11/25/2009 12:00AM

Juveniles provide bookends to meet


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The winners of the twin 2-year-old stakes that opened the Churchill Downs fall meet Nov. 1 will return for what their connections hope will be the same ol' story Saturday, when a second "Stars of Tomorrow" program will close the meet.

Sassy Image, winner of the Pocahontas Stakes, is one of seven fillies entered in the Golden Rod Stakes, while Thiskyhasnolimit, winner of the Iroquois Stakes, is one of nine colts and geldings in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Both the Golden Rod and KJC Stakes are Grade 2, $150,000 races contested at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. They are part of a 12-race closing-day card devoted exclusively to 2-year-olds.

Sassy Image was assigned post 1 in the Golden Rod (race 9), which would seem to suit the late-running filly and jockey Robby Albarado just fine.

"We ought to be able to save some ground and go from there," said Dale Romans, who trains Sassy Image for his brother Jerry Romans Jr.

Decelerator, the Pocahontas runner-up, is the only other stakes winner in the field, having captured the Debutante here in June. Two maidens, All Due Respect and Quiet Temper, help fill the field.

The KJC Stakes (race 11) also got only two stakes winners but no maidens. Besides Thiskyhasnolimit, who upset the Iroquois at 13-1, there is William's Kitten, who won the off-the-turf Sunday Silence on the Sept. 19 Super Derby undercard at Louisiana Downs.

Two $60,000 stakes, both two-turn turf races, also are on the "Stars" card: the Grand Canyon (race 6) drew 10 colts and geldings, and the Caressing (race 10) got 12 fillies.

Four allowances and four maiden-special races also are on tap.

Clark Handicap enjoys a long history

The Clark Handicap dates all the way back to 1875, the same year the Kentucky Derby and Oaks were first run, and therefore has a rich history, too. Fourteen Derby winners also won the Clark, but only two since Exterminator won as a 7-year-old in 1922. They were Whirlaway in 1942 and Silver Charm in 1998, both as 4-year-olds.

Three-year-olds have won four runnings of the Clark since 1990, the most recent being Magna Graduate in 2005. There are three 3-year-olds in the race this year: Blame, Giant Oak, and Misremembered.

Several jockeys and trainers participating Friday have won prior runnings, but only two have multiple wins. Bob Baffert saddled Silver Charm and Isitingood (1996), while Kent Desormeaux booted home Balthazar B. (1988) and Premium Tap (2006).

Turfway set for four-month run

Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., will open for four months of action Sunday with a scaled-back racing program that has become all too unsettling. The holiday meet runs through Dec. 31, with four $50,000 stakes on the schedule, and then three-day-a-week racing will ensue in January and February with the onset of the winter-spring meet, which starts Jan. 1.

Turfway officials are closely eyeing an ongoing situation in neighboring West Virginia, where Mountaineer Park has requested to drop winter racing from its 2010 schedule. A decision on dates requests is expected Dec. 7 at a meeting of the West Virginia Racing Commission. Clearly, no winter racing at Mountaineer would help Turfway better fill its races.

The annual Turfway showcase, the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End Stakes, will be run March 20, the same day as the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Clark stepping down as radio-show host

Hundreds of horsemen and racing personalities who have come to Churchill Downs over the years have been interviewed by E.J. Clark, whose weekly radio shows on racing have aired on several different local stations. Known since 2000 as "The Kentucky Winner's Circle," the show typically has used a one-hour format to discuss issues and happenings in the sport.

Clark, who has worked in radio for 30 years, announced this week that he is stepping down from his weekly duties, effective after the Dec. 5 show. Lane Gold and Molly Rosen will serve as hosts while Clark stays on as owner and executive producer of the show.

* Two Louisville artists, Janet Penick and Tony Viscardi, are trying to raise funds through an auction website, with the ultimate goal of having a life-sized replica of Eight Belles placed next to her gravesite at the Kentucky Derby Museum. More information is available at gallopaloozaauction.com.

* Some 500 local families and individuals were in for a more enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, thanks to the generosity of Churchill Downs Inc. and a nearby charitable organization known as The Lord's Kitchen. Boxes of food and frozen turkeys were handed out to those in need Tuesday in the Paddock Pavilion.