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A $10,000 California Sire Stakes featuring Believe In Dragons and an Open Pace that finds Allmyx'sliventexas in search of yet another victory are the highlights on Sunday night's Cal Expo card. The Sire Stakes goes as the fourth event and the Open Pace is the eighth contest on the 12-race Watch and Wager LLC card. First post is 4:50 p.m. Believe In Dragons is a son of Custard The Dragon who races for Lorne Duffield and Rodney Hennessey, takes his lessons from Quentin Schneider and will once again have the services of Cordarius Stewart. After getting a nice prep in a qualifier on February 14, Believe In Dragons made his seasonal debut a week later in the first stakes clash of the year for this group. He was dispatched as the 8-5 second choice while doing his work from the rail slot. Stewart sat a chilly third with Believe In Dragons through the early stages, then came first-over to press the issue and dug in gamely through the drive to prevail by a head over a fast-closing Im A Magic Man. The latter is a Mystician homebred who carries the banner of Richard Schneider, hails from the Ariel Alvarez barn and has Jake Cutting back in the sulky. He got going late from the middle of the track to just miss in his debut. Taking them on Sunday are Arnie's Army, So Watch Me Now, Lodi Phillip and Chase The Gold. Meanwhile, Allmyx'sliventexas is strictly the one to beat once again in the co-featured Open Pace as he leaves from the assigned No. 10 post position in the field of six for his owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and driver Nick Roland. Fear Factor gets Wendi's heart racing When Fear Factor got the job done in last Sunday's second race, Wendi Wiener admits it was like getting a jump start on her love of racing. The 6-year-old son of Always A Virgin, who is co-owned by Wendi and trainer Nathalie Tremblay, was making his first appearance on the year with Nick Roland guiding him to the two and a quarter-length score. "Since my husband Stu passed, I've just been racing our homebreds, and after Lilbitofmama retired I really though I was done," Wendi related. "It just didn't feel the same anymore. We know racing is in our blood and we just can't quit, but I felt I would." Weiner then fast forwards to just about a year ago, when she got a call from Tremblay. "Nat called and said she found a horse she thinks she can improve on. We've been partners on many horses, but at that time it felt different and I still wasn't sure." Wendi eventually gave Tremblay the green light and Fear Factor, or Joe as the pacer has been nicknamed, became part of the barn. "Nat did a hell of a job figuring him out, and that win the other night woke up my heart. I was screaming and yelling and there were tears of happiness at the wire. I honestly didn't know if I would ever get that feeling back. "I want to thank the horse, Nat, Stretchie and Nick Roland for getting me excited about racing again." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Allmyx'sliventexas, victorious in seven of his eight starts at this harness racing meet, is once again the horse to beat in Sunday night's $7,200 Open Pace at Cal Expo Harness. The headliner will go as the eighth on a 12-race card presented by Watch and Wager LLC and things get under way at 4:50 p.m. Allmyx'sliventexas is an 8-year-old Hi Ho Silverheel's homebred who races for Wayne and Rod Knittel, hails from the Bob Johnson shedrow and will be guided by Nick Roland from the outside post in the field of seven. The Knittel charge has accounted for 46 of his 141 lifetime appearances, he's looking to add to a $260,000 bankroll and set his 1:50 career mark at Hoosier Park three years ago. Allmyx'sliventexas kicked off this meeting with five straight trips to the charmed enclosure, with the richest of those scores coming in the December 11 Dave Goldschmidt Pace. He suffered his only setback at the stand when he was hung the mile on January 31 and tired. He has returned to prove best in his last two trips to the post, including the most recent when he withstood a strong challenge turning for home and then came home in smart fashion to secure the length and a quarter decision in a powerful 1:51 1/5 tour. Taking him on, from the rail out: Bngs Express with Tony Kerwood; Contemporary Legend, Mooney Svendsen; Super Pac Hanover for Cordarius Stewart; Hoo Nien, Gerry Longo; Buddy's Hope with Jake Cutting and Ponda's Prospect for Luke Plano. Second time around for Corbin in California Robert Corbin is enjoying his second winter at Cal Expo while sending his share of performers to the winner's circle. "The weather is great and we had such a good time last year we decided to come back," explained the 61-year-old Chicago native. While Robert got his first taste of the sport in his teens through his parents, it wasn't until six years ago that he really got involved in the game. "My mother passed away and we wanted to have something for my father to look forward to, so we ended up buying a broodmare and eventually purchased some race horses as well." At this time, Corbin owned a trucking company and was just a casual player, but what started out as something to help occupy Robert Sr's time ended up being a real passion for his son, who continued to build the stable following his father's passing two and a half years ago. "I worked with a trainer for about a year and then took out my license in 2017," Corbin explained. By the way, that first broodmare he purchased with his dad was an Artsplace mare named Symphony Bay, and her first foal was Marys Pretty Girl, who has been a regular in the Filly and Mare Open Pace here. When this session ended in April, the Corbin shedrow will return to points East to compete at Hawthorne and Hoosier Park. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness              

