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George Reider admits his barn "hasn't been lighting them up so far" at this Cal Expo harness racing meeting, but he's optimistic that things are headed in the right direction. "We had a good meet this summer at Running Aces," Reider noted. "At the end of that meet we purchased a few horses and now it's just been a case of getting to know them." One pacer in the barn that George is really pinning his hopes of is a 2-year-old who answers to the name of Pride of the Sierra. "I think he's going to be a real nice colt. We'll be qualifying him in a few weeks." Meanwhile, the Reider barn of 14 is starting to warm up and you can look for him to bemaking his share of winner's circle appearances in the near future and through the end of this session in the spring. George also mentioned that he's very pleased that his good friends Nick Roland, Jessica Johnson and Terry Kaufman are among the new connections competing here at Cal Expo "They've really added to our races and I'm so glad to see them competing here." Pair of Opens sit atop the marquee A $6,600 Open Pace featuring Jazzmanian Devil and Firedrake and a $5,500 Distaff Open Pace headed by Sparkin Your Fire and Capitol Hill are the main events on Friday night's Cal Expo program. Jazzmanian Devil is a 6-year-old son of Sand Shooter from the Artsplace mare Artbeat who is owned by William Condon, takes her lessons from Kathie Plested and will have Mooney Svendsen giving directions. The long-fused performer looped the field to prevail at 6-1 in the November 4 Open, had to settle for the show money at this level the following week, then got back to his winning ways at most recent asking as he came home in a sizzling :26 flat to get the job done by a neck. Firedrake also has two Open victories to his credit at this meeting for Set The Pace Racing LLC and driver/trainer Nick Roland. The Dragon Again gelding has posed for snapshots following 11 of his 20 starts on the year with a 1:51 2/5 lifetime standard that was recorded at Running Aces over the summer. Firedrake accounted for the October 28 top dance despite a tough trip from the demanding No. 10 post and also captured the November Open as the 3-5 favorite, but has had to settle for a third and fifth behind Jazzmanian Devil in the other two contests for the top pacers on the grounds. Looking at the Filly and Mare Open, Sparkin Your Fire carries the banner of Peg Hoffman with Gerry Longo the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. She got a nice prep race in her local debut in the November 25 distaff Open, then stormed home to prevail at 9-2 in the most recent clash at the top level for the pacing fillies and mares while taking the measure of favored Capitol Hill. The latter mare won three of her four outings at this Open level between November 4 and November 25 and had to settle for second in the most recent clash after being hard used on the front end. George McChrystal and Kathie Plested own, Plested is the trainer and Steve Wiseman will be in the sulky. There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, affording players the chance to gets some real value. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races of the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which covers the penultimate four contests on the program. The Pick 4 comes with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Everybody should get a call as good as the one harness racing trainer Luke Plano got from owner Mark Hinshaw last month. "He said he was looking for a winter home for his trotter Pridecrest and asked if I was interested," Plano related. "I'd seen him race a little at Hawthorne and didn't waste any time saying yes." All Pridecrest has done in two starts at Cal Expo is win back-to-back Open Trots by a combined 16 lengths, including a track-record 1:53 2/5 tour of the Sacramento oval two weeks ago. "He's a big strong horse with a tremendous gait and he doesn't waste any action," Plano explained. "Going into that first start here he had that solid resume and had trained well, but I can't say I was expecting a mile like that one. "He was pretty aggressive that night and was setting some strong fractions, but I wasn't sure how he was going to be in the stretch, and it turned out he was super." Pridecrest wheeled back in last week's top dance for the trotters and was equally impressive getting the job done from the outside post in a field of nine. He was first-over to command going to the final bend and went on to another romp at 40 cents on the dollar. "I wanted to see if he would be manageable and he was, although we did get stuck behind some poor cover for a bit there. Once again, he was very strong in the stretch and very impressive." Annette Funicello Pace brings out distaffers The $8,200 Annette Funicello for pacing fillies and mares headed by Cenalta Call Girl highlights the program on Friday night at Cal Expo. First post under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC will be 6:10 p.m. and the action will continue on Saturday evening with the $20,000 Alan Horowitz Memorial being the main event. Friday's featured contest is named for actress/singer Annette Funicello, who passed away in April of 2013 at the age of 70. Annette Funicello was married to harness horsesman/breeder Glen Holt from 1986 until her death and was a strong supporter of the sport. Cenalta Call Girl is a 3-year-old daughter of Allamerican Merlin who is owned by Rene Goulet and Helen and Myrna Empey with Goulet doing the driving and training. She comes into this assignment having