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Franks Best hasn't been around forever, it just seems that way. The 12-year-old son of Armbro Scribe got his first snapshot of the season in last weekend's Open III Trot with Mooney Svendsen at the controls for owner/trainer/breeder Bob Johnson. "There's no question, he's one of my all-time favorites," said Johnson. "He just loves to go out there and race." For the record, Franks Best was making his 256th harness racing trip to the post and has now recorded 48 wins, 47 seconds and 37 thirds while putting $280,475 in his bank account. He recorded his 1:55 4/5 lifetime mark three years ago. Franks Best, who has a number of Sire Stakes trophies on his mantle, was cut out to be a nice performer. His sire won 40 of his 226 starts while earning $433,000, while his dam Inside Edition was a top racemare who captured 22 of her 69 starts before going to the breeding shed. Meanwhile, Bob Johnson is set to celebrate his 76th birthday in April and continues to send out a steady stream of winners. He was second in the trainer standings here last year and is currently third in the race at this meet. Johnson comes into this week having sent out 15,683 starters and 2,574 have come back to greet him in the charmed enclosure, including those 47 wins by Franks Best. Both are looking to add to their impressive totals in the near future. Eastender gets top billing in main event Eastender, third behind the hard-knocking pair of I'm An Athlete and Pancetta at most recent asking, lands a cozy spot in Friday night's conditioned pacing feature at Cal Expo. A 12-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post is 6:10 p.m. and there will also be three California Sire Stakes going as non-betting events prior to the regular program. An 8-year-old son of Cheyenne Rei, Eastender is owned by Maryann Plano and Nikki Hudson with Luke Plano reigning and training. He will be looking for his second win on the year from seven trips to the post. The bay gelding recorded that victory as the odds-on choice in a January 19 contest and is coming off a second and a third in his last two tries. While no match for the top pair in that last tour after making a first-over bid, he should be very much at home in Friday's line-up. Taking him on are One And Only, Justabitcrazy, Last Dragon, Laissez Moi Passer, Contemporary Legend, China King, Prodigal and Wet Shark. Looking ahead to Saturday's outstanding card, there will be a pair of Open events, the Shelly Goudreau Final and the Joe Lighthill Trot. Both Opens look like very contentious events, while Urgointohearmeroar looms an overwhelming favorite in the Goudreau Final and the Lighthill should prove to be a very interesting contest with the trotters going an extended mile and one-half journey. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Last week saw Franky Provolone getting the job done and going over the $200,000 earnings plateau in the process, putting a big smiile on the face of owner/trainer Robin Clements. The 9-year-old trotting son of Armbro Scribe had come up wanting in his previous few starts, but was all business last weekend as he did the track-and-attack to perfection for Steve Wiseman and posted a two and three-quarter lengths decision over favored pacesetter Bellini Martini. "Steve had driven Franky the week before and commented that he didn't seem that good, even behind the gate," Clements related. "We actually had a spot reserved for him on Steve's van for Minnesota, but after that race we both agreed that maybe Franky needed to skip Minnesota and take the summer off." As a result, Robin decided to train Franky Provolone a little harder than she normally would and felt fortunate that Wiseman was available to once again handle the veteran trotter last weekend. "He asked me if he should duck Franky off the gate and I stated laughing," Clements explained. "I asked if him if I had ever told him how to drive this horse, and he answered no." Steve and Robin did figure that the rail mare Tour Guide was going to leave away from there as she normally does, leaving Franky Provolone in a good tracking position if he left a bit from his No. 6 post. It worked out nicely. "Steve always gets along with Franky and drove him perfect the other night, and even though he won and looked like his old self, he's still going to get the summer off and will go down to my friend Jennifer Sperry's farm in Patterson." Knittel homebreds head sophomore Sire Stakes The combination of owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and driver Mooney Svendsen will attempt to continue their domination of the 3-year-old pacing Sire Stakes ranks on Saturday night with Allmyx'sliventexas and Moonstone Beach. A 12-race card is scheduled with first post set for 6:25 p.m. The $10,000 Sire Stakes for colts will go as the fifth event on the evening, while the $10,000 contest for fillies will be a non-betting affair prior to the regular card. Allmyx'sliventexas is a son of Hi Ho Silverheel's out of the Distinguishedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun who has won six of 10 starts, including victories in the opening leg of the Lonnie Beck Series and all five Sire Stakes decided for the division. The bay performer was 10 cents on the dollar when this group suited up most recently two weeks ago and did not disappoint his many backers. Racing over a sloppy track, he went right to the front for Svendsen and reported to the wire with five and a half-lengths to spare. Taking him on are Rock of Ages with Mike Jarvis; One More Chance, Luke Plano; Mathachusetts with Steve Wiseman; and Midnight Adventure, who has the services of James Kennedy. Like her stablemate, Moonstone Beach has captured all five stakes trophies for the sophomore distaffers. This Knittel homebred is by Crisis Situation out of the Beach Towel mare Bj's Beach Fire and is gunning for her seventh win from eight trips to the post. In the last stakes clash two weeks ago, Moonstone Beach romped home by five and three-quarter lengths for Svendsen over the sloppy going. Plain Awesome and Little Emma will once again face her on Saturday. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

