04/26/2012 4:46PM

Hollywood Park: Pedroza returning to ride after breaking ribs


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Two weeks after he suffered two broken ribs in a frightening spill at Santa Anita, jockey Martin Pedroza returns to riding with two mounts on Saturday’s 10-race California Gold Rush program at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Pedroza, 46, has a very good reason to be ready to ride Saturday. He rides favored Willa B Awesome in the $300,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in the day’s sixth race.

Willa B Awesome has been Pedroza’s top mount of 2012, a filly he guided to wins in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes in January and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in March.

When Pedroza was involved in a two-horse spill in the final race on April 14, it seemed remote that he would be able to return for Saturday’s program. On Wednesday, he was in the Hollywood Park stable area, where he rode a few horses in workouts.

“I was very, very lucky,” he said of the spill. “The doctor said two to four weeks. It’s been two weeks, and I feel pretty good.”

Pedroza said he experienced “no pain” or discomfort while working horses Thursday.

Despite his absence, Pedroza had a strong season at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, finishing sixth in the jockey’s standings with 30 wins.

Pederson looks to end win drought

The start of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting will essentially be the start of the 2012 season for trainer Dean Pederson. At the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, Pederson was winless with eight starters.

On Saturday, he has two live chances on the Gold Rush program – the first-time starter This Means War in the $60,000 Alphabet Kisses Stakes for maiden fillies and mares and Panettone in the $70,000 Grey Memo Stakes over seven furlongs. Both can provide the breakthrough first win of the year for Pederson, 50.

This Means War, by War Front, is part of a field of 10. Owned by breeder John Harris, This Means War has worked well in recent weeks, including six furlongs in 1:11.80 from the gate under jockey Joe Talamo on April 18. Talamo has the mount Saturday.

“She really looks like a nice filly,” he said. “She’s very classy, very professional.”

Pederson was highly encouraged by This Means War’s April 18 workout.

“She didn’t turn a hair when she got back to the barn,” he said. “She’s a first-time starter, and she has to go out and do it.”

Panettone, owned by breeder John Nicoletti, is part of a field of 13 in the Grey Memo, which is restricted to “non-winners of one other than.”

Panettone, 3, was a maiden race winner at Del Mar last July and was third in the Jack Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita in October. In between, he fought an illness, Pederson said.

The Goodman turned out to be a productive race. The winner, Secret Circle, later won three stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint last fall and two stakes at Oaklawn Park earlier this year.

Panettone was sidelined last fall after undergoing a throat operation, Pederson said.

Saturday’s race will be the longest of Panettone’s brief career.

“The seven-eighths is a tough distance after a layoff,” Pederson said. “He’s been a bad-luck horse. He got a little sick at Del Mar.”

Milady to be renamed for Everett

The Grade 2 Milady Handicap will be renamed the Marjorie L. Everett Handicap on May 19, in honor of the former track chairwoman who died March 23.

The $150,000 race will be run over 1 1/16 miles on the main track for fillies and mares.

Everett joined Hollywood Park in the early 1970s and led track management until 1991. Everett was 90 at the time of her death.

In conjunction with the renamed race, a reception will be held in Gold Cup room at Hollywood Park on May 19 in honor of Everett.