Day At The Track

Kennedy sets sights on driving milestone

12:21 PM 12 Feb 2016 NZDT
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James Kennedy
James Kennedy
Crystal View Photography

James Kennedy, who is quickly approaching driving victory No. 1,000, will attempt to get closer to that plateau on Saturday when he guides the up-and-coming Midnight Adventure in Saturday night's California Sire Stakes for harness racing pacing colts.

Kennedy comes into the program with 991 trips to the charmed enclosure, and three of those scores have come with Midnight Adventure, who carries the banner of his breeders Mark Anderson and Debra McCarthy and calls the Gordie Graham barn his home.

"He's got a lot of talent, for sure," Kennedy related when asked about the pacer. "He was still a little green in that second start, making a break when I tried to get him into a hole and he got upset, but now he's pretty much push-button."

Midnight Adventure has won his last two starts impressively, including the Lonnie Beck Series final, on both occasions engaging in heated stretch exchanges with Allmyx'sliveintexas. "They've had a couple of real good battles," the pilot noted.

As for being on the verge of 1,000 victories, James admits he never could have dreamed of such a thing when he first started driving. "I don't know if you remember, but I went something like 0-for-165 before I got my first win. It was a horse named Watch Me Dream for my dad."

Despite that less-than-stellar start, Kennedy has established himself as one of the top drivers and trainers on the grounds, currently housing nine performers in his shedrow. Among that group is I'm An Athlete for Ronald Rettig-Zucchi, who has rattled off three straight Open victories.

"I enjoy getting behind my horses, and went I don't have one in a race, I like driving for other people. If I could, I'd love to be in every race every night."

Pair of Sire Stakes matching sophomore pacers

Two $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacers highlight the Saturday night card at Cal Expo, with Midnight Adventure and Allmyx'sliventexas heading the colt division, while Little Emma looms large in the filly contest. A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:25 p.m.

Midnight Adventure is homebred son of Kent's On Nuke out of Kb's Midnight who races for Mark Anderson and Debra McCarthy, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will once again have James Kennedy in the sulky.

The dark-hued performer earned his graduation papers in his January 9 debut, then lost all chance in his next start in the opening leg of the Lonnie Beck Series after making a break.

Midnight Adventure has been all business in his last two appearances, however, with a game victory in the Beck finale followed by a lifetime-best 1:55 1/5 score in a conditioned event last weekend.

Allmyx'sliventexas is a Wayne and Rod Knittel homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel's who takes his lessons from Bob John and will have Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. He romped in the Lonnie Beck opening leg and has been Midnight Adventure's most immediate victim in the Beck final and that conditioned contest last week.

Rounding out the cast are Rock Of Ages with Luke Plano; Mathachusetts, to be guided by Steve Wiseman; and One More Chance, who has the services of Chip Lackey.

Looking at the filly division, Little Emma is coming off a solid come-from-behind score in her third trip to the post. The Little Steven homebred races for Thomas, Haness and Reider with George Reider training and David Siegel at the helm. Sassy Catitude, Plain Awsome and Moonstone Beach complete the field.

By Mark Ratzky

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