06/11/2009 11:00PM

Fairplex shortens meet to 15 days


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park in September will offer one less day of racing than in recent seasons, Fairplex Park official Kim Lloyd said on Friday.

The track intends to run a 15-day meeting from Sept. 10-28. The meeting will open the day after the Del Mar meeting ends on Sept. 9, and run Thursday through Sunday during the first week.

There will be no racing on Monday, Sept. 14 or Tuesday, Sept. 15, with racing resuming for a five-day week on Wednesday, Sept. 16. The final week begins on Wednesday, Sept. 23 and concludes on Monday, Sept. 28.

Last year, the county fair meeting opened on a Friday and raced on Mondays. Lloyd said this year's overnight turnaround between the closing of Del Mar and the opening of Fairplex Park could not be avoided because of the brief period that Fairplex Park has been allotted dates.

"We only have a short period of time to run our meeting," he said.

The Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting is scheduled to start on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The county fair's plan to run a 15-day meeting is subject to approval from the California Horse Racing Board, which is expected to review the matter in July.

Lloyd, a former trainer who has taken a management role with the county fair and with the Barretts sales company at Fairplex Park, said the shorter season is a reflection on the available horses in Southern California. He said track officials, including newly hired racing secretary Tom Knust, will be recruiting horses from Western tracks in coming months.

"We're going to be pretty aggressive seeking horses," he said.

The Los Angeles County Fair will offer 14 stakes during the meeting, down from 17 last year. Lloyd said the schedule has yet to be finalized.

The Los Angeles County Fair is the third race meeting in Southern California to seek a reduced calendar this year. The current Hollywood Park meeting stopped running on Wednesdays in late May. The upcoming Del Mar meeting will not conduct racing on Mondays, other than Labor Day.

Well Deserved remains undefeated

Back in March, Well Deserved was one of the most talked about horses at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in-training. Working a quarter-mile in 20.80 seconds in a training preview will do that for a promising filly.

Well Deserved was bought for $100,000 by Marc Ferrell. A little more than three months after the Barretts sale, Well Deserved is an undefeated stakes winner. She won the $76,850 Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood on Thursday, five weeks after a solid win in a maiden race.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Well Deserved ($6.60) ran 5 1/2 furlongs in stakes-record time of 1:02.97. Well Deserved was third on the turn, moved into contention with a wide rally, and pulled clear to win by a length over Repo, who broke slowly. Champagne d'Oro finished third, with Southern Fireball, the even-money favorite, fourth in a field of seven 2-year-old fillies.

Earlier this spring, Hofmans feared that Well Deserved was too fast for her own good and would have trouble extending her speed. The concern has been alleviated by her recent wins.

"Coming out of the [maiden] race, she really changed and she acts like she'll run a little farther," Hofmans said. "She broke on top and [Joel] took her back. I hope she can get a sixteenth of a mile farther."

By Cactus Ridge, Well Deserved will make her next start in the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes over six furlongs on July 12.

Repo and Champagne d'Oro, who is still a maiden, are candidates for the Landaluce. Trainer Doug O'Neill said Southern Fireball may be held out of that race and pointed for Del Mar. He blamed himself for her loss.

"I think I got her too much on edge," he said. "Mentally, she was just too fresh. I didn't do that great of a job preparing her for the race. She only got beat three lengths for the whole thing."

She's Cheeky in tough once again

She's Cheeky cannot get away from the best female sprinters in the nation.

In January, she finished third to Ventura in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita. Ventura was heavily favored in that race following a win in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint last October.

For Sunday's $70,000 Desert Stormer Handicap, trainer Peter Eurton thought he had found an ideal spot for She's Cheeky to win her first stakes. When entries were released on Thursday, Indian Blessing, the champion female sprinter of 2008, was part of the field of eight.

A win by She's Cheeky would be an upset.

"I need to win a stakes race and push her value up," Eurton said.

Owned by a partnership, She's Cheeky, 4, has won 3 of 10 starts and $189,920. To her credit, she has never finished worse than third. Her stalking style has been effective in sprints, with three consecutive wins last fall and winter.

The Santa Monica was She's Cheeky's first stakes appearance. In her only subsequent start, she finished second to Desert Stormer entrant Coco Belle in an allowance race here on May 7.

If she runs well in the Desert Stormer, She's Cheeky will be considered for the $150,000 A Gleam Handicap over seven furlongs on July 18. The only problem is the race is also on Indian Blessing's schedule.

Pedroza back in action

Jockey Martin Pedroza returned from a five-month absence at Hollywood Park on Thursday. Pedroza was sidelined in January after suffering a pelvis injury in a post parade accident at Santa Anita.

Thursday, Pedroza was unplaced with three mounts. He has two mounts on Sunday's 10-race program.

Pedroza, 43, was the leading rider at the 2005 Hollywood fall meeting.