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It's been some time since we've seen as heated a Cal Expo rivalry as the one at the top of the trotting ranks between Silverlode and Flameon, with the pair splitting the six Open Trots decided at this harness racing meeting. Silverlode got the best of the battle when the pair met last week, leaving into a pocket journey for Luke Plano and overpowering the pace-setting Flameon when push came to shove. Silverlode is an 8-year-old daughter by British Serling out of the multiple stakes-winning Website mare Charlotte's Web who was bred and is raced by Steve and Vickie Desomer. She is working her way toward the $150,000 earnings mark with a 1:55 1/5 mark that was set last year over this strip. "I think the rivalry stands out because the field is usually short and a top-class event," Vickie noted after Silverlode's most recent photo session. "Steve and I don't remember ever being involved in such a rivalry in the past. "I don't think the post position is too important in this case, because both Silverlode and Flameon can each benefit from the other if not used too hard early. "I guess the most surprising thing to us is that Silverlode, like Steve, seems to be defying her age!" Well stated, Vickie. *** There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which covers the penultimate four races on the program. Marvin Shapiro Final heads the marquee The $8,800 Marvin Shapiro Final for fillies and mares holds the spotlight Saturday night, with last week's elimination winners Dickies Motel and A Wish for Wings getting the top billing. First post is 6:15 p.m. The feature is named for Marvin Shapiro, who was the son of L.K. Shapiro, who owned the Hall of Fame thoroughbred and California-bred champion Native Diver. He was the president of Western Harness Racing Inc. in the 1960s and spearheaded legislation that sanctioned night racing in California. He died in 2003 at the age of 83. Dickies Motel is a 9-year-old daughter of Camystic who is owned and trained by Richard Schneider and will have Luke Plano in the sulky. She will do her work from the No. 5 post in the field of 10. Sent off the mild 5-2 favorite in his elimination heat, the bay miss left into a stalking trip for Plano, ignited when the question was asked in the stretch and drew off to a three and a half-length victory in a lifetime best 1:55 3/5 clocking. A Wish For Wings is a 5-year-old Roayl Mattjesty offspring who is owned and trained by Stephen Crump with James Kennedy at the controls. She is perfect in two starts on the year, on both occasions tracking the leaders to the lane and then doing her best work when things got serious. The even-money choice in her elimination, the Crump colorbearer left little doubt as she inhaled the leader into the stretch and waltzed home with four lengths to spare while lowering her career standard to 1:56 2/5 in the process. Completing the field are Soul Diva, Moonshinenmonkeys, Duet, Blue Gem, Perfect Pitch, Blue Note, Speak English and Mystery Affair. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Nobody likes a forced retirement, but the rules of the game say Frankthebank will be making his final start in Friday night's 13th race as the harness racing pacer officially turns 15 years old on Sunday. A son of Sportsmaster out of the Incredible Finale mare Go Go Coco, Frankthebank has made 443 starts in his career, with $470,000 in his bank account and a 1:51 mark that was established five years ago. Frankthebank is owned by Rick and Marlene Thomas and will be sent out for the final time in his racing career by longtime conditioner George Reider. Luke Plano will be in the sulky. Reider has trained Frankthebank for 125 of his trips to the post, and that includes 11 wins, 23 seconds and 17 third-place finishes. Bernie Wolin had the most starts with the pacer, sending him out for 191 starts. "It's going to be a sad day when he leaves for his retirement, like saying goodbye to a good friend and a good buddy," Reider said. "We've traveled a lot of places together and I'm pretty sure he's going to miss being at the barn. Hopefully he'll adjust to his new life quickly. "Frankthebank is the definition of an iron horse, especially when you think of all the places he's been and all the different barns. As we're getting close to the end of his career, it makes me kind of sad." Instead of giving Frankthebank a gold watch, George has something more practical in mind for the pacer. "On the first day of 2017, he'll be eating a 25-pound of carrots - just not all at the same time. I'll ration them. "When he heads to his home just outside of Yosemite Valley, I'll have the fondest memories of my boy." Cal Expo salutes Frankthebank and wishes him the best in his retirement! Pair of Carryovers, Goudreau Prep on tap A $10,140 carryover in the Pick 5, a $1,523 carryover in the Pick 6 and the prep for next week's Shelly Goudreau Final are among the main attractions on Friday night's Cal Expo program. The card is conducted under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post at 5:55 p.m. