Pedroza staging one-man jockey show at Fairplex

Martin Pedroza, king of Fairplex Park, is making it known he’s not ready to give up his crown anytime soon. He continues to climb aboard the best stock on the grounds and he puts them in excellent position to win each and every time the gates open.

Pedroza is on a pace to break his own record of 51 victories at a single Fairplex season through the first six days of the 15-day meet. Pedroza won two more races Thursday, bringing his total for the year to 26 — 21 clear of second-place David Flores and Felipe Valdez.

Pedroza needs to average only 2.9 winners per day the rest of the meet to surpass the record he set in 2004 when he eclipsed Flores’ mark of 48 established in 1991. He’s averaging a little more than four victories per day so far.

Problem is, you’re not going to get rich betting Pedroza at Fairplex Park, but you sure as heck better not ignore his horses just because the vast majority of them go postward at low odds. He’s a “must use” in exotics just about every time he climbs aboard a horse.

If you’d bet two dollars to win on all 57 of Pedroza’s mounts so far this meet, you’d have gotten back $107.20 — a $6.80 loss. His winners are averaging a paltry $4.12 per two-dollar bet. His biggest-paying winner was Warren’s Blossom in Sunday’s 12th race, which returned $10.40. Two of his winners have paid $2.60 and one returned $2.40.

Get this — 15 of his 26 wins have come aboard odds-on favorites. That’s right, 58 percent of his victories have returned less than even-money.

Pedroza is a win machine at Fairplex Park. He knows just what it takes to win at the small Pomona oval, and the smart money out there knows it. Go out and have fun, bet a couple bucks here and there on him. Just know that you’re likely to only break even or lose a little money.

But hey, it’s only Fair, right?

It’s a two-man show in Del Mar finale

Midway through today’s closing 10-race program at Del Mar, Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano have swept the card. Rosario’s won three times, Bejarano has won twice and the two are tied 56-56 in the race for the riding title.

Rosario is the defending Del Mar champ, but Bejarano has won eight of the past 12 major Southland meets since relocating here full time at the beginning of 2008. The two have dominated the local scene during the past 2 1/2 years, just as they are doing this summer at Del Mar.

Next up is the sixth race. Rosario’s original mount in the sixth, Wild and Gotaway, was scratched but he picked up a mount, She’sawontontomato, when Martin Pedroza was excused from riding the card because of a sore neck. Bejarano is aboard Warren’s Natalie for trainer Jorge Gutierrez.

Ten minutes before post, Rosario’s mount is at 4-1 and Bejarano is 7-1.

Both Bejarano and Rosario have mounts in the remaining four races, and it appears this race is going to go right down to the final race of the meet.

Rosario one up with eight to go at Del Mar

Joel Rosario, shooting for his second consecutive Del Mar riding title, took a one-win lead over Rafael Bejarano with eight races to go by sweeping the early daily double.

Rosario guided 6-5 favorite Quoted ($4.60) to victory in the first race, a $25,000 claiming event for 3-year-olds and older. He came back in the second leg of the double to score aboard Fund Raiser, a 3-1 shot who returned $8.80 in the $75,000-added overnight stakes for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

The winning daily double paid $19.80.

Bejarano went into the meet’s final day with a 54-53 lead, but Rosario now is on top 55-54. Both jockeys are scheduled to ride in the final eight races.

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We’ll do it one more time at Del Mar this summer

This is it — the final day of racing at Del Mar’s 37-day summer meet. Where has the time gone? Seems like just yesterday that we could hear the roar of the crowd as the track where the turf meets the surf opened the gates for its first race of the meet on July 21.

As we prepare for today’s final card, which includes 10 races for the fourth consecutive racing day (who said there was a horse shortage, huh?), the jockey title is still up for grabs between defending champ Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano.

Bejarano holds a 54-53 edge over Rosario heading into today’s action and both riders will be plenty busy. Rosario has mounts in all 10 races, including Western Mood in the $250,000 Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and Bejarano is scheduled to ride in nine of the 10. He’ll be aboard the promising Indian Winter in the Futurity.

It was quite a holiday weekend of racing at Del Mar (should we call it the John Sadler Tour de Force?), beginning with Call a Kelly’s impressive come-from-behind victory in the $250,000 Darley Debutante on Saturday, a win that sets up the 2-year-old filly for a start in the Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 3 at Hollywood Park.

On Sunday, of course, we had Twirling Candy’s highly controversial victory in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby and, three races later, an impressive victory by Switch in the Torrey Pines Stakes.

All three horses are trained by Sadler, who’s won a meet-high five stakes and had saddled 37 stakes winners at Del Mar in his career — good for eighth on the track’s all-time list.

Much was made of the fact that Twirling Candy blatantly fouled Summer Movie in the Del Mar Derby and was not disqualified, but lost in all the controversy was the fact that the 3-year-old Candy Ride colt cost himself a lot of ground and yet still won by 3 1/4 lengths while running the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.96. It was an extraordinary effort by a colt who’s won his four races without defeat by a combined 14 lengths.

After the race, Sadler said Twirling Candy will run in the Goodwood Stakes at Hollywood Park on Oct. 2, presumably as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.

