Perfect Drift Assigned Top Impost in Clark

(from Churchill Downs notes)
Stonecrest Farm's Perfect Drift, winner of the 2003 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) and third to Saint Liam in the recent Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I), has been assigned high weight of 122 pounds for Friday's 131st running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs.

Meanwhile, Martin L. Cherry's Pampered Princess, winner of the Spinster (gr. I) in her most recent start, was assigned the top impost of 123 pounds for Thursday's 90th running of the $300,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II), a 1 1/8-mile test for older fillies and mares.

The two races are the first two stakes events of "Big Four Stakes Weekend" set for Nov. 24-26, the final three days of the Churchill Downs fall meet. The weekend includes a total of four stakes races with $1.2 million in purses concluding on Saturday with a pair of $200,000-added stakes for 2-year-olds, the 62nd running of the Golden Rod (gr. II) for fillies and the 79th running of the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II).

Perfect Drift, a 6-year-old Dynaformer gelding whose earnings now total $4,232,840, would concede from four to 11 pounds to his likely rivals in Friday's 1 1/8-mile race. Mark Guidry is scheduled to ride Perfect Drift, who ran third to Saint Liam in last year's renewal of the Clark for trainer Murray Johnson.

The next highest impost among likely starters was the 118 pounds assigned to Jay Em Ess Stable's Suave, winner of the Saratoga Breeders' Cup (gr. II) and runner-up to Borrego in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) for trainer Paul J. McGee. The 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy was a close fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

Other horses considered "likely" for the Clark (with assigned weights) include Fayette Stakes (gr. III) winner Alumni Hall (117), Sport Page Handicap (gr. III) winner Gotaghostofachance (116), Discovery (gr. III) and Pegasus (gr. III) winner Magna Graduate (116) and Arlington Classic (gr. III) winner Purim (114).

Other likely contenders are West Virginia Governors Handicap winner M B Sea (114), Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Andromeda's Hero (113) and Super Derby (gr. II) runner-up A.P. Arrow (111). Considered "possible" for the race is Purge (116), winner of the Jim Dandy (gr. II) in 2004 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Martin Wolfson-trained Pampered Princess would also concede anywhere from four to 11 pounds to her rivals in the Falls City. The race is expected to be the final start for Pampered Princess, whose win in the prestigious Spinster was further enhanced when runner-up Pleasant Home scored a dominating victory in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) in her next start.

Wolfson's mare was knocked out of the Breeders' Cup by a minor ailment.

Next on the Falls City weights is John D. Gunther's Chilukki (gr. II) winner Bending Strings, who was assigned 119 pounds. Trainer Wally Dollase said Sunday that he is now "leaning toward" running the American Chance filly in the Falls City.

Other likely starters for the Falls City include El Encino (gr. II) winner Girl Warrior (118), Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. III) and Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. III) winner Flying Glitter (117) and Turnback the Alarm (gr. III) winner Indian Vale (115).

Others are Turfway Breeders' Cup (gr. III) winner Miss Fortunate (114), Journey Fever (114), Kristy Beethoven (114), 2004 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup (gr. II) winner La Reason (114), Rahy's Appeal (113) and Winning Season (112).