Day At The Track

Ponda's Prospect heads Cal Expo feature

12:28 PM 10 Jan 2021 NZDT
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Luke Plano
Luke Plano

An Open II Pace that finds Ponda's Prospect well positioned to earn his first victory at this harness racing meet and an Open II Trot headed by Mandeville, Flameon and Major Al-Mar get the marquee treatment Sunday evening at Cal Expo.

Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with first post at 4:50 p.m. The pacing feature goes as the fourth race, while the trotting headliner is the sixth event on the card.

Ponda's Prospect has been knocking on the door in his last three appearances and should be putting in a strong late move with this group. Luke Plano trains and drives the 7-year-old Shadyshark Hanover gelding, who has a 1:51 lifetime standard that was established at Hawthorne.

He has had the misfortune of lining up against the red-hot Allmyx'sliventexas in all four of his appearances at this stand, coming away with a second and two thirds, with the runner-up finish coming in the December 11 Dave Goldschmidt Pace over a sloppy track.

Looking at the co-featured trot, Mandeville is will appreciate Silverhill Volo being absent as he makes his third start at the meet since coming in from Kentucky. The 9-year-old is owned, reined and trained by Gerry Longo and set his 1:54 lifetime mark this summer at Running Aces.

Major Al-Mar scored back-to-back victories here last month before checking in fourth last week in the Open behind Silverhill Volo. Amy Fichtner and Vikki Pfeilsticker own, Richard Bertrand trains and Cordarious Stewart has the return assignment.

Flameon was runner-up behind Silverhill Volo in last week's clash at the top rung, his third straight exacta completion. The 11-year-old Angus Hall gelding competes for Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will have Jacob Cutting at the helm.

A pocket rocket is powerful

Shakespeare wrote, "The play's the thing", but if he was a harness driver instead of the greatest author of all time, he would have changed that to, "The trip's the thing."

That was certainly the case with Bertha Vanation in last week's Filly and Mare Open, as Nick Roland worked out a perfect two-hole journey from an inside post with the pacing distaffer and she was up by a nose over Brighten Your Life for the $52 surprise.

Taking nothing away from the winner, it was Brighten Your Life and Tony Succarotte who did all the heavy lifting in that mile and suffered the toughest of beats.

Brighten Your Life is an 8-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture who is owned by Tyler Gunderson and Jenna Cornelison and is conditioned by Cornelison. She has $163,000 in the bank and her 1:53 1/5 mark was established here last season.

Cornelison is a Sacramento native who got her original education in the sport while working with Gene Vallandingham. "Gene had a pacer named Run Baby Run who I got as a riding horse and in 2005 I ended up going to work with him here at Cal Expo," Jenna related. "In 2007 I went back East with Pete Foley and spent four years at Pocono."

Cornelison was out of the game for a brief period, but returned in 2012 and eventually came back to California to once again work at the Vallandingham barn.

"I just love coming out here each morning and having those heads sticking out and waiting for me. The real satisfaction comes after putting in all that work, sometimes in the cold and rain, and then watching them go out there and give everything they have in a race. It's very rewarding."

By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

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