11/25/2005 12:00AM

Pedroza chases major title

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Santa Anita Derby winner Buzzards Bay will make his next start on turf.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Best known for being the all-time leading rider at Fairplex Park, Martin Pedroza is chasing a much loftier goal this fall - his first riding title at a major meeting.

After finishing second in the jockey standings at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting that ended earlier this month, Pedroza led the Hollywood Park fall meeting. Through Thursday, Pedroza had 11 wins, two more than Garr-ett Gomez, who won the title at Oak Tree. Pedroza won Friday's first race aboard Flower Hill ($4.20) and the second on Manhattan Express ($6.20).

"Since I've been in California, I've never won a title at a major racetrack," he said Friday. "I don't want to let it get away."

Pedroza, 40, has ranked among the top 10 jockeys at numerous meetings in Southern California since arriving on this circuit in the early 1980's. When he looks around the jockeys' room these days, he quickly realizes his role has changed - from journeyman to a rider with a senior role in the room.

Alex Solis and Patrick Valenzuela are two of the few riders who were present on the circuit when Pedroza won his biggest race, the 1989 Santa Anita Handicap on 50-1 Martial Law, and are still riding the circuit today.

"I am the veteran," Pedroza said. "I remember when I started here it was McCarron, Shoemaker, Pincay, Stevens, and Delahoussaye. They're not here anymore."

Pedroza's 11 wins at this meeting have come for nine different trainers. He has two wins for Mike Machowsky and John Sadler.

"I've been lucky since Del Mar," Pedroza said. "I've won quite a few races for John. I worked my butt off to be where I am. That's the key. You've got to ride the right horses and you've got to be lucky."

The competition figures to toughen for Pedroza before the fall meeting ends on Dec. 19. Gomez ended a seven-day suspension on Friday. Valenzuela will have a leading presence.

"I've got good business," Pedroza said. "I think I have a really good chance. I'm riding with plenty of confidence. I'm riding good horses."

Buzzards Bay to go in Sir Beaufort

Buzzards Bay, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby in April, is being pointed for the Sir Beaufort Stakes at a mile on turf at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, trainer Ron Ellis said.

Ellis said he prefers the Sir Beaufort to the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on the same day. "The seven-eighths is just not his gig," Ellis said.

Ellis sees the Sir Beaufort as a prep to the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 28.

"I think he's a true mile-and-an-eighth and mile-and-a-quarter type horse," Ellis said. "The distance should be right up his alley."

Buzzards Bay has won 3 of 11 starts and $654,471. He was fifth in the Kentucky Derby, when he was trained by Jeff Mullins.

In July, Buzzards Bay was purchased by Gary and Wendy Broad for $725,000 as part of a dispersal of horses owned by Fog City Stable. In his most recent start, Buzzards Bay finished third in the Discovery Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 28.

Ellis also trains Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004, who has not started since winning the Santa Catalina Stakes at Santa Anita in March.

Ellis said on Friday that Declan's Moon will undergo a nuclear scan next week to determine whether a cannon-bone injury has healed sufficiently to resume training. Declan's Moon has been out of training since September.

Captain Squire tops Underwood field

Grade 1 winners Captain Squire and Alphabet Kisses will start in stakes here next weekend.

Captain Squire will go favored in Saturday's $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes over six furlongs. Trained by Mullins, Captain Squire, 6, was second in the Sport Page Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 29. He won the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita in early October.

The Grade 3 Underwood is expected to include Bordonaro, Hasty Kris, Indian Country, Jet West, Lifestyle, and Turnbolt. Jet West won the California Cup Sprint in his last start.

Alphabet Kisses, who won the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita last December, will return from a four-month layoff in Sunday's $95,000 Cat's Cradle Handicap. The race is for statebred fillies and mares at 7 1/2 furlongs.

Alphabet Kisses has not started since finishing last in the Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar in early August. Her opponents in the Cat's Cradle are expected to include House of Fortune, The Yellow Sheet, and Western Hemisphere.

* Wilko, the winner of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, worked five furlongs in 58.80 seconds at Hollywood Park on Friday, moving closer to a comeback in the Malibu Stakes. Wilko's workout time was the fastest of 29 recorded works at the distance. Trained by Craig Dollase, Wilko has not started since finishing unplaced in the Preakness Stakes in May.