09/13/2005 11:00PM

Pio Pico all about second

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POMONA, Calif. - If the consistent mare Dee Dee's Diner is such a standout Friday in the $60,000 Pio Pico Stakes at Fairplex Park, why have so many entered to run against her?

Nine California-bred fillies and mares entered the 6 1/2-furlong stakes. It is a wide-open race - for second place.

"The only horse to beat is Ted's horse," said Early Ronan's trainer, Mel Stute, referring to Dee Dee's Diner, who is trained by Ted H. West and his father, Ted. An 8-for-23 stakes winner, Dee Dee's Diner finished third last out in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar. If she repeats that effort, she should win the Pio Pico.

The second-place finisher in the Pio Pico will earn more than $10,000, and that is the realistic aim for most starters. Stute-trained Early Ronan will start as a longshot, with at least one thing going for her - a win over the track six days ago in a weak field. She is not the only Fairplex horse for course.

won her only start on this track last fall in a California-bred allowance. Subsequently claimed for $80,000 from Bill Spawr, Dee Dee's Diner won the $76,000 Valkyr Stakes for California-breds in her first start for the West stable. In her most recent start Aug. 19, she set the pace and held third in the Rancho Bernardo.

Second choice in the Pio Pico will be , runner-up in successive turf sprints at Del Mar. A 4-year-old filly by Indian Charlie, Tavern on Rush has won 3 of 11 races, and based on her proficiency on the tight turns of the Del Mar turf course she figures to like the tight turns on the five-eighth-mile Fairplex track.

rolled to a convincing three-length allowance win at Fairplex Park on Sunday, and trainer Gary Stute is considering wheeling her back in six days. A 5-year-old mare, she has won 6 of 38 starts.

Wendy's on to Me was supplemented to the race for $3,000. Off two runner-up finished in allowance routes at Del Mar, she has an outside look. The remainder of the field is Crow Autumn, Run Rebecca Run, Two to Get Ready, and Dark Beauty.