09/04/2001 11:00PM

Barn area loaded, big fields likely


POMONA, Calif. - More than 1,000 Thoroughbreds are stabled at Fairplex Park, and Los Angeles County Fair racing secretary Richard Wheeler expects a busy entry box. "The barn area will be full, so it's just a matter of people entering and running," Wheeler said Wednesday morning.

A conspicuous absence from Friday's opening-day card was Quarter Horses and Appaloosas. "There just aren't as many mixed-breed horses," Wheeler said.

About 150 Quarter Horses and Appaloosas are stabled at Fairplex. Wheeler and Bob Moreno, racing secretary for Quarter Horses and Appaloosas, hope to fill one mixed-breed race a day to supplement a schedule that will include a total of 12 races weekdays, 11 on weekends.

One change in the condition book is a $4,000 purse increase in maiden allowances, from $30,000 to $34,000. Wheeler also boosted purses of the four marathon starter allowance races. The purses for the 1 3/8-mile starter allowances (claiming $6,250 up to $25,000) have been increased from a range of $2,000 to $4,000. The purse for the $25,000 starter allowance Sept. 23 is $44,000.

Other changes include the addition of $40,000 maiden claimers for the first time at Fairplex, and a nonwinners-of-two lifetime condition in some low-level claiming races.

Pedroza appears dominant again

Jockey Martin Pedroza is the early favorite to repeat as Fairplex leading rider, a title he won last year by a 26-24 margin over Tyler Baze. Pedroza has led the Fairplex jockey standings the last two years, and last year supplanted David Flores as Fairplex Park's all-time leading rider.

Pedroza enters the 2001 meet with 293 wins, four more than Flores,who has 289 wins. Flores is expected to ride mainly stakes at Fairplex, while Pedroza's agent, Richie Silverstein, will put him on "as many as I can." Silverstein also represents Iggy Puglisi, but Pedroza is the rider most trainers go looking for.

"Martin's had a really good year," Silverstein said. "He hasn't ridden as many horses, but his percentage is up." Added Silverstein, "his stakes business is excellent."

Through Monday, Pedroza had won 88 races from 541 mounts (16.2 percent) this year, compared to his 2000 total of 131 wins from 940 mounts (13.9 percent).

Baze, a five-pound apprentice here last year, will be riding as a journeyman this year, and is expected to offer the biggest challenge to Pedroza. Puglisi, Isaias Enriquez, Scott Stevens, and Antonio Castanon also will ride regularly at the Fair.

Sharper Too right back

Sharper Too, winner of the I'm Smokin Stakes for 2-year-olds on Monday at Del Mar, may wheel back in the $50,000 Beau Brummel Stakes on Tuesday. "It's coming back pretty quick [eight days], but if he's doing well, I'll probably run him," trainer Mike Harrington said. Sharper Too earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure in the I'm Smokin. The Beau Brummel was won last year by Meetyouathebrig in an 11-length romp.

Harrington has 12 horses stabled at Fairplex, including the improving Re Echo, who is being considered for the Derby Trial on Monday. Previously a career maiden, Re Echo put together two good races at Del Mar. "I thought he was a better horse than he'd been showing. He finally ran to his potential," Harrington said. Harrington-trained Thewholebag also will be considered for a Fairplex stake.

* Kent Desormeaux was named to ride two horses opening day, which will be the last time he will ride at the 2001 meet. He leaves this weekend for a 10-day vacation, and is not expected to ride again until the Oak Tree meet, which begins Sept. 26.

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