Chris McCarron and Came Home following the Santa Anita Derby.

Chris McCarron and Came Home following the Santa Anita Derby.

AP/Mark J. Terrill

McCarron Takes All-Star Jockey Championship

Chris McCarron captured the NTRA All-Star Jockey Challenge Championship title Friday night as if destiny demanded it.

Racing's leading rider by career earnings was in a three-way tie for second place going into the final race of the four-race showdown at Lone Star Park near Dallas. At the top of the stretch in the five furlong starters allowance race for 3 year olds and up, it looked as if McCarron was out of the hunt and his last weekend as a jockey would begin with a consolation prize. McCarron, 47, announced his retirement June 15 and will make his last start Sunday in the $100,000 Affirmed Stakes on Came Home.

No sooner had attention shifted toward jockey Edgar Prado wasn't near the lead but still leading the All-Star standings with 18 points, then McCarron's mount Yoto Speakes seemed to grasp the gravity of the moment. The gelded gray son of Zuppardo's Love took flight and rolled passed horse after horse with a purposeful, gobbling stride. Yoto Speakes and McCarron won by 1 1/4 lengths.

"There's no way you can even dream it'd work out this good -- that would be awfully greedy," said McCarron

McCarron started the All-Star series with a win in the fourth race on a 5 year old mare named Prized Amberpro, the favorite who won by a neck over Edgar Prado on Coat of Armor. He then finished out of the money in the next two races. By the final race, Prado was in the lead with his second place finish behind McCarron and a victory in the second challenge race on Sizzlin Mick. McCarron was tied at 12 points with Mike Smith and David Flores.

"I think this will make it that much more difficult for me on Sunday," McCarron said. "But I've made up my mind and I'm satisfied with my decision."

Friday's victory in the All-Star Jockey Challenge was the first for McCarron, who has accomplished nearly every feat possible in his 28-year career. Past All-Star championship winners are Gary Stevens (1997), Shane Sellers (1998), Pincay (1999), Prado (2000) and Jerry Bailey (2001).

The NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship annually raises money for disabled and injured jockeys. A percentage of the wagering on the four all-star races will benefit the Disabled Jockey's Endowment. A portion of the proceeds from a memorabilia auction, autograph session and golf tournament also go to the fund.