09/21/2011 2:34PM

Fairplex Park: Chalula One takes a shot at some black type


POMONA, Calif. – The 1990s was the heyday for racing at the Los Angeles County Fair. The fall meet lasted 19 days, stakes purses routinely exceeded $100,000, and the Pomona Derby and Pomona Handicap were important races on the California autumn schedule.

It was the 1990s when Mama Simba ran amok on the five-eighths mile track at Fairplex Park. Mama Simba won five stakes over a four-year period (1990-93) and became the most successful mare to compete on the five-eighths bullring.

“She was a smaller mare, and she just took a real liking to it,” trainer Richard Mandella recalled this week. “Going into the first turn, you could almost see her smile. She really did love it.”

Mama Simba finished her racing career with 12 wins and $505,775 in earnings from 42 starts, including two victories in the $50,000 Bangles and Beads for filly-mare sprinters. When the Bangles and Beads is run for the 43rd time Friday at Fairplex, Chalula One will try to preserve the Mama Simba family legacy.

Chalula One’s grand-dam happens to be Mama Simba. Furthermore, Chalula One is owned and bred by Mama Simba’s owner-breeders Ralph and Todd Aury, and she also is trained by Mandella. He said that on Friday at Fairplex, “I hope the breeding kicks in.”

Chalula One and Halfapondarosa are co-favorites Friday in the 6 1/2-furlong Bangles and Beads. Chalula One has never raced at Fairplex; Halfapondarosa is 1 for 1 at the track. Neither is likely to threaten the filly-mare stakes record of five wins by Mama Simba because of fewer opportunities.

The L.A. County Fair race meet has been sliced to 13 days; the program does not include any $100,000 stakes; and major races such as the $50,000 Pomona Derby on Saturday and $75,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Handicap on closing-day Sunday lost importance as purses declined.

Yet while significance has diminished, minor stakes such as the Bangles and Beads can still decorate a pedigree page and increase a future broodmare’s value. That is why Chalula One is racing Friday at Fairplex.

“She’s been knocking heads with bigger, better fillies,” Mandella said. “The idea is to get black type.”

Chalula One, 3 for 14 with earnings of $205,550, faced better company in spring and summer. The drop in class and switch to the Fairplex bullring could move her up, even if she bears little resemblance to her grand-dam Mama Simba.

“They both have four legs,” Mandella cracked. “Chalula One is actually a good-sized mare, but she’s pretty handy. I don’t know that they have to be small to like [the five-eighths track], they just have to be handy.”

Martin Pedroza rides Chalula One.

Halfapondarosa will be ridden by David Flores, whose Fairplex history includes the first Fairplex stakes win by Mama Simba in 1990. Halfapondarosa finished second in photo finishes recently at Del Mar in a $32,000 claiming race and optional claimer. Trained by Pete Eurton, Halfapondarosa has won four races and $93,960 from 14 starts.

Seven entered the Bangles and Beads, race 10 on the 11-race card. Joe Ja is expected to set the pace; Grade 2-placed Ash Zee makes her first start since March; Entabeni was claimed off a third-place finish for $32,000; comebacker All the Love has earned figures that make her a fit; Came West moves up in class after winning a Fairplex allowance Sept. 11.