A solid group of pacers ranging from a pair of 3-year-olds to the 9-year-old Ivegotwhatuneed will do battle in Saturday night's (November 3) $5,000 feature. It will go as the third event on a 13-strong harness racing program.
This is opening weekend of the inaugural Watch and Wager LLC harness meet at Cal Expo. It will run through May 11, with Friday and Saturday programs until December 22, then three nights a week for the remainder of the session on a Thursday-through-Saturday basis. The exception will be a special Wednesday, December 26, card with no racing the following evening.
Handicappers are faced with an interesting challenge in the main event. The aforementioned Ivegotwhatuneed and Whipped Dream have been rested since the spring, Zander Massimo is making his first appearance in 14 months while the other three entrants have been competing in the East and have the edge with recent racing.
Ivegotwhatuneed and Zander Massimo are by far the leaders in the bankroll department, with the former coming into this assignment just shy of the $300,000 plateau while Zander Massimo has $140,000 in his account.
Interestingly, Ivegotwhatuneed has more starts than his five rivals combined with 196 trips to the post, resulting in 37 wins, 38 seconds and 32 thirds and a 1:52 career standard that was established here three years ago. He carries the banner of trainer Bob Johnson and Marty Garey and Mooney Svendsen will be in his usual spot in the sulky behind the son of Givemewhatineed.
Zander Massimo is making his first start since early September of last year, but sports a 1:50 2/5 mark that was set at Chester and has a pair of qualifiers under his belt for trainer Dario Solares. The Clint Lugar colorbearer will be handled by Luke Plano and will be tough if he’s ready to fire his best shot off the bench.
Completing the field are Doc’s Zippy from the George Anthrop barn; The Liberio Pacheco-trained Pancetta; Sensationalist, who gives Dario Solares two looks at the outcome; and the Junior Wilkinson-conditioned Whipped Dreams.
RITE AFTER DISBEER IS GEARING UP FOR STAKES
Saturday’s eighth race is designed for the trotting set and Rite After Disbeer figures to have his share of backers in the contest for trainer Kennedy Lindsey.
Mary Harris’ 3-year-old New Age Hanover homebred may have had a late start to his career, not getting to the races until this past March, but he certainly made up for lost time by making a clean sweep of the four Sire Stakes races for his division between April 14 and May 26.
He added another victory in open company before going to the sidelines at the end of the last meeting in June and got a nice tightener in a qualifier last weekend with Chip Lackey handling the lines.
“He didn’t make it to the races at 2 because of some injuries, but he came around quickly when he finally got the chance,” Lindsey noted. “The goal right now is obviously to get him up to top speed when the Sire Stakes start up again at the end of the month. So far, so good.”
Among Right After Disbeer’s rivals on Saturday is Loose Cannon, who had the distinction of being runner-up to the Harris colorbearer in all four of those Sire Stakes victories. Also suiting up is El Azteca, the 2-year-old champion for owner/breeder/driver/trainer Marco Rios, who himself made a clean sweep of the big-money races for this group last season.
There will be a 50 cent Pick 5 beginning with the third race, a $1 Pick 4 with a guaranteed gross pool of $25,000 starting on the ninth race and a 10 cent Super High 5 conducted on the finale. All of these wagers feature a reduced 16 percent takeout rate and will have carryovers if there is no winning ticket.
by Mark RATZKY