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King Robyn makes his return
POMONA, Calif. - King Robyn, the only horse to win stakes at the six Southern California race meets in one season, will try to write another chapter to his exceptional career Sunday at Fairplex Park.
King Robyn runs Sunday in the $60,000 Governor's Cup, his first start since May 29, 2004. He did not land an easy comeback spot, but he has always been up to a challenge.
"He's one of those horses that loves to run and loves to win," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "Up to this point he's training like the old King Robyn, but you never know until you run them."
Eight horses entered the Governor's Cup, a 6 1/2-furlong handicap in which King Robyn figures to have his hands full with 120-pound highweight Beau Soleil, who enters off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar. King Robyn was assigned 119 pounds.
Other starters include Blairs Roarin Star, Lest We Forget, Billy's Echo, Jungle Prince, Bonus Pack, and No Socks Doc.
As a 3-year-old in 2003, King Robyn won stakes during the winter at Santa Anita, the spring-summer meet at Hollywood Park, and in the fall at Del Mar, Fairplex, Oak Tree at Santa Anita, and Hollywood. King Robyn earned $436,990 that year, then tailed off in four starts in 2004. In his last start, he finished sixth and was vanned off. Mullins said King Robyn worked 10 days after that race to get off the vet's list, then went to the sidelines.
Recent works suggest King Robyn can fire first start back. "You always like to have a [prep] race before running in a stake," Mullins said, "but he likes this track and worked 1:11-and-change the other day."
King Robyn, who is 12 for 23 in his career, will be ridden by Martin Pedroza.
Irish Bar impresses in Gateway to Glory
Irish Bar may have earned favoritism for the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile on Nov. 6 with an authoritative win Thursday in the $57,000 Gateway to Glory Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Irish Bar made an easy lead under Paul Atkinson and won by 3 1/2 lengths, finishing in a quick 1:43.64 and earning an 86 Beyer Speed Figure.
"I didn't expect him to do it that easy," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "We will go on to the Cal Cup from here. I doubt any [Cal Cup rivals] will have had a two-turn race; we've had a three-turn race."
Irish Bar ($3) is now 2 for 4. Say Tomorrow finished second in the Gateway to Glory, 13 lengths clear of third.
Hendricks has two promising California-bred 2-year-olds - Irish Bar and Brother Derek, who runs Oct. 2 in the Grade 2, $200,000 Norfolk.
Brother Derek finished third behind Bro Lo last out. Hendricks said Brother Derek's effort in the Norfolk will determine the horse's agenda.
"He will be running in a cup," he said. "We're just not sure whether it will be the Cal Cup or Breeders' Cup."
Gn. Group Meeting eyes Cal Cup Distaff
Gn. Group Meeting ($5.60) earned a modest 82 Beyer Speed Figure for his last-to-first victory Monday in the $59,400 CTBA Marian Stakes. Speed figures earned on Fairplex Park's five-furlong track, however, are less relevant, because the slower pace often leads to depressed figures.
Trainer Cliff Sise said he would nominate Gn. Group Meeting to the California Cup Distaff at 6 1/2 furlongs on turf before taking a break and returning fresh for the La Canada series for 4-year-old fillies during the Santa Anita winter meet.
Gn. Group Meeting, a 3-year-old filly by General Meeting owned by breeders Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams, won for the third time in eight starts. Garrett Gomez, who rode Gn. Group Meeting, remained perfect in Fairplex stakes and scored his third stakes win in three days. Gomez won both divisions of the Barretts stakes races Saturday and Sunday.
DeLeon cherishes first stakes win
Before he saddled I Can See on Wednesday in the $59,000 Black Swan Stakes, owner-trainer Rafael DeLeon said, "I have worked hard for this moment." DeLeon has been employed by trainers Eddie Gregson, D. Wayne Lukas, Randy Bradshaw, Cliff Sise, and Doug Peterson, and went on his own after Peterson died last November. A 43-year-old native of Guatemala, DeLeon was Peterson's assistant for five years and took over most of Peterson's stable last fall.
I Can See, a one-eyed 2-year-old filly, was wheeled back six days after finishing second in a sprint. Her nine-length victory under Kerwin John on Wednesday was DeLeon's first in a stakes.
I Can See ($6) earned a 70 Beyer and a rest. She will sit out the Oak Tree meet and return during the Hollywood Park fall meet. I Can See has won 2 of 8 starts.
Foot injury keeps Truly a Judge out
A foot abscess knocked the favorite out of the $100,000 Ralph Hinds Handicap on Sunday. Truly a Judge was the 121-pound highweight, but the foot problem prevented him from running in the Hinds and will also keep him out of the Grade 2 Goodwood on Oct. 1 at Santa Anita.
"We missed four or five days with him," trainer David Bernstein said.
A 7-year-old gelding, Truly a Judge will aim for the Hollywood Park fall meet, where he scored his first graded stakes win last year in the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap.
Jack Finley dies at 83
Well-known California and Arizona horseman Jack L. Finley died Sept. 4 at his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz. He was 83.
Finley-owned stakes winners included Dancing Femme, Sheesham, Doon's Baby, and Raja's Delight. Finley's trainers were Tommy Doyle and Henry Moreno. Finley is survived by his wife, Jo Ann; daughter Joan Smith; and son John Finley.
* Leading jockey Martin Pedroza returns Sunday from a three-day suspension, during which time he could only ride stakes. Pedroza, the all-time leading rider at Fairplex with 453 wins through Thursday, entered the Friday card holding a 22-16 lead over Felipe Martinez. Pedroza, the leading rider at Fairplex the last six years, was named on eight horses Sunday.
* Leading trainer Doug O'Neill entered three horses on the Sunday card as he tries to become the first trainer to lead the Los Angeles County Fair meet four straight years. O'Neill entered the Friday card with a 12-6 lead over Ted H. West.
* David Cohen lost his five-pound apprentice allowance Friday and was scheduled to begin riding as a journeyman on Saturday. Cohen begins a three-day suspension on Monday for an incident in race 9 on Sept. 18.