A pair of $14,000 California Sire Stakes for the 4-year-olds and a $6,700 Filly and Mare Open Pace are the featured harness racing attractions on Saturday night's Cal Expo program. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m., with one of the Sire Stakes events going as a non-betting contest prior to the regular program. The distaff Sire Stakes goes as the fourth race and Prom Queen is coming off a victory in a dead-heat last weekend and should be well backed for owners Desomer Stables, trainer Quentin Schneider and driver Nick Roland. Taking her on are Debit or Credit, Winhavetime, Akanay and Le Montrachet. Looking at the co-featured Filly and Mare Open Pace, Alwaysalittlemore and Velocity McSweets get a rematch after putting on quite a show in last week's clash at the head of the division. Alwaysalittlemore is a 7-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin out of the Cole Muffler mare Whatiftheresmore who is owned by Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. Sent off at 9-2 in last week's Distaff Open while leaving from the rail slot, Alwaysalittlemore was able to work out a pocket trip, moved to the lead at midstretch and then had enough to hold safe over the fast-closing favorite Velocity McSweets. The latter accounted for the Joe Alto Pace in December and has a pair of Open scores to her credit this season. Jennifer Sabot owns and trains the 6-year-old McArdle mare and Cordarius Stewart has the return assignment. Completing the field are Delightfully Wild with Doug Chappell; Bertha Vanation, Nick Roland; Paloma Ruiz for Jacob Cutting and Marys Pretty Girl, who leaves from the rail with Tony Kerwood. Plano guides talented distaffers  Last Saturday night was a good one for Luke Plano as he piloted four performers into the winner's circle, including Doubletherocks in the first Sire Stakes of the year for the sophomores and Alwaysalittlemore in the Filly and Mare Open Pace. Doubletherocks is a homebred daughter of Lettherockbegin who carries the banner of Nikki Hudson and is reined and trained by husband Luke. She sat the pocket behind heavily-favored Cookiesncream and streaked home for the easy decision. "I actually claimed the mare and it turned out she had some issues, but I thought she would make a good broodmare and we bred her to a Minnesota sire," Luke related. "We got her ready in Indiana and Minnesota, and she had the one start at Running Aces, but she had a heath issue and we backed off and pointed for these races. I've been very happy with her two wins here." Alwaysalittlemore is a Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith colorbearer who was picking up her first Open score at this session while ending up on the right end of a head photo with even-money favorite Velocity McSweets. "This is a real nice mare with a great mind," her mentor noted. "She wasn't having any luck at the Meadowlands at the end of last year, so they decided to bring her back here. "We gave her some time, so she was a little bit behind these other mares, but she's come around really well and it didn't hurt to get a nice trip the other night." It will be interesting to watch both of these talented distaffers going forward, with the next round of stakes action for the 3-year-olds coming up next week. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

The first California Sire Stakes of the season for the 3-year-old colt and gelding harness racing pacers is set for Sunday evening at Cal Expo Harness, with Lodi Phillip and Arnie's Army figuring to get plenty of attention in the $7,500 contest. Watch and Wager LLC will present a 12-race card and things get underway at 4:50 p.m. The Sire Stakes is scheduled as the fourth contest on the evening. Lodi Phillip is a homebred son of Another Mile who races for Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, is conditioned by Girard and will have the services of Mooney Svendsen this weekend. The dark-hued performer rattled off back-to-back scores on January 30 and February, recording a lifetime-best 1:56 clocking in the latter score. He will do his work from the middle of the five-horse cast. Arnie's Army races for his breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel with the Bob Johnson the conditioner and Luke Plano at the helm. The son of Hi Ho Silverheel's should be a nice fit with this group. Taking on this pair are the Quentin Schneider-trained pair of Believe in Dragons with Cordarius Stewart and Chase the Gold with Nick Roland, while the Ariel Alvarez-trained Im A Magic Man completes the line-up with Jacob Cutting in the sulky. A reminder there are three wagers offered each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The latter features a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. Ashlee Sluggett enjoying the ride Relentless Dancer has made a trio of appearances in the charmed enclosure for owner/trainer Ashlee Sluggett at this meet, showing an affinity for the oval. "Having your horse go out there and do well makes all the hard work worth it," Sluggett related recently. The 31-year-old native of Alberta, Canada, has been around horses most of her life, but it wasn't until she was 19 that she got involved with the trotters and pacers. "I heard they were building a new racetrack near where I lived and I went to check it out," she explained. "It turned out to be Alberta Downs. That's when I met Jamie Grey and went to work with him, learning about harness racing from the ground up." Ashlee then spent nine years with Ryan Grundy, including a couple of stints here at Cal Expo. She also worked with Kim and Quentin Schneider last season before venturing to New York to be part of the Blake MacIntosh barn. "That's when I decided it was time to take out my license and I came back to California with six horses," she related. "The plan has always been to go back to New York after this meet ends and rejoin Blake's barn." A reminder there are three wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, with the latter sporting a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                

