01/30/2003 1:00AM

Can Champali use Frog the way Perfect Drift did?


Mostly because Perfect Drift was such a well-regarded contender during the Triple Crown chase last year, one of his prep races has become something of a comic curiosity among handicappers: the WEBN Frog Stakes. Never before, it was widely noted, had a Kentucky Derby winner won the Frog Stakes - or perhaps any other race with such an odd name, either.

This year, with the Cincinnati radio station known as "The Frog" renewing its sponsorship with Turfway Park, officials at the Florence, Ky., track can only hope that the $50,000 race will produce a winner as strong as Perfect Drift was last year. A full field of 12 3-year-olds was entered in the one-mile race, which highlights a 12-race Saturday card at Turfway.

Champali, a winner in 4 of 5 career starts, is the most logical candidate to use the Frog as a stepping-stone to more important preps. Based at the Trackside training center in Louisville with Greg Foley, Champali scored his most important victory in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes in November. In his most recent start, four weeks ago at Turfway, he scored a hard-fought win in the 6 1/2-furlong Prevue Stakes.

Maybe the most imposing challenger in the Frog is Tito's Beau, a colt trained by Foley's sister, Vickie.

Owned in partnership by Louisville hotelier Tom Musselman Sr., Tito's Beau ran perhaps his best race when fourth in the Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October. In his latest, he was an easy winner of a Jan. 5 allowance route at Turfway.

One notable horse missing from the Frog lineup is Great Notion, who finished second by a nose to Champali in the Prevue. Great Notion has been shipped to Oaklawn Park by trainer Darrin Miller for the upcoming Derby preps there.

The Frog leads to richer Derby preps at Turfway: the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial on March 1, and the $500,000 Lane's End Spiral Stakes on March 22.

Clerk of scales suspended

Turfway clerk of scales Vince Clark was suspended for two days last week for his role in a mix-up before the fourth race Jan. 24.

Clark inadvertently posted an erroneous scratch in the jockeys' room, leading to Kris Prather being a last-minute replacement for Patti Cooksey aboard Endeavor Sky, the eventual winner of the race at 32-1.

Steward Mickey Sample said Thursday that an investigation found that several mistakes occurred during the incident, but that Endeavor Sky carried the correct weight.

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