09/21/2010 3:26PM

Three favorites that are hard to ignore


POMONA, Calif. – It looks like easy money Thursday at Fairplex Park, where favorites are winning Thoroughbred races with unusual regularity.

The first two weeks at the Los Angeles County Fair, favorites won 44 of 93 Thoroughbred races, a 47 percent win rate that far exceeds the historical norm that generally hovers between 33 percent and 34 percent.

So is making money at the racetrack really as easy as betting the favorite? Of course not, but it’s always fun to cash a ticket on a winning horse, even if the payoff is minimal.

Three likely favorites Thursday at Fairplex will provide novice bettors a chance to do exactly that – cash a ticket. They are Chief’s Lake in race 3, The Phenom in race 5, and K K’s Bro in race 8.

Four years ago, Chief’s Lake was the top New York-bred 2-year-old at Belmont Park – his victory in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes was his third win from five starts. Chief’s Lake travelled far and wide afterward, and in July 2009 he ended up in California.

Chief’s Lake never regained his stakes-caliber form, but he still knows how to win races at the low claiming level. A 6-year-old gelding, Chief’s Lake won for the eighth time Sept. 4 at Los Alamitos. Trainer Chuck Treece claimed the veteran for $5,000 and Thursday he is the preliminary favorite to win race 3 at Fairplex.

The half-mile race, a $6,250 claimer, attracted six runners. Chief’s Lake can win by putting away front-running dropper Ifitwasntfor Texas.

Race 5 is another half-mile sprint, for $40,000 maiden-claimers, and The Phenom looks like a slam dunk. Half-mile races at Fairplex are always dominated by speed, and none in the field of eight are as quick as The Phenom.

Trained by Mike Mitchell, The Phenom figures to race gate to wire under jockey Kerwin John. The meet’s leading rider, Martin Pedroza, is on longshot Mi Marino.

Finally, race 8 favorite K K’s Bro looks like one of the most probable winners of the meet. Runner-up 12 days earlier in a similar $20,000 maiden-claimer, K K’s Bro is the fastest horse in the field, proven over the racetrack, and the preliminary odds-on favorite.

The Thursday card does not include a stakes race; the race 10 “feature” is an allowance route for fillies and mares in which Operetta Italiano is expected to start favored over L’Enchanteresse. Five entered the 1 1/16-mile race.