An Open Trot headed by Silverhill Volo; a Distaff Open Pace featuring Velocity McSweets and Delightfully Wild and a California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old harness racing pacing fillies are the main attractions on Saturday night's Cal Expo program. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. Silverhill Volo is a 10-year-old son of Muscle Hill who is owned, trained and driven by Chip Lackey. He comes into this assignment with 29 wins from his 141 starts, $174,000 in his bank account and a 1:55 1/5 lifetime standard. The veteran sidewheeler rattled off five straight victories to begin this meet, including the December 12 Joe Lighthill, then suffered his first defeat at this stand when he was parked the mile and had to settle for second behind Pridecrest on January 24. Silverhill Volo got his in his last start, however, as Lackey motored him right to the front from the outside slot in the field of six and guided him to a three-quarter length victory over his arch-rival. Pridecrest goes about his business for Chris Schick, with Kathie Plested the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen is back at the controls. He has over $342,000 in earnings and his 1:53 2/5 mark is the course standard here at Cal Expo. He overcame a layoff to upset Silverhill Volo two back, then left into the eventual pocket last time around and could not quite get to the Lackey protégé. Looking at the Filly and Mare Open Pace, Delightfully Wild is an 8-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight out of the Western Ideal mare Will Ride Hanover who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada, takes her lessons from Jessie Pacheco and will have Doug Chappell in the sulky. With Chappell taking over the driving two weeks ago, Delightfully Wild lived up to her name off the gate to rocket to the front, opened up a long lead at the half and then held safe by a length and three-quarters for the $36 upset in a sizzling 1:52 2/5 tour Major Al-mar takes command No doubt enjoying the fact that the streaking Silverhill Volo and course record-holder Pridescrest were absent from the line-up, Major Al-mar went out last week and posted a coast-to-coast victory with Cordarius Stewart at the helm. The 5-year-old trotting son of Money Talks goes about his business for Amy Fichtner and Vikki Pfeilsticker, is conditioned by Rick Bertrand and shaved two ticks off his lifetime standard with the 1:56 final clocking. While he has found the Open ranks a bit challenging, he was right at home last Sunday evening and Stewart motored right to the front, carved out the fractions without pressure and Major Al-mar was able to hold off the pocket-sitting Teachmehowtotry and favored Flameon for the one-length score. Five races later, it was once again the Bertrand barn taking bows as Catchmeinadream posted a $41 surprise with Luke Plano in the sulky. The 4-year-old mare, who is also owned by Bertrand, looked more like a 1-9 shot than a 19-1 chance as she romped home by six and a quarter lengths in a sparkling 1:54 4/5 mile. The odds were inflated due to the fact that River Lassena was 50 cents on the dollar in that affair on the strength of having won four of her last five outings coming into this affair. As things turned out, the long-fused distaffer was just too far back while doing her work from the outside post in the field of nine and had to settle for third. Considering the mile Catchmeinadream turned in, she wasn't going to lose this race no matter how well placed the favorite was in the early stages. Catchmeinadream's tally sparked a $2,153 payoff in the 20-cent Pick 5, once again pointing out how the reduced 16 percent takeout rate consistently results in sweet overlays. In addition to the 20-cent early and late Pick 5, the 16 percent takeout rate also applies to the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Sunday Cal Expo trot lures Flameon Harness racing trotters will command the Cal Expo spotlight Sunday night, with Flameon getting away from the likes of Silverhill Volo and Pridecrest while heading the cast for the $6,800 Open II contest. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. and the feature slotted as the third event on the evening. Flameon is an 11-year-old son of Angus Hall out of the Valleymeister mare Benn's Fire who is owned and was bred by Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will have Jacob Cutting in the bike from the assigned outside post in the field of seven. Flameon has seen his last two starts remain in minor awards behind the razor-sharp Silverhill Volo and track record holder Pridecrest, but should appreciate getting away from that pair for Sunday's assignment. That was also the cast on January 16 three starts back, as Cutting sat a perfect trip with the Anderson charge and drew away by lengths to reward his many backers as the 3-5 favorite that night. The veteran sidewheeler comes into this assignment with 28 victories from his 84 trips to the post, has $135,000 in his bank account and established his 1:55 3/5 lifetime standard over this track six years ago. Set to challenge Flameon this weekend are Jesse's Student, Christoper Frenzel; Manley Stanley for Gerry Longo; Teachmehowtotry, Nick Roland; Bringthegold with Phil Knox; Md Magic for Luke Plano and Major Al-Mar, who will have Cordarius Stewart giving directions. Delightfully Wild lives up to her name Delightfully