09/26/2004 11:00PM

Pedroza a Fairplex star


POMONA, Calif. - Jockey Martin Pedroza, trainer Doug O'Neill, and betting favorites were the hot commodities at the Los Angeles County Fair meet, which ended Sunday at Fairplex Park.

Pedroza set a single-season record for wins, with 51 from 134 mounts, topping the 48-win mark established by David Flores over a 19-day meet in 1991. Pedroza won at a 38 percent clip, and, with mount earnings of $1,000,142, became the first Fairplex rider to break the $1 million mark.

O'Neill established the single-season record for wins by a trainer with 16, passing the 13-win mark held since 1986 by trainer Mel Stute. O'Neill won at a 35 percent clip (16 of 45), and his $361,490 in earnings led the meet.

Favorites won 61 of 160 Thoroughbred races (38 percent). More than a quarter of all Thoroughbred races included an odds-on favorite.

Preliminary figures showed that total handle declined only 1 percent, from a record $109 million last year to approximately $108 million this season. Exact figures were to be available later this week. The average daily handle of $6.3 million was the second-highest in track history.

Ontrack wagering was up fractionally over last year, and out-of-state wagering also increased. But there was a 12 percent decline from the in-state simulcast wagering network.

Ontrack attendance was down roughly 10 percent to 102,255, while total attendance dropped more than 16 percent, from 278,945 last year to 233,095 this year. Attendance at the three major simulcast centers - Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, and Del Mar - dropped at least 14 percent.

A bill on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk would expand the track from five furlongs to one mile and include construction of a turf course. The bill would allow funding that Fairplex would repay with projected revenue increases. If the bill is signed, Fairplex would be expanded before the 2006 fair meet, and Churchill Downs may consider Fairplex as a possible venue for future Hollywood Park dates.