There was a very popular exacta here last weekend, in more ways than one, when fan favorites Franky Provolone and Franks Best crossed the line in that order to the delight of the harness racing chalkplayers. Both are newly-turned 9-year-old sons of Armbro Scribe who are known for making more than share of winners circle appearances around these parts and as a result are very popular with the fans. Franky Provolone is the pride and joy of owner/trainer Robin Clements and with his victory under Luke Planos direction he pushed his career bank account to just shy of $193,000. He set his mark of 1:55 4/5 in 2014 during one of his Running Aces invasions. Meanhile, Franks Best is a multiple Sire Stakes hero who is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson and had regular pilot Mooney Svendsen at the controls for his runner-up effort. He has $232,000 in the bank and a 1:56 2/5 career standard. The win by Franky Provolone was especially sweet for Clements, as the trotters heart went into atrilia fibrillation this summer in Minnesota, which in laymans terms means he had an erratic heartbeat. This was his fifth start on the comeback trail and his first trip to the winners circle, as Plano guided him to a perfect second-over trip behind Franks Best and then overpowered that rival for the length and a quarter score as the 1-2 favorite. As is usually the case, Franks Best was game in defeat as he did the heavy lifting in first-over for fashion under main man Svendsen and certainly didnt give up without a fight in what turned out be a very entertaining mile. Jessesjo gets top billing in featured Trot Jessesjo, who has been chasing home El Azteca and stablemate Flameon at the top level of late, gets some class relief and looms the one to beat in Sunday nights $4,400 Open III Trot. A 12-race card is on tap and things get underway at 4:55 p.m. The co-feature on the evening is a $4,400 Open III Pace that brings out the likes of BBs Harley, Quality Sport and Bettormeboy. Getting back to the Trot, Jessesjo is a 9-year-old son of Jailhouse Jesse who is owned by Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will as usual have the services of Chip Lackey while leaving from the outside post in the field of five. Jessesjo recorded back-to-back victories here on November 29 and December 5, on both occasions making every pole a winning one with Lackey at the controls. Since those scores, he has turned in a pair of third-place finishes behind El Azteca and Flameon at the Open I level and lost his chance on December 20 with an early break. Its Not Over was fourth in last weeks top dance for the trotting set and will also appreciate getting away from the two big guns of the division. The son of Panama Hanover carries the banner of trainer Bob Johnson and Ed Actkinson and Mooney Svendsen has the return assignment from the No. 3 slot. Completing the field are Northern Stormont for driver/trainer Steve Wiseman; Big Baller, who takes his lessons from George Reider and will be guided by David Siegel; and the Lino Pacheco-trained Windsun Galaxie, who leaves from the rail with James Kennedy in the sulky. In the co-featured Pace, BBs Harley, Bettormeboy and Quality Sport were assigned the outside slots and figure to play tough after knocking heads with tougher competition through much of this meeting. Im An Athlete, Willey Bite and Stable Eyes round out the cast. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo

Franks Best surprised a few people with his victory at 12-1 in last weekends featured trot, and that included his owner/trainer Bob Johnson. Johnson not only owns and trains the 8-year-old son of Armbro Scribe, but he bred the multiple stakes winner who boosted his earnings to the $230,000 plateau while getting the job done with regular pilot Mooney Svendsen. He was named for my wifes father and hes definitely one of my all-time favorites, said Johnson. The two things that make him so tough are that hes about 95 percent sound and he just loves to race. Franks Best spent the summer at Running Aces, then finished second in a qualifier here before going in the Open III Handicap Trot, where he was assigned the outside slot in the field of eight. He was facing some tough trotters up in Minnesota, because after you win a race you have to jump into the Open, Johnson explained. He got a nice tightener in the qualifier, but I was wondering why he was assigned the outside post for the race. I guess the racing secretary knew something. It was no surprise when Svendsen took the trotter back to last from that marooned post and things didnt look too promising at the head of the stretch, but Franks Best looked like his old self as he exploded late to win going away by three-quarters of a length while posting the $26 upset. I was just hoping he would get a check, especially with the outside draw, but he had other ideas, Johnson noted. Mooney said after the race he acts like hes happy to be back in California. Windsun T Bird heads Annette Funicello Final The $7,100 Annette Funicello Pacing Series final featuring Windsun T Bird gets top billing Saturday night at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo. A 14-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. Beginning next week, the schedule will expand to Saturday and Sunday racing through December 27, while January will find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Windsun T Bird loves an overwhelming favorite in the Annette Funicello, which goes as the 8th race on the card. An 8-year-old daughter of Astreos, she is owned by Brandon Bragg and is trained and driven by Luke Plano. Windsun T Bird has banked $218,000 in her career and sports a lifetime standard of 1:52 4/5 that was established two years ago. She has been an impressive winner of both her starts at this meet for Plano, including last weeks opening leg of the Funicello where she was sent off the 1-5 favorite and rallied from far back to prevail by two lengths. Pismo Beach completed the exacta that night while coming from last and has to be respected for the strong team of owner/trainer Bob Johnson and driver Mooney Svendsen. The Hi Ho Silverheels mare sports a 1:53 3/5 mark and has several solid races over this layout on her resume. Becky B Skipalong handled an easier group here on opening week and turned in a good try last time to be third with this group. The Kc C Carvalho colorbearer gives the Plano barn two solid looks at the outcome with David Siegel handling the lines. Completing the field, from the rail out: Blue Note with Tony Succarotte; Majestic Lass and Michael Minnella; Ms Solongbybye for Frank Petrelli; Janet Rose, who will have the services of Williams Hernandez; Windy City Paige, Pat Galbraith; and Moon Is On Fire with James Kennedy. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

