06/28/2002 11:00PM

Lumpkins will keep riding in north

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PLEASANTON, Calif. - Jason Lumpkins, who led all riders with seven stakes victories at Bay Meadows, will remain on the fair circuit in northern California rather than riding at Del Mar.

"I didn't feel [Del Mar] was the right situation," said Lumpkins, who finished second to Russell Baze in the jockey standings at Bay Meadows for the second straight year. "I've decided to stay up here."

Lumpkins's original plan was to ride at Del Mar in order to secure more business when Southern California trainers shipped horses north to run. He has even gone to Hollywood Park several times to ride this summer.

When news spread that Lumpkins was headed to Del Mar, several agents approached him about taking over his book and staying in Southern California.

The most interesting call came from Gary Stevens, who indicated to Lumpkins that he would consider retiring from riding to become his agent.

"It was an honor for Gary to call me," Lumpkins said.

Lumpkins did weigh the possibility of relocating but said it wasn't the right decision for his family.

Lumpkins said his agent Dennis Patterson did not want to accompany him if he decided to stay in Southern California. "I'm committed to Dennis," Lumpkins said.

"We both took a step back and took a longer look at the situation," Patterson said. "We've pretty much been in the top 10 in the nation since he's been here, and the last two years he's been the leading stakes rider."

Workers' compensation at issue

A total of 71 horses, plus three also-eligibles, was entered Saturday for Monday's Alameda County Fair races, the first day of racing with the new workers' compensation rates in effect.

The new rates have been a source of concern and frustation for trainers.

The Alameda County Fair is providing trainers with a $45 starter fee for each horse they enter to help offset the additional insurance expenses.

"I think trainers do appreciate what Pleasanton has done, but I think they are also looking at the big picture," California Thoroughbred Trainers deputy director Charlie Dougherty said. "They're wondering what's going to happen at Vallejo, Santa Rosa, and the Bay Meadows Fair."