Tenpins, favored in Clark Handicap.

Tenpins, favored in Clark Handicap.

Bill Straus

14 to Go in Clark 'Cap; Tenpins Slight Choice

(from Churchill Downs' report)
Joseph Vitello's ultra-consistent Tenpins, a multiple stakes winner that has been worse than second only twice in 15 career races, is a slight favorite in a strong field of 14 older horses entered in Friday's 129th and richest running of Churchill Downs' $500,000-added Clark Handicap (gr. II).

The Clark, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, is the second of four major stakes races that make up Churchill Downs' $1.2-million "Big Four Weekend." It is named for the family of track founder Meriwether Lewis Clark and, like the Kentucky Derby and Oaks (both gr. I), dates to the track's first race meet in 1875. The Clark is the centerpiece of a 12-race holiday card on the next-to-last day of the track's 27-day fall meet.

Tenpins, a homebred son of Smart Strike trained by veteran Don Winfree and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, drew post 12 and was installed as the mild 5-2 morning line choice. The 119-pound highweight will face a formidable task in justifying that favoritism against a strong Clark field that includes seven graded stakes winners, another four horses that have scored one or more wins in listed stakes company, and three that have placed in either a graded or listed stakes. There are two millionaires in the field.

A fourth-place finisher behind Lido Palace in last year's Clark, the Michigan-bred Tenpins has a record of 2-2-0 in four races this year, including victories in the Iselin (gr. II) at Monmouth and the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker (gr. III). His career record in 15 races stands at 9-2-2 with earnings of $1,121,449. He is coming off an upset loss to Clark rival M B Sea in the Fayette (gr. III) at Keeneland, but Winfree believes that Tenpins is ready for a big effort on Friday.

"I hope he stays just like he is right now," said Winfree. "I hope everybody has a fair trip and we'll see what happens."

The other Clark millionaire is Joseph and Mary Grant and Thomas J. Kelly's Evening Attire, a 5-year-old gelding who has won 10 of 26 races and earned $1,814,910. His shining moment for trainer Patrick Kelly came in a victory in the 2002 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Evening Attire was third to likely "Horse of the Year" Mineshaft in this year's Gold Cup and then was seventh to Pleasantly Perfect in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.

Other major contenders are plentiful. Charles Cella's Crafty Shaw was the runner-up in the Clark last year and comes into this year's running on a roll. The Dale Romans-trained M B Sea will try to repeat his Fayette effort. James McIngvale's During, a Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old, has wins in the Jerome (gr. II) and Discovery (gr. III) this year.

Also entered: the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Ack Ack (gr. III) winner Cappuchino; Mansell Stable's Quest Star, winner of Gulfstream's Pan American (gr. II) on turf; Patricia Pavlish's Aeneas, the runner-up to Tenpins in the Iselin; and Quest, the Nick Zito-trained runner-up in the 2003 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

$500,000-added Clark Handicap (gr. II), 3 & up, 1 1/8 mile
PP., Horse, Wgt., Jockey, ML Odds
1. Seattle Fitz, 114, John McKee, 15-1
2. Request for Parole, 114, Calvin Borel, 30-1
3. Quest Star, 115, Larry Melancon, 12-1
4. Sonic West, 114, Rafael Bejarano, 30-1
5. Devil Time, 114, William Troilo, 15-1
6. Cappuchino, 116, Terry Thompson, 20-1
7. Evening Attire, 118, Cornelio Velasquez, 9-2
8. Quest, 114, Javier Castellano, 10-1
9. During, 117, Jose Santos, 5-1
10. Aeneas, 114, Gary Boulanger, 20-1
11. M B Sea, 116, Craig Perret, 15-1
12. Tenpins, 119, Pat Day, 5-2
13. Crafty Shaw, 117, Shane Sellers, 6-1
14. Private Lap, 113, Brice Blanc, 20-1