10/25/2006 11:00PM

Fittingly a deep field in Fayette


LEXINGTON, Ky. - From flagfall to finish, big fields dominated the Keeneland fall meet, leaving no doubt about the resounding success of the track's new Polytrack surface. And to put an exclamation point on the meet, where fields were averaging just over 10 horses per race as the final days wound down, the closing-day feature - the Grade 3, $150,000 at 1 1/8 miles - got one of its deepest fields in years when 13 showed up in the entry box.

A.P. Arrow, the favorite and runner-up in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup last out, looks like the horse to beat in the Fayette, which anchors a 10-race Saturday card that closes out the 17-day meet. With Rene Douglas to ride, A.P. Arrow could become the record-breaking 54th graded stakes winner of the year for his trainer, Todd Pletcher, assuming one of the Pletcher horses doesn't do so earlier in the day at Aqueduct.

Among the accomplished opponents awaiting A.P. Arrow in the Fayette are Ball Four, winner of the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic in his last start; Good Reward, a Grade 1 winner on turf; the race's defending champion, Alumni Hall; and Andromeda's Hero, who has run in Grade 1 events in three of his last four races.

As for A.P. Arrow, there would be an interesting twist involved if his win gave Pletcher the graded-stakes record. Before the caretakers of the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust turned him over to Pletcher for a 4-year-old campaign, A.P. Arrow was trained throughout his 3-year-old year by D. Wayne Lukas, who not only established the one-year mark of 53 graded-stakes wins in 1987 but also is Pletcher's former boss and mentor.

Besides that subplot, the Fayette might also have a prominent effect on the jockeys' race. Julien Leparoux and Rafael Bejarano, who tied for the spring-meet jockey title with 17 wins each, were in another close race for the fall title as the meet dwindled to its final days. After three races here Thursday, Leparoux held a two-win lead over Bejarano atop the fall standings.

In the Fayette, both jockeys have mounts on stone-cold closers: Leparoux on Scipion and Bejarano on Andromeda's Hero.

Besides the Fayette, which occupies the usual race-9 feature slot, the Saturday finale also includes four allowances (races 6, 7, 8, 10). Live action on the Kentucky circuit moves Sunday to Churchill Downs in Louisville.