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Henry S. Clark Stakes 2024 | Laurel Park Picks
Eons (Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO)

Henry S. Clark Stakes 2024 | Laurel Park Picks

Mark Grier’s Eons, a six-time turf stakes winner topped by the 2019 Kent (G3), will face fellow graded-stakes winners English Bee and Gray’s Fable as well as another trio of grass stakes winners when he makes his season debut in a competitive edition of the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up at Laurel Park.

Post time for the first of 11 races is 12:25 p.m.

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Eons will be racing for the first time since finishing second in the 1 ½-mile Japan Turf Cup Sept. 30 at Laurel, where the 8-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway owns two wins – both in stakes – two seconds and a third in five tries over its world-class turf course.

“He’s done very well there. He really likes that track,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said. “The turf should be perfect, so we’re excited to get him going.”

Eons got some time off after the Japan Turf Cup and spent the winter with Delacour’s string at Tampa Bay Downs, turning in nine timed breezes since mid-February for his return including bullet five-furlong works in 1:01.80 March 30 and 1:01.60 April 13.

“He’s doing good. He’s had a good winter,” Delacour said. “We brought him along at Tampa and he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s breezed every week. Historically you always need a race or two to get back into rhythm, and a mile might be a little short for him, but under the right setup it could work.”

Eons has been third or better in 15 of 30 starts with eight wins, most in the field, and more than $700,000 in purse earnings. In 2022 he was promoted to victory in Laurel’s 1 1/8-mile Prince George’s County after finishing second by a nose, then won the race outright last July by the same margin.

“We take care of him. We run him four or five times and then give him time off,” Delacour said. “As long as he’s happy, we’ll keep going. That’s going to be up to him. But he’s showing us all the right signs and he definitely looks as good as ever.”

Victor Carrasco, aboard for each of his last two Laurel races, gets the return call from Post 8 in a field of nine.

Calumet Farm’s English Bee is a three-time turf stakes winner including the 2019 Virginia Oaks (G3) and has placed in four other graded-stakes for trainer Graham Motion. Beaten in back-to-back 7 ½-furlong optional claiming allowances at Gulfstream Park to start the year, he has raced at 11 different tracks including four times at Pimlico, winning the one-mile James W. Murphy in 2019, but has never run at Laurel.

Motion also entered Wertheimer & Frere’s 4-year-old homebred Dataman, winner of the 1 3/16-mile Bald Eagle Derby last August in his only previous try at Laurel.

Steve Goldfine, Kari Provost and Jeff Zlonis’ 9-year-old Gio Ponti gelding Gray’s Fable, unraced since finishing fifth in a one-mile optional claimer Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs, is entered to make his first start for trainer Michael Stidham after spending the prior year and a half with Brian Lynch, for whom he won the 2022 Evan Williams Turf Mile.

The previous spring he won Gulfstream’s one-mile Appleton (G3) for Hall of Famer Roger Attfield.

Live Oak Plantation’s 5-year-old homebred Forever Souper will be cutting back to a mile on the grass for the first time since an allowance win last summer at Monmouth Park.

The son of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah enters the Clark having won successive two-turn stakes, the Jan. 21 Sunshine Turf at Gulfstream and March 24 Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs, the latter going 1 1/8 miles.

Heaven Street, winner of the 2021 Columbia at Tampa; Hay Chief; Aderol; and Luigi’s Spirit are also entered.