09/25/2003 12:00AM

'Summer' stands out above rest


POMONA, Calif. - The last Saturday of the Los Angeles County Fair race meet will be a day of firsts for trainer Mel Stute, jockey Julie Krone, and 3-year-old gelding Excess Summer.

Stute will be the first inductee into the Fairplex Park Hall of Fame in a ceremony preceding the $100,000 Pomona Derby, a race that represents a first for Krone. She will be riding at Fairplex Park for the first time, and has the luxury of being aboard a standout.

Excess Summer towers over seven rivals in the derby, an "about" 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds. The fastest and most accomplished horse in the field, Excess Summer will start as the odds-on favorite against a modest cast of allowance-class runners. They include Foothill Stakes runner-up Hell Cat, Derby Trial winner Atouratoura, Flirt With Fortune, Oberwald, Six Numbers, Tribe, and White Buck.

The derby will be the first time Excess Summer has raced beyond a mile. "It won't bother him," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "His mother used to run 2 1/2 miles."

Summer Ruckus won two marathons in 1997 - 2 1/8 miles at Aiken, and 1 1/2 miles at Laurel - before she retired from racing to become a broodmare. Her best foal is Excess Summer, a son of In Excess whom Mullins claimed from Mike Machowsky for $40,000 in his April 16 debut. It may be the best claim of the year in California.

Excess Summer has improved each start for Mullins, and blossomed this summer at Del Mar. Krone rode him to a nine-length win in a sprint stakes for Cal-bred 3-year-olds, and they teamed Sept. 5 for a 2 1/2-length win in a mile stakes for open 3-year-olds. Each time, Excess Summer earned triple-digit Beyer Figures, a number that no other Derby starter has approached.

In six starts since Mullins claimed him from Machowsky, Excess Summer has earned $179,921 and won three races. He worked super on the Fairplex track Tuesday, and his striking physical impression while schooling in the paddock this week suggests he will be one tough customer Saturday.

Krone was up for the Tuesday workout, and though she has never ridden at Fairplex, the Derby will not be her first ride on a bullring. "I've ridden at Charles Town a lot, and I think it makes a difference if you at least have a little experience [on a bullring]."