Switch is one of the top four 3-year-old fillies in the country. She beat Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks at Hollywood Park and deserves to be ranked right up there with the Kentucky Oaks winner, Evening Jewel and Devil May Care.

The Torrey Pines victory was Sadler’s fourth consecutive in the race and fifth overall and gave Rosario his meet-high eighth stakes victory.

The winner of today’s Del Mar Futurity should be watched closely in not only the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but also next spring’s 3-year-old classics.

The past three winners of the Futurity — Lookin At Lucky, Midshipman and Georgie Boy — were as talented as any 2-year-olds around, and there are some top juveniles scheduled to run today, including favored J P’s Gusto, Jaycito, Major Art, Western Mood and Indian Winter.

I like Indian Winter, an Indian Charlie colt, to win the race. He broke his maiden over Del Mar’s Polytrack on Aug. 21, rallying from fourth in a six-horse field to win by a half-length for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, running the six furlongs in 1:11 1/5. I think he’ll improve off that effort and be tough to beat today.

Did the Del Mar stewards make the right call?

There were boos from many at Del Mar on Sunday when track announcer Trevor Denman announced the stewards were making no change in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby’s order of finish, that Twirling Candy had been declared the official winner despite blatantly fouling Summer Movie around the turn into the backstretch.

Steward Scott Chaney, who met with reporters to explain the judges’ decision, said interference doesn’t necessarily mean a horse has to come down. He told reporters that to disqualify Twirling Candy and place him last would have been wrong, that there was no way to determine how much the foul cost Summer Movie, who finished last, beaten 6 3/4 lengths by the fifth-place horse.

“To disqualify a horse in any race, let alone a Grade 2, on any sort of guessing game would be highly unusual from a steward’s perspective,” Chaney said. “Usually when we disqualify a horse, and as you know we disqualify very few here in Southern California, we’re fairly certain it cost the horse a specific amount.”

While Chaney is correct in the assertion that any effort to deterrmine how many lengths the interference cost Summer Movie is pure speculation, it’s also correct to wonder how a horse, no matter how much the best, can interfere with a horse so badly and still have his number stay up.

Even after the foul, jockey Victor Espinoza was able to steer Summer Movie back into contention heading into the second turn until the horse lost his steam in the stretch, at which point Espinoza totally wrapped him up and made no effort to coax him through the lane.

After the race, Espinoza wondered if Summer Movie had been injured. Trainer Art Sherman said he had indeed been nicked up a bit and Sherman told the San Diego Union Tribune this morning that the horse had a bad ankle and was generally sore all over less than 24 hours after the race.

We’re talking about a fine line here. Wheras Twirling Candy was much the best in his fourth consecutive victory without defeat, it’s also true he fouled and injured another horse in the race. Should he get away with that?

Where Chaney and the stewards were totally wrong was making a final decision before talking to Espinoza. Chaney said Espinoza was slow getting to the phone and the stewards were not going to wait any longer, but their job was to call down and make sure he got to the phone. They are the ones in charge and they should have acted accordingly.

A few years ago, New York racing had something known as the “New York Rule,” that if a horse fouled another he was automatically disqualified. That has since been amended to allow the stewards more leeway.

I was OK with Sunday’s decision because the stewards were going to be criticized no matter what they did, but I can’t get over the fact a horse was injured because of the interference and the offending horse’s number stayed up.

Yes, it’s difficult to determine how much the foul actually cost Summer Movie, and Twirling Candy was much the best and deserved to win the race, but somehow the whole thing just leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

There has to be a better way.

Rosario, Bejarano still tied at Del Mar

Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano, who began the day tied atop the Del Mar jockey standings with 47 victories apiece, have each won once today through the first six races to remain deadlocked.

Rosario, the defending Del Mar riding champ, won the third race aboard Tales in Excess for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer to temporarily pull one ahead of Bejarano, but the lead was short lived.

Bejarano, who won the 2008 Del Mar title en route to becoming only the third jockey along with Chris McCarron (1983) and Patrick Valenzuela (2003) to sweep the Southland’s five major meets, came back an hour later and won the fifth race aboard the Vladimir Cerin-trained Movie Duty.

Both riders have mounts in today’s four remaining races.

Rosario: 7th, Pulpit Magic, 4-1; 8th, Avid, 7-2; 9th, Gallatin’s Run, 3-1; 10th, Princess Beau K, 5-1.

Bejarano: 7th, Dreamed to Dream, 3-1; 8th, Wickedly Perfect, 3-1; 9th, Nextdoorneighbor, 7-2; 10th, Snovember, 5-2.

It’s a record Del Mar pick six pool today

Del Mar’s total pick six pool today, counting the $1,597,470 carryover, is a record $6,656,591 — eclipsing the old record of $6,057,334 set on Sept. 5, 2007.

There was $5,059,121 bet into the pick six pool today, but that’s not a one-day record for Del Mar. There was $5,063,436 “new” money wagered on the pick six at Del Mar on Sept. 5, 2007.

If there is one lone winning ticket today, it will return $4.4 million.