It's Anybody's Race This Year For Fairplex Riding Honors
September 19, 2002
Take it from one of the game's multi-dimensional thinkers, agent Richie Silverstein, the race for top riding honors at Fairplex Park this meet is wide open. Unlike in the past, it is not a two-jockey battle. And it will take more than riding skill to win the championship.
"It's going to take a tremendous amount of luck, and it's going to come down to who has the best customers," said Silverstein, who represents both Martin Pedroza and Iggy Puglisi.
"Matt Garcia is strong every year here. He rides for Barry Abrams, who fires his horses back quickly. He rides for Mel and Warren Stute, who are also rapid-fire guys. Tyler Baze not only rides all of Bill Spawr's horses, he's got a lot of John Sadler's horses. And Tyler also has calls from Ruben Cardenas and Rafael Becerra. Both those guys are new shooters, but they both came in loaded for bear. I look for Tyler to be my major threat (to Pedroza, a four-time Fairplex riding champion and the track's career leader in victories with 327 through Monday).
"Coming into the meet, I thought it would be Tyler and Chance Rollins, but I thought Jeff Mullins was going to put Chance on everything. Turns out Jeff (last year's leading trainer at Fairplex with 11 victories) has kind of spread things between me and Chance, and a few to (Octavio) Vergara. So, it will all come down to customers. I've got a few Paul Aguirres, a lot of Julio Cananis, a lot of Jack Caravas, a lot of Wesley Wards. I've got Ted West this year, which I haven't had for years. In years gone by, I had Cliff Sise (Jr.). This year Goncalino Almeida has him. Cliff's going to be good for six orseven winners. That's six or seven winners taken away from me.
"Last year Mullins won 11, nine with me. This year, if I'm lucky, I'll win three or four for him. So, I look for this year's race to be a lot more spread out. In years gone by at Pomona, trainers would zero in on (using) two riders (usually Pedroza and David Flores). It didn't matter who they were. The rest of (of the mounts) you would just pick up at the draw (for entries). This year, Isaias Enriquez, Felipe Martinez, Scott Stevens, Rollins, they're all coming to the draw with their own business. So, it's just a matter of whose customers fire the best.
"Tyler Baze is probably going to be the hardest guy to get by because he's got the most customers with live horses ready to run."
Through the first five days, Baze was in the lead with nine victories, followed by Pedroza with six and Garcia and Isaias Enriquez with five.