COLUMBUS, MN. - Franky Provolone (Steve Wiseman) earned the opportunity to say "Cheese" in the Running Aces winner's circle for the third time in the first four weeks of the current summer harness racing meet. The eight-year-old gelding captured the $8000 Open Trot on Sunday (June 28) night, overtaking frontrunning Silence Son (Nick Roland) with a closing :28.3 quarter at the end of a 1:56.3 mile. El Azteca (Rick Magee) recovered from an early break in stride to finish third. This is the third consecutive year that Franky Provolone has fared well at Running Aces, winning multiple open class events with regularity since 2014. The son of Armbro Scribe is owned by Robin Clements of California and trained while in Minnesota by Steve Wiseman. Wiseman had a driving-training triple on the 11-race program, also winning with claimers Asgoodasioncewas and Wild About Eagle from his own stable. Becky Badger Baby (Nick Roland) also won for the third time in four tries thus far at Running Aces this season. The diminutive three-year-old filly copped a $6600 'Class A' trot for the best state-sired sophomore trotters in 1:59.2. She is seeking to defend her freshman season Minnesota State Championship for owners Royal and Barbara Roland in partnership with Dale Hein. Go See Lo Go (Wiseman) and The Wire (Dean Magee) got the place and show dough respectively. Quickest mile of the night was put in by Acting Captain, who captured a $3000 condition race in 1:54.2 for owner Sharon Dalke, trainer Rick Lake and driver David Lake. The five-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere gave the Lake Stable, relocated recently to Minnesota for the first time this summer, their initial Running Aces win. Veteran driver Lemoyne 'Moonie' Svendsen crafted a driving double on the Sunday card, winning with a pair of Bob Johnson trainees. Someislandsomwhere triumphed in 1:55.3 in a $4000 condition race for distaff pacers; while Dream Roll was victorious in a $3000 mares event in 1:55.1. Both mares are owned by Little Bapa, LLC of California. For Svendsen, the wins were particularly gratifying as his daughter Kaitlyn Knox Svendsen was able to join him in the winner's circle pictures for the first time since her kidney transplant just four weeks ago. Gregg Keidel

When Lino Pacheco saw Real Attitude surface in a Cal Expo $3,000 claimer last month, he dipped in and took the pacer for client Ronald Rettig-Zucchi, and the result has been three trips to the harness racing winners circle from four appearances in the new barn. Real Attitude is a 12-year-old son of Real Artist with over $400,000 on his card and a 1:51 1/5 mark, and he continues to do good work under Pachecos direction. Last weeks score came with $5,000 company and he proved a punctual favorite in a 1:54 1/5 tour with Tim Maier at the controls. I like the older horses with back class, Lino related when asked about the claim. I was very happy when I got him back to the barn after the claim and hes been very game in his races. After two impressive scores right off the bat under his new banner, including a first-over 1:53 2/5 tally on March 29, Real Attitude stepped up to face Open II rivals on April 4 and couldnt match strides with a red-hot Hoboken Hanover that evening. Wheeled back in a more realistic spot for his most recent assignment, the veteran pacer did the track-and-attack to perfection for Maier, prevailing by a neck to give his new owner and trainer another snapshot. We decided to take a chance and move him up for that Open II race, but it was a little too much for him, Pacheco said. When we brought him back for $5,000 last time, he was very game. Thats why I like these older class horses. This week finds the Rettig-Zucchi colorbearer suiting up for Saturday nights sixth race with David Siegel in the sulky. Can he add another score for the Pacheco shedrow? Stay tuned. Sharp pacers, trotters clash in co-features An Open II Trot headed by Franky Provolone and Winsom Kelly and an Open II Pace featuring Toucan Sam and Bettormeboy are among the highlights on Saturday evenings Cal Expo program. There will be nine races with first post on Saturday nights now being 6:55 p.m. Through the end of the meet on May 3, purses have been increased by 10 percent across the board. Franky Provolone figures to get plenty of respect in the featured trot for owner Robin Clements, trainer Vickie Desomer and pilot Steve Wiseman. He comes into this assignment with $163,000 in his bank account and a 1:55 4/5 mark that was established last season at Running Aces. The 8-year-old son of Armbro Scribe, recorded his first victory on the year back on February 28, had to be happy with minor awards in his next three appearances, then returned to the charmed enclosure last weekend. The Clements colorbearer made every pole a winning one in that affair with Tim Maier giving directions. Winsom Kelly was third in that contest as the 9-5 choice and will be looking for some revenge for the combination of owners Nikki Hudson and Kc Ccarvalho and driver/trainer Luke Plano. The veteran was a sharp winner at this level on March 21 in a rail-skimming performance. Toucam Sam will be stepping up to the Open II level after registering a powerful 1:52 4/5 upset last weekend with conditioned rivals under Luke Planos guidance. The 12-year-old is owned and trained by Patricia Minnella and is now at the $600,000 earnings plateau with a sizzling 1:49 2/5 career standard. Bettormeboy is coming off a third-place finish in last weeks Open I Pace and should hit very hard with this group. Richard Morita and Davida Yamada own the 5-year-old with Lino Pachecho doing the training. He recorded his most recent score under these conditions on March 7. By Mark Ratzky

Saturday night will find a $62,206 carryover in the 10-cent harness racing Jackpot 6 at Cal Expo, which means one lucky person could walk away with an awfully sweet payoff. The Jackpot 6 is one of four wagers on the program that come with a reduced 16% takeout rate. The others are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet; the 50-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, which has a $25,000-guaranteed pool. Taking a closer look at the Jackpot 6, the wager finds 70% of the net pool paying out to tickets with the most winners, with 30% of the net pool designated for the carryover. If there is one unique ticket selecting six winners, the entire pool and the carryover is paid to the holder of that ticket. If that should happen Saturday night, they would receive the entire net pool and a $62,206 bonus. With the 10-cent minimum, putting together healthy-sized tickets without spending a lot of money makes the Jackpot 6 even more attractive. Jump right in, the pool is going to be fine. ********* The trotters and pacer will be in action on Saturday and Sunday this week, as well as next week on March 28 and 29. The first week of April will find one week of Friday and Saturday night racing, April 3 and 4, with no racing on Easter Sunday. The schedule will revert back to Saturday and Sunday beginning with the second week in April. Franky Provolone, Fort Valley As head feature Franky Provolone and Fort Valley As, who chased home division kingpins El Azteca and Its Not Over last week, get the top billing in Saturday nights featured Open II Trot at Cal Expo. A 13-race program is on tap Saturday evening under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and first post is set for 6:10 p.m. The main event will go as the third race on the card. Franky Provolone is an 8-year-old son of Armbro Scribe out of the Donerail mare Simply Royal who is owned by Robin Clements, is conditioned by Vickie Desomer and will have Tim Maier at the controls. The hard-hitting sidewheeler comes into this assignment with $160,000 in earnings and a 1:55 4/5 career standard that was established last season at Running Aces. Franky Provolone suits up this weekend off three straight strong efforts and is a real nice fit under these conditions. The Clements colorbearer picked up his first snapshot of the year when he took the measure of a conditioned group on February 28, then came back the following week with a solid runner-up finish at this Open II level. Up to the top rank for his most recent try, Franky Provolone was a good third behind the two big trotters on the grounds. Fort Valley As looms large in this field after finishing fourth in that El Azteca affair last week in what was his first start since November. The 7-year-old Tom Ridge offspring races for Jennifer Sabot and trainer Gene Vallandingham. An earner of nearly $490,000, Fort Valley As has a 1:55 career standard and figures to take a nice step forward off last weeks fourth-place finish. No matter how things shake out early, he should be right in the thick of it with that last mile under his belt. Completing the field are Franks Best, Winsom Kelly, Jimmy Shin and Vari Forgetful. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness        

