11/04/2003 1:00AM

Crafty Shaw wins photo


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Crafty Shaw came out on the short end of a photo finish in the 2002 Clark Handicap. In Tuesday's $64,600 allowance prep for the Clark at Churchill Downs, Crafty Shaw won a tight photo.

Well rated by Craig Perret, Crafty Shaw pressed the pace of longshot Smoked Em through slow opening fractions of 24.42 seconds and 47.75. Leaving the backstretch he took command of the race with six furlongs in 1:11.83, and was quickly joined by Pass Rush.

From that point to the wire, they were virtually inseparable. Crafty Shaw won by neck, running the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.56 over a fast track. He paid $7.20 as the second choice in the field of eight, which included four graded stakes winners.

"He's an awfully aggressive horse," said trainer Pete Vestal. "It is difficult to get him to relax."

Vestal jokingly told Perret in the paddock to go the first half-mile of the race in 49 seconds.

"He just laughed," Vestal said. "But he did pretty well, especially that first quarter."

American Style, sent off at 11-1, finished evenly for third, 5 1/2 lengths behind Pass Rush. Bonus Pack, Seainsky, Smoked Em, Danthebluegrassman, and Deferred Comp completed the order of finish.

Vestal said he may run Crafty Shaw next in the $100,000 Schaefer Stakes at Hoosier Nov. 15, a race the horse won last year before his runner-up finish in the Clark Handicap. If he runs back in the one-mile Schaefer, he might have a rematch with Pass Rush, who is also being considered for that race.