captured two of her six lifetime appearances. Cenalta Call Girl recorded her first decision at Northlands Park in late September, surging on the money to be up in the final strides, then made her Cal Expo debut a winning one in the Funicello Prep last weekend as she did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection and drew off to a length and three-quarters score as the 3-2 favorite in a 1:55 2/5 performance. Free Radical completed the exacta in that affair at 13-1 to make a nice move forward in her second outing over this layout since arriving from Minnesota. The Hot Pans offspring competes for Set The Pace Racing LLC and is reined and trained by Nick Roland. Rounding out the cast are Be My Lucky Girl with Steve Wiseman; Alwaysalittlemore, Luke Plano; Rockin Repeat, David Siegel; My Hearts Conquest with William Hernandez; and Nat-A-Katt, who will be guided by Edward Hernandez. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Harness racing trainer/driver Nick Roland is a new face on the scene at Cal Expo, and you can look for him to be a frequent visitor to the winner's circle as evidenced by his three victories on opening night. Including among those scores was a win by Firedrake in the featured Open Pace from the demanding No. 10 post. Roland shows up with several driving and training titles to his credit at Running Aces, where he has plied his trade since the Minnesota track debuted 10 years ago. "My grandparents on both sides have been involved in harness racing going back to the 1950s, and my parents actually met at the racetrack," said the 35-year-old native of Iowa City, Iowa. Despite the fact his parents Royal and Lisa are also involved in the sport, they insisted that Nick get his college degree and he found himself working in the insurance business following his graduation. "I was miserable and after one year I had to come back to the racetrack," he explained. "It was at that point that my sister Tessa and I showed up at that first Running Aces meet with a few horses that we or our family owned." It's been a slow building process for Roland, but he eventually got to the position where he had owners knocking on his door and the ability to expand the stable to the point where he has led the meeting as both a driver and a trainer. "I've been very fortunate to have some great owners over the years and they give me the freedom to do what I want." While Nick normally has raced at Prairie Meadows and the Iowa fairs following the end of the Running Aces meet, this year the decision was made to come out and give Cal Expo a try. "We've got 20 horses and that's just about the right number," Roland explained. "I couldn't do it without my girlfriend Jessica Johnson and my right hand man Terry Kauffman, and so far so good." In addition to piloting his own performers, Nick is looking forward to competing in as many races as possible as a catch driver. That should result in a lot of pictures. Pair of Opens get the marquee treatment An Open Pace headed by Firedrake and a Distaff Open that provides a rematch between Capitol Hill and Lil Miss Knuckles are the main attractions on Saturday night's Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. There will be 10 races decided with first post at 6:10 p.m. Firedrake has been assigned the outside slot among the six pacers set for the fifth race as he seeks a repeat score for owner Set The Pace Racing LLC and driver-trainer Nick Roland. A 4-year-old son of Dragon Again from the Artsplace mare Everything's Easy, Firedrake proved a punctual 4-5 favorite in his Cal Expo debut on opening night. From the difficult No. 10 post position, he was hard used to the early lead before being covered up, then re-rallied in the drive to prevail by a neck over Ragin's Flight in a 1:53 3/5 mile. Set to line up inside him on Saturday are the Kathie Plested-traned pair of Jazzmanian Devil and Ragin's Flight; Almost Cut My Hair from the Bob Johnson barn; and the Richard Remillard reined-and-trained Baylor Out. Lil Miss Knuckles and Capitol Hill get another chance to settle the score in the Filly and Mare Open after finishing one-two in last week's clash at the head of the class in this division. Lil Miss Knuckles posted a 12-1 surprise in that affair for owner Fabiola Quevedo, trainer Edwin Quevedo and pilot William Hernandez, getting the job done by three-quarters of a length over Capitol Hill. The latter is a Badlands Hanover mare who goes about her business for George McCrystal and trainer Kathie Plested and lost a tough one last week after going a first-over journey. Steve Wiseman guides. Capitol Hill departs from the outside post in the field of seven with Lil Miss Knuckles just to her inside. Blue Note, Coastal Treasure, La Madawna De Rosa, Moonshinenmonkeys and Smash round out the field. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