Franky Provolone is still looking for his first victory of the year, but hes certainly knocking on the door after turning in a solid second to the classy Franks Best last weekend. The 8-year-old trotting son of Armbro Scribe is the pride and joy of Robin Clements, having made many winners circle appearances while carrying her banner. Franky Provolones current bankroll stands at over $155,000 and he set his lifetime mark of 1:55 4/5 last summer Running Aces. Its been kind of a drought with Franky since he came back from Minnesota, Robin said. I gave him a month off after Running Aces and kind of pushed him back a bit too early to have him ready, especially when he had to race against powerhouses like El Azteca and Its Not Over. Clements feels following those horses home on a constant basis may have had an impact on his game. I think mentally it took a toll on him. Ive been trying to freshen him up and get back the drive that he always had. Hes actually a timid horse and not the best eater, so I have to feed him like hes at a buffet with a little of this and a little of that. He does love apple time, though, especially when Kathy Plested pops over and they have apple time together. As mentioned earlier, Franky Provolone is coming off a good runner-up effort to another 8-year-old Armbro Scribe offspring in Franks Best, who has a lot of class and $200,000-plus in his bank account. Im trying to build his confidence back up, Robin noted. Hes getting lots of extra outside pen time and well just go from there. It shouldnt be long before Franky Provolone is getting the cheese again around here. Mini-Series final, Jackpot 6 carryover spotlighted A Mini-Series finale headed by Im Fasterthanu and Keystone Shaye and a $41,689 Jackpot 6 carryover headline the Friday evening Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. First post for the 10-race card is 6:40 p.m. and the Jackpot 6 is one of four wagers on the program that feature a reduced 16% takeout rate. The other wagers with the lower takeout rate are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $20,000-guaranteed pool on Friday and $25,000-guaranteed pool on Saturday and Sunday. The Jackpot 6 wager finds 70% of the net pool paying out to tickets with the most winners and 30% of the net pool designated for the carryover. If there is one unique ticket selecting six winners, the entire net pool and the carryover is paid to the holder of the ticket. If that should happen Friday night, they would receive the entire net pool and a cool $41,689 bonus. Looking at Fridays main event, Imfasterthanu and Keystone Shaye figure to get plenty of tote attention after proving punctual favorites in their respective divisions last week. Edwin Quevado conditions Imfasterthanu, while Keystone Shaye hails from the Patricia Minnella barn. ****** This week will find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, Feb 20-22. By Mark Ratzky  

Fridays main event is an Open 2 Trot that finds Hellogottagobuhbye and Franks Best escaping the top ranks and getting away from the streaking El Azteca, who has rattled off six straight victories. Hellogottagobuhbye is a 6-year-old son of Dream Vacation who is owned and driven by Daniel Maier with Tim Maier the conditoner. He has won three of his nine trips to the post this season, including a victory in the opening leg of the Jim Grundy Series on March 1, and has been second and third behind El Azteca in his last two appearances in the Open Handicap. Franks Best comes into this assignment with some impressive credentials, as the multiple stakes-winning Armbro Scribe gelding has banked over $190,000 for his owner/breeder/trainer Bob Johnson with a 1:56 2/5 lifetime standard. Mooney Svendsen will once again be in the sulky. While Franks Best is still looking for his first snapshot on the year, he has four runner-up finishes from his seven attempts and like Hellogottagobuhbye will appreciate getting away from El Azteca. He figures to play the role of stalker behind his main rival in Fridays headliner. $25,000 guaranteed Pick 5 Friday There is a Pick 5 carryover of $9,145 going into Friday nights program with the wager sporting a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool and a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent wager and begins on the third race. There are three wagers on the card that offer the 16 percent takeout. In addition to the Pick 5, there is the 20-cent Pick 4 that has a $20,000-guaranteed pool on Fridays and a $25,000 guarantee on Saturdays and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the nightcap. Friday nights carryover is the result of favorites blanking in last Saturday evenings Pick 5. While the opening event in that sequence was a two-horse race between the winner King Of The Crop and arch-rival Rikybrunthegaragdwn, 14-1 upsets by Scooter Babe and Fox Valley Wyatt and victories by 7-2 Try This and 3-1 Me Tarzan sealed the deal. Dream Weaver, George Reider join forces with winner Wanna Win did the track-and-attack to perfection last weekend, getting the cheese for the combination of owner Dave (Dream) Weaver of TVG fame, trainer George Reider and pilot James Kennedy. Wanna Win posed for pictures nine times last season, including a lifetime-best 1:52 4/5 clocking over the mile and a quarter Colonial Downs oval in Virginia. Her win last week was her second in her last four trips to the post here for Team Weaver and Reider. I met the Dave through our mutual friend Wade Miller, Reider explained. He told me that Dave was looking to relocate a few horses from Northfield Park to Cal Expo and asked me if I was interested. After a few phone calls the partnership was made. I have two mares for him right now, and when they got off the truck from Ohio they both had their problems. Racing on a half-mile track with sub freezing temperatures will do that, but both horses have adapted to California quite well. Wanna Win, a 6-year-old daughter of No Pan Intented, sat a pocket trip when she clicked on February 22 with Luke Plano in the bike, then came from next-to-last with a :27 3/5 quarter to romp home at most recent asking with Kennedy handling the lines. This is a mare who hits her knees like a lot of standardbreds, some doing it more than others, George continued. Shes in the latter category, and.with the bigger track, the shoeing change and the different equipment with some slight adjustments, she's responded quite well. Weaver, who is known for his ice cold exactas on TVG, has always been a big booster of the trotters and pacers. Dave is not your typical horse owner, Reider said. Hes very knowledgeable about situations that arise on the track..I just wish that we could race down in Los Angeles, so he could actually see his horses race live. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                                                                                                                                      