Wild's victory in last week's Filly and Mare Open Pace had the wow factor, as the Jessie Pacheco trainee looked more like a 1-5 shot than a 17-1 chance as she blitzed the field on the front end with new pilot Doug Chappell. Richard Morita and David Yamada's colorbearer flew to the front and immediately established command, opening up by as much as five lengths on the backside while posting fractions of :27 1/5, :54 4/5 and 1:23 2/5 on the way to a length and three-quarters score in 1:52 2/5. Even though Delightfully Wild had a couple of wins to her credit at this meet and came into the race with over $200,000 on her card and a 1:51 1/5 mark, she looked to have her work cut last weekend while facing some very sharp distaffers. On the plus side, she had suffered through a couple of troubled trips. "This was the first time Doug had driven her and I told him to go to the front and see what happens," Pacheco related. "She can race very strong on the lead, which she showed last year at Hawthorne, and I felt she was ready for her best race." Having felt that, Jessie admits when he saw that :54 and change half-mile he was concerned. "I honestly thought she would get tired after that and probably be passed, but she was strong to the end and I was very proud of her." Pacheco explained that his horses were given some time prior to the start of this meet, so many of them are just now coming to their best races, as evidenced by Delightfully Wild's scintillating once-around of this layout. Can she keep the momentum going? Stay tuned. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Allmyx'sliventexas, a winner of six of his seven starts at the Cal Expo Harness meet, including a start-to-finish tally last week, looks to add another photo to the harness racing scrapbook in Saturday night's featured $6,700 Open Pace. The main event will go as the fourth on a 13-race card presented by Watch and Wager LLC with first post set for 4:50 p.m. Allmyx'sliventexas is an 8-year-old Hi Ho Silverheel's homebred who competes for Wayne and Rod Knittel, hails from the Bob Johnson shedrow and will be handled once again by Nick Roland while doing his work from the outside slot in the field of six. The hard-hitting performer has had his picture taken following 45 of his 140 lifetime appearances, he's looking to add to a $256,000 bank account and set his 1:50 career mark at Hoosier Park three years ago. Allmyx'sliventexas kicked off this meeting with five straight trips to the charmed enclosure, with the richest of those scores coming in the December 11 Dave Goldschmidt Pace. He suffered his first setback at the stand when he he was hung the mile on January 31 and tired. The Knittel colorbeare returned to his winning ways last week, blasting off the gate for Roland and going on to a coast-to-decision, tossing in a :27 flat final quarter to seal the deal as the odds-on choice in a 1:53 flat tour. Taking him on this weekend, from the rail out: Proof with Cordarius Stewart; Intrigued Again, Tony Kerwood; Royale Big Guy, who will have the services of Mooney Svendsen; Hoo Nein A, Gerry Longo; and Buddy's Hope, to be handled by Jacob Cutting. Reduced takeout rate produces sweet payoff On the surface, last Saturday night's 20-cent Pick 4 payoff of $230 doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary, but a closer look at the numbers reveals the true value of a reduced takeout wager. The 20-cent Pick 4 is one of three bets offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout, the others being the early and late 20-cent Pick 5. Last Saturday's Late Pick 4 consisted of two winning favorites, including the 3-5 Allmyx'sliventexas in the Open Pace, a second choice and a 6-1 shot. The $2 win parlay on these four would result in a return of $330, which means the $230 return for the 20-cent Pick 4 ticket was seven times what the parlay would have yielded. By the way, in addition to the lower rate, the 20-cent Pick 4 comes with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool, making it even sweeter. Getting back to Allmyx'sliventexas, both he and Silverhill Volo returned to the head of their respective pacing and trotting divisions with decisive victories. Both of these performers had started the meet with five straight victories, including a win by Allmyx'sliventeas in the Dave Goldschmidt and Silverhill Volo in the Joe Lighthill, but had suffered defeats in their previous outings while encountering tough trips. There were no such issues last weekend, however, as Nick Roland took Allmyx'sliventas coast-to-coast and Chip Lackey did the same thing with Silverhill Volo as they re-established their top rankings. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

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    

Hi Ho Julio, fresh from a dominating harness racing victory with similar company, figures to have plenty of backers in Friday night's main event at Cal Expo Harness. Watch and Wager LLC will present 11 races with first post set for 6:00 p.m. and the headliner is the fourth event on the evening. Hi Ho Julio is a 5-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheel's who is owned and trained by Bob Johnson and will once again have Nick Roland giving directions. He established his 1:53 2/5 career standard here last season. He started the year with back-to-back wins, then was no factor in his next pair before returning to winning form in last week's assignment. Roland left hard into an eventual pocket spot, regained the lead early in the drive and went on to a four a quarter length decision while returning $13.40 to his backers. Looking ahead to the Saturday program, the best trotters and pacers on the grounds will be in action with an Open Pace, an Open Trot and a Distaff Open Pace in the spotlight. The