09/15/2009 12:00AM

High Standards takes well-timed drop


POMONA, Calif. - Claiming horses and mules anchor an 11-race card Thursday at Fairplex Park, where the entry of High Standards and River Echo is expected to start favored in the race-10 feature.

Thursday is Day 6 of the 15-day L.A. County Fair meet, and is the first Fairplex program of 2009 without a stakes race. Races 1 and 2 are for mules. The nine races for Thoroughbreds are claiming races, including the main attraction: California-bred sprinters race 6 1/2 furlongs in a first-level optional $40,000 claimer.

High Standards, a three-time stakes winner, once might have crushed the seven rivals he meets Thursday. However, the 7-year-old gelding has not hit the board in five starts since winning a restricted stakes in June 2008. It is the right time for a class drop.

John Harris bred and owns High Standards, who has won 6 races and $314,977 in 21 starts. The gelding's highlights include four straight wins to begin his career, including the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes and ungraded San Pedro Stakes as a 3-year-old in 2005. High Standards raced twice in summer at Del Mar, setting the pace in unrestricted $50,000 claiming sprints before tiring. He runs for a $40,000 claiming tag Thursday against statebreds, and returns to dirt. Both synthetic wins by High Standards were on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park, which resembles dirt.

Felipe Valdez rides front-runner High Standards; his entrymate is the late-runner River Echo. River Echo has won 3 of 19, and will be ridden by Agapito Delgadillo. The entry is listed at 9-5 on the preliminary (before scratches) morning line.

Other starters include My Summer Slew and Steady Demand. They finished second and fourth in a similar California-bred allowance race Aug. 30 at Del Mar.

Meanwhile, the two most successful jockeys in Fairplex history ride longshots. Martin Pedroza, who entered the week with 573 wins at Fairplex, rides Lucky Honey, listed at 6-1. David Flores, the track's second-leading rider with 331 wins, is named on Dr. J J, a 12-1 outsider. Other starters include Stormy Game and Laser Point.

Bettors looking for the elusive "sure thing" may find one in race 11. Strong Belief will be strongly backed in the $20,000 maiden-claiming sprint. Pedroza rides for trainer Ted H. West.

The first two races Thursday are for mules. In race 1, Priscilla Nelson is the early favorite. In race 2, the 19-for-76 veteran Jet Fuel is favored.