09/05/2004 11:00PM

Lumpkins returns with a new agent

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Jason Lumpkins has returned to northern California, just as he did last fall for the Bay Meadows meeting.

Despite having enjoyed great success here, Lumpkins two years ago decided to ride in Kentucky, where he bought a farm. He got off to a great start in Kentucky, but this year has been tough for him.

Lumpkins has been a high-percentage rider for most of his career, topping 20 percent every year from 1996 to 2003. But this year, his win percentage is only 12, well down from his lifetime percentage of 19 from 2,274 victories.

Dennis Patterson handled Lumpkins's California book in the past, but the agent already had two riders, Dennis Carr and Chad Schvaneveldt, when Lumpkins contacted him about returning this summer.

"We're like brothers, but he had commitments, and I respect that," Lumpkins said.

Outrider Billy Cambra and Patterson suggested Lumpkins contact Jay Robinson, who had indicated a desire to return to northern California after booking mounts for riders at Los Alamitos with great success.

Robinson, a son of former jockey Jack Robinson, had booked mounts for Chris Lamance in northern California when Lamance was second in the rider standings to Russell Baze. He also booked mounts for riders such as Tommy Burkes and Steve Valdez and later for Ray Sibille when he went to Southern California 12 years ago. At Los Alamitos, he served as the agent for leading Quarter Horse jockeys Bobby Adair, Ken Hart, and Joe Padilla.

"It's funny," Robinson said. "I was going to look for a rider down south to come up here, but Billy and Dennis put in a good word for me, and I got a rider everyone up here knows and likes."

Baze off to fast start

With 31 straight Bay Meadows jockey titles to his credit, Baze seems ready to extend his streak after winning five races on Friday, opening day. Through the meet's first three days, Baze had won 10 of 18 starts.

His most impressive winner was Is It True Mex, who picked up his 16th career victory last Saturday. The 8-year-old Is It True Mex found a new life when switched to the turf. Saturday's victory in a five-furlong turf sprint was his 13th in 35 turf tries. He's 5 for 7 with a second and third over the Bay Meadows turf course.

"He used to lug out on the turns, but he doesn't on turf," Baze said.

Is It True Mex, who broke from the rail, had some minor traffic problems in the lane. Still, he won after having to run for only about 100 yards, with Baze wrapped up on him at the end.

Weekend stakes

Six entrants are likely for Saturday's $100,000 California Sprint Championship. The six-furlong race for Cal-breds may be equally divided between northern and Southern California runners.

The Ted West-trained Revello is the likely favorite after finishing third in the Grade 1 Triple Bend and fourth in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby in his past two starts.

Areyoutalkintome, a 3-year-old who just won the Real Good Deal in his stakes debut, and Damar Wayne, who would be making his stakes debut, are also expected to travel north.

The home team will be represented by Debonair Joe, a one-time Grade 1 winner who finished second in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint here in the spring; Green Team, second in this race last year before winning the Cal Cup Sprint; and I B Bad, a stakes winner last year as a 3-year-old who has won 3 of 4 career starts.

Thirteen 3-year-old fillies were nominated to Sunday's $55,000-added Carmel Handicap at one mile on the turf. Among them are Crozet, winner of the Bay Meadows Oaks here last spring.

Zen Diva ships in

Six fillies and mares meet in Wednesday's feature, a six-furlong allowance race. Southern California-based Zen Diva draws the outside and comes into the race off a pair of fourth-place efforts at Del Mar at the $40,000 claiming level.

Also in the race are Bold Mystique, who held on by a head to win for the first time in her third career start, and Better Daze, freshened since a July 8 victory at Pleasanton. Water Park has been training well down south after winning her debut by 14 1/2 lengths at Sunland. In her last start she ran third in allowance company there.

Argentine-bred Mary's Love comes off an even allowance try in her U.S. debut, while Strollin Slew returns from a layoff of nearly five months.

Black Ruby's revival

Black Ruby, the world champion mule, has been compromised by foot problems all year, but she snapped back to life at the California State Fair in Sacramento by winning two starts there. The 12-year-old Black Ruby, who is approaching the quarter-million mark in earnings, beat allowance runners for her two victories but may be ready to return to stakes company when the mules run in Fresno next month.

* Sam Spear celebrated his 26th year on the air with the northern California replay show on Labor Day. Spear's show reaches 2.75 million homes in northern California.