11/13/2008 1:00AM

Commentator arrives for Clark


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Commentator arrived Wednesday at Churchill Downs following an overnight van trip from New York and was on the racetrack the next morning to begin two weeks of local preparations for the annual fall-meet highlight, the Nov. 28 Clark Handicap.

Commentator, the speedy New York-bred who has won 13 of 20 starts for owner Tracy Farmer and trainer Nick Zito, looms the strongest candidate for the Grade 2 Clark - especially in light of comments earlier this week from rival trainer Rick Dutrow, who said he has reconsidered his initial inclination to bring "rabbits" to try to set up the Clark for Arson Squad, a 5-year-old now more likely for the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct the following day.

Commentator is one of a handful of known probables for the 1 1/8-mile Clark, along with Mambo in Seattle, Delightful Kiss, Magna Graduate, and Einstein.

Nominations are due Saturday for the Clark and the other three Grade 2 races on closing weekend of the fall meet. Those other races are the Falls City Handicap on Nov. 27, and the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 29.

The Clark purse is $400,000, having been reduced $100,000 when Churchill announced a purse cut last week.

Records look ready to fall

Julien Leparoux, who rode a record-tying seven winners Tuesday, rode two more Wednesday and remains on pace to break the fall-meet record of 55 wins set in 1985 by Pat Day. With the 26-day meet having reached its midpoint after the Wednesday card, Leparoux had ridden 33 winners.

Meanwhile, Ken Ramsey and Mike Maker, the owner-trainer team that frequently uses Leparoux on their horses, are primed to smash the fall-meet records in their respective categories.

Into Friday, Ramsey was just one win shy of the 1965 mark of 15 winners, set by T. Allie Grissom, while Maker also was just one win away from the 2003 record of 20 winners, set by Dale Romans. Both Ramsey and Maker were idle Thursday.

Jockeys to compete for charity

Churchill is hosting a jockey competition called "The Rider Cup" on races 4 through 8 Saturday. American-born jockeys will compete with their foreign-born counterparts in an event that will raise $15,000 for charity.

Day and Angel Cordero Jr., both retired Hall of Famers, will serve as captains for the respective teams. Before each of the five races, they will designate one jockey to represent their teams in attempting to score points, which will be awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first-, second-, and third-place finishes. If neither jockey finishes that high, then a half-point will be awarded to the team with the best finish.

Churchill will donate $10,000 to the charity of the winning team's choice, and $5,000 on behalf of the losing team.

Leparoux, from France, heads the foreign contingent.

Euroears ready for return

Trainer Bret Calhoun said he is looking to run the unbeaten Euroears next Saturday at Churchill in the $61,000 Bet on Sunshine, a six-furlong overnight handicap on the River City Handicap undercard.

Euroears, 6 for 6, has not raced since suffering a nondisplaced condylar fracture in March. He was scheduled to return in an Oct. 30 allowance at Churchill but had to be scratched after he "tied up," or suffered muscle cramps.

Game Face back in allowance

The Cardinal will be preceded by three straight allowances on the 10-race Saturday card. The richest, the $48,700 eighth race, carries a third-level condition for fillies and mares at seven furlongs, with Game Face, winner of the Grade 3 La Troienne here in the spring, making her first start in more than five months.

The other two allowances are $44,100 first-level sprints. The sixth race is for 2-year-olds, and the seventh is for 3-year-olds and upward on the turf.

Former governor to be honored

Former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones will be honored Saturday night as the Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year at the annual awards dinner of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners Inc.

Jones, a longtime owner and breeder, enjoyed one of the highlights of more than 35 years in racing when his homebred Proud Spell won the 134th Kentucky Oaks in May.

* Calvin Borel took off his mounts for a third straight day when he was unable to make travel arrangements to return from Louisiana for the Thursday card. Borel's mother died Monday night. He was expected to be back riding on Friday.