Open Pace is headed by last week's smashing winner Ponda's Prospect and Allmyx'sliventexas, who had his winning streak snapped at five after having a rough journey. Pridecrest and Silverhill Volo get another chance to settle the score in the Open Trot, while Velocity McSweets eyes her third straight victory at the head of the distaff class in the Filly and Mare Open Pace. A reminder there are three wagers offered each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, with the latter featuring a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. Marc Mellow, Magic give Clements barn a boost The latter part of last Sunday's program was a good one for owner/trainer Robin Clements, as she watched her full-brother pacers Marc Mellow Man and Marced Magic account for two of the last three events on the evening. Marc Mellow Man overcame the outside post in a field of nine to come from last and post an 8-1 upset with Nick Roland at the controls, while Marced Magic was a prompt 3-5 favorite in the nightcap with Luke Plano in the sulky. "I was especially happy with Marc Mellow Man, because he hadn't been racing well," Clements noted. "I had given him a couple of weeks off before his last start, so I knew he would need a tightener, and he did get a class break last week even though he had the nine hole. "Nick gets along well with Marshmellow, as we call him, and I was lucky he was available. He gave him a great drive and it was a nice boost for the stable." Everybody and his cousin expected Marced Magic to win, thus his 3-5 odds, and he didn't disappoint with a three and three-quarter length romp for Plano while shaving a tick off his lifetime standard with the 1:52 3/5 clocking. "I talked to Luke before the race and mentioned that even though Magic has won on the front end before, he does prefer to come from behind and has a huge kick coming home. He is also very versatile and can take the air. He's my favorite in the barn because there is no cheat in this horse and he will give you 200% ever time." Robin pointed out the one thing full brothers Marc Mellow Man and Merced Magic have in common is that neither horse will pee in the best barn. "We always laugh because the testers know they won't pee and always comment how lucky they were to get the horse for the test!" Clements wanted to give a shout out to groom Irma Delacruz, who puts in long hours giving these horses tender loving care and usually gets stuck for an extra hour and a half in the test barn with this pair; and Tien Desomer, who handles the workout miles. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                  

Due to the Super Bowl, the trotters and pacers will be in action this week at Cal Expo on Friday and Saturday nights with first post set for 6pm. Saturday’s harness racing program will find the top trotters and pacers on the grounds doing battle. The Open Pace features Ponda’s Prospect and Allmyx’sliventexas; the Open Trot sees Pridecrest and Silverhill Volo squaring off; and the Filly and Mare Open Pace finds Velocity McSweets eyeing the hat trick.  Next week will return to the Saturday and Sunday evening schedule.   By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Allmyx’sliventexas, unbeaten in five harness racing appearances at this meet, looks to keep the streak going in Saturday night’s featured $7,200 Open Pace. There will be 12 races decided under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. An 8-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel’s out of the Distinguishedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun, Allmyx’sliventexas races for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Jacob Cutting will be at the controls from the assigned outside post in the field of eight. The Knittel charge comes into this race with 44 trips to the charmed enclosure from his 138 starts, $250,000 in the bank and a 1:50 lifetime standard that was set three years ago at Hoosier Park. Allmyx’sliventexas scored his richest win at the meet in the December 11 Dave Goldschmidt and three of his six tallies were recorded from the assigned No. 10 post position, including his most recent decision two weeks ago. Sent off at 9-5 in that affair, he was parked a long way to the lead at the half, fought off a strong challenge on the final bend and then gamely held safe over Hoo Nien A by a neck in a 1:52 tour. Looking to end his streak are Rockinscience from the rail with Luke Plano; I’m An Athlete, Doug Chappell; Proof with Cordarius Stewart; Ponda’s Prospect, Nick Roland; Royale Big Guy, to be guided by Mooney Svendsen; Super Pac Hanover, Tony Kerwood; and Hoo Nien A for Gerry Longo.   Tony Kerwood enjoying the change in scenery Tony Kerwood only arrived on the scene a few weeks ago, but made his presence felt quickly with a win behind Relentless Dancer for Ashlee Sluggett in his second-ever trip to the post here. The 62-year-old native of Ontario grew up around horses and got his initial exposure to the sport through his father. “It was more of a hobby for him and I pretty much picked up what I knew about horses on the farm.” Kerwood was 19 when he decided harness racing would be a full-time occupation and put in 30 years of winning up and down Canada and at the Meadowlands, with the pacer Armbro Temple being his best charge about 12 years ago. He admits things tapered off in his 50’s when he just kept a small stable, but then a phone call from out of the blue changed that situation. “It was about a year and half ago that I got a call from Rick Moles, who was looking for someone to drive his horses at Fraser Downs,” Tony continued. “That brought me back more into the game.” When asked about bringing his buggy and whip here to Cal Expo earlier this month, Kerwood explained it was pretty much a combination of factors. “First of all, Covid shut down the track, and then I got some good reports about the racing here and the great weather from someone who had come down at the start of the meet. “I’ve certainly driven my share of the bigger tracks like Woodbine, Mohawk and the Meadowlands, and I have to say that this is a good group of guys driving down here and it’s been very enjoyable. “Right now it looks like I’ll stay through the end of the meet, and then I might follow the circuit and head to Minnesota.” Please note due to the Super Bowl, next week will find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday and Saturday night.   