11/05/2007 12:00AM

Istan romps by 8 3/4 in Ack Ack

EquiSport Photos
Kent Desormeaux, leading rider at the Churchill Downs meet, guides Istan home in the Ack Ack.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kent Desormeaux has done virtually everything in a Hall of Fame career that now spans more than two decades, except end a meeting as leading rider at Churchill Downs.

But with a terrific first week at the fall meet, including a romping victory Saturday aboard Istan in the 15th running of the $221,600 Ack Ack Handicap, Desormeaux has another lofty goal in his sights.

"So far I'm having fun," said Desormeaux, who through Saturday held a tenuous lead atop the Churchill standings with 6 wins from 18 mounts. "I'm thankful that I'm riding for some powerful stables, and hopefully some other folks will get on board. If I could be leading rider here, that would be really exciting for me."

They should all be as easy as Istan made it for Desormeaux. Despite breaking slightly behind his seven rivals from post 5, the 5-year-old horse cruised into contention down the backstretch of the one-mile Ack Ack, then put the race away soon after turning for home. He won by 8 3/4 lengths in a swift 1:34.08 over a fast track.

"It was such a brilliant effort on the horse's part," said Desormeaux.

Istan, owned by the Darpat S L Stables and trained by Bill Mott, returned $6.80 as second choice. Sun King, the 7-5 favorite, finished second, a neck before Ryan's for Real, the longest shot in the field at 37-1.

Shortly after the Ack Ack, trainer Nick Zito said Sun King had run his last race. Owned by Tracy Farmer, Sun King, a 5-year-old horse by Charismatic, earned more than $2.2 million in a 28-race career in which he ran in 16 Grade 1 races.

Istan, by Gone West, has won five stakes this year; the Ack Ack was his second Grade 3 score on the year, following the Turfway Park Fall Championship in September. Overall, He has won 9 of 20 starts, with the winner's share of $133,272 in the Ack Ack bringing his bankroll to $434,863.

The race was marred by the breakdown of Casino Evil nearing the half-mile pole. Casino Evil, trained by Mike Tomlinson, was reported to have suffered fractured sesamoids, and his condition was guarded in the race aftermath. The 4-year-old colt was coming off a victory in the Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park.

After Ryan's for Real came Spotsgone, Throng, Off Duty, Simon Pure, and Casino Evil.