Dutrow, Bejarano Take Aqueduct Winter Titles

The inner dirt track meeting at Aqueduct finally ended Thursday with Richard Dutrow Jr. and Rafael Bejarano winning respective titles for top trainer and jockey.

The meet's original end-date of March 9 was twice pushed back because poor weather prevented the maintenance crew from having the Main Track in shape for racing.

Dutrow prevailed 33-31 over Bruce Levine. Gary Contessa, who battled for the lead most of the winter, tied at 29 wins with Scott Lake. Michael Hushion enjoyed a fine meet with 26 winners and finished fifth.

Bejarano arrived in New York last fall after being ruled off Churchill Downs for his role in the November jockeys' boycott. But he secured business immediately, and was eventually bolstered by a slew of live mounts for Dutrow. He missed one full week to serve a suspension and rode several days out of town but still managed to ride 78 winners to 67 for Norberto Arroyo Jr. Shaun Bridgmohan and Mike Luzzi were next with 52 winners, followed by Richard Migliore's 50.

Bejarano will be at Santa Anita on Saturday to ride Consolidator in the San Felipe.

Seventeen-year old Channing Hill arrived late at the meet, but defeated Eriluis Vaz 24-22 for leading apprentice honors.

The son of longtime rider Alan Hill elected to finish high school before moving to New York after Christmas, three weeks after the meet began.

Both Hill and Vaz plan to ride out the Aqueduct spring meet, which runs through May 1, before deciding their next career moves.

Racing at Aqueduct moves to the main track for the spring meet beginning Friday. That means Saturday's Gotham (gr. III) will be run as scheduled at a mile around one turn.