09/06/2007 12:00AM

'Sensational' aims to end nine-race skid

Email

POMONA, Calif. - The 4-year-old Sensational Score and the 40-year-old rider Agapito Delgadillo are coming home to Fairplex Park on Saturday, seeking rejuvenation in the $65,000 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes.

One year ago, Sensational Score powered to a convincing win in the $100,000 Pomona Derby for 3-year-olds. It was Sensational Score's only start on the five-eighth-mile Fairplex track, and his last win. His losing streak has reached nine races.

One year ago, Delgadillo emerged from relative obscurity to finish second in the Fairplex standings with 18 wins from 86 mounts, 8 behind Martin Pedroza. Business slowed for Delgadillo afterward, and he spent much of this summer vacationing with family in Mexico. He rode only 18 horses at Del Mar, winning once. It is time to get back to work.

"I like this track, it fits my style," Delgadillo said. "The turns here are really close, and the main thing is to take the turns close to the rail. If you don't take the turns, you're going to go straight."

Delgadillo will be a key player in a Fairplex colony led by Pedroza, the track's all-time leader with 484 wins. David Flores, who is second in wins (313) and the all-time leader in stakes (58), will choose his spots. Tyler Baze and Matt Garcia will ride the meet.

The notion that jockeys must take a strong hold of their mounts in order to negotiate the track's tight turns is somewhat misguided, according to Delgadillo.

"You have to let them run," he said. "If you try to take hold, they take the bit and want to go straight."

Delgadillo will be riding Sensational Score for the first time and will not have to worry about the gelding's ability to handle the track. Sensational Score won the Pomona Derby last year by 3 1/2 lengths and then gradually regressed. Two weeks ago, he finished third in a Del Mar sprint and was claimed for $62,500 by trainer Mark Glatt.

In the 1 1/16-mile Shepherd, Sensational Score faces turf-to-dirt Bravo Maestro (Pedroza), Polytrack-to-dirt C'Mon Tiger (Baze), and Polytrack-to-dirt stretch-out Black Spot. Guiding Hand and Echezeaux also entered.

Bravo Maestro drops from a Grade 3 marathon and can win if he handles dirt. C'Mon Tiger benefits from a return to a conventional surface, while Black Spot should improve second start back.

The Shepherd is race 12 on a 13-race card. In race 10 for $5,000 claimers, Delgadillo rides Fairplex horse-for-course Ribomoon. He scored an $82 upset here last fall under Delgadillo.