09/22/2012 9:39PM

Fairplex: Former claimers turn into stakes winners in Pomona Derby, Las Madrinas


POMONA, Calif. – Two summer claiming horses became autumn stakes winners by posting surprise victories Saturday in $50,000 races at Fairplex Park.

Shadow Runner scored a $23 upset in the Pomona Derby; Little Emily posted a $47.60 upset in the Las Madrinas Handicap. Both ran in claiming races as recently as June.

Little Emily was the longest shot in the seven-horse Las Madrinas, but when favorites Going for a Spin and Hard to Resist misfired, Little Emily and jockey Jorge Carreno won the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares by a head over Glowing Spirit in 1:45.68.

Trainer Melody Conlon deferred credit for the win. “I’ve only had her for three days, so I can’t take much of the credit,” she said.

The win was timely for Conlon, who split with main client John Liviakis in summer. Conlon currently has six horses in her stable.

Little Emily’s former trainer Bob Leonard transferred Little Emily to Conlon early this week. The filly ran in a $25,000 claiming race in June.

Going for a Spin and Hard to Resist finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Las Madrinas.

Earlier on the card, Shadow Runner moved from a $50,000 claiming race on turf into the winners’ circle for the Pomona Derby.

A temporary closure of the Hollywood Park main track early this month contributed to Shadow Runner’s victory.

While the main track was closed, Mike Machowsky trained Shadow Runner on the small training track at Hollywood. The 3-year-old was comfortable on the tight turns, which gave Machowsky the idea to start Shadow Runner on the five-eighths track at Fairplex.

It turned out to be a good idea. Shadow Runner and Martin Pedroza snuck through inside in the stretch of the Pomona Derby, and inched clear of longshot pacesetter Az Ridge to win the 1 1/16-mile race by a neck in 1:46.12.

The 6-5 favorite Northern Iowa may have been best. He lost ground early, was blocked into the lane, and finished a nose back in third.

Sunday is closing day at the Los Angeles County Fair meet, and Edwin Maldonado holds a 23-18 lead over Pedroza, in the jockey standings.

Pedroza has led the meet 13 straight years. Juan Hernandez has 17 wins.

There was one winning ticket in the pick six Saturday; it paid $119.701.60. The $1 pick nine, which was not hit the first 12 days of the meet, has a carryover of $44,734 into Sunday, mandatory payout day.