09/20/2011 11:53AM

Fairplex: Several favorites look suspect on Thursday's card


POMONA, Calif. – Fairplex Park is excessively kind to favorites. The past five years, favorites won 40 percent of Thoroughbred races on the five-eighth mile track that hosts the Los Angeles County Fair race meet.

The trend is splendid for bettors that enjoy cashing tickets regardless of odds. Value-oriented bettors, meanwhile, become frustrated when favorites win as often as week two (Sept. 14-18) of the meet. Thoroughbred favorites won at a 45 percent clip, lifting the overall rate for the meet to 36 percent. The national average is about 34 percent.

However, Thursday at Fairplex, favorites have much to prove. Except for My Count Silver in race 6 and Top Torero in race 9 – maidens that finished second last out – the pick-six sequence (races 4-9) includes several favorites in dubious current form.

Race-4 favorite Plenny of Henny finished fifth last week in a stakes; handicappers will expect improvement dropping to $32,000 claiming. Or maybe the 2-year-old colt is not as good as his winning debut on July 22 at Del Mar suggests. Leading jockey Martin Pedroza rides for leading trainer Doug O’Neill.

Race-5 favorite Miss Mystic also finished fifth last out, after battling on a fast pace. She was claimed for $20,000 and moves up to $25,000 for new trainer Victor Garcia. Agapito Delgadillo rides the filly. She should be gone as the most probable winner on the card.

Race-6 favorite My Count Silver missed by a nose 12 days ago in a similar $20,000 maiden claimer. That effort makes the gelding the logical choice under Jose Valdivia.

Race 7 is a 1 3/8-mile marathon – two complete laps around the five-eighths mile oval. The early favorite in the $20,000 claiming starter allowance is Hiatus, whose last 10 starts include four runner-up finishes and only one win. Royal Import will roll late, while Northern California shipper Steel Blue will try to lead gate to wire.

Race-8 favorite Baton Roo finished last in a recent comeback while facing tougher company in a second-level allowance. He drops to a first-level optional $40,000 claimer for California-breds and can win if he runs back to his spring form. It requires a leap of faith to back a horse at low odds following a last-place comeback.

Race-9 favorite Top Torero finished second in his most recent start; four that finished behind him returned to win. On paper, he stands out in the $20,000 maiden claimer.