11/27/2004 1:00AM

Greater Good rides rail to victory

Four-Footed Fotos
Runway Model, under Eddie Martin Jr., scores a three-length victory as the favorite in the Grade 2 Golden Rod.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - John McKee topped off his first Churchill Downs riding title by giving Greater Good a textbook trip when the colt rallied from far back to win the $223,200 on Saturday, closing day of the 21-day fall meet.

McKee, riding for his main client, trainer Bob Holthus, saved ground throughout the 1 1/16 miles of the Grade 2 KJC. As the field crowded together for the stretch run, Greater Good, who had just one horse beaten into the final turn, flew through an opening near the rail before drawing clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

Rush Bay finished second, another half-length before late-running Wild Desert. Then came B. B. Best, Magna Graduate, Storm Surge, Drum Major, Social Probation, and Highgrove.

Greater Good, by Intidab, returned $10.80 after finishing in 1:45.14 over a wet track rated good.

On a raw, rainy afternoon, B. B. Best emerged from a three-way battle for the lead to gain a short advantage into the stretch, but then they all came running. Magna Graduate, Social Probation, and Drum Major all loomed boldly to the outside, but then Rush Bay split horses with a bid in midstretch, and then Greater Good came strongest of all with his rail run.

Holthus, a trainer since 1952, was elated with the win.

"We'll go to Oaklawn Park with him and point him toward the Rebel," he said, referring to a Kentucky Derby prep race on March 19. "With a win in a race like this, obviously we're hoping he's Kentucky Derby material."

Greater Good, a homebred owned by Lewis Lakin, now has won 3 of 5 starts, with the Kentucky Cup Juvenile being his other stakes win.

McKee, 23, finished with 27 wins at the meet, beating Pat Day and apprentice Brian Hernandez Jr. by four.

The other leaders at the meet were trainer Steve Asmussen with 14 wins and owner Overbrook Farm with five wins.

Golden Rod: Runway Model best

In the sister race to the KJC, the Grade 2, $215,400 , Runway Model closed out a terrific year by drawing clear in upper stretch and racing off to a three-length triumph over Kota. Summerly ran third, another 1 3/4 lengths back.

Ridden by Eddie Martin Jr., Runway Model returned $4.20 as favorite in a field of six fillies and mares. Runway Model, owned by Naveed Chowhan and trained by Bernie Flint, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.97 over a track that was still rated fast before rain came later in the day.

Summerly and Quiet Optimism led early, with In the Gold, the 6-5 second choice, following right behind. Martin then made a bold outside move leaving the backstretch with Runway Model, who got the lead late in the far turn en route to her fourth win from 10 career starts.

The graded win was the second for Runway Model, a Petionville filly who last month won the Grade 2 Alcibiades and was third behind Sweet Catomine in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

* Strength and Honor ($9.40), ridden by Eddie Castro, ran his record at Churchill to 5 for 10 when he gamely held on to defeat Coach Jimi Lee by a neck in the $71,680 Distorted Humor for 3-year-olds and upward. Fire Slam, the 8-5 favorite, was never a factor in finishing sixth of 10.

* Saratoga County ($12.20), ridden by Joe Johnson, swept past a pair of dueling leaders and sped off to a 5 1/4-length triumph in a very deep second-level allowance at seven furlongs. St Averil, the 2-1 favorite who was making his first start in nearly eight months, finished last of 12. For Saratoga County, trained by George Weaver, the win was his first since the Grade 3 Gotham in March.

* Real Life ($14.80) rallied late to win the meet finale, the third and last leg of the Trails End series for starter-allowance horses at 1 1/4 miles.