David Siegel got a solid start to the Cal Expo meet last Saturday night while guiding a pair of harness racing pacers into the winner's circle. Native's Revenge, who is co-owned by Siegel and trainer Bob Johnson, got the job done in the third race on opening night card, with Walker Meister posting a $38 surprise in the 12th race with Siegel handling the lines for trainer George Reider. "Bob (Johnson) has had nice success with Native's Revenge here after a challenging campaign at Running Aces," Siegel noted. "He's a classy horse and seems to really like the track. "I was looking for a reliable horse to buy a piece of in Bob's barn to diversity my holdings and Native's Revenge fit the bill. So when he returned to the left coast, I purchased a piece of him and was fortunate that he fit the bottom conditioned class in his first start and returned to his old winning form here." David added that Native's Revenge is being pointed for the Alan Horowitz series, with the opening leg of that event scheduled for Saturday, November 11. A few hours after prevailing with Native's Revenge, Siegel once again got his picture taken after working out a pefect trip with Walker Meister and lighting up the toteboard in the process. "It's somewhat similar in that he had not been racing in great form at Running Aces," Siegel said. "It seems like Walker Meister has fared best here in California. "George approaches the return of his horses with a long-term view, that is six months of racing ahead, and he also wanted to give the barn a nice breather after Aces. So, as expected, most of his horses were a little short last week. "I had a conservative plan for Walker Meister, but when I looked left from the seven hole, there were very few that had that 'leave' look so I jumped out of there along with the horse I thought I had to beat in Hi Ho's Little Rev. "Mooney (Svendsen) did the right thing with that horse and retook. At that point I knew Bobby Johnson's horses were all ready to rock and roll on opening night and I thought I could be good enough to be second. "But Walker Meister kept right up at the half and that's when I thought I just might get there. By the three-quarter pole I had a good feeling I would win and the gelding was solid. "I use Speed Ratings and his 77 was about 10 points up from his recent Running Aces efforts. No doubt he likes the Cal Expo surface and maybe just likes being home. He'll have to step up now, but the way he raced I expect him to be quite competitive." Open Trot, Pick 5 carryover in spotlight A $6,600 Open Trot and a Pick 5 carryover of $4,400 with a $20,000-guaranteed pool head the program Friday night at Cal Expo. The trotters and pacers are now in action on Friday and Saturday evenings under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There will be 10 races on both Friday and Saturday. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent wager which is conducted on the first five races each night and features a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. That low takeout is also offered on the 20-cent Pick 4 that covers the penultimate four races on the card. Looking at the featured Open Trot, racing secretary Robin Schadt has assigned the Luke Plano trained-and-driven Pridecrest the outside post in the cast of seven, with the other six sidewheelers drawing their slots. A 5-year-old son of Angus Hall, Pridecrest carries the hopes of Mark Hinshaw and invades from the Midwest having met some solid company at Hawthorne and Hoosier Park this season. He scored his most recent victory in an Open event on August 26 over a good track at Hawthorne, as he set a stalking journey that evening and ignited in the stretch to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths while rewarding his backers as an 11-1 shot. Taking him on, from the rail out: Agrestores Comet with Chip Lackey; Becky Badger Baby, Nick Roland; Itzaziam, to be handled by Sean Smithpeters; Talkin Tootsie, Mooney Svendsen; and Silverlode with Steve Desomer. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The 2017-2018 Watch and Wager LLC harness meeting at Cal Expo gets under way Saturday night with a pair of Open Pace events headlining the card. First post for the 13-race program is 6:10 p.m. There will be Saturday racing this week and beginning next week there will be Friday and Saturday night action on tap. The seventh race on the card is a $6,600 Open Pace with a full cast of 10 set to face the starter, while a half-dozen fillies and mares are set for the fourth race co-feature. "Fans can look forward to a number of new faces this season," said Cal Expo general manager Chris Schick. "The talented Nick Roland stable is in from the Midwest, and the in the next few weeks we can expect to see Ryan Grundy, Gary Clarke, Richard Remillard and Rene Goulet from Canada. "This new dynamic should provide a highly competitive product with good wagering value." Speaking of Nick Roland, he will be well represented in the co-featured seventh race with Firedrake coming in from Running Aces and Cowboy Mathis shipping in from Hawthorne to represent his shedrow. ******** Saturday's action will include a simulcast of the full Breeders Crown program from Hoosier Park in Indiana. Jenn Bongiorno joins Cal Expo broadcast team Watch and Wager LLC is pleased to announce that Jenn Bongiorno has joined the broadcast team here at Cal Expo. Jenn will team with Hall of Famer Gary Seibel with nightly analysis of the popular Cal Expo Pick-4. She will replace Dave Brower, who has returned to the Meadowlands on a full time basis. Jenn is fourth generation harness racing, as her great uncle was Stanley Dancer and her grandfather was Harold "Sonny" Dancer. After graduating from Monmouth University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, Bongiorno started working at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in New Jersey, where she was marketing coordinator, handling the social media and was also a member of the on-air talent. After five and a half-years, Jenn left the Meadowlands this April as she began to own more horses. "I felt I was more focused on them and wanted to take a more hands on approach with them. I received my trainers license in June and have a stable of 15 horses that my brother and I run together. I race primarily at Yonkers Raceway. "I'm absolutely