of restricted stakes winners, Brad Grady’s Bret Calhoun-trained Supermason (C. J. McMahon, post two) and David Davis’ Karl Broberg-trained A M Milky Way (Mitchell Murrill, post four).