09/08/2011 3:28PM

Fairplex: Full fields make card a good one to bet


POMONA, Calif. – No stakes, no problem. Gambling is the focus Saturday at Fairplex Park, where full fields compensate for the absence of a weekend showcase stakes race.

Only four California-bred fillies and mares nominated to the $50,000 E.B. Johnston Stakes scheduled for Saturday; only three entered even after the statebred restriction was lifted. Officials canceled the 1 1/16-mile stakes and expect increased interest Sept. 24, when fillies and mares run long in the $50,000 Las Madrinas Handicap.

Meanwhile, what Saturday’s card lacks in quality, it makes up for in quantity – 107 horses entered 11 races. The early portion of the card is uninspiring; Martin Pedroza rides four consecutive favorites, including three listed at even-money or less on the early line: Kuro in race 2, Jessakar in race 3, and There is No Limit in race 4.

Though many bettors loathe odds-on favorites, Jessakar fills a need. Race 3 is the first leg of the pick five, a 50-cent wager with a 14 percent takeout. Jessakar, a front-runner, looms a potential single in the most predictable type of race at Fairplex. Favorites last fall won 11 of 15 races for juveniles at the “about” four-furlong distance, which is run around one turn.

The $2 pick six begins in race 6, and the sequence has all the makings of a carryover because of the vulnerability of the favorites. Crispy Corey is favored in the first leg, a $20,000 maiden-claiming sprint in which he tries to win for the first time in his 14th start.

Race-7 favorite Danzig Tribal has lost 11 straight; he is favored over Gahnzo Bob in the $5,000 claiming sprint for nonwinners of two. Race 8 is the only non-claiming race Saturday. Marty Jones trains the co-favorites in the special-weight sprint for fillies and mares – Amy’s Outburst and Clean Break.

Race 10 is the feature, a six-furlong sprint for nonwinners-other-than/optional $40,000 claiming. Gutshot Straight shortens to his preferred sprint trip in his first start since being claimed by Blake Heap. Gutshot Straight won three straight sprints before a runner-up finish last out at one mile.

Gutshot Straight will be ridden by Christian Santiago-Reyes, the early “favorite” to finish second in the standings behind Pedroza. Pedroza rides Speed Bias, runner-up two weeks ago in a fast $40,000 claiming race for 3-year-olds.

The card ends with a $20,000 maiden-claimer at six furlongs, and Doughboy is the early favorite in the 13th start of his career.