Day At The Track

El Azteca favorite in Stan Bergstein Final

12:26 PM 28 Feb 2015 NZDT
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James Kennedy, harness racing
James Kennedy will drive El Azteca
Crystal View Photo

Kennedy loving position with El Azteca

After being saddled with the demanding No. 10 position in recent weeks, El Azteca does his work from the 4 slot in Sundays featured Stan Bergstein Trot

That sits just right with his regular chauffeur James Kennedy, who has established himself as one of the top drivers at Cal Expo and has formed a fine partnership with this outstanding trotter at this meeting.

Despite having that 10 post handicap in his last three appearances, James has guided the Marco Rios colorbearer to two wins and a nose loss, making him look awfully tough over this weekends level playing field.

Having the 10 hole is very tough, because you have so much extra ground to cover, Kennedy said. The drivers watch you at the start, and if you leave they try to torture you, and if you take back they do their best to slow it up.

James no doubt realizes this because he has certainly had occasion to be on the other side of the equation, driving a horse who leaves from the inside with a horse or even two being assigned far outside draws.

This is definitely the best trotter Ive ever driven and I want to thank Marco for giving me the chance with him at the start of the meeting, Kennedy continued. He tried to make a couple of breaks earlier on, but hes been perfect since and a real pleasure to drive. Hes a Cadillac out there.

The bettors are likely to make El Azteca a solid favorite once again in the Bergstein and his driver shares that confidence. I wouldnt trade places with anybody, even if he we had the 10 post.

Stan Bergstein Trot brings out El Azteca

The $10,000 Stan Bergstein Trot, which will feature El Azteca, Its Not Over and A Crown For Lindy, headlines Sunday nights Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo.

There will be 12 races and first post is 4:55 p.m. The Bergstein goes as the fifth event and there will also be a pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes that will be decided as non-betting events prior to the regular card.

El Azteca is strictly the one to beat in the Bergstein for owner/breeder/trainer Marco Rios and pilot James Kennedy. He comes into this assignment with $141,000 in his bank account and a 1:54 2/5 mark that was set last season over the seven-eights Hoosier Park oval.

The 6-year-old son of Panama Hanover won his first four starts this season, with two of those victories coming from the assigned No. 10 post position, then came up a nose shy at most recent asking while again doing his work from the demanding slot.

El Azteca has proven that he can get the job done up front, from a tracking position or from the back of the pack and without the handicap of that 10 post on Sunday, is certainly the one to fear most with Kennedy back in the bike.

Taking him on are Brussel Sprout from the Ray Burt shedrow; the Luke Plano-trained Winsom Kelly; Flight Of The Kiwi from the Marc Winacott barn; the Bob Johnson-conditioned Its Not Over and A Crown For Lindy, who takes his lessons from Gene Vallandingham.

A reminder there are four wagers offered each night that come with a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the Jackpot 6 and Hi-5, which are 10-cent minimum bets; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool.

by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

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