Fairplex Begins 70th Season on Friday
Pomona, Calif. (Sept. 4, 2008) - Fairplex Park, located in the center of the sprawling Los Angeles County Fair Grounds, begins its 70th season of racing on Friday, Sept. 5, with a 13-race program, highlighted by the $65,000 Jim Kostoff Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Competitive racing for the thoroughbreds, quarter horses and mules will be offered for the 16-day meet which runs through Sept. 22 on a Wednesday through Monday schedule (dark Tuesdays).
First post on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays is noon with a start time of 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays.
A total of $109,635,696 was wagered at Fairplex in 2007, the third highest mututel handle in the 69-year history of the historic five-eighths mile oval. Traditionally, Fairplex ranks among the top 10 percent of all North American race tracks in average daily handle and purses paid.
This season 17 stakes races for thoroughbreds and three more for quarter horses will be up for grabs. The marquee event of the meet is the $125,000 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap on Sept. 21 for 3-year-olds and up at "about" 1 1/8 miles.
Also sporting lucrative purses are the $130,000-estimated Barretts Debutante for 2-year-old fillies at 6 furlongs on Sept. 13, the $130,000-estimated Barretts Juvenile for 2-year-olds at 6 furlongs on Sept. 14, the $100,000 Pomona Derby at "about" 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 20 and the $100,000 Las Madrinas Handicap for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 21.
JIM KOSTOFF STAKES LURES EIGHT
Headed by Trevor's Clever, a 17-1 upset winner of the Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park last May, the $65,000 Jim Kostoff Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds, drew eight starters, including Wink At The Girls, Harlene, Yankee Visionary, National Holiday, Rivergrade Boy, Pistol Pete Afleet and Yes It's A Cat.
The Jim Kostaff Stakes, formerly known as the Derby Trial Stakes, a prep for the Pomona Derby, was renamed this year to honor Kostaff, director emeritus since 2001, and formerly chairman of the board of the L.A. County Fair Association for an unprecedented 18 years.
In his most recent start on July 30 at Del Mar Trevor's Clever tackled older rivals for the first time, finishing a distant fifth in the Cougar II Handicap, a 1 mile marathon on Polytrack which was taken wire-to-wire by Zappa.
"The race was an experiment," said Ted West, assistant to his son, trainer Ted H. West. "We think he's a pretty solid 3-year-old router and we wanted to see how he would handle the tougher competition. We're pointing Trevor's Clever to the Pomona Derby, so we'll see how he stacks up with the other horses in the Kostaff Stakes. We've sharpened him up, so he should run well."
Harlene and Yes It's A Cat are the only other stakes winners in the lineup.
Trained by Doug O'Neill, Harlene won the $250,000 Snow Chief, a race restricted to California breds, at Hollywood Park last April. The son of Decarchy rallied late in the stretch to win the 1 1/8 mile race by a neck at 33-1.
Yes It's A Cat captured the $63,000 Pinjara Stakes at Oak Tree last fall, winning the mile turf race virtually wire to wire for trainer Jeff Mullins.
O'NEILL AND MULLINS RENEW RIVALRY
Doug O'Neill was the leading trainer at Fairplex in 2007, edging Jeff Mullins, 12-10. O'Neill, who has won five training championships in Pomona, had his biggest output of winners in 2004, visiting the charmed circle 16 times in just 17 days.
Mullins, who has captured three Fairplex training titles, did O'Neill one better in 2006 when he saddled a record 17 winners during the season.
On opening day O'Neill has three horses entered, while Mullins has two.
PEDROZA STILL "KING OF THE BULLRING"
Fairplex Park has been the personal playground for jockey Martin Pedroza the past decade as the Panamanian-born rider has won nine consecutive riding titles and 10 overall.