09/25/2009 11:00PM

Stute tries to keep fair streak alive


POMONA, Calif. - The final stakes race of the Los Angeles County Fair meet is rife with tradition, and Sunday at Fairplex Park the race includes three teams of horsemen that left an indelible influence on fall racing in California.

Trainer Mel Stute starts the improving allowance gelding Quarter Moon in the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Handicap. It's a race that would be an appropriate breakout for Stute, the all-time leading Fairplex trainer by wins (187) and stakes wins (44). Entering Friday's card, however, he was 0 for 2.

"I think I've won a race at the fair for 50-some years, and I haven't won a race there yet," Stute said on Friday, while recalling his longtime passion for the Hinds, formerly called the Pomona Handicap. "Many years ago, I thought it was the greatest race in the world. Other guys said it was the Arc or the Derby; I said it was the Pomona Handicap."

Stute, who won the race with Score Quick in 1998, was the original inductee into the Fairplex Park Hall of Fame in 2003. Stute on Sunday will try to beat the latest Fairplex inductee.

Martin Pedroza, who rides Argentine import Generalito Nain in the Hinds, will be honored Sunday in a between-races (8-9) ceremony for his induction. Pedroza is the all-time leading Fairplex jockey by wins (595 into Friday). Generalito Nain is trained by Darrell Vienna and can improve off his U.S. debut.

Old English Rancho, the historic California breeding and racing stable, entered the only 3-year-old in the race. Acclamation was scratched Saturday from the $50,000 Pomona Derby to take on older horses for double the purse.

The reason was the pace scenario. Acclamation finished third after setting the pace in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, and he is a confirmed front-runner. The Pomona Derby had too much speed, but in the Hinds, Acclamation faces only one pace rival.

If he avoids a duel and sits behind Z Humor, Acclamation can get a nice trip. With a weight break, inside post, improving pattern and established ability to stay the 1 1/8-mile distance, Acclamation looms a legitimate contender.

The 117-pound topweight in a wide-open Hinds is Racketeer. He is listed as the tepid 4-1 favorite on the preliminary morning line. Victor Espinoza, who won Fairplex riding titles in 1996 and 1997, rides Racketeer.

Other starters in the Hinds, race 11, are Overbid, On Fire, Trevor's Clever, Cigar Man, and No Dream.