06/21/2002 11:00PM

Storybook ending for McCarron


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Some things are meant to be. Chris McCarron, who is set to retire Sunday, put an exclamation point on his Hall of Fame career Friday night when he won the National Thoroughbred Racing Association All-Star Jockey Championship at Lone Star Park.

McCarron claimed the crown over Edgar Prado after he won the final leg of the four-race competition with 7-1 shot Yoto Speakes.

"When I got to the eighth pole and realized I only had three or four more horses to get by - and my horse does close strong in his races - I realized I had a shot and the adrenaline was flying unbelievably," said McCarron.

Jockeys were awarded points based on their finishes in the four Jockey Championship races, and McCarron, who also won the first race in the series, earned 24 points. Prado was second with 18.

Mike Smith and David Flores finished next in the points standings with 12 each, but in the case of a tie the advantage goes to the rider with the best placing in the final leg. That was Smith, who took down third place in the competition when his mount finished ninth, a neck in front of Flores's.

The Jockey Championship got off to a rousing start in the fourth race when McCarron rallied from off the pace with favorite Prized Amberpro ($5.40) to win a three-way stretch battle with Prado on Coat of Armor and John Velazquez aboard Hesthetopps.

McCarron did not pick up any points in the next two races because his mounts finished off the board, but he was still one of five riders with a chance to win the Jockey Championship heading into the final leg.

He did not disappoint as the 7-2 favorite in the All-Star Wager, a propostion bet which enabled patrons to place win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta wagering on the riders in the Jockey Championship.

McCarron guided Yoto Speakes ($17) to a 1 1/4-length win over the Jorge Chavez-ridden Three Jack to lock up the title. McCarron earned $22,000 for winning the competition. This year, total prize money available to the riders was a record $185,000.

McCarron paid $10.80 to win on a $2 ticket. The McCarron-Prado exacta paid $119.40, while the trifecta, completed by Smith, returned $1,509.60. The pool for the wager was $111,706, almost identical to the $111,213 that was bet on the All-Star Wager in 2001.

McCarron has won more than 7,100 races in his career, and is the sport's all-time leading earner with mount earnings of $264 million. He was scheduled to conclude his career with mounts at Hollywood Park on Saturday and Sunday.

Attendance at Lone Star on Friday night was 14,382. Last year, attendance for the Jockey Championship was 15,121. Including the All-Star Wager, Lone Star handled $4,232,796 on its 10-race card Friday.