loving being a trainer. It's more work than I ever could have imagined, but every morning when I walk into the barn, I feel a sense of passion and love that I've never felt. I said after winning my first race, I never felt that level of gratification before. "The TV portion of my job definitely became my favorite part at the Meadowlands and is something I truly miss, which is why when Watch and Wager presented me with this opportunity, I absolutely could not turn it down!" "I'm so looking forward to following Cal-Expo racing and giving the fans my handicapping opinions. Harness racing is such a great sport and through TV, I've gotten to interact with so many fans via social media and look forward to doing the same with the Cal-Expo fan base." "We were so impressed with Jenn's work at the Meadowlands" said Chris Schick, General Manager of Cal Expo harness. "Her knowledge and passion for our sport is very evident. We also want to publicly thank Dave Brower, and wish him well on his return home to the Meadowlands. Dave has agreed to make appearances to keep the California fans up to date on trends at the Meadowlands." By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness    

Watch and Wager, operator of Cal Expo Harness Racing, is pleased to announce that Jenn Bongiorno will join the broadcast team beginning opening night October 28th. Jenn will team with Hall of Famer Gary Siebel with nightly analysis of the popular Cal Expo Pick-4. She will replace Dave Brower, who has returned to the Meadowlands on a full time basis. Jenn is fourth generation harness racing, as her great uncle was Stanley Dancer and her grandfather was Harold "Sonny" Dancer. After graduating from Monmouth University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, Bongiorno started working at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in New Jersey, where she was marketing coordinator, handling the social media and was also a member of the on-air talent. After three and a half years, Jenn left the Meadowlands this April as she began to own more horses. "I felt I was more focused on them and wanted to take a more hands on approach with them. I received my trainers license in June and have a stable of 15 horses that my brother and I run together. I race primarily at Yonkers Raceway. "I am absolutely loving being a trainer. It's more work than I ever could have imagined, but every morning when I walk into the barn, I feel a sense of passion and love that I've never felt. I said after winning my first race, I never felt that level of gratification before. "The TV portion of my job definitely became my favorite part at the Meadowlands and is something I truly miss, which is why when Watch and Wager presented me with this opportunity, I absolutely could not turn it down! "I'm so looking forward to following Cal-Expo racing and giving the fans my handicapping opinions. Harness racing is such a great sport and through TV, I've gotten to interact with so many fans via social media and look forward to doing the same with the Cal-Expo fan base." " We were so impressed with Jenn's work at the Meadowlands" said Chris Schick General Manager of Cal Expo harness. " Her knowledge and passion for our sport is very evident. " We also want to publicly thank Dave Brower, and wish him well on his return home to the Meadowlands. Dave has agreed to make appearances to keep the California fans up to date on trends at the Meadowlands". Cal Expo is set to open its 54 night stand on Saturday October 28th. By Mark Ratzky, publicity, Cal Expo Harness

Watch and Wager LLC is readying for their sixth season as operator of Cal Expo Harness Racing with the barn area set to open on Thursday, September 14. The jog track will open the following day, while the main track at Cal Expo is set to open on September 25. Qualifiers will be held on Saturday, October 21, with opening night of the meeting set for Saturday, October 28. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Watch and Wager LLC harness racing at Cal Expo is proud to announce that the $20,000-guaranteed Alan Horowitz Memorial for pacers has been added to the stakes schedule at the upcoming meeting that is scheduled to begin on Saturday, October 28. The series named for the man who was a major force in California harness racing over the last several decades and a member of the California Harness Horsemen's Association Hall of Fame.Alan Horowitz passed away in April at the age of 73. The eliminations for the Horowitz will be held on Saturday, November 11 with a $5,000 purse, with a $20,000-guaranteed purse for the finale on the following Saturday evening. The series is a starter allowance for horses and geldings that have started for a base price of $5,000 or less since August 15 of this year and have not won for a base claiming price exceeding $8,000 since that date. Also eligible will be fillies and mares who have started for a base claiming price of $6,000 or less since August 15 of this year and have not won for a base claiming price of $10,000 since that date. The top 10 money earners from the eliminations will qualify for the final. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The harness racing Pick-5 went unsolved last Saturday night leaving a carryover for Friday of $10,100. Watch and Wager in conjunction with the USTA Strategic Wagering program have guaranteed the total Pick-5 pool at $40,000. The Cal Expo Pick-5 is a $0.50 base wager, with a 16% takeout, and is contested over the first five races. First leg post time is 6:15 pacific. Free program pages are available courtesy of Trackmaster. 

