09/21/2012 2:20PM

Fairplex Park: Norvsky gets more ground in Ralph Hinds

Shigeki Kikkawa
Norvsky is the likely favorite for Sunday's $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap at Fairplex Park.

POMONA, Calif. – Closing day is always big for Fairplex Park, 2012 in particular. When the 13-day autumn meet ends Sunday at the Los Angeles County Fair, the significance of the closing-day feature might extend all the way to the Breeders’ Cup.

The nine older horses entered in the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap include two with designs on the BC Marathon, and another whose performance may indicate the strength of the California contingent aiming to the BC Mile.

Norvsky, runner-up in the Hinds one year ago, is favored Sunday after finishing fourth behind BC Mile hopefuls Obviously and Mr. Commons at Del Mar. That race was at one mile on turf; trainer Don Warren is looking forward to the 1 1/8-mile distance Sunday.

“A flat mile is too short for him,” Warren said. “He’s better at a mile and an eighth.”

Bred and owned by longtime California breeding farm Old English Rancho, Norvsky races in the shadow of his celebrated stablemate Acclamation, who is galloping daily at Santa Anita and remains a candidate for the BC Turf.

Two other veterans – Worth Repeating and Juniper Pass – will use the Hinds as a bridge to the $500,000 BC Marathon. Worth Repeating will race on a fast track for the first time since he won a Grade 3 at Santa Anita in March 2011. Trainer Mike Machowsky hopes a good effort Sunday sets him up for the BC Marathon on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

Juniper Pass, winner of the Grade 2 San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano in 2011, also returns to dirt while racing for the first time since he was gelded.

“If all goes well, he might be a horse to consider for the BC Marathon,” trainer Ray Bell said.

Awesome Gem was to be the 123-pound highweight in the Hinds, but the 9-year-old was retired from racing Friday after inflammation was detected in one of his legs.

Other starters include horse-for-course Quindici Man, 2009 winner of the Pomona Derby at Fairplex; Quail Hill, a front-runner; and outsiders Accelerant, Heroically, and Majestic Harbor.

Warren has won 23 stakes at Fairplex, third on the all-time trainers list. Norvsky would be his first win in the Hinds, the signature race of the Fair meet.

“It would be nice to win it,” Warren said.

Norvsky will be ridden Sunday by Joe Talamo. The 7-for-24 Norvsky enters with sharp form, established class, and proven form over the track.

Warren also starts longshot Accelerant, who has never raced at Fairplex but worked super on the track when he was stabled here two years ago.

“What people might not know is he’s an excellent bull-ringer,” Warren said. “We’re taking a shot.”

Worth Repeating will be ridden by Martin Pedroza, who has led the Fairplex standings 13 straight years. Pedroza entered Friday five wins behind Agapito Delgadillo, who rides longshot Majestic Harbor in the Hinds.

Juniper Pass will try for an unprecedented double – the San Juan Capistrano in 2011 and the Hinds in 2012. He was gelded after his most recent start in July, and Bell said he has been slightly more “business-like” in his works since. Martin Garcia rides Juniper Pass.

The Hinds is race 11 in a 12-race closing-day card. The autumn meet at Santa Anita begins Friday.