09/21/2009 11:00PM

Top pair need help in Governor's Cup


POMONA, Calif. - The two best horses in the $50,000 Governor's Cup Handicap face the same question Wednesday at Fairplex Park. Will the pace in the 6 1/2-furlong race be fast enough to flatter the closing rallies of Paul's Hope and Big Bad Leroybrown?


Both 5-year-olds enter the Governor's Cup with strong recent records but a glaring weakness - they are closing sprinters that need help up front. Racing at Del Mar last out, it did not happen for either.

Paul's Hope was out of his comfort zone when he pressed the pace and faded to third Aug. 20. Big Bad Leroybrown was overmatched in the Grade 1 Pat O'Brien, a slow-paced race Sept. 6 that rendered his late rally ineffective.

Wednesday at Fairplex, Paul's Hope and Big Bad Leroybrown show up in the 69th Governor's Cup. Both need pace to run at, and it appears they will get it.

Speed types Usurp and Dance With Gable ensure an honest pace, while comebacker Screen to Screen also figures to be forwardly placed. Along with Lit'sgoodlookngray and A Lil Dumaani, seven of the eight entrants have a chance. Fire Break appears outclassed.

A win by Big Bad Leroybrown would be the first stakes victory in two years by the Old English Rancho-bred son of Wild Again who has won two races and $162,360 from 12 starts this year.

"He's had a good season and beat a lot of good horses along the way," trainer Don Warren said.

Big Bad Leroybrown won the Real Good Deal Stakes in 2007 at Del Mar, and in his only previous start at Fairplex he finished third in the Pomona Derby. He benefits from a class drop after chasing the top sprinter Zensational. David Flores rides Big Bad Leroybrown, the race's most accomplished entrant with 5 wins and $365,337 in earnings from 26 starts.

Paul's Hope has a score to settle with Big Bad Leroybrown; they swapped decisions at Del Mar. Leading jockey Martin Pedroza takes over on Paul's Hope, whose preferred style is off the pace. Pedroza has 29 wins, well clear of Alonso Quinonez (12). Pedroza is on his way to an 11th consecutive riding title at the Los Angeles County Fair.

Quinonez rides Dance With Gable, winner of a fast stake race at Sacramento last out. The Governor's Cup is race 11 on a 12-race card.