09/20/2010 1:31PM

Pedroza's hot hand could help El Martillo in Governor's Cup

Benoit & Associates
Martin Pedroza has a shot to break his own record of 51 wins at a Fairplex Park meet.

POMONA, Calif. – It has been 15 years since trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Pedroza last won the Governor’s Cup Handicap at Fairplex Park – Gundaghia won the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for the third time in 1995.

Wednesday at Fairplex, Baffert and Pedroza team with El Martillo in the $50,000 Governor’s Cup, arguably the strongest stakes of the 2010 Los Angeles County Fair meet. While a case can be made for every entrant, El Martillo has the hottest pilot.

Pedroza won 35 races the first nine days, and with six racing days remaining at the Fair, he is on pace to break the record of 51 wins he set during the 17-day meet in 2004. El Martillo, a respectable third last out in a Del Mar route, can win the Governor’s Cup if the speed backs up. A 5-year-old, El Martillo has won 2 of 6 this year.

Baffert also entered Silver Stetson Man, the preliminary 7-2 favorite. With two sharp recent works at Fairplex, Silver Stetson Man is likely to improve over his summer form that includes a third and a second in Del Mar sprints. Martin Garcia rides the 6-year-old Silver Man, runner-up in a second-level allowance last out at Del Mar.

Position A was claimed one back for $40,000 specifically to aim for the Governor’s Cup. Trained by Bill Spawr, who last won the race in 1985 with Mister Gennaro, Position A has won 4 of 18. If his dull fifth last time out can be disregarded, Position A figures close with a ground-saving trip under Felipe Valdez.

El Scorpio is trained by Doug O’Neill, the Fairplex leader with 9 wins from 26 starts. El Scorpio, an upset winner twice in his last three starts, will set the pace under Johnny Gihua.

If the speed backs up, then Hard Bill could be along in time. A deep closer trained by Mike Puype and ridden by David Flores, Hard Bill finished off the board last out in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar. He meets easier Wednesday.

The field also includes New Bay, sixth last out in the Pat O’Brien, comebacker Hidden Blessing, consistent claimer Winsome Charm, and turf stakes winner Tiz West.

Triumphant Flight, winner of the Barretts Juvenile in 2008, shortens to a sprint after a 59.20-second five-furlong workout eight days ago on the Fairplex track. All Saint is on the also-eligible list.