09/14/2003 11:00PM

Martinez to appeal tough-call takedown


POMONA, Calif. - Jockey Felipe Martinez will appeal a three-day suspension after a controversial disqualification Saturday in the $49,500 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes at Fairplex Park. Martinez rode Infinite Faith to a neck victory over Legendary Weave but was disqualified when stewards ruled his mount bumped runner-up Legendary Weave off stride in deep stretch.

Martinez is off to a fast start at the Los Angeles County Fair meet, with six wins from his first 17 mounts. His agent, Alex Procel, expects the momentum to continue and said Monday: "We're going to appeal the case. He's going to ride the meet. I thought it was a bad call."

Procel is not alone. Many observers believed the minor bumping incident did not affect the outcome. Track stewards Will Meyers, David Samuel and George Slender saw it differently.

"It was not an easy call," Slender said. "In our opinion, [Infinite Faith], under right-handed whip, was coming in and bumped [Legendary Weave] off stride, and [Legendary Weave] gets beat a neck."

The incident occurred in the final sixteenth, after Infinite Faith had taken the lead. Legendary Weave was not giving up, however.

Said Meyers, "Who's to say [Legendary Weave] was done? This was not the easiest call, and I don't think there is a steward in the state that likes to take a horse down."

If the stewards had allowed the result to stand, Martinez would have been the leading rider after three days. Instead, Legendary Weave's jockey Martin Pedroza led Martinez 7-6.

Jack Carava, trainer of Legendary Weave, also benefited from the Shepherd disqualification. Three days into the meet, Carava had won with three of his six starters. He is tied with trainer Wesley Ward, who won with three of his first five.

Import acclimates nicely

Eclipse de Luna may be the one to beat Sept. 26 in the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap for fillies and mares, if she runs as well as she did Sunday in the $48,000 E.B. Johnston Stakes. A Chilean import making her second U.S. start, she found the competition and tight turns very much to her liking and won by three lengths. "I've never seen one handle the turns like her," trainer Bill Spawr said, "I thought she was going over the inside fence."

Spawr said Eclipse de Luna arrived in February from Chile, where she had won 13 of 22. "The reason I bought her is she won going a mile, a mile and a quarter, and six furlongs, all within seven weeks. If you're that versatile, you've got to be awfully good."

Eclipse de Luna was ready to run opening week at Del Mar, but she wrenched an ankle. She needed her comeback race Sept. 4, and improved significantly Sunday.

Eclipse de Luna is owned by John and Gladys Tomigal, and Rod Fjellman. Spawr said the 5-year-old mare would wheel right back in the Las Madrinas, then skip the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita. A Group 1 winner in Chile, Eclipse de Luna won for the 14th time in 24 starts.

Workout is key for Excess Summer

The day before she rides Del Mar Debutante winner Halfbridled in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita, Julie Krone may be riding the favorite in the $100,000 Pomona Derby at Fairplex Park, Excess Summer. Trainer Jeff Mullins said Excess Summer's status for the Sept. 27 Pomona Derby hinges on an upcoming workout. "If he handles the track all right, we'll run," Mullins said.

Excess Summer won two stakes at Del Mar - the $92,825 El Cajon in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103, and the $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes. Krone was aboard for both wins. Excess Summer has earned $179,921 and won 2 of 6 since Mullins claimed him from trainer Mike Machowsky for $40,000.

Early handle soars

Propelled by full fields, unseasonably mild weather and pick six carryovers, parimutuel handle at the Los Angeles County Fair meet is up significantly from 2002. Over the first three days of the meet, handle has mushroomed 13.5 percent, from $19.1 million during the first three days last year to $21.7 million. Ontrack attendance also is up.

"The most important thing is we have full fields," Fair equine manager George Bradvica said. "We're keeping people here, ontrack, and people are making more bets on simulcast racing."

Full fields have contributed to carryovers in the pick six, which went unhit the first three days of the meet. The pick six carryover into Wednesday was $297,793. In addition to full fields, mild September weather has made for a comfortable setting at Fairplex. Mid-September temperatures often hover in the 90's in the Pomona area, but afternoon temperatures have settled at around 80 degrees the first few days of the meet. A video board in the infield has been dedicated to simulcast racing, allowing ontrack patrons to easier follow out-of-town action more easily.

* Fleetstreet Dancer, a surprising third in the $1 million Pacific Classic, is pointing for the $100,000 Ralph H. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap on closing day, Sept. 28, according to trainer Doug O'Neill. Other possibles for the race include Denied and Native Desert. The Sept. 28 card will be run on the same day as the opening-day Oak Tree card at Santa Anita.

* Mule racing enthusiasts will be happy to learn that the top mules in California will see action before the end of the meet. Smokin Joe, Sarah Nelson, Taz, and Black Ruby will run during the Fair meet, according to Bob Moreno, racing secretary for emerging breeds.