09/16/2007 11:00PM

Graded stakes try next for P.S.U. Grad

EmailPOMONA, Calif. - The competition is about to get tougher for 2-year-old filly P.S.U. Grad, whose impressive victory Saturday in the $126,350 Barretts Debutante at Fairplex will be a springboard to a graded stakes race. Trainer Craig Dollase said P.S.U. Grad would be nominated to three upcoming Gradeo1's - the Oak Leaf on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita, the Aclibiades on Oct. 5 at Keeneland, and the Frizette on Oct. 6 at Belmont.

P.S.U. Grad won the 6 1/2-furlong Barretts by four lengths, earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure, and enters the fall on a conspicuous pattern of improvement. P.S.U. Grad, a daughter of Harlan's Holiday, broke slowly in her debut and finished second by a neck. She did everything right in the Barretts.

"She was very professional, and came out of the race in great shape," Dollase said Monday.

Michael Baze rode P.S.U. Grad ($5) to the win in 1:18.52. Ididntmeanto finished second, a nose in front of Salt Castle. Michael Shustek and Don Stanley own P.S.U. Grad, who was purchased for $375,000 at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training. The Debutante was restricted to fillies offered at a Barretts auction.

Wests wins three on Sunday

It was just like old times for Ted H. West and his father, Ted West, on Sunday at Fairplex Park. The father-son training team won three races, including the richest on the card - the $148,250 Barretts Juvenile with Nene ($16.60). West Sr. still ranks third all-time at Fairplex Park with 141 wins, though the stable's horses have been running under son Ted H. West's name for several years.

Racing for the first time since Julyo25, Nene, ridden by Brice Blanc, wore down odds-on favorite Guns on the Table in deep stretch before pulling away by three-quarters in a slow 1:18.97. Nene earned a 68 Beyer. Guns on the Table finished five lengths clear of front-runner Topper Shopper. Juan Quinones owns Nene, a California-bred son of Bertrando making his third career start.

A race before the win by Nene, West won a Cal-bred allowance with the improving gelding Joy's Comet ($5.60), who won the 1 1/16-mile race by 2 3/4 lengths with a 92 Beyer Figure. It was the Cal-bred gelding's second start for West. Jeffrey Sengara owns Joy's Comet, who has 4 wins and 4 seconds from 10 starts. Going into Monday, West was 5 for 8 this fall at Fairplex.

Pedroza reaches landmark

Martin Pedroza rode his 500th Fairplex winner on Friday when he guided Johnny Smith to victory in race 3. Pedroza is the all-time leading rider at Fairplex, with 505 wins (into Monday), and has led the standings each of the last eight years. However, a resurgent Tyler Baze is giving Pedroza a run for his money this fall.

Pedroza entered the Monday card with 21 winners from 82 mounts; Baze had 20 winners from only 74 mounts. Pedroza and Baze have distanced themselves from the inconsistent Agapito Delgadillo, who entered Monday with eight wins.

Doug O'Neill won six races (including four for maidens) from his first 26 starters at Fairplex to top the trainer standings going into Monday. West was second with five; three other trainers had four wins each - Jeff Mullins, Mike Harrington, and Gary Stute.

Black Swan canceled

Only four fillies nominated to the $65,000 Black Swan Stakes scheduled for Wednesday, so the 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies was canceled and will not be run this year. The Black Swan is annually the first route stakes of the year for 2-year-old fillies, and was won in 1984 by Fran's Valentine.

The 11-race card on Wednesday includes a $15,000 stakes for Quarter Horses, one mule race, nine claiming races for Thoroughbreds (five for maidens), and two starter allowance races. In race 10, Redhotandrolling is expected to start as the odds-on favorite in a six-furlong sprint for horses that raced for a $10,000 claiming price or less this year.

Redhotandrolling began the year at that class level, but had gradually improved and won his last two starts at Del Mar in first- and second-level allowance races on grass. Pedroza rides Redhotandrolling for Mullins. Redhotandrolling is listed at 4-5 in the program, but second favorite Dearest Trickski is expected to scratch, which means Redhotandrolling could start at 3-5 or lower.

Record day hard to match

More than halfway through the 16-day meet, wagering handle is up at Fairplex Park. The track handled $8.4 million Sunday, bringing the daily average to $7.05 million. Although the final weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) typically generates the highest handle of the short meet, the track is likely to enter closing weekend down compared with the 2006 season. A year ago on Wednesday, Fairplex had the most successful card in its history.

A triple carryover in the pick six of $988,445 was at stake that day, and bettors wagered an additional $2.9omillion into the pick six. Total handle for the day was a Fairplex record $10,390,081.

Raise the Bluff a Pomona choice

Raise the Bluff, runner-up by a head in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile on Aug. 19 at Emerald Downs, will be one of the favorites Sunday in the $125,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap. O'Neill trains Raise the Bluff, who has won 8 of 18 starts.

Others expected to run in the Hinds are Bravo Maestro, winner of the Phil D. Shepherd on Sept. 8; Courtly Jazz, the 2005 Hinds winner; My Creed; 2006 Fairplex Derby Trial winner Plug Me in; Sensational Score, the 2006 Pomona Derby winner; and graded stakes winner Wanna Runner.

Kalookan Dancer stole it on lead

Kalookan Dancer stole the $59,150 Pico Pico Stakes on Friday. The filly set the slowest first quarter of the meet (23.56 seconds) in a 6 1/2-furlong race, and led start to finish as the even-money favorite. Vaca City Flyer finished three-quarters back in second; Valid's Valid fractured a cannon bone and was euthanized.

How slow of an opening quarter is 23.56? Going into Monday, there had been 30 races this meet at 6 1/2 furlongs. The other 29 all had opening quarter-miles under 23 seconds.