By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Pacing fillies and mares hold the harness racing spotlight at Cal Expo Saturday evening, with Velocity McSweets heading the marquee. The main event goes as the fifth of 11 races presented by Watch and Wager LLC and first post is set for 5:35 p.m. Velocity McSweets is a 6-year-old McArdie mare who is owned and trained by Jennifer Sabot and is again guided by Cordarius Stewart. She will be gunning for her 23rd snapshot from 86 trips to the post, recently went over the $200,000 mark in earnings and has a 1:52 mark that was established last year at Tioga Downs. Following a smashing win in the December 19 Joe Alto, the bay miss had to settle for minor awards as the heavy favorite in her next two appearances. She returned to the winner’s circle last week, however, as she stormed home from off the pace to get the job done over a sloppy track. Bertha Vanation had to settle for the place money that night after rattling off back-to-back upsets at the top rung for owner Cathy Dessert and driver/trainer Nick Roland. The Voracious Hanover mare captured the January 2 Open at 25-1 and came right back to weeks later to click again at 7-1 while earning a lifetime best 1:53 2/5 clocking in the process. Taking her on this weekend are Alwaysalittlemore with Luke Plano; Dancingonthesand, Mooney Svendsen; Capitol Hill; Delightfully Wild, Tony Kerwood; Paloma Ruiz, Jacob Cutting; Mary’s Pretty Girl with Doug Chappell; and Bertha Vanation for Nick Roland. Get My Good Side prevails in wild finish The finish of last Saturday night’s seventh race looked more like a quarter horse race than a pacing event, as the first five across the line were separated by a total of half a length. At the end, it was the mild 3-1 choice Get My Good Side who prevailed by a nose over Johnny Ringo, with Regal Mark beaten two nostrils for the whole thing, while Sneak Peek Hanover was another head back in fourth with How Your Remind checking in fifth beaten half a side. “I can’t remember ever calling a finish like that one,” track announcer Gary Seibel noted. “Like a bigger than normal ocean wave, you could almost see it forming around the sixteenth pole. At that point, there’s much you can do except brace for impact – and try not to get tongue tied!” The victory was sweet revenge for Get My Good Side, who himself was beaten a nose a week earlier after holding a clear lead in deep stretch. He was ultra-game last Saturday, doing the work in first-over fashion for Jacob Cutting. The 4-year-old is conditioned by George Reider, who co-owns the performer with Dave and Rob Haness. “I bought this horse the last day of racing at Running Aces,” Reider noted. “He’s a nice little horse who doesn’t do many things wrong.” One race later, Rockinscience rattled off his third straight win while capturing the Robert Gordon Pace, going coast-to-coast for Luke Plano as the 1-5 choice. After posting a sparkling 1:52 2/5 decision one race back, he returned with a 1:53 3/5 jaunt last weekend. It was also a consecutive double on the card for Dave Haness, who co-owns the son of Rockin Image with Nikki Hudson. Talk about a nice half an hour.   By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

A $7,400 Open Trot that finds Silverhill Volo aiming for his fifth straight harness racing victory and a $7,200 Filly and Mare Open Pace with Bertha Vanation eyeing the hat trick are the marquee events on Sunday's Cal Expo card. There will be 12 races under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and things get underway at 4:55 p.m.The Open Trot is scheduled as the third race, while the Distaff Open will occupy the sixth-race slot on the evening. Silverhill Volo, perfect in his four outings at this meet, looks to keep the streak going in the Open Trot while leaving from the assigned outside post in the field of nine. A 10-year-old son of Muscle Hill, Silverhill Volo is owned, trained and driven by Chip Lackey. He is eyeing his 29th victory from 140 trips to the post, has $168,000 in his bank account and sports a 1:55 1/5 mark. Silverhill Volo has raced up close and personal in all his wins here, including a coast-to-coast decision in the Joe Lighthill two back. He was hard used while first over in his most recent tally three weeks ago, pulling away by two and a half lengths while making 3-5 look like a gift. Mandeville could prove to be the main rival for owner/driver/trainer Gerry Longo. The 9-year-old sidewheeler had a second, a third and a fifth-place finish behind Silverhill Volo before returning to his winning ways two weeks ago in a conditioned affair. Leaving from the outside post in the field of seven, he left into a pocket journey, then had the needed response when asked in the lane and drew off by a length and a quarter. It was the 31st snapshot in 142 trips to the post for Mandeville, who pushed his earnings close to the $270,000 mark. He lands two slots inside his main rival in the No.7 post for this go-around. In the co-featured Distaff Open, Bertha Vanation has posted back-to-back surprise scores at the top rung for owners Bill and Cathy Dessert and driver/trainer Nick