09/09/2013 4:03PM

Barretts at Fairplex: Business opening weekend hurt by heat, competition

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Martin Pedroza won with 12 of his first 26 mounts at the Barretts meet, including six on Sunday.

POMONA, Calif. – Increased competition in the simulcast market and a punishing local heat wave were key factors responsible for a significant decline in handle on opening weekend of the Los Angeles County Fair race meet.

Barretts at Fairplex handled only slightly more than $13 million the first three days of the meet, Friday through Sunday. It was a 13.7 percent drop from the corresponding period in 2012, when opening weekend handle exceeded $15 million.

“Two issues – one is Churchill Downs, and the other is the impact of Kentucky Downs,” fair president Jim Henwood said. “There is a lot more competition.”

A year ago, neither Churchill Downs nor Kentucky Downs raced during the first weekend of the L.A. County Fair. Early-season wagering at the fair in 2012 also was boosted from a triple carryover in the pick six from Sunday into Wednesday.

The current meet has not produced a pick six carryover. There was one winning ticket Friday and Saturday; 79 winning tickets were sold on the Sunday pick six, which paid $383.80.

The steepest decline this year has been on out-of-state betting, which includes account wagering. Handle in that category dropped about 26 percent opening weekend, from $6.8 million to $5 million. Ontrack handle declined 12.5 percent, from $1.4 million to $1.2 million.

The temperature exceeded 100 degrees Friday and Saturday, followed by a small respite Sunday when the temperature was 95.

Pedroza, Quinonez hot jocks

For jockeys Martin Pedroza and Alonso Quinonez, Barretts at Fairplex was a welcome change after a long summer at Del Mar. In just three days of racing at Barretts, Pedroza and Quinonez each exceeded his win total from the seven-week Del Mar meet.

Pedroza was as hot as the weather. He won with 12 of 26 mounts, including six wins Sunday. At Del Mar, Pedroza won 10 of 135. Meanwhile, Quinonez emerged as the surprise hot jockey opening weekend by winning five races from 16 mounts. At Del Mar, Quinonez won just two races from 74 mounts.