Shelby County and Rocky Stidham repeat

11:17 AM 05 May 2012 NZST
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Courtesy Of Cal-Expo at California State Fair

The signal she sent at the three-quarters wasn't a positive one, but when Shelby County got a scent of pay-dirt, she knew what to do. Harness racing winners-over trotters, racing for an increased purse (25% raise) of $5,600, were featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (May 4), on which Shelby County showed her spunk.

Before starting from her assigned post-six in the field of six, was trainer Rocky Stidham worried about his charge being off two weeks?

"No, I felt that she was sharp enough because she had trained good," stated Stidham.

In regards to how the race might shape up, Stidham wasn't sure what to expect.

"I honestly thought there was enough speed in this race that it could get crazy in the beginning. So for my horse and the other horse I train, Putoneonnetformom (James Kennedy), the plan was when the gate opened to feel your horse out - - see what happens and make your decision as to whether you're leaving or not. I did feel my chances were good if the first-quarter worked okay for me."

Leaving softly to come away fifth and gapping a harmless two-lengths to the 3-16ths pole into a :30 opening quarter, the five year-old closed the gap past the 5-16ths mile marker, then was on the move at the three-eighths mile station and moving pretty quickly - - which she needed to be doing.

“Putoneonnetformom was moving very quickly in front of me, so I knew I had to move quickly also because if I didn't get there (lead) quickly enough, James would have trouble letting me go because Putoneonnetformom is strong."

Making the front well past the half-mile juncture, timed in 1:00.4, did Stidham use his mare?

"I did actually - - I used her good for an eighth of a mile and it concerned me a little."

On top by a three-quarters of one-length, but being gained on at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:30.2, Stidham had a couple of reasons to be pessimistic.

"She didn't feel as strong at the three-quarters as she sometimes does, plus I thought Winsom Kelly (Luke Plano), who was all but next to me, had some trot - - so I was concerned."

Under urging past the three-quarters and drawing clear by one-length with less than 3-16ths of a mile to go, Stidham soon had more company with an eighth of a mile to go with Putoneonnetformom coming up the inside and Dudis Angel (Lemoyne Svendsen) gaining on the outside, yet now was being sent a positive message.

"I felt a little more confident at that point because Winsom Kelly had made a break, plus at the seven-eighths I could tell my horse could smell the finish-line and I knew at that point it would take a strong finisher to get by her because when she gets that close and they haven't gotten to her throatlatch yet, she digs hard and that’s what she did."

Not to be denied while under a drive, the Ben Kenney bred & owned trotter won ($7.40) by three-quarters of one-length. Putoneonnetformom finished in second, and Dudis Angel finished a head farther back, in third.

"It was a great race and I was very happy with her and Putoneonnetformom as well because he was second and had been off three weeks," concluded Stidham.

Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (May 5) at 6:00 p.m. (PDT). On Saturday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while Hotdogs, Fries & Sodas are offered at $2 apiece.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s. Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool. Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at Twinspires.com, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

by Scott EHRLICH

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