Roland, working out sweet trips on both occasions. This time around she will be asked to depart from the assigned outside slot in the field of seven. Bertha Vanation longshot players delight Those who have backed Bertha Vanation in her last two starts at the head of the distaff pacing ranks have been nicely rewarded, as the mare clicked at 25-1 weeks ago and came back to get the job done at 7-1 last Saturday evening. The 6-year-old daughter of Voracious Hanover is owned by Cathy and Bill Dessert and is trained and driven by Nick Roland, who has been able to work out perfect two-hole trips with Bertha Vanation for those two upsets. "I've been with Cathy and Bill for five or six years now and we bought this horse from her breeder John Hendricks three years ago," Nick related. "She got sick on us this summer and kind of went off form, but the minute she got here she perked right up and showed how much she likes this track." Bertha Vanation won her first start at the meet, had to settle for minor awards in her next two tries, then missed a couple of weeks before suiting up for the January 2 Filly and Mare Open where she dismissed at 25-1 from the No. 2 slot. "Because she'd missed some time, she needed every bit of that two-hole trip and the moderate fractions to get there by a nose," Roland noted. Nick admits he didn't see another pocket journey in Bertha Vanation's future when she left from the No. 4 post in a compact cast last week, but the racing gods were once again in her favor and she prevailed once more at the head of the class. "I didn't see it happening on paper, but for whatever reason Brighten Your Life didn't go and I left hard for the top. I didn't mind it at all when Delightfully Wild retook the lead and we were able to work out another good trip." Upsets are often made of such things. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Rockinscience, fresh from a sparkling harness racing victory for driver/trainer Luke Plano, takes on a solid cast in Saturday night’s featured $9,700 Robert Gordon Pace. Watch and Wager LLC will present 13 races with first post set for 4:55 p.m. and the main event will go as the eighth contest on the evening. There are several major contenders in the Gordon line-up, with Rockinscience likely to have his share of backers as he goes for the hat trick this weekend. The 4-year-old son of Rockin Image carries the banner of Nikki Hudson and Dave Haness. After taking the measure of a softer group here on January 10, the bay performer came back last week and streaked home in :27 1/5 to make it two in a row while stopping the timer in 1:52 2/5, shaving two full seconds off his lifetime mark. Bobs Time will be gunning for his third snapshot from his last five trips to the post and is another major player. Rick Bertrand owns and trains the 4-year-old with Jake Cutting in his usual spot in the sulky. Bobs Time proved a punctual even-money favorite last week as he sat the pocket early, brushed to command on the final bend and went on to a length and a quarter score over Cut A Rug, who will again be among his rivals in the Gordon with Doug Chappell at the controls. Rounding out the field are Paddy Murphy, to be handled by Cordarius Stewart; Its Pointless, Tony Kerwood; Villa For Rent with Mooney Svendsen; and Artspire, who will leave from the outside slot with Nick Roland guiding. Low takeout wagers offer true value There are three wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate – the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, the latter featuring a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. To give you some idea of the value that comes as a result of the lower takeout, take a look at last Sunday night’s 20-cent Pick 5 that covered the first five races on the card. There was an even-money winner, three horses clicking at 3-1 and one scoring at 5-1, with the 20-cent investment coming back a nifty $353.68, which equates to a much higher return than the parlay and a nice increase on what the regular takeout payoff.                                           *** This weekend’s Robert Gordon Pace is named for the noted driver/trainer and track executive who passed away at age 65 in 2006. Bob Gordon started his 40-year-career in Ohio and learned his lessons under the outstanding horseman Bob Farrington. He eventually settled in California and was a mainstay at the top of the standings from the late 70s through the early 90s, conditioning such starts as Stand By N, Theora Hanover and Pack Leader. Gordon was a past president of the Western Harness Standardbred Association and the California Harness Horse Breeders Association, while in the early 90s he served as a director of the United States Trotting Association. He was president of Premier Harness Racing, which raced at Los Alamitos, and was instrumental in keeping the sport alive in the mid 90s at a time when harness racing was definitely on the ropes. Bob Gordon was also director of backstretch operations for the Sacramento Harness Association and helped in starting the not-for-profit corporation, which was operating at Cal Expo at the time of his death.   