11/29/2002 1:00AM

Lido Palace best in Clark

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Bobby Frankel-trained Lido Palace got a perfect trip Friday in the Clark Handicap and beat longshot Crafty Shaw by a head in the annual highlight of the Churchill Downs fall meet.

With Jorge Chavez riding, Lido Palace, the 2-1 favorite in a field of 11, raced several lengths off the early pace set by Tenpins. Into the stretch, Crafty Shaw took a short lead, but Lido Palace, who had swung widest of all for the drive, was up in time.

Victory in the 128th running of the Grade 2, $457,200 Clark put Frankel, a California-based Hall of Fame trainer, closer to the single-season earnings record. After the Clark, Frankel's stable has earned nearly $17 million this year, taking him to within about $850,000 of the record set by D. Wayne Lukas in 1988. Frankel watched Friday from New York.

Before an ontrack crowd of 15,742, highest of the 30-day fall meet, Tenpins grabbed the early lead in the 1 1/8-mile Clark under Robby Albarado, and was followed closely by Najran. Crafty Shaw and Hero's Tribute were next in line, while a few lengths farther back Lido Palace was angling out into a middle path after saving ground on the first turn.

At the quarter pole, Chavez swung Lido Palace widest of all, and it took a determined run from the 5-year-old horse to narrowly prevail over Crafty Shaw, a 42-1 shot ridden by Jimmy Lopez.

Lido Palace, owned by Amerman Racing, returned $6 after finishing in 1:49.13 over a fast track. Crafty Shaw finished a length ahead of Hero's Tribute. Tenpins was another 2 1/4 lengths back in fourth.

Lido Palace, a Chilean-bred whose prior triumphs include the last two runnings of the Grade 1 Woodward at Belmont, now has earned slightly more than $2.7 million.

The 2-11 exacta paid $258.60 and the 2-11-6 trifecta paid $1,623.

o Earlier Friday, Steve Asmussen, who was the leading trainer here last fall, sent out three winners to put him back into the thick of the Churchill trainers' race. Going into Saturday, the final day of the meet, Ken McPeek led the standings with 14 winners, followed by Asmussen and Carl Nafzger with 13 apiece and Dale Romans and Paul McGee with 12 each.