07/14/2007 12:00AM

Dead heat for Trujillo and Cruz in jockey race


MIAMI - Fifty-three days into the 2007 Calder meet and there was nothing to choose between defending champion Manoel Cruz and Elvis Trujillo atop the local jockey standings heading into Saturday's card.

Cruz and Trujillo, who was named jockey of the month for July, have seesawed on the front end of the leader board since the meet opened on April 25, and barring injuries they figure to continue the battle throughout the session, which ends Oct. 14. Both riders won a pair of races Friday to remain in a dead heat for a title that Cruz won easily a year ago with 197 victories.

Trujillo, 23, finished fourth in the Calder standings with 85 wins in 2006, then edged up to third behind apprentice Jermaine Bridgmohan and Cruz with 68 victories during the Tropical at Calder meet. He gave a good account of himself against many of the best riders in the country last winter at Gulfstream Park, finishing in a tie for sixth in the standings with 47 victories, three more than Cruz, and setting the stage for the current Calder battle.

While Bridgmohan has yet to return to his record-setting form from the Tropical meet following a pair of frightening spills at Gulfstream, he has picked up momentum of late and is beginning to inch his way up the standings following a very late start. He remains behind David Cardoso and Sally Mitchellhill, fourth and seventh heading into the weekend.

A couple of young, 10-pound apprentices worth watching the rest of the season are Jose Ortiz and Paco Lopez.

Ortiz registered his third win from 12 career mounts when he guided Layton to a game victory for trainer Mario Morales in Saturday's fourth race. Less than 24 hours earlier, Lopez posted the first win of his career in just his third try when he put up a professional ride aboard Anarkali in Friday's eighth.

Appealing Runner tops feature

A field of five well-matched fillies will square off in Monday's $28,000 main event, to be decided under second-level allowance conditions at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Appealing Runner, whose modest two-race win streak was snapped when she finished a distant third behind division leader Cher Ami in the Swept Away Stakes, will likely be favored over the older, more experienced speedster My Prefered.