Harness racing trainer Kennedy Lindsey compares his 5-year-old trotting mare Kickinitwithkohler to a locomotive when saying, "She doesn't have any gate speed, but she just keeps on building and building up as the races goes on and then comes at the end." The Illinois-bred daughter of Southwind Breeze races for Tonight's The Night and has been under Lindsey's care since he purchased her two years ago. She's earned over $40,000 in the interim and will be doing her work for the second straight time in the Open ranks on Friday at Cal Expo while racing against a familiar rival in Silverlode. "She's got a big heart," Lindsey related. "Let's just say her heart is bigger than her talent at this point. But don't get me wrong, if she ever learned to trot straight, she'd really be something." With James Kennedy at the controls, Kickinitwithkohler recorded back-to-back conditioned scores in February, on both occasions coming from well back to win going away. She is coming off a pair of thirds at the head of the class versus the aforementioned Silverlode and in between those two miles was the runner-up behind Lodi Dorian Blues in a solid March 3 contest. "If they go quick early, you know she's going to be pretty far back," her mentor noted. "But you also know she's going to be coming at the end." Open Trot brings out streaking Silverlode Silverlode, who has rattled off four straight wins at the head of the class with the last pair coming from the demanding No. 10 slot, once again has that assigned post as she heads the cast for Friday night's featured Open Trot. Watch and Wager LLC will present a 12-race program with a first post of 6:15 p.m. The headliner will go as the third event on the evening. There will also be a California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds to be decided as a non-betting race prior to the regular card. Silverlode is an 8-year-old homebred daughter of British Sterling out of the Website mare Charlotte's Web who is owned by Desomer Stables Inc, trained by Vickie Desomer and will have Luke Plano handling the lines. Silverlode comes into this assignment with $155,000 in earnings and a 1:55 1/5 mark that was established over this track last season. She is undefeated this year with Plano handling the lines on each of those occasions. The Desomer colorbearer left into a pocket journey in the January 13 Open and overpowered favored arch-rival Flameon that evening. She has been odds-on in her last three outings without that foe in the line-up and has not disappointed her many backers. Silverlode looped the field to prevail by four and a half-lengths on February 11, then captured the February 24 Open while doing her work from this assigned No. 10 post position in game fashion. She changed tactics last week and made every pole a winning one, putting her versatility on display from the tough slot. Completing the cast are Agrestores Comet with Mooney Svendsen; Fort Valley As, David Siegel; Kickinitwithkohler, James Kennedy; and Lodi Dorian Blues, who will have the services of Steve Wiseman. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

We had a suspicion that Junior Rocks might be named for trainer Jim (Junior) Wilkinson, and it was confirmed last weekend by co-owner Billie Schwartz after the 4-year-old pacer made his second straight trip to the harness racing winner's circle with James Kennedy doing the honors at Cal Expo. Junior Rocks was proving a punctual 4-5 favorite that night while posing for pictures for the fifth time this season from eight trips to the post for Schwartz, Wilkinson and Ivan Axelrod. Billie explained, "Ivan and I felt that Junior did such a bang up job in Indiana for us with A Real Miracle, Clara Bea and Tony Cheesecake, we thought it would be a great way to honor him by changing the name of a yearling we purchased at auction as a surprise gift. "It was a way to let him know how we felt about him as a trainer and how much we liked having him as a trainer and partner." Schwartz admits that things didn't work out so well at first with Junior Rocks, but he seems to be hitting his best stride now, establishing his 1:55 1/5 mark with his January 28 score. "We felt badly when he didn't quite perform the way we expected, but now the name befits him," she said. "He grew into it and we couldn't be more pleased." Featured Pace brings out contentious cast There are several ways to go in Saturday night's main event at Cal Expo, with class droppers I'm An Athlete, Fly Away and One And Only taking on multiple Sire Stakes hero Allmyx'sliventexas. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races on Saturday and the action is set to get under way at 6:10 pm. The headliner is the fifth race and there will be two California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacers going as non-betting races prior to the regular card. I'm An Athlete figures to appreciate the class relief this weekend and will be looking to make amends after being the beaten favorite in his last three appearances. The 7-year-old son of Art Major is owned by Ronald Rettig-Zucchi and is reined and trained by James Kennedy. I'm Athlete won nine times last year from 35 starts and established his 1:51 2/5 career standard over this layout in the process. He figures to be a major player Saturday evening no matter how things shake out early. Fly Away had a troubled trip in last week's Open II clash and was a sharp winner in his previous outing on the barn change. Scott Ehrlich and George McCrystal own, Kathleen Plested trains and Steve Wiseman will once again do the honors from the outside slot. One And Only has gone some huge races over this track in the past for trainer Lino Pacheco, while the Bob Johnson-conditioned Allmyx'sliventexas has dominated the 4-year-old Sire Stakes ranks, including a 1:51 4/5 tally over a "good" track on February 4. Completing the field are Fly Away's barnmate Lodi Machete Man; the Luke Plano trained-and-driven Mint To Cruise; and the Steve Nichols-trained, William Hernandez-guided Fire On The Water. