11/17/2004 12:00AM

Fantasticat might give Clark a go

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Fantasticat, the Super Derby winner who was ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic in his last start, could make his next start in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs after working a half-mile Wednesday in 49.20 seconds.

Trainer Bobby Barnett said Fantasticat popped a quarter crack in the Breeders' Cup but has been training well since the crack was patched.

"We'll see how he does when he goes back to the track in a couple of days," said Barnett.

Fantasticat is one of four 3-year-olds under serious consideration for the Clark, which will be run Nov. 26. The others are Eurosilver, Purge, and Suave. Three-year-olds have won the Clark four of the past 14 years, with the most recent being the filly Surfside in 2000.

The $500,000 Clark, as usual, is shaping up as one of the toughest post-Breeders' Cup races of the fall, with Perfect Drift, with Kent Desormeaux up, the likely favorite over Colonial Colony, who will have Pat Day up.

The other older horses under consideration are Best Minister, Lundy's Liability, Midway Road, Seek Gold, and Sir Cherokee.

The 1 1/8-mile Clark is the highlight of what Churchill calls its "Big Four Weekend." The other three races are Thursday's $300,000 Falls City Handicap, in which Azeri is expected to be a huge favorite, and Saturday's twin Grade 2 2-year-old stakes, the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club and $200,000 Golden Rod.

Weight assignments for the Clark and Falls City will be released Saturday.

Flint won't go without right rider

Trainer Steve Flint has a possible contender for both Grade 3 handicaps here this weekend: May Gator for the Cardinal on Saturday and G P Fleet for the River City on Sunday.

But as of Wednesday morning, Flint didn't have a jockey for either one. In fact, he said he tried to do what Team Valor did last weekend by inquiring into the availability of British star Kieren Fallon, but was told Fallon had a previous commitment in Hong Kong. Fallon won the Mrs. Revere Stakes on River Belle.

"If I'm not satisfied with who I can get to ride, I won't run," said Flint, adding he believed the recent unofficial boycott by, and banishment of, 14 jockeys had cut deeply into the depth of the Churchill jockey colony.

With or without the Flint horses, both the Cardinal and River City are expected to get sizable fields. Classic Stamp and Shaconage are the highweights and probable favorites for the Cardinal, while Honor in War, with Day to ride, heads the lineup for the River City.

Each race carries a $150,000 purse and will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Borel will head back to Oaklawn

Calvin Borel will not ride regularly at the Fair Grounds meet that begins Thursday in New Orleans, but it has nothing to do with his ban from the Churchill meet. Borel decided earlier this year that he was going back to Oaklawn Park, where he rode for many years, instead of going to Fair Grounds, where he has been based the last two winters.

Borel is just 10 wins away from the 4,000-win milestone. With him forsaking Fair Grounds, Robby Albarado is the only one of the 14 banned jockeys who will be based there this winter.

Shepherd moves on to Remington

Now at least two of the 14 banned jockeys have shown up at tracks that are not reciprocating the Churchill ban: Justin Shepherd has begun riding at Remington Park in Oklahoma. Rafael Bejarano won two races last Saturday at Aqueduct and is scheduled to begin riding there regularly this weekend.

Fox lands Lukas mount

Here's a trainer-jockey team you surely wouldn't have seen at Churchill if not for the unofficial boycott: D. Wayne Lukas and Tammy Fox.

Fox, who is represented by the agent known only as Clarence, was scheduled to ride Total Command for Lukas in the eighth race here Wednesday. Total Command was the first of several calls that Lukas has given Fox, who until the boycott had slim pickings of mounts.

* Churchill is conducting a raffle to benefit the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America on closing day, Nov. 27. The winner will receive a prize that many local basketball fans would give their eye for: four season tickets to the upcoming University of Louisville season. The seats are located in the lower arena near midcourt.

Chances are $50. For more information, call (502) 636-4476.

* A benefit event for injured jockey Tony D'Amico is being held Monday from 6 to 10 p.m. Eastern at Furlongs restaurant in Louisville. For more information, call (502) 896-2610.