By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Allmyx’sliventexas, unbeaten in his four trips to the harness racing post at this stand, eyes another snapshot in Sunday evening’s featured $6,200 Open Pace. A 12-race Watch and Wager LLC card is on tap with first post set for 4:55 p.m. and the headliner occupying the eighth race slot. An 8-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheel’s out of the Distinguisedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun, Allmyx’sliventexas races for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Jake Cutting at the controls. For his exploits, Allmyx’sliventexas has been assigned the No. 10 position in the field of seven. He comes into this assignment with 43 wins from his 137 appearances, $248,000 in his bank account and a 1:50 mark that was established at Hoosier Park three years ago. In his first three scores at this meet, Allmyx’sliventexas was handled by Nick Roland, including his victory in the Dave Goldschmidt Pace, while his most recent score saw Jacob Cutting at the controls. Allmyx’sliventexas has been putting his class and versatility on display here, capturing the Goldschmidt on the front end and coming from well back to get the job done by nearly four lengths from well off the pace in his most recent tally. Taking him on this weekend are stablemate Proof, who will be guided by Nick Roland; Hoo Nien for Gerry Longo; Royale Big Guy with Mooney Svendsen; Ponda’s Prospect for Luke Plano; Buddy’s Hope and Intrigued Again, who leaves from the rail with Anthony Kerwood.   Mandeville, Longo join forces for success Mandeville put his class on display last weekend when he got away from arch-rival Silverhill Volo and proved a punctual 4-5 favorite in a conditioned event. The 9-year-old trotter by Majestic Son is owned, trained and was driven by Gerry Longo, who is still going strong at 75 years young, and they make a great team. “I bought the horse in the fall of 2019 when I saw him racing in Kentucky,” Longo related. “What impressed me was that he could be tough on the front end or from behind and he was coming home in :27 and change.” Mandeville recorded eight victories from his 21 starts last season for Longo, including a l:54 lifetime mark over the five-eighths Running Aces oval during the summer. His win her last week was No. 31 from 142 starts and he currently has $270,000 in his bank account. “I’ve loved this horse ever since I got him,” his mentor said. “He was still a little short when he first raced at this meet, but I’ve been training him harder lately and that last start showed what can do.” Gerry was asked if the veteran sidewheeler has a preference when it comes to the size of the track, having raced over so many in his career. “He doesn’t care if it’s a half-mile, five-eighths or a mile like Cal Expo, he’s versatile enough to adjust to the track and any way the race comes up.”   By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Bertha Vanation, fresh from a 25-1 upset at the head of the class over a gutty Brighten Your Life; and Velocity McSweets, who had to settle for third that evening in a blanket finish as the prohibitive favorite, get a rematch in Saturday night’s $6,200 Filly and Mare Open Pace. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:55 p.m. with the main harness racing event scheduled as the second event on the evening. Bertha Vanation is a 6-year-old daughter of Voracious Hanover who races for Cathy Dessert and is reined and trained by Nick Roland. She was able to leave into a perfect pocket trip in that last score and prevailed by a nose over Brighten Your Life, who carved out all the fractions. The latter is a Shark Gesture mare who led every step but the last and will be looking for some revenge this weekend. Tyler Gunderson and Jenna Cornelison own, Cornelison trains and will once again be handled by Tony Succarotte. Velocity McSweets will be looking for some revenge after getting the worst of things while beaten only a neck for the whole thing last time. Jennifer Sabot owns and trains and Cordarius Stewart handles the lines. Leaving from the outside slot in that last assignment, Velocity McSweets sat behind slow fractions, put in a big move around the final bend but could not quite reach the leaders that evening. Completing the cast are Delightfully Wild, who will be seeking her third straight victory for owners Richard Morita and David Yamata and trainer Jessie Pacheco; and Robert Staats winner Paloma Ruiz for Melinda Smith and driver/trainer Jake Cutting. The co-featured conditioned trot carries a $5,500 purse and brings out a solid cast consisting of Major A-Mar, MD Magic, Teachmehowtotry, Mshindi and Flameon.   Big Guy, Lassena give Svendsen pleasure drives Mooney Svendsen had a couple of nice winners in the sulky last week, guiding Royale Big Guy to a convincing victory in the Open II Pace and sitting behind the mare River Lassena when she waltzed home by 14 lengths in a conditioned affair. Royale Big Guy is a 7-year-old son of Ashlee’s Big Guy who carries the banner of Scott Ehrlich and takes his lessons from Kathie Plested. After suffering some traffic behind the streaking Allmyx’sliventexas in the January 3 Open, he appreciated the class relief last time around and responded with a length score in 1:53 flat. “This horse has never gone a bad mile for me,” Svendsen noted. “I was pretty confident going into that last race, so I just let him settle and then came first over with him on the backside. He was awfully strong to the wire.” Svendsen had some idea what he had when he climbed behind the 4-year-old distaffer River Lassena for Mark Anderson and Gordie Graham, but wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming mile the daughter of Riverboat King was going to give him. After sitting the pocket early, he was out and moving with her to final bend, took complete control of things from that point and romped to the line with 14 lengths back to the nearest rival. “I’d never driven her before, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect,” Mooney noted. “All I did was hit the wheel disk once and she absolutely took off. I said to myself that Andersen has another good one. “As far as the margin goes, I did drive one once that won by 18 lengths, but this was certainly close and quite a ride.” No kidding.   By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

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