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The long-fused harness racing trotter Lodi Dorian Blues continued his every other race a winner pattern last week, doing the track-and-attack to perfection to score going away with Steve Wiseman in the sulky at Cal Expo. The 8-year-old California-bred son of New Age Hanover goes about his business for Scott Ehrlich and George McCrystal with Kathleen Plested the conditioner and Lodi Dorian Blues was shaving a full second off his lifetime mark with the 1:56 1/5 clocking. "I've owned horses since 1988," said McCrystal. "From the very first time I started playing the races, I always liked closers, especially trotters that could close. He caught my eye early on because he always seemed to try hard. "Since my association with Steve and Kathie, I've had a lot of success. When looking for a trotter, this little guy seemed to fit the bill. "I've owned faster horses, but in the 29 years I've been an owner, I've never had one that tries as hard as he does every time he gets to race. Because of that, he's my favorite horse." As for Wiseman, who has been at the controls for two of Lodi Darian Blues' last four victories, he notes the trotter is a workmanlike individual with the right attitude. "He's an honest little horse who gives his all on the track He's a pleasure to be around and great in the barn." Can the Ehrlich/McCrystal colorbearer make it two straight trips to the charmed enclosure? Stay tuned. Barbarian eyes encore in Open Pace Barbarian, fresh from a coast-to-coast score at the head of the class, looks to keep the momentum going in Friday night's featured $6,600 Open Pace. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 5.55 p.m. The feature will go as the eighth race and there will also be a non-betting California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters decided before the regular program. A 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Ideal mare Righteous Renee, Barbarian is owned by Robert Orr, takes his lessons from Sparky Clarke and will be handled by Luke Plano. Plano climbed behind the pacer for the first time two weeks ago and it proved to be a great combination. Sent off as the 7-2 third choice, Barbarian zipped right to the front and rattled off modest fractions of :28 3/5 and :57 4/5 without pressure before picking up the pace. The Orr colorbeared turned things on in the stretch, motoring away by four and a half-lengths over Why Ask Why while stopping the timer in 1:52 4/5 that evening. He set his lifetime mark of 1:51 3/5 as a 3-year-old. Why Ask Why has been knocking on the door with runner-up efforts in the last two dances at the head of the class for the pacers. The 7-year-old son of No Pan Intended races for Windy City Farm and is reined and trained by Chip Lackey, with his most recent victory coming in an Open II event here on January 21 as the 6-5 choice. Completing the field are Jazzmanian Devil, Doc's Deal, Bettermeboy, China King, Pancetta and McFoolery, with Barbarian leaving from the outside slot in the field of eight. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Harness racing driver Luke Plano was posing for pictures after both Opens at Cal Expo last week, guiding Barbarian to victory in the Open Pace for Sparky Clarke and prevailing in the Open Trot with Silverlode for Team Desomer. Barbarian went coast-to-coast in the Open Pace as the 7-2 third choice, leaving his nearest rival four and a quarter lengths in his wake while polishing off a 1:52 4/5 mile. "It was actually the first time I've ever driven him," Luke related. "Sparky told me he was a Cadillac, which you hear quite a bit when you're a catch driver, but in this case it was true because he has great manners. "He left it up to me as far as strategy is concerned and he was push button away from there and just cruising up front. They gave him a lot of respect and he came home great." Silverlode was capturing her third straight Open Trot, this time doing her work from the demanding No. 10 post position. It didn't matter, as she sat last early, made a steady move to the leaders by the half and got the job done by a length to go over the $150,000 mark for Steve and Vickie Desomer. "She was real relaxed behind the gate and I saw a couple of them being aggressive, so I just let her drift back at the start," Plano explained. "The previous mile she had raced so strong from behind, it gave me a lot of confidence. "She was coming from what would seem to be an impossible start, bit I actually think the slower fractions helped her because she was able to advance quickly when I swung her out and she even picked up a little unexpected cover on the turn. She's a real nice mare." Pair of Sire Stakes atop the marquee A pair of California Sire Stakes for 4-year-olds headline the Saturday night Cal Expo card, with Allyx'sliventexas getting top billing into the male division and Kissed The Boys seeking another added-money score in the distaff end. