09/22/2002 11:00PM

Warren's Whistle coming right back for Las Madrinas


POMONA, Calif. - Warren's Whistle, a three-time stakes winner at Fairplex Park, will gun for her fourth Fairplex stakes on Friday when she wheels back in the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap. Warren's Whistle won the $50,000 Pio Pico Stakes for the second straight year last Friday, rallying inside to defeat longshot pacesetter Always the Lady by three-quarters of a length. Warren's Whistle, who also won the 2000 Black Swan Stakes at Fairplex, will stretch out from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles for the Las Madrinas.

"She seems to like this track pretty well, and I thought for $100,000 we might come right back," trainer Mel Stute said. Martin Pedroza rode Warren's Whistle in the Las Madrinas, and Stute said Pedroza would ride her again Friday. Warren's Whistle's three stakes rank her ninth on the all-time list of Fairplex stakes winners. A win Friday would put her in a tie for sixth. Three horses have won six stakes at Fairplex - Dawn Lark, Gundaghia, and Rob Bob.

Baze and Pedroza neck and neck

Jockeys Tyler Baze and Martin Pedroza are turning the race for leading jockey into a match race. Baze rode five winners on Saturday, and Pedroza came back with three on Sunday. The jockeys entered the final week of racing at the Los Angeles County Fair having ridden 16 winners each, seven more than Matt Garcia.

Pedroza is the all-time leading rider at the Fair with 338 wins (through Sunday), and has led the meet the last three years. "A race like this motivates me more," Pedroza said. "It's better for racing, better for the fans, better for everybody. There's still a week to go."

A resurgent Baze has never led Fairplex, and won't start thinking about it yet. "If I get it, I get it, but if it think about it like I did last year, it messed me up. I'm just going out there and doing my job." The five-win Saturday by Baze was the highest number of wins in one day by a Fairplex jockey since David Flores won six on two occasions in 1992.

Cover Gal next for Miss Nicolie

Miss Nicolie, who might have been favored Wednesday in the $50,000 Black Swan for 2-year-old fillies, instead will run next Thursday when the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita begins. Upset winner of the Generous Portion on Sept. 4 at Del Mar, Miss Nicolie will run in the $75,000-added Cover Gal Stakes at seven furlongs.

"I'd like to win the Black Swan, because I've always done well in that race," trainer D. Wayne Baker said. "But to me, it makes more sense to go in the Cover Gal." Following the Cover Gal, Baker plans to stretch out Miss Nicolie in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies. A full sister to honest router Noble Kinsman, Miss Nicolie is bred to handle the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Cal Cup. As for Baker, he is coming off a successful Del Mar meet in which he won with 6 of 25 starters. Six others finished second.

Amber Hills stretching out

The absence of Miss Nicolie from the Black Swan helped create an evenly matched field of 11 2-year-old fillies in the 1 1/16-mile stakes. Amber Hills, runner-up in the Generous Portion as the 5-2 favorite, will try to stretch her speed three turns in the Black Swan and may be the one to beat. A daughter of Bold Badgett trained by Ed Moger and owned by Curt and Lila Lanning, Amber Hills has an even-paced style of running style that typically plays well stretching out to a route of ground.

Goncalino Almeida rides Amber Hills, one of two Moger trainees in the field. The other is Foggerinthevalley, the only starter who has won over a route. Foggerinthevalley won a Fairplex maiden race by 2 1/2 lengths Sept. 13, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 56. Other entrants include Bustles and Bows runner-up My Honey Bunny; late-running Passionforanna, winner of her only start; and Alpine Singer, 2 for 4 lifetime.

Pomona invitations due out on Wednesday

Graded stakes placed Hot Market and rapidly improved Timber Baron were among two late invitees for the premier race of the meet - the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap on Sunday. The connections of some 21 horses requested invitations to the about 1 1/8 miles race, in which highweights are preferred. Weights will be issued Wednesday.

Others pointing to the race include Sigfreto, a two-time stakes winner at Fairplex; Reba's Gold, Out of Mind, Truly a Judge, Mysterious Cat, Dig for It, Moving's Gold, J.T.'s Song, Kachamandi, Hook Call, Macaneo, and Nates Colony.

- Although wagering handle at the Los Angeles County Fair has recovered from a precipitous decline of nearly 20 percent the first three days of the meet, figures remain below 2001 levels. Through Sunday, after 10 days of racing, handle was down 10.6 percent. Average daily handle currently is $4.9 million.

- Jockey Fernando Valenzuela, who has been sidelined since breaking his arm in a March 3 spill at Santa Anita, is expected to return to action next month. Valenzuela will begin exercising horses this week, with an eye toward a comeback during the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita.