05/27/2001 11:00PM

Leelanau soars in Kentucky Cup for aviator-owner

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the owner of the top equine aviation company in Thoroughbred racing, David Clark knows all about flying horses around the country for stakes engagements.

But when Leelanau, owned by Clark, set a track record Monday in winning the $162,600 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs, all the colt had to do was walk a few hundred yards from his stall in Barn 39 on the Churchill backstretch.

"I might have to start flying this one on my own [expense]," said Clark, owner of the Tex Sutton Co.

Leelanau, ridden by Jon Court, won the Grade 3 Kentucky BC by 4 1/2 lengths over front-running Gygistar, finishing in 1:03.11, and shaving .50 seconds off the track and race record set three years ago by Yes It's True.

Leelanau is trained by veteran Steve Morguelan, who said the Carson City colt likely would run next in the Bashford Manor Stakes on July 8.

Leelanau, a winner of his only previous start, stalked the pace early, then swept to victory as the close second choice, returning $5.40 to win. Gygistar, the 4-1 third choice, held second, 1 1/2 lengths before Lakeside Cup.

Open Story, the 8-5 favorite and the only filly in a field of six 2-year-olds, faded from second to fourth, another 1 3/4 lengths back.