09/10/2010 4:19PM

Match race only blemish on Pedroza's otherwise perfect day

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Benoit & Associates
Martin Pedroza won six races on Thursday's opening-day card at Fairplex Park.

POMONA, Calif. – Jockey Martin Pedroza popped the gate Thursday at Fairplex Park, winning with six of his nine mounts on opening day of the Los Angeles County Fair meet.

But in the “King of the Ring” match race between all-time leading Fairplex rider Pedroza and second-leading rider David Flores, it was Flores who got the jump. He led wire to wire on Cat Brando, winning the 1 1/16-mile race by a length over Pedroza and favorite Dave’s Ruler. The jockey assignments were made by random draw.

“I had too much confidence,” Pedroza said. “I should have stayed closer. I thought I could make up ground in the stretch, but I couldn’t. If I had put pressure on him early, it might have been different.”

Flores was intent on seizing the lead on Cat Brando, and he pinned Pedroza in an uneasy position racing along the inside while a half-length behind. When Pedroza eased back on Dave’s Ruler, Flores scooted one length clear on Cat Brando. From there, the outcome was never in doubt.

“My horse was in a nice gallop and just kept going,” Flores said. “I had the opportunity to get in front and I had a lot of horse. I’ve been a part of Fairplex Park since 1989 and feel privileged to still be a part of something I love.”

Flores, who led the Fairplex jockey standings six years, from 1989 through 1994, entered the meet with 338 wins, second all time. Over the past decade, Pedroza emerged as the track’s dominant jockey. He has led every Fairplex meet since 1999, and entered the current meet with 606 wins.

Doug O’Neill trains Cat Brando, who returned $3.60 as the second favorite. There was $43,400 wagered on the match race, which was race 6 on the 12-race card.

Baffert completes Lewis stakes set

Bob Baffert is one of the few trainers in history to win two separate stakes named after a husband and wife – the Robert B. Lewis Stakes named in honor of the late owner, and the $50,000 Beverly J. Lewis Stakes named for his wife, Beverly.

Thursday at Fairplex, Baffert-trained Subsidized rolled to a 5  3/4-length victory over Folk Dancer in the $50,000 Beverly J. Lewis Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. In February 2009 at Santa Anita, the Baffert-trained Pioneerof the Nile won the Robert B. Lewis.

Beverly Lewis and her son Jeff attended the races Thursday at Fairplex, where Pedroza won six races, including the Beverly J. Lewis on Subsidized ($3.80). Subsidized won the 6 1/2-furlong race in 1:17.79 and earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure. It was her third win from four starts.

◗ Favorites won six of the nine Thoroughbred races opening day; the highest payoff was $11.80. Opening-day handle was $3,438,458, a decline of more than 10 percent from the 2009 meet opener.

◗ Fairplex has added an early pick four to the wagering menu, and lowered the minimum wager to 50 cents. The first pick four Thursday returned $20; the second pick four returned $50.40.