Day At The Track

Top trotters, pacers clash at Cal Expo

06:22 AM 06 Feb 2021 NZDT
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Luke Plano, harness racing
Luke Plano will be driving Ponda's Prospect
Dee Leftwich photo

Ponda's Prospect, fresh from a smashing coast-to-coast score at the top rung, and the classy Allmyx'sliventexas get another chance to settle the score in Saturday night's co-featured $7,200 Open Pace at Cal Expo Harness.

The outstanding program will also see track record holder Pridecrest and Silverhill Volo squaring off the in the $7,400 Open Trot, while Velocity McSweets set her sights on a third straight victory in the $7,200 Filly and Mare Open Pace.

A 7-year-old son of Shadyshank Hanover, Ponda's Prospect Dandy Farms Racing, Kouchis and Leonard with Luke Plano reining and training.

Nick Roland has been in the sulky for the last two outings for the Plano trainee, crushing a softer group two weeks ago as the odds-on choice and then coming back last time to put a similar beat on the best pacers on the grounds.

Sent off the 3-1 second choice in that affair, Ponda's Prospect took immediate control of the contest, carved out the fractions without challenge and came home in :27 2/5 to seal the deal in a 1:52 2/5 tour that saw him prevailing by four and a half lengths.

Allmyx'sliventexas will be gunning for some revenge after suffering his first loss in six appearances at this meeting while being parked the mile from his outside post and paying the price in the lane.

The 8-year-old Hi Ho Silverheel's homebred carries the banner of Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Jacob Cutting will handle the lines from the outside post in the field of seven.

Allmyx'sliventexas kicked off this meet with five straight trips to the winner's circle, including a clear-cut victory in the December 11 Dave Goldschmidt Pace. In three of those scores, he was leaving from the demanding No. 10 post position.

Cordarius Stewart frequent visitor to circle

Cordarius Stewart is one of the new names on the program here and has made a nice impression with his drives, including back-to-back victories behind Velocity McSweets at the head of the filly and mare pacing ranks.

The 26-year-old explained that he actually drove his first winner at the tender age of 13 at the fair tracks in his native Mississippi.

"You could say I was born into the sport through my father," Stewart related. "There was a point where I would go to school and then head to the track to train and drive my horses."

Cordarius eventually worked his way to Chicago when he was 19, recording his first recognized win when he guided Chili Beach to victory at Balmoral Park. "I'll never forget that night, because it was 5 degrees."

Stewart was actually away from the sport from 2013 until 2017, when he returned to action on the Illinois circuit. He was competing at Hawthorne this winter when racing secretary Robin Schadt suggested he give California a try.

"I made the trip out here in my car not knowing what to expect, but it's worked out pretty well so far and I plan to stay through the end of the meet and then go back to Hawthorne, which opens in early May."

Stewart has been teaming extremely well with the classy mare Velocity McSweets, who has roared from behind to account for the last two Distaff Opens. "If you look, you'll see I actually win most of my races from the off the pace, so I love driving this mare."

by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness



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