Proxy battles to G1 breakthrough in Clark Stakes
Proxy made his first G1 appearance a winning one with a rallying victory over West Will Power in the Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs, USA, on Friday, 25 November.
The Tapit colt had already displayed tremendous consistency for Michael Stidham, finishing in the first four on all 12 previous starts including a closing third in the G2 Stephen Foster Stakes over the same course and distance in July.
Smartly into his stride from stall one, Proxy raced in a length second behind West Will Power early on. The Godolphin four-year-old was switched out by Joel Rosario after the first quarter-mile and took slightly closer order entering the back straight.
West Will Power kicked for home turning in but could not shake off Proxy, who produced a surging run towards the centre of the course to eyeball the long-time leader approaching the final half furlong.
Both horses duelled in front until Proxy asserted in the final strides to prevail by three-quarters of a length and provide Godolphin with a second consecutive Clark Stakes win following Maxfield in 2021.
Michael Stidham said: “I was a little shocked Proxy showed as much speed as he did from the gates. That could have been because of how fresh he was coming off the layoff. We had this race as a target when we gave him a break following the Stephen Foster and it’s very special for him to get his first Graded Stakes win as a G1.
“When Proxy broke as sharp as he did, Joel didn’t take the position away from him. I was confident he would have enough left in the stretch by his pedigree - he’s bred to go a mile-and-a-quarter.
“We will have lots of options with him and certainly one would be to try and go for the Dubai World Cup, as we did with Mystic Guide. That’s one option, but there is a lot still on the table going into 2023 after a win like today.”
Joel Rosario added: “This was Proxy’s first start in a few months, so he was a little sharper leaving the gate. He was a little bit further back than I expected him to be in his last start here in the Stephen Foster. I knew West Will Power was really the only horse that had early speed in the race, so I didn’t want to let him get away easily.
“Proxy was very professional today throughout. West Will Power was very tough on the lead and I had to work pretty hard to get by him. It was a great job and thanks to Michael and Godolphin for the opportunity.”