Updated on 09/16/2011 8:46AM

Lido Palace better be on guard

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Lido Palace will carry top weight of 121 pounds as the likely favorite in the Clark Handicap Friday at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Chilean horse who lives in California but has done his best work in New York will make his first appearance in Kentucky. Lido Palace, the handicap star trained by Bobby Frankel, carries highweight of 121 pounds as the likely favorite Friday in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Lido Palace, owned by Amerman Racing, has been one of the classiest and most consistent handicap runners in North America in the past 18 months, twice winning the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes while earning nearly $2 million. He is one of 12 horses entered in a typically deep renewal of the $400,000 Clark, a Grade 2 race that annually serves as one of the top handicap events in the months following the Breeders' Cup.

Lido Palace drew the rail in a field that also includes such accomplished runners as Gander (post 3), Hail the Chief (post 7), Tenpins (post 8), and Crafty Shaw (post 12). As a stalker who consistently earns triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, Lido Palace should be able to secure a comfortable inside position under Jorge Chavez before bidding into what figures to be a moderate-to-fast pace in the 1 1/8-mile Clark.

If Lido Palace runs his best race, the rest of the field will have trouble beating him. But in his latest race, an Oct. 20 allowance at Belmont, he was under severe pressure in a hard-fought, half-length victory. That seemingly subpar effort appears to have encouraged the connections of the horses who will oppose him Friday, including Don Winfree, the trainer of Tenpins, the Michigan-bred standout who is entered off wins in the Washington Park Handicap and Fayette Stakes.

"If [Lido Palace] runs that kind of race back, that could open it up for my horse or somebody else," said Winfree.

Tenpins, with Robby Albarado to ride, could be the second choice in the race, although the New York-bred star Gander also will draw strong support. Tenpins has finished first in eight of his last nine starts, a remarkable record underscored by the unrelenting speed he tends to display. Gander is a distinctive-looking gray whose best races come when he relaxes from just off the pace.

Two of the more interesting prospects are Hail the Chief, an English-bred who has not raced since winning the Hawthorne Gold Cup in May, and Crafty Shaw, a resurgent 4-year-old who this fall won the Turfway Fall Championship and the Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park.

Hail the Chief, said trainer Niall O'Callaghan, "probably will need the race, but I think he can be in the thick of it."

Crafty Shaw, said jockey James Lopez, was especially sharp in a recent workout. "He's doing extremely well," said Lopez. "There's plenty of speed in there, so we should be able to get comfortable before we go after them. I think he's going to be very competitive."

The rest of the Clark field is Generous Rosi, X Country, Hero's Tribute, Dollar Bill, Neon Shadow, American Style, and Najran.

Najran, trained by Nick Zito, is entered off four straight winning starts and will attempt to become the third 3-year-old in the last six runnings to win the Clark, following Concerto (1997) and the filly Surfside (2000). American Style, also trained by Zito, is the only other 3-year-old in the race.

Perfect Drift is a notable absentee. Trainer Murray Johnson said he was not satisfied with the way that gelding had responded to a minor foot ailment diagnosed earlier in the week.

The Clark, which is named for the so-called father of Louisville, George Rogers Clark, long has been the linchpin of the Churchill fall meet, and has been run each year since the track's inaugural meet in 1875.

Recent winners include such standouts as Out of Place (1991), Judge T C (1995), and Silver Charm (1998).

The 2001 winner was Ubiquity, a 19-1 shot who held off favored Include in the final yards.

The Clark goes as the 11th of 12 races on a Friday card that also includes three allowances. Post time for the Clark is 4:29 p.m. Eastern.

First post Friday and Saturday is 11:30 a.m.

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