She had issues behind the gate in her last two, but with Shelby County minding her manners, there'd be no catching her. Winners-Over trotters, racing for a purse of $4,500, were featured at Cal Expo on a harness racing summerlike Friday night (April 20), on which Shelby County made every pole a winning one.
Before starting from her assigned post-four in a field reduced to that number as a result of a scratch, trainer Rocky Stidham, despite being the favorite, knew what his first priority was.
"My thoughts were to try and get her away trotting because she had made breaks in her last two behind the gate," stated Stidham. "If she did stay trotting, then I thought my chances were good."
With the gate now rolling, Shelby County sent her pilot a good message.
"Once she got set in behind the gate - - she was solid. And as the gate picked up speed, she kept up with it. So I knew she wanted to leave out of there and that she was okay."
Leaving and getting the lead just as the field entered the first-turn, Stidham soon realized the energy of his pupil needed to be under a bit of control.
"Heading to the quarter I thought I might be getting there a little quick. And even though :29.1 was okay, being a four-horse race, I needed to slow down the second-quarter."
Trotting an easy and unpressured second-quarter of :29.4, Stidham soon realized that things weren't as they appeared.
"I was trying to back her down a little, but when the half mile time came up in :59, I said, 'wow, she's good because she's covering the ground effortlessly.' However, with Giles L S Hanover (Steve Wiseman) on your back, that's always a worry because he's a good horse that is getting a perfect trip."
With the field now headed toward the final-turn, Stidham rested his whip on the hind-quarters of his five year-old, then gave her a little body urge past the five-eighths mile station.
"That was just me trying to tell her that it's time to start getting ready to gear up."
Reaching the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:29.2, Stidham still had the pocket sitting Giles L S Hanover to be concerned with.
"At that point I figured it was going to be a drag race. I just hoped that I would come out on top."
Getting one urge just into the lane with Giles L S Hanover out for the drive, Shelby County soon drew clear.
"At the seven-eighths when she scooted away, I was extremely happy because that told me she was back in 100 percent form. For the rest of the way, it was the few seconds of being able to enjoy the moment."
Hardly urged while the issue was never in doubt, the Ben Kenney bred & owned mare reported home a winner ($4.20) by 1-3/4 lengths, in 1:58.1. Giles L S Hanover finished in second, and Broadway Victory (John Mc Keon Jr.) finished 1-1/4 lengths farther back, in third.
"Because she got back on track, it was a very important race for positive momentum and things to come," finished Stidham.
Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (April 21) 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