Despite four more victories by Martin Pedroza Wednesday giving him 24 the first five days of the 15-day Fairplex Park meet to put him on a pace to break his record of 51 wins set over 17 days in 2004, his agent remains cautious. Pedroza's magic number is 28.
Pedroza, the track's career leader in stakes victories with 69 including four of the first five this meet, and 630 wins overall, would need a seemingly doable 2.8 wins a day over the final 10 days to set a new mark.
"It looks encouraging on the surface, but the final few days of the meet you can expect riders like Martin Garcia, Corey Nakatani, Victor Espinoza and Joel Rosario to ride here, and they certainly would compete for some of the mounts Martin might get," said Pedroza's agent, Richie Silverstein. "Plus, we'll have to make the right choices in upcoming races, whether to ride horses we've already won with here or fresh ones that could be ready."
Meanwhile, Pedroza is well on his way to his 12th consecutive Fairplex riding title. David Flores, second with five victories, was 19 behind going into Thursday.
"Martin is off to a great start, but maybe only in three of the last 11 years did he close strongly at the finish," Silverstein said, "so I'm not predicting he'll come close to 51. Do I feel good about having to win 2.8 races the rest of the way? Not at all.
"If you look back through the years, riders didn't approach the kind of numbers Martin has put up since he won his first title outright in 1999. They won the title with numbers in the high teens or low 20s."
Pedroza also tied for the Fairplex crown in 1989 with Flores and Corey Black, so this would be his 13th championship at the Pomona track.
Trepidation aside, through the first five days, Pedroza won with 24 of 48 mounts, a staggering 50 percent. He also had four seconds and nine thirds. His mounts have earned $359,420, more than three times that of Flores' $105,752.
TO UNSUNG MATT GARCIA, A HORSE IS A HORSE, OF COURSE Matt Garcia isn't exactly a household name when it comes to California-based riders, but the 40-year-old San Jose native knows his way around Fairplex Park, whether he's riding thoroughbreds or Arabians. It may come as a surprise, but the natural lightweight ranks fifth in career victories at Fairplex with 171, a number of them coming on breeds other than thoroughbreds.
Garcia rode his first winner at Salem, Oregon, on Aug. 31, 1992. Agent Jerry Palermo is handling Garcia's business during the Fairplex meet.
"Arabians and thoroughbreds are totally different," Garcia said in explaining riding nuances. "You have to get in the proper rhythm, and with Arabians, it's a lot slower.
"I wouldn't say Arabians are more high-strung, but their movements are different. They move from side to side a lot quicker than thoroughbreds, but all in all, horses are horses."
FAIRWELLS: There is a Pick Six carryover of $42,261 going into today's races . . . Saturday's $115,000 estimated Barretts Debutante at 6 furlongs drew eight entrants. The race is for 2-year-old fillies offered for sale in the 2008 October or 2009 January, March or May Barretts-in-training sale. It will be the 11th of 12 races on the program that starts at 1 p.m. . . . Friday's feature is the $50,000 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. Hi Ho Yodeler, who posted a 15-1 upset in the $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar last out, is the co-high weight with Swiss Wild Cat under 122 pounds for trainer Mike Harrington . . . Doug O'Neill had five wins, two seconds and three thirds from his first 10 starters in defense of the training title he won last year. Bob Baffert, Jeff Bonde and Peter Miller were tied for second with three wins each . . . Favorites continued to dominate through five days, winning 31 of 58 races for 53.45 percent. Only two odds-on favorites have been out of the money from 26 starters, 92.31 percent . . . Chris Russell is the only jockey who has ridden on all of the fair circuits to date: Fairplex, Solano, Pleasanton, Santa Rosa and Ferndale, where the 29-year-old Maryland native was the leader with 12 victories.