09/24/2010 3:09PM

Meet has been a feast for chalk players


POMONA, Calif. – The barrage of winning chalk has continued at Fairplex Park, where post-time favorites won 54 of the first 112 Thoroughbred races (48 percent) through Thursday. The predictability of the races, combined with small fields, helped bettors nail the $1 win pick nine Thursday for the first time at the meet.

There were 36 winning tickets Thursday in the pick nine, which had not been hit the first 10 days. The carryover had grown to $49,975. Bettors wagered $35,300 into the pool Thursday. The $1 wager returned $2,176.40. The highest win payoff in the sequence was $11.60 by race-9 winner Recess.

Pedroza less likely to break his wins record

Jockey Martin Pedroza hit a snag early this week in his bid to break the single-season record for wins at the Los Angeles County Fair. Pedroza went 0 for 10 on Wednesday, including five consecutive beaten favorites. It was his first blank at the meet. Thursday, a stomach bug kept Pedroza off his mounts, including two that won.

The all-time leading rider at Fairplex with 641 wins, Pedroza set the single-season record in of 51 wins in 2004, over the 17-day meet. Fairplex since has trimmed its meet to 15 days; Pedroza entered the Sept. 23 card with 35 wins, and would need to average four wins a day over the final four days to equal the record. The meet ends on Monday.

Antonucci to be honored following Sunday race

A familiar face will be in the Fairplex winner’s circle Sunday after race 9. Retired handicapper Jerry Antonucci, a fixture at Fairplex for nearly four decades, will be honored for his service in a post-race ceremony. Antonucci will be accompanied by his wife Bonnie, daughter Cynthia, son James, and daughter-in-law Mandy.

“We’re delighted to have Jerry and his family here to be recognized for his long and loyal devotion to Fairplex Park and racing in general,” said equine manager Kim Lloyd. “Jerry will always be welcome here.”

The preliminary favorite in race 9 is Tinner’s Bride, owned in part by Fairplex on-track announcer Peter Lurie.

Hey Elvis goes turf to dirt for Hinds

Trainer Doug O’Neill has all but clinched his seventh training title at Fairplex. O’Neill entered the Friday card with 10 wins, five more than Bob Baffert and Jorge Gutierrez. O’Neill has a shot to win the $75,000 Ralph M. Hinds Handicap on Sunday with Hey Elvis, whose 23 career starts have been on grass.

“He’s a turf horse, but grass horses run well on the Fairplex course, and we’re hoping he continues that trend,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill claimed Hey Elvis for $32,000 on June 13. Since then, the Australian-bred gelding has a $45,000 claiming-race win, and a runner-up finish in a $93,000 stakes.

O’Neill has climbed to fourth on the all-time list of leading trainers at Fairplex, with 95. He trails Mel Stute (187), Jerry Fanning (146), and Ted West (141).

Silver Stetson Man takes Governor’s Cup

Baffert won the $50,000 Governor’s Cup Handicap for the first time in 15 years on Wednesday, when Silver Stetson Man scored a two-length victory under Martin Garcia. Silver Stetson won the 6 1/2-furlong race in 1:17.55, second fastest time of the meet, and earned a 92 Beyer Figure. Silver Stetson Man ($6.20) is owned by Mike Pegram. Baffert last won the Governor’s Cup in 1995 with Gundaghia, a three-time winner of the race.

◗ Apprentice jockey Johnny Gihua loses his five-pound apprenticeship allowance on Oct. 1. Gihua entered the Friday card having won 4 of 32 at Fairplex.