Two divisions of the opening leg of the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting Series and an Open Trot featuring stablemates Franks Best and Inside Broadway get the marquee treatment Friday night at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo. A 14-race card is on tap with first post set for 5:55 p.m. The action continues Saturday evening with the finale of the Bob Gordon Pacing Series and a filly/mare Invitational Pace holding the spotlight. Franks Best and Inside Broadway are not only both owned, bred and trained by Bob Johnson, but are half-brothers as they are out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition. Franks Best is a 6-year-old by Armbro Scribe, while Inside Broadway is a 4-year-old with Broadway Hall being the sire. Franks Best comes into this assignment with $184,000 in his bank account and a 1:56 2/5 mark that was established at Running Aces last year. He has posed for snapshots following three of his last five appearances at this meet, romping home by five and a half-lengths at most recent asking with regular pilot Mooney Svendsen. Inside Broadway had his win streak snapped last time when asked to do his work from the demanding No. 10 post position. He had rattled off three straight impressive victories coming into that mile with James Kennedy at the controls, including a dead-heat with his half-brother in the November 29 Invitational. Axle is looking to make amends after finishing second as the 3-5 favorite in that last clash at the head of the division. The 4-year-old son of Hard Rock is conditioned by George Reider, who also co-owns with driver Dave Siegel, Bob Thronson and Greg Robinson. He has a victory and two runner-up finishes from his last three trips to the post here. Looking at the two divisions of the Budahn, High Dollar comes into the series having posed for pictures following three of his last four starts for owner Kent Fox and driver/trainer Tim Maier. Silverlode is also a nice fit under these conditions with a race under the belt for Vickie and Steve Desomer. BEGINNING THIS WEEK, THE PICK 4 GUARANTEE HAS BEEN RAISED TO $20,000 ON FRIDAYS AND $25,000 ON SATURDAYS. Just Plum Lucky sports caring connections While Just Plum Lucky has been a little too comfortable with the minor placings over the last couple of seasons, with 20 runner-up finishes to go with her seven victories, Richard and Marlene Thomas homebred comes to play each and every week and does sport two snapshots at the meeting. Trained by George Reider and handled by the 20-year-old phenom Tyler Smith in her last two appearances, the dark-hued daughter of Power Of Art was unable to match strides with Lust in the lane but did keep to her task to complete the exacta as the public choice at most recent asking. Shes a gem consistency, but she is the bridesmaid an awful lot, Reider said. If l was going to have a family horse, she fits the bill. Rick to Marlene really like her, and it shows since they lost the horse once and claimed her back.. She definitely has her share of problems, but my assistant trainer Kim Hines knows her like a book it and really takes care of her and we love having her in the barn. Reider was around during the Western Harness Racing days at Hollywood Park and like many people is saddened by the closing of that track, even though they havent had the trotters and pacers there for decades. I have so many memories, George said. I got the chance to watch Niatross and I was really impressed by Direct Scooter. Steve Desomer also had a little trotter named Dante Jay who was so much fun to watch week in and week out. Watching Shelly Goudreau drive was something, and hearing Robin Burns call those races was really special. There was so much excitement in the stands with the big crowds and movie stars, and thats the way I like to remember Hollywood Park. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness  