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and the action gets under way at 6:15 p.m. The Sire Stakes will go as the first and third races on the evening. Allymyx'sliventexas is strictly the one to beat in the Sire Stakes for the boys. The homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel's and the Distinguishedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun races for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson and the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen in the sulky. In the first stakes dance of the year on February 4, Allymx'sliventexas was sent off the 1-9 favorite and looked every bit the part, as he romped home by 11 lengths over stablemate Mathachusetts while lowering his lifetime mark to 1:51 4/5 in the process. Taking him on this weekend are stablemate Mathachusetts; Midnight Adventure from the Gordie Graham barn; the Edwin Quevado-trained West For Gold; and Rock Of Ages from the Sal Wensceslao shedrow. Looking at the Sire Stakes for the mares, Kissed The Boys is a converted trotter who is owned and bred by Desomer Stables with Vickie Desomer training and husband Steve handling the lines. A stakes winner on the trot, Kissed The Boys made her first start as a pacer in the February 4 Sire Stakes and got the job done, albeit with some trouble behind her in the stretch. Set to line up against her Saturday are Plain Awesome, Be My Lucky Lady, Little Emma and Feeling Fancy Free. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Cal Expo harness racing driver Mooney Svendsen is currently piloting the leaders of both the 3 and 4-year-old Sire Stakes male pacing divisions in Allmyx'sliventexas and Army Of One. Both are homebred sons of Hi Ho Silverheel's who compete for Wayne and Rod Knittel and take their lessons from Bob Johnson. Allmyx'sliventexas is coming off one of the most sizzling races of the meeting, winning the first stakes of the season for his division by 11 lengths in a sparkling 1:51 4/5 front-end performance. "Bob and I felt he was sitting on a big race, because he'd been racing from off the pace and coming an amazing last three-quarters," Svendsen explained. "Even that with, I was surprised at the mile he went. "Usually when I let him roll he relaxes perfectly and I can drive him with two fingers, but that night he was like a rocket. He grabbed that bit and I did all I could just to hold on. He was unbelievable." Army Of One has accounted for both of the Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old colts, scoring an easy victory in the first and then just holding on by a head in the most recent big-money clash last week after carving out all the fractions. "He's got a lot of potential, and might turn to be as good as Allmyx'sliventexas," Mooney related. "He's only had five races and his problem is he's still pretty green. Featured Trot brings out well-matched field A conditioned Trot headed by Kickinitwithkohler, Big Baller and Lodi Dorian Blues gets the marquee treatment on Friday night at Cal Expo. First post for the Watch and Wager LLC program is 6:15 p.m. The main event will go as the sixth race, and there will also be a non-betting California Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old trotters to be decided prior to the regular card. Kickinwithkohler is a 5-year-old daughter of Southwind Breeze and the Go Get Lost mare Shove-off who races for Tonight's The Knight, is trained by Kennedy Lindsey and will have the services of James Kennedy. The hard-knocking mare rattled off back-to-back conditioned victories on February 10 and 18, using a strong closing kick to get the job done, then stepped up to the Open for last week's assignment. While not match for heavily-favored Silverlode and runner-up My Little Susie, Kickinitwithkohler did put in a solid rally for the show money that night and looms a major player in Friday's line-up. Big Baller is a 10-year-old son of Panama Hanover who goes about his business for the partnership of Siegel, Robinson, Thronson and Reider with George Reider the conditioner and David Sigel at the controls. Big Baller recorded his most recent tally on January 14, parlaying a pocket trip into a length and three-quarters decision. He subsequently finished fourth in the Gary Budahn Final and fifth in last week's Open and should appreciate the class relief for this assignment. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness    

