Martin Pedroza Still Plugging Away at Fairplex

(From track report)
Martin Pedroza has his priorities in order.

He has accomplished much in his career of more than 20 years, but he has yet to attain the world class recognition of his peers in the Southern California jockey colony.

He won the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on a 50-1 shot, Martial Law, in 1989. He won six consecutive races at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Breeders' Cup day in 1992, equaling a mark set by Laffit Pincay Jr. in 1987.

Pedroza is puzzled by his lack of stakes mounts, but philosophical. He's had an occasional leg up by training luminaries such as D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert and Julio Canani, among others, but not often.

"I don't know what it is," said Pedroza, who has more than 2,000 career victories, "I've proved myself to everyone over the years. I don't know what else they want. I'm not a greedy person. Whatever the good Lord gives me, is what I take. If I'm given the opportunity, I'm there. If not, well it's too bad. I've done it all. I've won a million-dollar race, I've won six straight races in one day."

He is Fairplex Park's all-time leader with 326 victories and is aiming for his fifth Pomona title at the current meet, which ends on Sept. 29. Going into Wednesday's races, Pedroza, with five wins, was second behind Tyler Baze, who hasd seven.

No jockey tries harder than the 37-year-old native of Panama City, Panama. His competitive fire burns hot as ever. If a horse Pedroza rides doesn't win, it's not due to lack of effort on Pedroza's part.

"I could have had a better Del Mar meet," said Pedroza, who finished in the top 10 with 13 wins. "But as long as I'm healthy, that's all I care about. I always look forward to Pomona. I make good money here. I look forward to every meet, but especially this one."

Sometimes the fire gets the best of him. Wednesday, he was fined $300 by stewards "for unprofessional conduct" following a scuffle with fellow rider Chance Rollins in full view of the grandstand after Saturday's seventh race, which was won by Pedroza aboard Girl Talk

Pedroza knows every crevice of the five-eighths of a mile Fairplex oval like the back of his hand. He also knows it is a track that demands respect.

With talk rampant that this could be the final year of racing at the Los Angeles County Fair, Pedroza is realistic.

"If you were to ask me, I'd run here every year, but it's not up to me," Pedroza said.

Pedroza went through a divorce several years ago, but his family, especially his two sons, Brian and Tyler, mean everything to him.

"My main goals are to stay healthy and enjoy my family and do my job," Pedroza said.