10/17/2004 11:00PM

With six stakes left to ride, Bejarano trails record by two

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Rafael Bejarano rides Runway Model to her Alcibiades victory.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The 2004 fall meet at Keeneland may well be remembered for the Mutuel Fun wager, the unveiling of a training track covered with a revolutionary synthetic surface, an experiment with high-tech chart-calling, or the fan-friendly low takeouts on multi-race wagers.

But as the meet hits its halfway mark Wednesday, it seems that the breakthrough that jockey Rafael Bejarano has made at this meet may be the best story. Bejarano not only leads the jockey standings with 13 wins, he also has a chance at a record for most stakes victories at a Keeneland meet.

Moreover, the Keeneland fall meet is widely regarded as big-league, one where the best jockeys congregate. And although Bejarano - who through Sunday had ridden 398 winners this year, tops in North America - has been a dominant force wherever he has ridden this year, it was this meet that was widely viewed as a barometer as to how he would match up against top-flight competition.

He has matched up well, to say the least. After winning the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes with Molto Vita on Sunday, Bejarano is just two stakes victories away from tying Pat Day's track mark, set at the 1998 fall meet. Bejarano, a 22-year-old Peruvian, will have six chances to take a shot: Seven stakes remain at the meet, but he will be at the Breeders' Cup when the seventh and last stakes, the Oct. 30 Fayette, is run.

Stakes action this week begins Thursday with the $75,000 Clark County, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race for fillies and mares. The balance of the schedule is the $75,000 Woodford County on Friday, the $100,000 Valley View on Saturday, and the $150,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager on Sunday.

Handful of workouts

Roses in May, a starter for the BC Classic, was among the handful of horses going through workouts at Churchill Downs over the weekend. Roses in May went five furlongs Saturday in 1:02.20 on a fast track.

Other Churchill works were Stellar Jayne (BC Distaff), five furlongs Sunday in a bullet 59.80 seconds; Indy Groove, seven furlongs Sunday in 1:27.20; Consolidator, a half-mile Monday in 47.40 seconds; and Fantasticat, five furlongs Monday in 1:01.

The track was fast Sunday but turned sloppy Monday after heavy rain.

In another BC-related work, Perfect Drift, headed for the Classic, breezed five furlongs Saturday in 1:01.60 over a fast track at Louisville Trackside.

More trouble for Island Sand

As exciting as the finish was in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Saturday, that's how disappointing the race was for the connections of Island Sand. The filly displaced her palate before trudging home seventh and last, a result that has eliminated her from consideration for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Trainer Larry Jones had been hoping the QEII would serve as a springboard to the Distaff.

The breathing problem is just the latest for Island Sand, who earlier this year ran second in the Kentucky Oaks and won the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont. Since a third-place finish in the Mother Goose, she underwent two operations to attempt to correct an entrapped epiglottis.

For Jones, the QEII illustrated the ups and downs of racing. The previous day, he walked out of Keeneland a jubilant man, having won the Grade 2 Raven Run with Josh's Madelyn.

Pick four handle exceeds guarantee

The pick four got over the hump Sunday. For the second of three times this meet, Keeneland, in conjunction with Television Games Network, guaranteed a $300,000 pool for the second of three pick four wagers Sunday. The handle was $322,197, or more than the track needed.

The previous Sunday, the pool was some $55,000 short of the targeted number, and Keeneland made up the difference.

The last guaranteed pick four is set for this coming Sunday.

Animal bite cuts power for hours

Keeneland experienced a massive power outage early Saturday, causing widespread inconvenience but no lasting damage. Food service was delayed for a while, and there were some disruptions in communications in the television department, but nothing major.

The outage apparently occurred when an animal with very sharp teeth chewed through the insulation on a high-voltage line. Power was out for approximately six hours, from about 4:30 a.m. to about 10:15. There was no official word on what happened to the small animal, which was reported to be a squirrel.

Dates awarded for 2005

With no variance from tradition, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority assigned the customary dates to state racetracks for the 2005 racing season when the board met Monday at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Turfway Park will hold three meets, Jan. 1 to April 7, Sept. 7 to Oct. 6, and Nov. 27 to Dec. 31. Keeneland will hold spring and fall meets, April 8 to 29 and Oct. 7 to 29, as will Churchill Downs, April 30 to July 10 and Oct. 30 to Nov. 26. The Ellis Park meet will run from July 13 to Sept. 5, and Kentucky Downs will race six days in September.

In other business, the board passed a directive written by it's new executive director, Jim Gallagher, requiring state veterinarians to check lip tattoos on horses during their standard prerace examinations. The directive emanated from an August mixup of two horses at Ellis Park.

* Total Impact, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup, is headed for the Fayette Stakes on closing day, Oct. 30, according to trainer Laura de Seroux.