11/16/2007 12:00AM

Purim takes high road in finale

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - On his way out the door, Purim could have taken the easy way, but trainer Tom Proctor would have none of it. Instead of going for the Grade 3 River City Handicap on Friday, Proctor has opted instead for another race the same day for his soon-to-retire stable star: the Grade 2 Clark Handicap, the highlight of the Churchill Downs fall meet.

"This is his last hurrah, and it won't be the end of the world one way or the other," said Proctor.

Purim is a proven entity on grass, having won the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile last month at Keeneland, so Proctor believes a victory in the River City, a $200,000 grass race, "wouldn't prove a whole lot." Conversely, if Purim, bred and owned by E.J. Sukley, can go to stud next year with a resume that includes a win in the Clark, a $500,000 dirt race, "that'd be a nice feather in his cap," said Proctor.

With a field of at least nine 3-year-olds and upward taking shape for the 133rd Clark, Purim figures as a legitimate contender despite his limited form on dirt. The 5-year-old horse has 3 wins from 8 starts on dirt, including the Razorback Handicap in early 2006, but only one of his last 11 races have been on that surface. Nonetheless, Proctor believes circumstances are right to give it a try.

"Is he good enough to beat these horses on the dirt? That's why they run the races," said Proctor. "He's run all year, he's fit, and obviously he's a pretty nice horse."

Meanwhile, weight assignments were released Friday for the 1 1/8-mile Clark. Purim, with Jamie Theriot to ride, will carry 117 pounds, five fewer than topweighted Magna Graduate.

Also, Todd Pletcher said Friday that he intends to run all three of the horses he nominated to the Clark: Magna Graduate, Fairbanks (116), and A.P. Arrow (115). Pletcher won the race two years ago with Magna Graduate.

The other probables for the Clark include Diamond Stripes, 120; Brass Hat, 118; Going Ballistic, 115; Jonesboro, 117; and Helsinki, 112. Entries will be drawn Tuesday.

Istan (118) was scheduled to work Saturday at Churchill. New owner Brereton Jones said he and trainer Bill Mott would then decide whether the horse would have his career finale in the Clark or the Cigar Mile the following day.

Panty Raid given 120 for Falls City

Panty Raid, trained by Pletcher, will be the starting 120-pound highweight for the Grade 2, $300,000 Falls City on Thursday. Panty Raid skipped the Breeders' Cup after winning the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 7.

Hystericalady is listed as the 123-pound highweight but is not expected to run. The other probables for the Falls City include Rolling Sea, 118; Delicate Dynamite, 115; High Heels, 115; Tessa Blue, 115; and Stop a Train, 113.

The Falls City and Clark are the highlights of a big closing week. The other stakes during the final four-day stretch are the River City and the twin 2-year-old stakes the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod, which will be run on closing day, Nov. 24.

First post for the last three cards of the meet is set for 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

Contest results murky

Because of a computer malfunction involving a handicapping contest qualifying round here last Sunday, participants are being refunded their entry fee along with a $25 betting voucher.

Churchill officials have been able to determine the top eight finishers, and the cash prizes they earned, but the identity of the remaining 17 contestants who would be eligible to participate in the finals of the contest next Saturday is unclear. Churchill is asking that anyone who believes they qualified for the finals to furnish proof. Twenty-five people advance to the finals from each qualifying round. There were 124 entries Sunday in the contest last Sunday, and all have been notified of the situation by letter.

The preliminaries have been held every Wednesday and Sunday since the fall meet began Oct. 28. Substantial cash prizes and two berths in the $1 million National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas in January will be at stake in the finals.

Chitoz wires rivals

Chitoz, with Rene Douglas riding for Pletcher, rebounded from a fifth-place finish in the Iroquois Stakes by leading wire to wire and returning $7.60 in the Thursday co-feature for 2-year-olds on the turf. Two starts back, Chitoz was narrowly beaten in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile.

Later Thursday, Spirited Away ($11.20) held off favored Marquee Delivery to win a second-level allowance race for fillies and mares. Robby Albarado was aboard the winner.

* Chad Brown, a former assistant to Bobby Frankel, will be represented Sunday by his first starter since he announced he was opening a public stable. Brown will saddle Grand Lady, formerly trained by Frankel, in the eighth race. Grand Lady, owned by Gary and Mary West, won her lone start, which came at the Meadowlands in September.

* Jockey Dean Sarvis, who has ridden sparingly at this meet, plans to be more active at the Turfway Park meet that begins next Sunday.