11/20/2007 12:00AM

Panty Raid favored versus elders

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - Panty Raid, the versatile filly with graded stakes wins on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces, has been assigned post 2 as the solid favorite for Thursday's Grade 2 Falls City Handicap, the first of five graded stakes to be run during closing week of the Churchill Downs fall meet.

Garrett Gomez, who rode Panty Raid to victory in the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes last out, will be in from California to ride. Owned by Glencrest Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, Panty Raid will face six other fillies and mares in the 92nd Falls City, which is run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Even as a 3-year-old running against older horses, Panty Raid will spot her rivals from two to eight pounds. Her last workout came Friday at Belmont Park, a half-mile breeze in 48 seconds. Besides the Spinster, which came over Polytrack at Keeneland, the filly also won the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan over the Pimlico main track in May and the Grade 1 American Oaks over the Hollywood Park turf in July.

From the rail, with weights and riders, the field for the $300,000 Falls City is: Kettleoneup, 118, Calvin Borel; Panty Raid, 120, Gomez; Jill Indy Pulpit, 112, Larry Melancon; High Heels, 115, Joe Johnson; Lampoon, 114, Larry Sterling Jr.; Tessa Blue, 115, Mike Smith; and Delicate Dynamite, 115, Brian Hernandez Jr.

The Falls City starts the final three-day stretch of the 21-day fall meet. There will be 12 races each day, with first post time at 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

Clark favorite revealed

The favorite for Friday's 133rd running of the $500,000 Clark Handicap might well have become known on Monday when trainer Bill Mott said he intends to start Istan, a highly impressive winner of the Ack Ack Handicap here Nov. 3.

Istan was purchased privately by former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones shortly after his 8 3/4-length triumph in the Ack Ack, and Jones and Mott had strongly considered the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Saturday as a final career start for the 5-year-old horse. But primarily because Istan has remained at Churchill with assistant Kenny McCarthy and likes the track, Mott said he decided to go with the Clark.

"He's run so well over that track, we decided the wisest move was just to keep him there and run him in the Clark," Mott said.

Istan will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux in the Clark, for which entries were to be drawn Tuesday. The other probable starters include the Pletcher-trained trio of Magna Graduate, A.P. Arrow, and Fairbanks, along with Brass Hat, Diamond Stripes, Going Ballistic, Helsinki, Jonesboro, and Purim.

Two-year-olds take center stage

Twin 2-year-old stakes, the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod, anchor the second "Stars of Tomorrow" program of the meet on Saturday, closing day.

At least eight colts and geldings are likely for the KJC, including Court Vision, Halo Najib, Cool Coal Man, and Slew's Tiznow. For the filly counterpart, the probable field includes Pure Clan, French Kiss, Turn Away, and Lady on Holiday.

Both races are Grade 2, $250,000 events run at 1 1/16 miles. Entries will be drawn Wednesday.

* Diego Rodriguez, a longtime exercise rider for Patrick Biancone and other Kentucky trainers, rode his first winner in the sixth race on Sunday aboard Natalicat for trainer Tim Schuh. Rodriguez, 28, will ride at the upcoming Turfway Park meet with Julio Espinoza as his agent.