Time off between races didn't stop Frankyluvsmeatbals from getting back on the winning track. Open Handicap harness racing pacers, racing for a purse of $6,100, were in the Saturday night (April 3) spotlight at Cal-Expo, on which Frankyluvsmeatbals won for the 21st time in his career.
Before starting from his assigned post-five in the field of the same number, was trainer Rick Plano concerned that his charge hadn't raced since March 13?
"You're always in question when you're off three weeks, then race once, then you're off three weeks again," stated Plano. "But he trained back good this past Wednesday (March 31) and I was thinking he was the best."
Coming away last while Leave It To Sam (John Chappell), Split Ticket (James Kennedy) and Biggest Big Bertha (Luke Plano) left as expected, Plano didn't wait long to move.
"It didn't matter who got to the top - - but once whoever got it - - I was going to head to the front."
On the move after 3-16ths of a mile into a :28.2 first-quarter, the five year-old cleared to the front at the three-eighths mile pole where it then "appeared" Plano tapped the brakes, or did he?
"Actually, he slowed down himself and relaxed to the half."
Reaching the halfway point, timed in :57.1, Plano soon asked his gelding to pick it up when he popped the earplugs with just less than 7-16ths of a mile to go.
"I just wanted to let him go because he was getting lazy which was probably because he hadn't raced in a while. When I popped the earplugs - - he took off."
Pacing smartly through a :27.3 third-quarter and now leading by 2-3/4-lengths at the three-quarter mile station, timed in 1:24.4, Plano knew it was all over but the shouting.
"He was just coasting from there."
Bearing out two-wide at the head of the lane, but now leading by three-lengths, Plano had an answer as to why his pacer drifted out.
"I think he just wasn't paying attention because he didn't hear anybody."
Now leading by four-lengths at the seven-eighths mile marker, Plano made sure his charge remained focused.
"I urged him once at the sixteenth pole to keep his attention and he coasted in the stretch like I thought."
Owned by Maryann Plano, Frankyluvsmeatbals won ($3.40) in a no doubter by 3-3/4-lengths, in 1:53.2. An unused Machine Maker (Steve Wiseman) rallied nicely to pick up the pieces for the place honors, and Leave It To Sam finished another three-lengths farther back, in third.
"It was a good race for him and hopefully they use this race next week," concluded Plano. For the veteran, the driving triumph was one of five scores on the night, giving him nine over the last two cards. Plano's son, Luke, recorded four driving wins on the card, also giving him nine victories over the Friday & Saturday cards.
Live racing resumes at Cal-Expo on Thursday (April 8) and continues through Saturday (April 11). Post-times are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (PDT). On Thursday night, Cal-Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00.