09/21/2006 11:00PM

Jet West lands in rugged spot


POMONA, Calif. - Jet West is ready to run one of the best races of his career Sunday at Fairplex Park, and it might take just that to win the $65,000 Governor's Cup Handicap.

A salty field runs 6 1/2 furlongs in the Governor's Cup, race 10 on the card and a stronger race than the $125,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap on the same card. Nine entered the Governor's Cup. Though the status of Grade 1 winner Captain Squire was uncertain as of Friday, it will take a top effort to win regardless.

The field includes 2005 Governor's Cup winner Jungle Prince, graded-stakes-placed Thor's Echo, graded stakes winners Publication and Court's in Session, speedball Slew's Prince, True Dancer, and Pure American.

The horse to beat is stakes winner Jet West. He is trained by Ted H. West and his father, Ted West, who will be honored Sunday between races for induction into the Fairplex Hall of Fame. Jet West won the California Cup Sprint last fall, placed in two graded stakes during the Santa Anita winter meet, then finished third in the $2 million Dubai World Cup.

The trip to Dubai took its toll, because Jet West bombed in his return July 8 at Pleasanton.

"The only way I can account for his race at Pleasanton was Dubai," the senior West said.

But one race later, Jet West returned to form with a better-than-looked third-place finish at Del Mar.

"He was out in the parking lot, and nobody goes out there and wins," West said.

Jet West, claimed for $62,500 in the summer of 2005, has trained super since then, including a big half-mile work five days ago at Fairplex.

"I'm looking for him to run one of his better races," West said. "He's a better horse now than he was last year."

Jet West won a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race last fall at Fairplex in a quick 1:15.40, and has won 7 races and $541,965 from 19 starts overall.

Jungle Prince won his only start last fall at Fairplex Park, and has worked well for his first start since winning the Phoenix Gold Cup by more than five lengths in March. Thor's Echo, who finished in front of Jet West in Dubai, is making his second start back after a promising fourth-place comeback.

Mullins appears uncatchable

Jeff Mullins will lead the Fairplex trainer standings for the first time since 2001, whether or not he starts Hinds topweight Stormin Away, or Governor's Cup highweight Captain Squire. Mullins entered the Friday card with 12 wins from his first 29 starters, seven wins in front of Doug O'Neill.

Mullins said he expected to have a big Fairplex meet, but "you don't really know, because you don't know who you will end up running against. Doug usually gets pretty aggressive here, and Juan [Garcia] gets aggressive here."

Mullins won a race early Friday; O'Neill won two early Friday. Noting the seven-win advantage he had going into the card, Mullins said, "It would take a pretty strong move to get by."

Two of the top horses in the Mullins stable might not start Sunday, however.

He was reluctant to commit Stormin Away to the Hinds, citing a 15-day turnaround. Captain Squire is even less likely to start in the Governor's Cup because, Mullins said, "I'd like to be outside the speed, for sure" and Captain Squire drew the inside post.

Pedroza still able to dominate

Jockey Martin Pedroza entered Friday with twice as many wins as his closest pursuer (22-11), and is expected to lead the Fairplex jockey standings for the eighth straight year. But the 2006 season was characterized by a deep jockey colony, boosted particularly by David Flores and Agapito Delgadillo.

David Flores rode almost daily at the fair for the first time since 1998, and entered Friday with an outstanding 36 percent win rate (11 for 33). Tyler Baze also had 11 winners. Los Alamitos-based Delgadillo won 11 races from 59 mounts. Delgadillo, 40, and agent Rolando Hevia are considering trying to build on Fairplex momentum by riding at the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita starting Wednesday.

Pick six players ignore late favorites

One day after a three-day carryover generated a gross pick six pool of more than $3.9 million, another carryover emerged, thanks to an unusual wagering pattern in Thursday's pick six. The highest payoff in the first four races of the pick six sequence was $14.80, and when Gateway to Glory favorite Spark of Dubai ($5.60) won the fifth leg, it seemed likely the pick six would be hit.

Four horses were covered in the final leg, and the pick six would have returned $55,528 had any of those four won. The two shortest prices in the final race, however, were not covered - odds-on favorite Charging Away, and 2-1 second favorite Tricky Viviana. Those two dominated the $20,000 maiden claiming race, finished one-two, and so the carryover into Friday was $55,528.

Spark of Dubai doubles up quickly

Spark of Dubai became the first two-time stakes winner at the 2006 meet on Thursday when he roared to a 6 3/4-length win in the $64,350 Gateway to Glory Stakes for 2-year-olds. David Flores rode Spark of Dubai for trainer Juan Garcia. The win came just eight days after the gelding won the Beau Brummel Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

It was the fourth stakes win of the meet for Flores, who is the all-time Fairplex stakes-winning rider with 57 wins. Awesome Gambler finished second in a race he needed; Hurry Up Austin was third.

Scoonerwharfbardog, the 7-2 second favorite, was uncomfortable racing inside and finished a non-threatening fourth. Mullins said Scoonerwharfbardog, sired by Two Punch, may return to a sprint for his next start, possibly in mid-October in Maryland.