A Stitch In Time has won 13 of his 19 starts, with a growing number of harness racing stakes trophies on the mantle, but his runner-up finish in last week’s Open Pace impressed pilot Lemoyne "Mooney" Svendsen as much as any of those victories.
The 4-year-old homebred son of Kent’s On Nuke, who carries the banner of Mark Anderson and hails from the Gordie Graham barn, flew home for Svendsen in last week’s assignment but came up short of catching the free-wheeling front end favorite One And Only that evening.
“That was as a good a race as he’s ever gone for me,” Svendsen related. “He came that final quarter in :26 2/5 and he would have definitely won if we would come first over and not had a roadblock ahead of us.
“This is one of the best horses I’ve driven since I’ve come out here and an amazing California-bred. I knew he was something special right off the bat, when he broke his maiden at Running Aces last year in 1:54 and absolutely flew by everybody once I pulled him out.”
A Stitch In Time has rattled off four straight Sire Stakes victories since the middle of November, proving clearly best on each occasion as the prohibitive favorite. “He just stands out with that group,” Mooney noted. “You can pretty much do anything you want with him. I just want to make sure I don’t make any mistakes and he’s going to do the rest.
“You have to remember that he’s only just turned 4 and is lightly raced, so his best races figures to be still ahead of him. He’s a real nice one to have and it should be a lot of fun down the road.”
Open Trot, Distaff Pace, Sire Stakes set
An Open Trot that pits El Azteca versus a strong Bob Johnson pair; an Open Distaff Pace and a trio of $10,000 California Sire Stakes are the featured attractions on Friday night’s Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo.
First post for the 14-race program is 5:20 p.m. The Open Trot will go as the third; the Distaff Open occupies the fourth-race slot; the Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing fillies is set as the eighth and the other two Sire Stakes will be decided as non-betting events prior to the regular card.
Freedombird looks for another trophy and headlines the 4-year-old trotting stakes, while Snuff N Beer eyes an encore in the 3-year-old trotting contest. Looking at the sophomore pacing fillies Sire Stakes, De Valeria edged out odds-on J’s Littlerockstar in the first added-money clash for the division two weeks ago.
De Valeria is daughter of Little Steven and the Cr Fandango Fella mare Princess Kiara who is owned by Eugene Afentoulis and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. She sat a stalking trip in that first stakes gathering, rallied second over to the lane and overpowered the pace-setting J’s Littlerockstar.
The latter is another by Little Steven and she is owned, trained, driven and was bred by James Kennedy. She carved out all the fractions in that event two weeks ago as the 3-5 chalk, dug in late but could not quite hold off the winner’s rally. She was a sharp 1:57 4/5 victress on January 3 to earn her maiden diploma.
Looking at the Open Trot, El Azteca is a 5-year-old son of Panama Hanover and the Jonathan Lobell mare Jonathan’s Girl who made a very impressive 2014 debut in the most recent gathering for the head of the class. Marco Rios owns, trains and bred the performer and Luke Plano will handle the lines.
Sent off the 3-2 favorite in the most recent Open Trot despite the fact that he was making his first start since June at Hoosier Park, El Azteca was a solid first-over victor and had a length and three quarters advantage at the wire. A multiple Sire Stakes winner here in California, he is working his way to the $100,000 earnings plateau and sports a 1:55 mark.
by Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness