09/16/2012 8:58PM

Fairplex: Tree of Life's Barretts Juvenile win salvages weekend for West Point


POMONA, Calif. – Odds-on favorite Tree of Life made it a memorable weekend at Fairplex Park after all, for a celebratory West Point Thoroughbreds ownership group.

A day after West Point’s top filly Pure Indy finished fifth in the Barretts Debutante, the colt Tree of Life, also trained by Craig Dollase, delivered a solid victory Sunday in the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile for 2-year-old colts and geldings.

Aaron Gryder rode Tree of Life ($3.80) to the three-quarter length victory over One Firm Cat. Tenango finished a length back in third.The time of the 6 1/2-furlong race was 1:20.41.

Tree of Life, by Lion Heart, was purchased for $70,000 at the Barretts March sale and is owned by a West Point syndicate of nearly 15 owners.

Based on the joyous crowd packed into the in the winner’s circle, it seemed most were in attendance Sunday.

“This makes up for [Saturday],” Dollase said after Tree of Life improved his record to 2 for 2. “He broke a little slow, but he’s still learning how to run.”

After the slow start, Gryder maneuvered Tree of Life into a forward position, fourth behind the speed. He challenged the leaders three-wide on the far turn, made the lead nearing the eighth pole, and held sway.

* Martin Pedroza rode three winners Sunday and climbed to second in the standings, two wins behind Edwin Maldonado. With 14 wins and five days remaining in the Los Angeles County Fair meet, Maldonado is trying to end Pedroza’s 13-year streak of Fairplex riding titles.