09/16/2004 11:00PM

Figueroa gets fourth stakes win - all longshots


POMONA, Calif. - Jockey Omar Figueroa is making the most of his opportunities at the Los Angeles County Fair - four of his first five wins were stakes, including another upset Thursday. Figueroa guided Kash Klip to a 5 1/2-length win in the $58,200 Bustles and Bows Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Fairplex Park. The fourth betting choice in the six-runner field, Kash Klip paid "only" $10.80.

The victory produced Figueroa's lowest win mutuel of the meet. His upsets include the Derby Trial with Lava Man ($22.60), the E.B. Johnston with Shezsospiritual ($20.60), and the Foothill with Last Minute Detail ($22.40). Figueroa's other Fairplex winner was More Modern ($12.20) on Sept. 12.

Figueroa, 20, previously was based in northern California and began riding regularly in Southern California this spring. He won 10 of 117 starts at Hollywood Park, and went 6 for 86 at Del Mar. Figueroa is represented by agent Vince DeGregory. On Thursday, Figueroa rode Kash Klip for trainer Doug O'Neill, who also saddled the Bustles and Bows runner-up, Timeintown. High Zone finished third, and 3-2 favorite Seeking the Heat was a dull fourth.

Men's Exclusive likely to retire again

For the second time in less than a year, 11-year-old gelding Men's Exclusive is likely to be retired from racing. Trainer Wesley Ward said a decision will be made after he consults with owner Debbie Katz, but after a disappointing fourth-place comeback Wednesday in a one-other-than/optional $40,000 claimer, options are limited.

"Unfortunately, it appears he has lost a step," Ward said. "We're not going to drop him any lower, so we need to figure out something we can do for this old tiger."

Men's Exclusive was retired late last year after winning 11 races and $1.4 million from 47 starts, but he returned to training this summer. He was beaten seven lengths as the 6-5 favorite in his comeback.

Men's Exclusive has been racing since fall 1995. Chronic foot trouble prevents Men's Exclusive from exercising for more than 30 minutes, so a career as a pony is not possible.

Excess Summer aims for California Cup

Even-money favorite Excess Summer fell short of parimutuel expectations Wednesday when he finished third in the $59,000 Governor's Cup Handicap, but he figures to improve when he runs next in a California Cup race on Oct. 16.

Excess Summer was returning from an eight-month layoff, and came up short by 2 1/2 lengths.

"I thought he was a couple works short of being really ready to win, but he got about three good works out of that race," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "The main thing is he came out of the race sound, and we'll move forward."

Excess Summer's layoff was necessitated by minor surgery to remove a chip in an ankle. The 6-for-12 gelding has earned $501,461 and could show up in the Cal Cup Classic, Sprint, or Mile.

Mullins could be represented in the three $100,000 stakes to be run closing weekend of the Los Angeles County Fair. Florida shipper Kristine's King is scheduled for the Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Handicap on Sept. 26; Semi Lost, sixth in the Del Mar Derby, runs Sept. 25 in the Pomona Derby; and Tale of a Dream could start in the Las Madrinas Handicap for fillies and mares Sept. 25.

Court's in Session back in top form

Court's in Session, a graded-stakes winner four starts back, returned to peak form Wednesday with a $25.60 upset in the Governor's Cup. Claimed for only $32,000 in May by trainer Brian Koriner, Court's in Session won the Bay Meadows Breeders Cup Sprint Handicap in June, then tailed off in two subsequent starts at Del Mar.

"He had some foot trouble at Del Mar," Koriner said, adding that the gelding improved at Fairplex. "This racetrack for years seems like it's always been better on horses' feet than most places."

Luis Jauregui rode Court's in Session to a head victory over front-runner My Master. The win was the eighth in 31 starts for Court's in Session, who has earned $238,645. In winning the Governor's Cup in a quick 1:16.53, Court's in Session earned a 94 Beyer Figure.

Pedroza on pace to challenge record

With eight racing days left in the Los Angeles County Fair meet at Fairplex, a void in the jockey colony has helped propel Martin Pedroza to a lead that figures to be insurmountable. Pedroza won four races Thursday to bring his career Fairplex total to 401, and remains on pace to break the single-season record of 48 set by David Flores in 1991.

Pedroza entered Friday having won with 21 of 52 mounts, and holds a commanding 16-win lead over Omar Figueroa and Matt Garcia. Pedroza averaged three wins a day the first seven days of the meet, and only needs to maintain that pace the final nine days of the meet to break the meet record. The past three seasons, Pedroza battled Tyler Baze for the meet title, but Baze has established himself as a leading major-circuit jockey and skipped the fair meet this year.

Handle down slightly from 2003 record

After seven days of the 17-day Los Angeles County Fair meet, handle is down 3.17 percent compared with 2003's record-breaking meet. Average daily handle the first seven days of the 2004 meet is $5.63 million.

The final weekend of the meet is typically the strongest of the season, and Fairplex officials are optimistic that business will approach 2003, when average daily handle exceeded $6.4 million.

* William Lyons, who owns horses trained by Brian Koriner, held the only winning pick six ticket Thursday, according to Fairplex publicity officials. The pick six returned $38,242.80; Lyons said his combination ticket cost $3,888. The consolation payoff was $153, which Lyons had 17 times for another $2,601.