11/19/2011 11:33AM

Churchill: Flat Out will carry 123 pounds as Clark highweight

Barbara D. Livingston
Flat Out will concede from three to nine pounds in the 1 1/8-mile Clark Handicap on Friday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Flat Out is being asked to spot his opposition three to nine pounds as the 123-pound highweight for the Clark Handicap, the Grade 1 race that anchors the final week of racing at the Churchill Downs fall meet with its 137th running Friday.

Winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and fifth as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill, Flat Out had his final work for the 1 1/8-mile Clark when breezing a half-mile early Saturday in 48 seconds over a fast main track. Greta Kuntzweiler was aboard for the work, while Alex Solis retains the mount for the $500,000 race.

“He hardly needs anything more than that,” said trainer Scooter Dickey. “He came out of the Classic real well, which I’m tickled about. We’d have loved to have won the Classic, but that’s the way it goes. Now we’d love to win this.”

Among the challengers to Flat Out is a pair of well-decorated 3-year-olds: Ruler On Ice (118 pounds), winner of the Belmont Stakes in June, and Prayer for Relief (117), the Bob Baffert-trained colt who this summer swept the Iowa, West Virginia, and Super derbies.

Ruler On Ice, a rallying third at 17-1 in the Classic, had his final pre-race work Friday when going a half-mile in 48.60 seconds in the company of stablemate Nacho Friend.

“I’m very happy to report that he came out of the race in good order and he’s currently in great shape,” said trainer Kelly Breen. “He’s eating well and training well. He’s a lean, mean, fighting machine.”

In all, about 12 horses are expected when entries are taken Tuesday for the Clark. The other prospects are Wise Dan, 120; Mister Marti Gras, 117; General Quarters, 116; Mission Impazible, 116; Headache, 115; Stately Victor, 115; Demarcation, 114; Equestrio, 114; and Pleasant Prince, 114.

Meanwhile, Super Espresso is the likely 121-pound highweight in the Thanksgiving Day feature, the Grade 2, $175,000 Falls City Handicap. Other fillies and mares likely for the 1 1/8-mile race are Ravi’s Song (117), It’s Tea Time (116), Masked Maiden (115), Secret File (115), and Spring Party (114). Entries were to be taken Sunday.

Night card draws crowd of 15,700

Churchill announced attendance for the only “Downs After Dark” program of the fall meet on Friday night at 15,719, with many patrons being within the demographic they seek: young, urban professionals.

The “Animal Kingdom” theme was evident on the back façade of the six-story grandstand that faces the paddock, as huge shadows were artificially cast to make the building appear as if it had been covered in leopard skin. People everywhere were wearing clothing to reflect the theme.

Although “Downs After Dark” cards at spring meets typically have attracted more than 25,000 since Churchill first began offering them in 2009, the only benchmark for an evening card amid colder weather in the fall was the one last year, when 15,583 turned out.

Musical Prodigy, with Ben Creed riding for trainer Phil Sims, was a 1 1/4-length winner in the featured second of 11 races, a $49,284 turf-sprint allowance.

Zito has nice maiden winner

Another good-looking 2-year-old was an easy maiden winner here when Casual Trick, owned by Robert LaPenta and trained by Nick Zito, took the sixth race by 2 1/2 lengths Friday evening.

A ridgling by Bernardini, Casual Trick flashed speed before fading in a Travers undercard sprint at Saratoga in his only previous start. In his Friday win, he forced the pace in the one-mile race before spurting to a big lead leaving the quarter pole. He finished in 1:37.70 over a fast track and earned a 68 Beyer Speed Figure.

This meet has seemed to attract an inordinately high number of promising 2-year-olds, not even including the five Breeders’ Cup races for juveniles. A second Stars of Tomorrow card is set for Saturday, Nov. 26. The 21-day meet closes the following day.