11/26/2007 12:00AM

Rider race won in last jumps

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - The race for leading rider at the two previous fall meets at Churchill Downs ended in a dead heat, but it is hard to imagine a closer or more dramatic jockeys race than the one that closed out the 2007 fall meet.

Going into the last four races Saturday, closing day at the 21-day meet, Calvin Borel led Julien Leparoux by a 26-24 count. Then Leparoux won the ninth race, the Golden Rod Stakes, aboard unbeaten Pure Clan to close within one victory. And after Leparoux won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, the 11th race, on longshot Anak Nakal, the jockeys were deadlocked going into the final race of the meet, a 1 1/8-mile maiden race.

In deep stretch, Borel, riding Revenge Is Sweet, began to inch clear from Sir Jock, and in the final strides, he appeared to have the race won. But then seemingly from out of nowhere, Aquarian came flying to win in the last jump.

Borel was so confident he had won that he gave his familiar fist-pumps and wave-whips as he crossed under the wire. A win would have given him the title outright and a loss would have left him in a tie for the title - except for one scenario. And it was that scenario that became true - Aquarian was ridden by Leparoux, who seized the title, 27-26.

For Leparoux, it was his first fall-meet title at Churchill, and third at the track overall, following spring titles the last two years. The 24-year-old showed true perseverance in earning this one. He took off several mounts on Friday because of a bad cold.

Two years ago, Mark Guidry and Rafael Bejarano tied with 26 wins for top honors at the fall meet, while Borel and Shaun Bridgmohan both won 23 races as co-leaders in 2006.

Steve Asmussen held on to win the training title by a 14-13 count over Dale Romans.

Ken and Sarah Ramsey won the owners title with seven wins, giving them a record 12 titles at Churchill.

A.P. Arrow to target Donn

Trainer Todd Pletcher said A.P. Arrow, who earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in his at 10-1 upset victory in the 133rd Clark Handicap on Friday, will be pointed to a 6-year-old campaign with the Feb. 2 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park as the first major goal. A.P. Arrow grinded out a three-quarter-length triumph over Brass Hat, while his Pletcher stablemates Fairbanks and Magna Graduate were fifth and sixth.

Magna Graduate will not be retired as previously announced and will instead point to a 6-year-old campaign that is apt to include the New Orleans Handicap and Oaklawn Handicap, according to Kim Valerio, racing manager for owner Elisabeth Alexander.

Saturday stakes winners look ahead

Both Pure Clan and Anak Nakal came out of their Saturday wins in good shape, according to their respective camps.

Pure Clan probably will run once or twice at Oaklawn Park before the Fantasy Stakes in early April, said trainer Bob Holthus, while Anak Nakal will go to the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida and point toward the major 3-year-old races, said his trainer, Nick Zito.

Carroll ends drought

Few people had a happier closing day than David Carroll. The trainer, whose stable was hampered by a six-day quarantine early in the meet after one of his horses tested positive for the equine herpesvirus, sent out first-time starter Denis of Cork to win the sixth race, a maiden special weight race, then saddled Blackberry Road to finish second to Anak Nakal in the KJC. Carroll had been winless at the meet until Saturday.

"Everybody's head is picked up," said Carroll, who will take his main string to Fair Grounds.

* The first day of four-plus months of racing at Turfway Park was highlighted Sunday by the $55,000 Magic City Classic for Alabama-breds. Ack Magical, ridden by Rodney Prescott, rallied in the final furlong to win the one-mile race, returning $5 to win.