Not only did Bob Johnson own, train and breed last weeks Invitational Trot dead-heat winners Franks Best and Inside Broadway, but these two top performers are half-brothers as they are out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition. They square off again Friday night. Inside Edition was an Open mare with a 1:57 2/5 mark at 4, but she developed an ankle infection which ended her career, Johnson related. She was retired at the Desomer Farm and bred to Armbro Scribe. The resulting foal was Franks Best, who was an absolute terror in Sire Stakes competition in his younger days and has continued his winning ways under Johnsons direction. He suits up Friday evening with $181,000 in his account and a 1:56 2/5 mark that was set last season over the Running Aces oval. Inside Edition was eventually sent back to Pennsylvania, and thats where she was bred to Broadway Hall two years later, Bob said. Inside Broadway won a few stakes in Pennsylvania and took his mark of 1:55 3/5. Both trotters competed this summer in Indiana and have been putting on a pretty good show for barn bragging rights through the first couple of months of this meeting. That last race was a real thrill, Johnson explained. To have these two horses dead-heat in an Invitational is a great feeling, especially having bred for both of them. Three bet specials each night A reminder that are there are three bets offered each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4 and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the nightcap. To give you a better idea what this means in terms of dollars, the three payoffs on the November 15 card were $5,973 for the Pick 5; the Pick 4 clocked in at $1,954 and the Hi-Five returned $1,422. Using normal takeout rates, the Pick 5 would have dropped to $5,332 for a difference of $641 to each winner; the Pick 4 would have paid $1,744, meaning each ticket would have been worth $210 less; and the Hi-Five would have come in at $1,269, a difference of $153 for each winning combination. Sire Stakes, Invitational Trot get marquee treatment A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies matching Show Runner and Strings and an Invitational Trot featuring last weeks dead-heating half-brothers Franks Best and Inside Broadway headline the Friday night action at Cal Expo. Show Runner is a daughter of Little Steven out of the Tylers Mark mare Peace Runner who is owned by Denise Maier and Eileen Brodbar with Tim Maier reining and training. She comes into this assignment with 16 wins from her 30 starts on the season, $88,000 in earnings and a 1:52 3/5 mark that was set this season at Running Aces. The bay miss has rattled off three straight impressive victories at this meet. She waltzed home by nearly four lengths in the Open on November 15; proved a punctual 1-2 choice in the most recent Sire Stakes clash two weeks ago and then absolutely crushed her rivals at the most recent asking in the Louis GG Perego Memorial under Maiers direction. Strings was second to Show Runner in that last stakes clash and once again looms the main rival for owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and pilot Mooney Svendsen. The Hi Ho Silverheels offspring picked up her seventh win on the year in a conditioned affair last week and will attempt to turn the tables on the divisions top gun. Looking at the Invite Trot, Franks Best and Inside Broadway are owned, trained and were bred by Bob Johnson. Franks Best is a 6-year-old son of Armbro Scribe out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition, while Inside Broadway is a 4-year-old by Broadway Hall out of that fine mare. Mooney Svendsen guides Franks Best and James Kennedy handles Inside Broadway. Franks Best has a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on his mantle with $181,000 in the bank and a 1:56 2/5 lifetime standard that was established last season at Running Aces. He sports three victories from six appearances at this session, including that dead-heat for the top position with his barnmate at most recent asking. Inside Broadway has posed for pictures following three of his last four trips to the post under Kennedys guidance and the Johnson performer is looking to add to a $65,000 account. He was a 1:55 3/5 victor at Harrahs Philadelphia last season and figures to be up close and personal from the outset. By Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness              

A racing oddity occurred in Friday nights co-featured Invitational Trot at Cal Expo Friday night, as half-brothers Franks Best and Inside Broadway dead-heated for the victory. Both are owned and trained by Bob Johnson and won in 1:59.3. Franks Best is a 6-year-old son of Armbro Scribe out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition, while Inside Broadway is a 4-year-old by Broadway Hall out of that fine mare. Mooney Svendsen handled Franks Best while James Kennedy was in the sulky behind Inside Broadway.. Franks Best has a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on his mantle with $181,000 in the bank and a 1:56 2/5 lifetime standard that was established last season at Running Aces. He sports three victories from six appearances at this session. Inside Broadway has posed for pictures following three of his last four trips to the post at the current stand and the Johnson performer was a 1:55 3/5 victor at Harrahs Philadelphia last season.   By Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness  

Horsemen across the country and Canada are coming to the aid of Anthony Coletta, who was seriously injured on November 17 in an accident at Harrah's Philadelphia racetrack, and Cal Expo is no exception. Steve Wiseman and Robin Clements have spearheaded local fundraising efforts for Coletta, who suffered critical head trauma along with a broken pelvis, hip and elbow. This will be the second weekend they will be raising money to help with the costs associated with his care and recovery. "I met Anthony at Plainridge in 2007," Wiseman related. "At the time he had just taken out his license and I did some driving for him. Over the years, we've become good friends and when I found out about this accident and his condition, I went to Robin and asked her if we could put together something to help." Steve was among the drivers who donated all of his driving fees last weekend, something which has been taking place at many harness tracks in the last two weeks. Anthony Coletta's good friend and fellow trainer Anthony Defransesco is coordinating these efforts. "Anthony has sent out wristbands that we will be selling this week for $5 each," Wiseman noted. "They will be available on both the backside and the frontside and hopefully we'll have a nice check to send from Cal Expo at the end of the week." CHHA horsemen's representative Robin Clements added, "When Steve told me about Anthony and wanting to help, I never blinked an eye. This was a tragic accident to a fellow horseman and driver with a bright future. We don't race for a lot out in California, but one thing about the horsemen out here, their hearts are huge! So when I started going around about the fundraiser everyone dug into their pockets! We all wish Anthony a speedy recovery and our thoughts and prayers are with him during this critical time." Watch and Wager LLC General Manager Chris Schick said, "It's great to see the harness industry rally for one of their own, and Cal Expo is happy to play even a small role in that effort." Pair of Invitationals, Sire Stakes headline program The Louis GG Perego Memorial Pace featuring Haggin Oaks and Show Runner; an Invitational Trot headed by Inside Broadway and Frank's Best and a $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old trotters are on tap at Cal Expo Friday night. Haggin Oaks and Show Runner are both going in razor-sharp form and drew for the assigned No. 7 and 8 posts the for the Perego Memorial. Haggin Oaks has accounted for three of her four appearances at the meet, with her only setback coming when she had a tough trip from the demanding 10 post two weeks ago and had to settle for second. James Kennedy reins and trains the mare for Shari Burns, Ferris Funk and Gerald Cimini. Show Runner is eying the hat trick Friday while gunning for her 16th win on the season from 30 outings for owners Denise Maier and Eileen Brodbar and driver/trainer Tim Maier. The 3-year-old daughter of Little Steven was a 1:52 3/5 victress at Running Aces this summer and is coming off a handy Sire Stakes last week over her peers. Rounding out the field are Lady's Art, to be handled by Chip Lackey; Cammi Place with Mooney Svendsen at the controls; and Sea Bug, who leaves from the cozy rail slot with Luke Plano guiding. Looking at the Invite Trot, Inside Broadway has accounted for two of the last three clashes at the head of the class for the division for owner/breeder/trainer Bob Johnson and pilot James Kennedy. He did the track and attack to get the job done on October 26, then took matters into his own hands at most recent asking with a game coast-to-coast decision. Frank's Best gives the Johnson barn another strong look at the outcome with Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. The 6-year-old son of Armbro Scribe comes into this assignment with a slew of stakes trophies on his mantle and $180,000 in earnings and has captured two of his five appearances at this meeting. Axle, K D Amazin Spirit, Silverlode and Sharpshootnnorris complete the cast. The Sire Stakes will go as a non-betting event prior to the regular program and they will line up this way: Jewel Of Lodi (Chip Lackey); Lightning Of Lodi (Pierre Girard); Tour Guide (Steve Desomer); Freedombird (Luke Plano) and More Tequila (James Kennedy).   By Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness  

