09/22/2004 11:00PM

Semi Lost should find his way home

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POMONA, Calif. - Handicappers planning to wager Saturday on the class of the field in the $100,000 Pomona Derby may consider increasing their wager on Semi Lost.

"He handles this track really, really nice," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "Barring someone taking us to the toolies, we'll probably be all right."

A field of eight 3-year-olds entered the Pomona Derby, and off a close sixth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, is the class of the field. But is the 1 1/8-mile Pomona Derby really a one-horse race? Hardly.

Bettors who planned to wager on lonely leader Power Tripper might consider a larger bet after learning jockey Tyler Baze's postrace comments to owner Sid Craig minutes after Power Tripper won an allowance race at Del Mar.

"Run this horse in the Pomona Derby, and I'll be there," Baze told Craig.

The jockey believes Power Tripper will love the five-eighth-mile Fairplex track. Baze rides Borrego in the Super Derby on Saturday, however, so trainer Bill Spawr tabbed Rene Douglas to ride front-runner Power Tripper on Saturday.

Semi Lost, Power Tripper, and the Derby Trial winner, Lava Man, are the main threats in a derby field that includes Cozy Guy, We All Love Aleyna, Bear in the Woods, Skipaslew, and Blofeld. The derby goes as race 11 on a 13-race card and is the second leg of a pick four with a guaranteed pool of $200,000.

Semi Lost finished second in two turf stakes at Del Mar, and was beaten less than two lengths in the Del Mar Derby. Racing plans for autumn were in flux, but not for long. Mullins said that after Semi Lost arrived at Fairplex, "we breezed him, and after we breezed him we nominated him."

It's easy to see why. Semi Lost flew around the turns in a bullet 58.80 seconds, and leading jockey Martin Pedroza will ride. To win, he has to catch Power Tripper.

Claimed off a maiden claiming race for $40,000 by Craig and Spawr, Power Tripper has won 2 of 3 since, and he also turned in a best-of-the-morning workout at Fairplex - five furlongs in 59.40. The gelding has not proven himself beyond the first allowance condition, but he is expected to make the lead, and if allowed to race unchallenged out front could be long gone.

Lava Man won big in his first for trainer Doug O'Neill, and a repeat of his winning Beyer Speed Figure (101) would make him tough to beat. O'Neill also starts comebacker Skipaslew, who might need a prep race.