10/25/2010 2:00PM

Battle between McPeek, Catalano may go right down to the wire


LEXINGTON, Ky. – There usually isn’t much drama remaining in the Keeneland fall meet at this late stage, but the trainers’ race might be worth keeping tabs on. Ken McPeek and Wayne Catalano enter the final four-day stretch tied with eight wins apiece, and although both say winning the title isn’t a top priority, they will be running quite a few horses and certainly wouldn’t mind earning the badge of honor that goes with being a Keeneland meet leader.

Catalano has horses entered in a combined six races Wednesday and Thursday, while McPeek has five entered on those two programs. Each has a sizable stable at his disposal, and while several other trainers are right behind them – Graham Motion has seven wins, and Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher have six each – it is McPeek and Catalano who most likely will be running the most horses this week.

“You got to have a little luck, get the horses in the right spots,” said Catalano, who set an Arlington Park record for most wins by a trainer this summer.

A microcosm of the back-and-forth that McPeek and Catalano have been waging was on display over the weekend. McPeek won the fourth and fifth races Saturday, but then Catalano responded by winning the sixth with the promising 2-year-old, Animal Kingdom, to retake the lead. McPeek then won the third race Sunday to knot the score going into the final week.

Lucky fan will get $25,000 bet

The Breeders’ Cup and WHAS-11, the Louisville affiliate for ABC television, announced Monday that one fan will be given a $25,000 wager to win on the Nov. 6 BC Classic.

To be eligible, fans will be signed up onsite at Churchill Downs through post time for the eighth race on the first Breeders’ Cup day, Nov. 5. A random drawing to select the person who will get to place the bet will be made before the ninth race that day.

A free $100,000 wager on the Kentucky Derby last May yielded a huge publicity bonanza. The bet was placed on the 8-1 winner, Super Saver, by Glen Fullerton of Houston, who netted $900,000.

Hilda’s Passion may target La Brea

Hilda’s Passion, winner of the Grade 2 Raven Run on Saturday at Keeneland, came out of the race in good order, according to Michael McCarthy, the Kentucky-based assistant to Pletcher.

McCarthy said the Dec. 26 La Brea Stakes over the newly renovated dirt surface at Santa Anita is a possible next start for Hilda’s Passion

Hilda’s Passion was making her graded-stakes debut when she pressed all the pace before going on to win the seven-furlong Raven Run by three-quarters of a length over Decelerator, a 73-1 shot.

Leparoux firmly atop jockey standings

Julien Leparoux appears well on his way to a fifth Keeneland riding title, as the 26-year-old Frenchman holds a commanding 20-12 lead over Robby Albarado heading into the final week of the fall meet.

Leparoux, the 2009 Eclipse Award honoree for top jockey, previously was leading rider here at the 2006 fall meet and at the 2007 and 2009 spring meets. He also shared the riding title at the 2006 spring meet with Rafael Bejarano.

◗ A 4-year-old filly named Ariana D has yielded quite a return on investment in her two career starts over Polytrack at Keeneland. Last fall, the filly won an allowance race at a $44.40 mutuel, and Saturday, she won another allowance, returning $24.80. Ariana D, trained by Merrill Scherer, is 4 for 14 elsewhere and is a minor stakes winner in Pennsylvania, where she was bred.

◗ There were two winning $1 tickets sold in the super high five on the last race Sunday, each worth $6,234, but there were no winning tickets sold on the $2 pick six. The carryover into the Wednesday pick six (races 4-9) is $24,753.

◗ Jockey Jon Court is now being represented by agent John Fahey.