Frank's Best is the type of trotter that has everybody in the race looking over their shoulders when the racing gets serious, having used his long-fused tactics to put nearly $180,000 in the bank for his owner/trainer/breeder Bob Johnson. "That's his cup of tea," driver Mooney Svendsen explained when asked about the 6-year-old son of Armbro Scribe. "You give him any kind of trip to the stretch and he'll give you a :27 and change final quarter. He loves to race and he absolutely loves this track." While Franks Best had raced strictly to that wait until the stretch style in his first three starts at this meet, Svendsen decided to take a little different tact and moved much earlier with his charge in last week's clash in the Open Trot. The result was his second win at the stand, albeit in unusual fashion. "Opening week here everything worked out nicely and he looped the field and won," Mooney explained. "But then the next race we were stuck behind poor cover that only went about 10 feet and then the start after that we were forced to zig and zag and he came home in :27 2/5, but had too much to do. "The plan last week was to be aggressive if they tried to go too slow up front, and that's exactly the way it was setting up to the half. I moved him out, he hooked up with his stablemate (Inside Broadway) on the last turn and then was able to open up into the stretch and he held. He gave me a real nice burst when I popped his earplugs." Frank's Best will suit up once again with Svendsen giving directions in Saturday night's co-featured tenth race. Racing secretary Fred Kuebler has assigned the hard-hitting sidewheler the outside post in the field of eight, which familiar rivals as last week's tough luck runner-up Axle and barnmate Inside Broadway, both of whom have posed for snapshots at the top run at this meeting. A REMINDER THERE ARE THREE WAGERS EACH NIGHT WITH A REDUCED 16 PERCENT TAKEOUT RATE. THEY ARE THE 50-CENT PICK FIVE THAT BEGINS ON THE THIRD RACE; THE 20-CENT PICK 4 ON THE FINAL FOUR RACES; AND THE 10-CENT HI-FIVE ON THE NIGHTCAP. Phantom Dan, Frank's Best headline co-features Saturday's 12-race program at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo spotlights some of the top performers on the grounds as Phantom Dan has top billing in the Open Pace and Franks Best looms the one to beat in the Open Trot. Phantom Dan is a 5-year-old son of Little Steven out of the Precious Bunny mare Yankee Siloh who is owned by James Kennedy and Jennifer Burns and is reined and trained by Kennedy. He established his mark of 1:53 1/5 here earlier in the season and is looking to pull off a hat trick. Phantom Dan took the measure of conditioned rivals on October 26 and posted an easier-than-looks victory with Kennedy that evening. Moving up to the Open ranks while assigned the outside post proved no problem for the bay gelding at most recent asking, as he once again zipped right top and prevailed by a length and a quarter as the 3-5 favorite in that affair. One And Only was making his first appearance since a summer campaign at Vernon Downs and was a solid runner-up last week. The Bettor's Delight offspring has gone a number of big miles over this layout and will be looking to turn the tables for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, conditioner Lino Pacheco and driver Luke Plano. Franks Best is a multiple stakes winner who comes into this assignment with nearly $180,000 on his card and a 1:56 2/5 mark. He is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson and Mooney Svendsen will once again handle the lines behind the 6-year-old son of Armbro Scribe. The Johnson colorbearer got the job done at the head of the class on opening week, looping the field turning for home to win going away by a length and a half, then had to settle for a second and a third in his next two outings. Franks Best returned to his winning ways in the last clash among the best trotters on the grounds, making a big move by the half to the lead, opening up straightening for home and then just holding over a fast-closing Axle. The latter is a 4-year-old who was claimed for $5,000 in August at Running Aces and has recorded two sharp wins and two seconds in the interim for owners Dave Siegel, Bob Thronson, Greg Robinson and George Reider. Reider is the conditioner and co-owner Siegel will once again be at the controls. By Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness  

