09/25/2010 2:37PM

Pedroza still has sights set on win record


POMONA, Calif. – Martin Pedroza was scheduled to resume riding Saturday at Fairplex Park. With top mounts in the final three days of the Los Angeles County Fair meet, his bid to break the meet record for wins (51) could be within reach Monday, closing day.

It hardly seemed possible at the start of the final week of racing. The all-time leading rider at Fairplex, Pedroza blanked Wednesday for the first time at the meet, then was sick with a stomach bug and did not ride Thursday.

Pedroza wanted to return Friday but needed medical clearance due to a pinched nerve that was causing him discomfort when he pulled horses up. Dr. Daniel Yanni, the track doctor, requested medical corroboration that it was safe for Pedroza to ride.

Pedroza and his agent, Richie Silverstein, were frustrated Friday.

“We had two options – either follow procedure or be done for the meet,” Silverstein said.

With assistance from Yanni, Pedroza finally obtained medical clearance from staff at UC Irvine.

“All [Yanni] asked for was for medical proof that [Pedroza] is okay,” Silverstein said. “They determined Martin was well enough to be back to work.”

That is good news for Pedroza, who was on fire the first nine days of the 15-day meet. He won 35 races from 96 mounts and was on pace to break the meet record for wins he set in 2004 over 17 days. Pedroza entered Saturday with 641 career wins at Fairplex.

The horses Pedroza was to ride Saturday and Sunday looked better than his closing-day mounts. Pedroza is tentatively scheduled to ride just three program favorites Monday, and though the 51-win goal is still a longshot, Silverstein said, “We haven’t ruled it out yet.”

Thoroughbred favorites won at a 48 percent clip through Friday, a statistic that bodes well for the three best Pedroza mounts Monday – Squallcreek in race 3, Cafe Con Leche in race 7, and Never in race 11.

Never, trained by Bob Baffert, make his first start since July while dropping into a first-level allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles. His main rivals include Low Gear Power and Party With Brando.

Pedroza entered Saturday 23 wins clear in the jockey standings, which he will lead for a 12th straight year.