09/23/2012 9:41PM

Fairplex: Pedroza dethroned, but wins closing-day Hinds


POMONA, Calif. – Jockey Martin Pedroza broke slowly at the start of the 13-day Los Angeles County Fair meet, and finished second in the standings. It was the first year since 1998 Pedroza has not led the meet.

But 6-year-old gelding Norvsky suffered the season’s biggest stumble. Even money in the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap on closing day Sunday at Fairplex Park, Norvsky stumbled at the start, and unseated jockey Joe Talamo.

That left Pedroza and Worth Repeating ($8.20) with a perfect trip and five-length runaway victory in the centerpiece race of the meet.

The victory was redemption for Pedroza, whose Fairplex dominance was expected to continue for a 14th straight year. But facing the strongest colony in years, Pedroza could only finish second as Edwin Maldonado won the title by a 26-19 margin.

In the Hinds, Norvsky seemingly had the field at his mercy. Then the gates opened.

“His head was turned, and he lost all his footing,”

Talamo said. Norvsky stumbled, and Talamo went over the top and to the ground. Neither horse nor jockey was badly hurt.

Worth Repeating, claimed by trainer Mike Machowsky for $62,500 in June at Hollywood Park, ran his way into the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

“If he’s doing good, he’s in,” Machowsky said.

Worth Repeating’s win was his fourth from 26 starts. He sat second behind the pacesetter, opened up on the far turn, and rolled.

Pacesetter Quail Hill finished second in the 1 1/8-mile race, run in 1:50.36. Juniper Pass finished third while racing as a gelding for the first time. Juniper Pass is also being considered for the BC Marathon, and immediately after the race, trainer Ray Bell was still leaning that way.

The surprise of the meet was Maldonado winning the title and ending Pedroza’s 13-year streak. Maldonado began riding in California two years ago at the start of 2010 Fairplex meet, and was fourth in the standings this summer at Del Mar. Pedroza remains the all-time leading Fairplex rider with 705 wins.

The Fairplex colony included Juan Hernandez, third with 18 wins, along with Jorge Carreno and Agapito Delgadillo who each had 13. Maldonado, Pedroza, Hernandez, and Delgadillo are expected to stay in California.

Carreno will riding opening weekend at the Santa Anita fall meet that begins Friday, then return to Turf Paradise, where he was the leading rider one year ago.

Carreno won three stakes at the meet, was but was unseated Sunday in a spill at the start of race 7, and took off the remainder of his mounts.

Jorge Gutierrez won the first training title of his career by saddling 6 winners from 15 starters at Fairplex. Robertino Diodoro finished second with a 5-for-18 record.

Track officials expect to announce an 8 percent handle increase when final totals are compiled early in the week. The estimated daily handle for the 13-day meet expected to exceed $5.1 million.