James Kennedy had never driven the 4-year-old trotter Inside Broadway prior to opening night here at Cal Expo, but in the ensuing three weeks they have formed a solid partnership that resulted in a win at the head of the class last weekend. Inside Broadway, who is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson, checked in fourth in his first start at this stand after making an extended first-over move at the half, then was hard-used early in his next appearance and garnered the show money. In last week's tour, the trotter flexed his muscles with Kennedy's guidance and motored away to an impressive two and a half-length score. "Bob really didn't give me any instructions for that first start," James related when asked about the October 5 outing. "I came first-over with him out of last, he gave it a good try to deep stretch and then I got the impression he was a little short. "I played it by ear for the second start and decided to leave with him. He had to be used pretty hard in that opening quarter and I was happy with the effort. It set him up nicely for last time." Sent off at 9-2 from the No. 5 post for his most recent appearance, Inside Broadway was able to take a three-hole tuck around the first turn while tracking Running Aces invader Rich Dessert. He was out to engage the leader turning for home, took a clear advantage soon after straightening for home and left little doubt in a powerful mile. "I though it would be in our best interest to leave strong and make the top, at least for a little while," Kennedy noted. "That didn't happen, but fortunately I was able to duck in and drop third. He felt really strong when I pulled him and he made the lead into the stretch. To be honest, I was surprised he won that easily. Surprised, but very happy." Will James Kennedy be pleasantly surprised again? We'll find out after Saturday night's second race where Inside Broadway leaves from the No. 4 slot in the field of six. Hoping to spoil a curtain call are Axle and Franks Best to this outside and Alpine Hawk, Rich Dessert and Sharpshootennorris to his inside. Top pacers, top trotters sharing the spotlight Inside Broadway was a game first-over winner in last week's clash at the head of the division and eyes an encore in the Open 2 Trot, while Phantom Dan and One And Only are among the leading players in the co-featured Open 2 Pace at Cal Expo Saturday night. A 13-race card is on tap with first post set at 6:10 p.m. A 4-year-old son of Broadway Hall out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition, Inside Broadway is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson and will once again have James Kennedy giving directions. It had been a rather lean season for the trotter coming into last week's action, with just one victory to show from 22 trips to the post on the year, but the Johnson representative made 9-2 look like a gift. He left for third-place tuck for Kennedy, was first-over going into the final bend to put away the leader and drew off by two and a half-lengths in a 1:58 3/5 tour. Axle was a solid runner-up at 9-1 that evening and is coming off back-to-back big tries here, having taken the measure of a softer group in his previous outing. George Reider trains and co-owns the son of Hard Rock N Roll, who was claimed for $5,000 at Running Aces in August. David Siegel will be at the controls once again and he co-owns the trotter with Reider, Bob Thronson and Greg Robinson. Alpine Hawk is a fan favorite with many victories over this layout and has to be respected with Rich Wojcio in the sulky. He is on the verge of going over the $200,000 earnings mark and was an easier-than-looks winner at this level two weeks ago. Jim Winske owns and he hails from the Gordie Graham barn. Franks Best gives the Bob Johnson barn another solid look at the outcome. A multiple stakes winner at this layout with $176,000 in the bank, he is looking to make amends after checking in third last weekend as the 9-5 choice. The son of Armbro Scribe can really roll home in the lane and always makes it interesting. The Open Pace looms a contentious affair and they will line up as follows from the rail: Thedeadliestcast for trainer Gordie Graham; In Confident for the Bob Johnson barn; Giant Sculpture for driver/trainer Gene Vallandingham; the Lino Pacheco-conditioned One And Only and Phantom Dan for pilot/conditioner James Kennedy. by Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness  

The curtain is set to go up on the Watch and Wager LLC harness meet at Cal Expo Saturday night, with popular veteran performers Alpine Hawk, Franky Provolone and Franks Best among those set to do battle in the featured $4,000 Open 3 Trot. There will be Saturday racing through the month of October, with the trotters and pacers in action and Friday and Saturday nights beginning in November. Bob Johnson, the leading trainer at the spring meet, will be sending out three of the six trotters in the main event, with the aforementioned Franks Best joining stablemates Giles LS Hanover and Inside Broadway in the line-up. They will square off against local favorites Franky Provolone and Alpine Hawk with Axle rounding out the cast. Franks Best is a 6-year-old son of Armbro Scribe and the American Winner mare Inside Edition who is owned and trained by Johnson and will have Mooney Svendsen guiding from the cozy inside post position. He comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following 26 of his 95 starts with $173,000 in the bank and a 1:56 2/5 lifetime standard. Franky Provolone is the pride and joy of owner Robin Clements with Vickie Desomer the conditioner. Another member of the 2007 crop sired by Armbro Scribe, he is looking to add to a $113,000 bankroll and has a 1:56 3/5 mark on his card. Alpine Hawk and Rich Wojcio have been a staple here for several years and add to the class of the field. The 12-year-old son of Movie Mogul is poised to go over the $200,000 earnings mark with 54 victories from his 202 lifetime trips to the post and has gone many big miles over this layout. The leading drivers at the spring meeting will be returning as Luke Plano and Steve Wiseman figure to once again make their share of visits the charmed enclosure. Wiseman is closing in on a milestone as the session begins, needing just two victories to the reach the 2,000-win plateau. On the wagering front, fans will be able to play trifecta and Pick 4 wagers in 20-cent denominations for the first time in California history. Cal Expo will also continue to offer a reduced 16 percent takeout rate on the Pick 5, Pick 4 and Super High 5 wagers while also continuing the 10-cent minimums on the superfecta and Super High 5. The Pick 4 will feature a $15,000-guaranteed pool for the first two weeks of the meet, jumping to $20,000 on October 19. Gary Seibel takes over in the announcer's booth Gary Seibel, one of the most recognizable voices and faces in harness broadcasting, is set to begin announcing duties Saturday night as the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo gets underway. Seibel has helped bring the sport to national prominence on network television for two decades running, with the 2013 edition of the Hambletonian marking his 21st consecutive year as either host or co-host of harness racing's most prestigious event, including a 13-year run on CBS and a five-year stint with NBC. For more than a decade, he hosted ESPN's coverage of the Breeders Crown, harness racing's divisional championship series, and filled a similar role for the network on the American Championship Harness Series back in the late 1990's. And, for nearly a dozen years, from 1999 through 2011, he brought the sport of harness racing into the living rooms of fans across America on a daily basis as host and racing analyst for the popular nightly program, "Drive Time," on TVG, the interactive horse racing network. "Im looking forward to being a part of the Cal Expo team and I'm excited about the chance to get back to the announcer's booth," Gary related. "Calling races is something I've always enjoyed and over the years it has provided me with many of my most memorable moments in the sport. "Chris Schick and Ben Kenny - and their entire staff - are completely committed to harness racing in California and I couldn't think of better people to work with when it comes to achieving the goal of a viable industry in the state. I'm happy for the opportunity to be part of their vision." Seibel has been honored with harness racing's Dan Patch media award and the Allen J. Finkelson award, with his body of work in the industry over the years earning him induction into the Communications Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2011. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Communica­tions at Syracuse University, Seibel spent several of his early years as a radio disc jockey and sportscaster in upstate New York before heading to Pompano Park, where he served as track announcer for 18 years. In addition to other roles as publicity director, in-house simulcast TV host and public handi­capper, Seibel was Pompano's assistant general manager for two years. by Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo

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