09/20/2004 11:00PM

Favorites galore end pick nine carryover


POMONA, Calif. - Los Angeles County Fair racing officials are expected to modernize the wagering menu for the 2005 meet, after a slew of winning favorites undermined the pick nine carryover and, for the second straight year, eliminated the potential for a jackpot into the closing-day card Sunday at Fairplex Park.

Favorites won six of eight Thoroughbred races Monday, bringing the meet Thoroughbred total to 41 winning favorites from 100 races. The opening leg of Monday's pick nine, an Appaloosa race, was also won by the favorite.

Three pick nine tickets rode the wave of chalk and nailed the $1 pick nine for $16,213.40. The wager had not been won in the first 10 days of the 17-day meet, and the carryover had reached $36,828 going into the Monday card. The bet was created in hopes of generating a massive carryover into closing day, but Monday marked the second straight year that the wager was hit just past the halfway point of the meet.

"I think the bet has run its course," said the fair's equine manager, George Bradvica. "I'm going to recommend we go to the place pick all next year."

Even if no one hits the pick nine the remainder of the meet, the carryover is not expected to exceed $20,000. A move from the win pick nine to a place pick all would make the Fairplex menu consistent with that of the three other major Southern California tracks, which all have scrapped the pick nine in favor of the place pick all, and also generate increased wagering churn.

Offtrack sites stuck with minus pool

The scratch of Alphabet Kisses from the CTBA Marian Stakes on Monday turned the stakes for 3-year-old fillies into a perceived mismatch - bettors expected Drought Breaker to dominate, and her win odds were 1-5. Bridge-jumpers took advantage of the show pool in the five-horse field by wagering $221,910 of the total $236,625 show pool on the favorite. After Drought Breaker scored an unimpressive victory by a neck, the imbalance created a minus show pool of $48,084 and a minus place pool of $1,014.

Minus pools are created when there is insufficient money - after takeout - to pay winning bettors the state-mandated minimum of $2.10. When a minus pool is created from ontrack wagers, the difference comes out of purse money and track commissions. Thankfully for Fairplex, most of the show wagers Monday were made offtrack, and the wagering hubs that the bets came through are responsible for the difference. According to mutuels manager Bill Navarro, Fairplex is responsible for just $1,124 of the minus pools, while offtrack wagering hubs are responsible for the remainder.

The betting fascination with Drought Breaker was in line with the wagering expectations throughout the meet. Of the first 100 Thoroughbred races, 24 included an odds-on betting favorite. Not surprisingly, 15 of the 24 favorites at less than even money have won. A $2 win bet on each of the first 24 odds-on favorites this meet would have beaten the takeout and returned $48.40, a profit of 40 cents.

Pedroza five wins closer to record

The only thing as predictable as chalk at Fairplex is jockey Martin Pedroza. He rode five more winners Monday to increase his meet total to 34 wins from 82 mounts, a 41 percent win rate. Pedroza surpassed his previous meet-high total of 31, and entered the Tuesday card only 14 behind the single-season record of 48. Pedroza has won more races this meet than the next six jockeys combined.

While the majority of Pedroza's mounts are favorites, he also is getting it done with non-favorites. Pedroza's winners have generated a $2.44 return on investment for each $2 win bet - a total of $200.20 from 82 mounts.

Pedroza won a $5,000 claiming race Monday for trainer Nick Hines. In a postrace interview with commentator Mike Willman, Hines was asked what instructions he gave Pedroza before the race. Said Hines: "Telling Martin Pedroza what to do on this track is like telling Laffit Pincay what to do in the Santa Anita Handicap."

Victory Girl eased after class drop

The only favorite who finished off the board Monday was the odds-on Victory Girl in race 8, who was eased and vanned off with a tendon injury. The front-runner was taking a suspicious class drop for trainer Mike Mitchell and jockey David Nuesch, who sensed something amiss when the gates opened.

"She didn't show a whole lot of ambition leaving there," Nuesch said. "I just kind of helped her around there, hoping she would make a run."

Nuesch kept her under a hold, and eased her before reaching the quarter pole. Mitchell said Victory Girl "was sound going in" and that he "never questions what a rider does once the gates opened. We do these things all year long, drop horses. No one questioned me on Greelite."

On Sept. 12, Mitchell and Nuesch combined for a 5 1/2-length victory with Greelite, who dropped to $16,000 after being claimed for $40,000 the race before.

"Last week it worked out great and the horse just romped," Nuesch said. "This time, it was the other side of the coin."

Victory Girl was claimed by Dale Eastman, who is an owner from Texas, according to trainer Gary Stute.

'Lady' stays home for Las Madrinas

If Awesome Lady wins the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap on Friday, it will be due to a misplaced birth certificate. Stute planned to ship the filly to Hastings in Vancouver, British Columbia, for an easier race over the weekend, but was reluctant to cross the border into Canada without his birth certificate.

Instead, Awesome Lady will stay home and take on 120-pound highweight Shezsospiritual in the Las Madrinas Handicap for fillies and mares. The six other entrants are Lucky in Love, Lady Thatcher, Imagoldseeker, Bold Roberta, Tale of a Dream, and All Glory.