11/19/2010 2:21PM

Desormeaux, McGee reunite for Clark with Demarcation

Barbara D. Livingston
Demarcation (4), second in this month's Ack Ack Handicap, will get a rider switch to Kent Desormeaux for the Clark Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kent Desormeaux was 18 and barely two years into his Hall of Fame riding career when he ventured outside his Maryland base to win the 1988 Clark Handicap aboard a former claimer named Balthazar B., trained by a 26-year-old Paul McGee.

Twenty-two years later, Desormeaux and McGee are set to team again with Demarcation in the $500,000 Clark, a Grade 1 race to be run Friday for the 136th time at Churchill Downs.

The mount on Demarcation came open when Calvin Borel, who rode the 6-year-old gelding to a runner-up finish behind Apart in the Nov. 5 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill, committed to ride Brass Hat in the 1 1/8-mile Clark.

“Kent came by the barn the other morning and asked for the mount, and I said, ‘That’d be pretty neat, let’s do it,’ ” said McGee.

Desormeaux won his second Clark in 2006 aboard Pleasant Tap for trainer John Kimmel.

Apart, Brass Hat, and Demarcation are among about 11 runners expected for the Clark when entries are drawn Tuesday. The other prospects are Dubious Miss, Duke of Mischief, Giant Oak, Our Dark Knight, Redding Colliery, Stately Victor, Successful Dan, and Win Willy.

The Clark, which was re-granted Grade 1 status this year after being a Grade 2 from 2007-09, is the biggest of the four stakes that close out the 21-day Churchill fall meet. The others are the Falls City Handicap on Thursday, and the twin events for 2-year-olds, the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club, both on Saturday. All three of those are Grade 2 races with a $150,000 purse.

Churchill will close next Sunday, Nov. 28, on a date that traditionally had been taken by Turfway Park, which instead will begin its holiday meet Dec. 2.

Rare win for long-time trainer Holthus

Bob Holthus doesn’t run nearly as many horses as he once did, so his many friends and colleagues were happy to see him win a race here Thursday with Dance Caller ($22.20), who led throughout under Miguel Mena.

Through Thursday, Holthus, 76, had just 7 wins from 57 starts this year, his lowest totals in both categories since early in a career that began in Nebraska in 1952.

◗ G Areyoukidding became the longest-priced winner of the meet when he scored at a $117.40 mutuel here Thursday under apprentice Amanda Tamburello. G Areyoukidding, a 5-year-old gray horse, is trained by David Pate, who has filed an appeal of a 180-day suspension for a medication violation with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

◗ Julian “Buck” Wheat, who handles horsemen’s relations as the unofficial mayor of the Churchill backstretch, celebrated his 77th birthday Friday. Among the many career honors given to Wheat was the 2001 Dominion Award from Dogwood Stable. He has worked at Churchill for more than 60 years.

◗ Churchill is hosting a “Horses and Hope” promotion here Sunday in its continuing partnership with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. A variety of activities will be undertaken to promote awareness of breast cancer and to raise funds for the foundation, including one race being run with every horse carrying pink saddle towels.

◗ After Churchill ends, Michael Baze will spot-ride in some stakes in California before heading to ride for the first time at Oaklawn Park, which begins its 2011 meet on Jan. 14. Baze, 23, was the leading jockey at Arlington Park this year.

◗ Except for Thursday, when first post will be 11:30 a.m. Eastern to allow fans to get home earlier on the Thanksgiving holiday, Churchill is maintaining a post time of 12:40 p.m. for the last three programs on closing weekend (Nov. 26-28), when as many as 12 races will be run per card, including the later ones under lights.

◗ Sunday marks the fifth and final chance for fans to enter the “Who’s the Champ?” handicapping contest that Churchill has been hosting this meet.