Pomona, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2012) – The 74th Fairplex Park racing season showed a dramatic gain in overall mutuel handle because management has been successful in trying new things for the horseplayers.
“On the final Saturday (Sept.22) our wagering showed an increase of between 12 and 13 percent,” said Kim Lloyd, general manager for Barretts Equine Limited and the man responsible for horse racing at Fairplex. “It was our biggest day in three years. I know the economy is getting a little better, but not that much better, so I think we might be doing something right.”
After the final race was run for the 13-day fall session and all the numbers were crunched, Fairplex was up 7.95 percent overall in wagering compared to the 2011 meeting.
“What we tried to do differently is we guaranteed a $100,000 purse for the Barretts Debutante, Barretts Juvenile and Ralph M. Hinds Invitational Pomona Handicap,” Lloyd explained. “In addition our final race on Friday’s was written for $25,000 maiden claimers at 1 1/8 miles. If the race had 10 or more starters (a dozen horses can compete in nine furlong races because of the long run to the first turn), we increased the purse from $18,000 to $28,000. We made it the final race because it anchors most of our exotic wagers, such as the pick six, pick nine and super high five.”
Average field size was maintained at 7.5 starters per race, but the biggest difference from years past, was the competitiveness of the product on the race track. Pomona’s five-eighths mile oval has been the home of betting favorites, usually winning above the national average of 33 percent. During the 2012 session favorites only found the charmed circle 26.09 percent of the time.
Fairplex caught the fancy of bettors nationwide as out-of-state handle soared to $27,288,685, a whopping 18.16 percent increase over the previous year.
Not only were the horses competitive, but also the jockey colony was “the best in 20 years,” said Richie Silverstein, agent for jockey Martin Pedroza, a week before the meet began.
Pedroza, dubbed the “King of the Bullring” after winning an amazing 13 consecutive riding championships and 14 overall, struggled to win his share of the races. In 2004 the Panamanian dominated his opposition, winning a record 51 races and earning more than $1 million in purse money.
However, in 2012 Pedroza wasn’t the top rider, finishing second in the jockey standings to Edwin Maldonado, 26-19, who had two four-winner afternoons during the meet.
The extremely talented Juan Hernandez was third in the standings with 18 triumphs, while Jorge Carreno and Agapito Delgadillo tied for fourth with 13 winners each.
At the conclusion of the season Pedroza remained the winningest rider ever in Pomona history with 705 lifetime victories, a record that may never be broken. His nearest rival is David Flores, a distant second in the lifetime standings with 350 winners.
Pedroza also won four stakes during the meet, including the $50,000 E.B. Johnston Stakes with Going for a Spin, the $100,000 Barretts Debutante aboard Bares Tripper, the $50,000 Pomona Derby with Shadow Runner and ended the meet aboard Worth Repeating, winner of the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap. He resides atop the all-time Fairplex stakes winners list with 78 triumphs.
The training title came down to the final day of the meet when Jorge Gutierrez won with his only starter to capture the crown, 6-5, over Robertino Diodoro.
Leandro Mora and Edward R. Freeman wound up tied for third with four victories each.
There were 13 consecutive days of hot and humid weather in the Pomona Valley with temperatures seldom below 95 degrees and often topping the 100 degree mark. That played havoc with the on-track figures. Fairplex dipped in both attendance (24 percent) and betting (6.01 percent).
The second season of twilight Wednesday programs, featuring a first post of 4 p.m., also made a huge difference.
“There was electricity in the air on Wednesday evenings,” said Lloyd with enthusiasm. “I saw a much younger crowd, couples with children, and some parents even pushin