11/24/2009 1:00AM

Blame to meet elders again in Clark

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Tom Keyser
Blame will start from post 5 in a field of 14 in Friday's Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Blame is one of those improving 3-year-olds who appeared destined for more meaningful outings this fall when meeting up with his elders.

So far, so good. Blame won the Oct. 31 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland in his first race versus older stakes runners, and now he will try the likes of Einstein and Macho Again when one of 14 starters Friday in a rugged 135th edition of the Grade 2, $400,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.

"He's an improving horse, and so far we've hit our marks with him," said Al Stall Jr., who trains Blame for Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm. "He beat older in the Fayette, but obviously this is a different set. He'll get a good test Friday."

Entries were drawn Tuesday for the 1 1/8-mile Clark, and it's hard to imagine a much deeper field of older horses being assembled just 20 days after the Breeders' Cup Classic. Einstein, 11th in the BC Classic, drew the difficult assignment of post 14 as the 123-pound highweight in the full field.

Blame, with Jamie Theriot to ride, will start from post 5 in the Clark. Since using his steady off-the-pace run from midpack to finish second to Regal Ransom in the Sept. 20 Super Derby, "we've had the Clark in our sights," Stall said.

The Clark comes 27 days after the Fayette, which suites Blame, Stall said.

"Maybe we're being optimistic, but he's in wonderful shape, and I think the timing between races is just right for him," he said.

Another late-blooming 3-year-old, Misremembered, is part of the Clark lineup. Misremembered, based in Southern California with trainer Bob Baffert, can claim two Grade 2 wins from his last three starts: the Swaps at Hollywood Park in July and the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park in October.

From the rail, and with weights and jockeys, this is the field for the Clark: You and I Forever, 115 pounds, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Macho Again, 121, Robby Albarado; Giant Oak, 115, Shaun Bridgmohan; Demarcation, 116, Jesus Castanon; Blame, 117, Theriot; Anarko, 113, Leandro Goncalves; Anak Nakal, 116, Joe Bravo; Etched, 120, Alan Garcia; Bullsbay, 119, Jeremy Rose; Kiss the Kid, 118, Paco Lopez; Timber Reserve, 114, Kent Desormeaux; Misremembered, 116, Victor Espinoza; Dubious Miss, 116, Calvin Borel; and Einstein, 123, Rajiv Maragh.

Copper State with new trainer

There's little doubt that Unbridled Belle and Swift Temper will garner the lion's share of wagering action when the Falls City Handicap is run Thursday. But if there's a potential upsetter among the other four fillies and mares, it could be Copper State, who was purchased for $400,000 earlier this month at the Keeneland sales by the Vision Racing syndicate.

Ronny Werner is the new trainer of Copper State, who was a sharp second in her last race, the Nov. 7 Chilukki at Churchill, when still trained by Steve Asmussen.

"Hopefully, Steve's training hasn't worn off her yet," Werner said with a laugh.

Werner said he doesn't know what Vision Racing has planned for 5-year-old Copper State beyond Thursday.

"We're all just looking at this race and seeing what happens," he said.

'Stars of Tomorrow' winners return

The winners of the two 2-year-old stakes that helped kick off the fall meet Nov. 1, when the first "Stars of Tomorrow" card was conducted, will be among the contenders when the meet closes Saturday with the second "Stars" card.

Sassy Image, winner of the Pocahontas Stakes, and Thiskyhasnolimit, winner of the Iroquois Stakes, are wheeling back in the Grade 2 stakes that co-anchor the Saturday card. They are the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club, both $150,000 races to be run at 1 1/16 miles.

Both the Golden Rod and KJC were expected to get several other returnees from the Nov. 1 races. Entries for the Saturday card, on which all 12 races will be for 2-year-olds, were to be drawn Wednesday. Live action on the Kentucky circuit moves Sunday to Turfway Park in Florence.

12-year-old mare looking elsewhere

The infamous case of the 12-year-old mare Grand Forks might continue soon at another racetrack. Chief steward John Veitch said earlier this week that owner-trainer Kathleen Costello has withdrawn the mare's registry papers from the Churchill racing office.

Grand Forks, unraced in more than nine years, was scratched in the Churchill paddock Nov. 18 when Veitch invoked discretionary powers. Veitch said the mare worked before state veterinarian Bryce Peckham on Saturday morning in Lexington and passed, but blood tests taken from the mare will not be available in time for her to run here by meet's end.

"There is no official ruling against the horse in this state, so I don't know why she couldn't run elsewhere," Veitch said.