Window Wiper turned in a solid effort in her first start for Robin Clements and David Siegel, checking in a close third in the harness racing Filly and Mare Open after sitting a tracking journey. The 7-year-old daughter of Island Fantasy was claimed from her prior effort here and co-owners Clements and Siegel are looking forward to some good things with their new acquisition. "I had watched Window Wiper when she had been in the $6,000 claimers earlier and raced against Windsun T Bird and almost claimed her a month ago," trainer Clements related. "I loved how she was so versatile and could leave a first quarter and how she had a huge kick coming home. "I had previously lost a few horses either claimed or sold, and needed to replace them. I had talked to Dave and asked if he wanted to partner up with me as he is a great owner and we had just sold Every Day Hanover and Brandon's Colt had been claimed earlier from us. Dave loved the mare as well, so we claimed her." Window Wiper finished third the night she was red-tagged as the 3-2 favorite after having some traffic troubles, then followed with the nice try at the Open level in her initial try for the new connections. "She has a few issues and is a bull of a mare and needs to learn a few manners, but that will come in time. She is a big and beautiful mare and should fit well with my barn." Silverlode gets top billing in Open Trot Silverlode has been assigned the demanding No. 10 post position as she heads the cast for Friday night's featured $6,600 Open Trot. Silverlode is going in razor-sharp form for Steve and Vickie Desomer, and it will be interesting to see how driver Luke Plano navigates the extremely outside slot as the mare looks to continue her winning ways. Thirteen races will be presented by Watch and Wager LLC with a first post of 5:55 p.m. and there will also be a California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters going as a non-betting event prior to the regular card. Looking at the co-featured Open III Pace, Sandestin Hanover gets the nod. The 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere is owned by Little Bapa LLC, is conditioned by George Reider and like Silverlode will be guided by Plano. A 1:50 2/5 winner at a 4-year-old. Sandestin Hanover had one victory last season, a 1:52 4/5 score that was recorded at Philadelphia Park. He closed out his 2016 campaign by making his California debut in an Open II contest at this meeting on December 3, where he was no factor. The Little Bapa representative subsequently turned in a sharp qualifier on February 4 to get his new year rolling, then followed that tuner by finishing fifth at the Open level while chasing home China King in a tough February 10 contest. Ideal Art comes into this assignment having captured two of his last three outings and may very well handle the step up in class. The American Ideal gelding is owned by Kathleen Plested, Benvenga Racing LLC and Tyler Wiseman with Plested training and Steve Wiseman handling the lines. Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness        

Barbarian, who lost a tough one last week after carving out all the fractions, looks to seal the deal this time around in Saturday evening's harness racing featured $6.600 Open Pace. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event will go as the eighth event on the program. Barbarian is a 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Ideal mare Righteous Renee who is owned by Robert Orr, is conditioned by Sparky Clarke and will have Tony Succarotte giving directions from the No. 6 post in the field of seven. The hard-hitting performer won five of his 19 starts last season, including a lifetime-best 1:52 performance at Vernon Downs and an Open II score here on December 3 to close out that campaign. Barbarian suited up in last week's meeting at the head of the class and was sent off as the 3-1 second choice. He went a big mile on the front end, eventually giving way to China King by a half-length in that affair. I'm An Athlete and One And Only both had difficult assignments leaving from the 10 and 9 posts, respectively, in that race and loom large in Saturday's headliner. I'm An Athlete captured the January 13 Open for owner Ronald Retttig-Zucchi and driver/trainer James Kennedy and has to be respected. One And Only races for Richard Morita and David Yamada with Lino Pacheco training and Luke Plano in the sulky and is very dangerous with his top effort. Completing the field are Why Ask Why, Lodi Machete Man, Manhattan Benny and Jazzmanian Devil. Manhattan Benny getting warm greeting Manhattan Benny is the new face in Saturday night's Open Pace, as the 7-year-old makes his California debut for A Piece Of The Action LLC, trainer George Reider and pilot Davie Siegel in the feature. Manhattan Benny has posed for pictures following 13 of his 96 starts with a 1:51 mark that was established over a sloppy track last year at Pocono Downs. He is making his first evening appearance since early November and romped home by a dozen in a qualifier last week with Siegel sitting chilly in the sulky. He'll be getting a pretty nice test in his seasonal debut with some sharp customers in Jazzmanian Devil, I'm An Athlete and One And Only among those who will be greeting him at the starting gate. You can only get so tight after one qualifier, but on paper Manhattan Benny certainly fits with Saturday night's crew and it will be interesting to see how the Reider trainee does fresh off the bench. *** A reminder that there are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, giving players the chance to get some real value. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races of the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which covers the penultimate four contests on the program. Last Saturday night's Pick 5 returned a healthy $1,138 for each correct 50-cent investment, enriched nicely by that reduced takeout. Jump right in, the pool is fine. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness    

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