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent bet encompassing the first five races on the card and comes with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. The 20-cent Pick 4 also comes with the 16 percent takeout rate and is decided on the four penultimate races of the evening, while the Pick 6 is a 50-cent wager. The Goudreau Prep has lured a full and contentious cast. Eastender figures to be one of the major players in the line-up for driver/trainer Luke Plano and owners Maryann Plano and Nikki Hudson. A 5-year-old son of Cheyenne Rei, Eastender was runner-up and a close third in his first two starts after coming in from Hoosier Park, then put it all together at most recent asking while posting a two and a quarter-length score as the 1-5 favorite. Total Classic is a Ron Rettig-Zucchi-owned, James Kennedy reined-and-trained performer who fits well in the Goudreau. He scored a 14-1 upset here on December 3 and was hard used in his last start before checking in fourth in a tight finish. There will be no Saturday racing this week, with a special Sunday program that will have a first post of 4:45 p.m. The trotters and pacers will return to the regular Friday and Saturday night schedule next week. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Driver Luke Plano wasted no time finding the Winner's Circle on the Tuesday night harness racing program at Running Aces, after sweeping the late Daily Double on Sunday night, Plano was sitting on career driving win #2,999, and I spoke to Luke just after he notched number 3000 in tonight's opening race, and he told me " When you reach the edge of one of these big milestone numbers, it's easy to get stuck in that "one-away" holding pattern, so I was very happy to be able to get it right away in Race 1 tonight." Indeed that was the best way to get it done, and for good measure he added another win a few races later to get a jump start on the next 1,000. The big milestone came in Race 1 tonight with Majorley($5.80), a 9 year old Art Major gelding, Owned and Trained by Edwin Quevedo. Plano, currently 4th in the Aces dash winning standings this season, got away in the pocket from post one, then quickly brushed to the lead just past the quarter pole, and was never in doubt with Majorley, scoring by 1 length in 1:55.1. Luke Plano was born in Ohio, and is the son of another great horseman and top driving talent Rick Plano. He makes his home in Sacramento, California and is one of the most sought-after drivers at Cal-Expo Harness each season. The 36 year old driver was a runaway winner in the driver's standings this past season at the west coast track, which is where he started his driving career back in 2000. Since then he has steadily become a very talented reinsman, picking up at least 150 wins every year since 2005. His best year to date was in 2011, when he piloted 269 winners and racked up $660,354 in purses. He has been campaigning at Running Aces during summers for the past several years now, and has been among the Top 5 Drivers at the Minnesota Oval since his arrival. Last season, while competing here at Aces, Luke surpassed the $10 million dollar purse earnings threshold. In addition to being a sought after catch-Driver, Luke also trains a small stable of horses as well, and his trainees have had 14 wins and 42 top-3 finishes in 105 races so far on the Running Aces Meet. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer  

Sunday, July 3, 2016 COLUMBUS,MN - The Sunday night Harness Racing card at Running Aces featured the $11,000 Open Pace, and a talented field of six squared off in the top contest, Jazzmanian Devil with Moonie Svendsen in the bike was looking for his 4th straight open win, he got away from the gate 3rd and made a first-over bid past the three-quarter pole, and had a head of the stretch lead before being out-paced late by closers Buddys Hope with Luke Plano in the sulky and Gotta Dream Big with Nick Roland. Buddy's Hope was fastest to the wire, taking the winner's prize in the 1:53.2 mile, Gotta Dream Big was a half a length back in second, and Jazzmanian Devil held third. Buddy's Hope is owned by Jerome Bouvier and trained by Sean Lancaster. It was his 20th lifetime victory, He paid $20.80 at the windows, and the win tonight pushed his career purse tally to $121,668. The amazingly sharp 3 year old gelding Freedom Reigns, with Steve Wiseman in the sulky, extended his winning streak to 5 tonight, pacing in 1:54.4 and holding off a strong challenge from pocket-sitter Whatchastarinat (Gerald Longo). Wiseman sent his charge quickly from the gate from post 7 and found early opposition from FoxValleyRichRokr (Rick Magee) who also left sharply from the outside, Freedom Reigns cleared to the lead past the 3/8 pole after a contested 28.0 quarter, he then led the rest of the way posting 57.1 and 1:25.4 fractions. Whatchastarinat came charging from off the pace but was unable to get past the winner. Holla At Ur Boy (Dean Magee) was third. The Molgaard-Jensen owned and trained Freedom Reigns paid $2.80 as the hot favorite. Driver Luke Plano picked up a Hat-Trick for the second consecutive program, as he also scored with Chew Tobacco Spit ($13.80) in 1:59.2 for Trainer Robert Lems, and he piloted his own trainee Barbosa ($7.80) to victory in 1:56.1. Drivers Nick Roland and Steve Wiseman both posted driving doubles on the card as well. The next card of live Harness Racing at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack will go to post on Tuesday night, July 5th at 7:00 pm CDT.

Harness Racing Driver Luke Plano caught fire on Tuesday Night, starting in Race 3, where he guided his own trainee Winsom Kelly to a sharp Win from first-over, trotting away from her rivals in the stretch to win by 1 ½ lengths in 1:57.2 for owner Nikki Hudson, of California.  In Race 4 he sent his pacing charge Buddy's Hope out quickly from post 5 to establish a strong lead that went unchallenged to the wire, posting a 3-length tally in 1:54.4 for Trainer Sean Lancaster and Owner Jerome Bouvier, of British Columbia, Canada. In the 5th race he was back at it, this time with his trainee Secret Alibi, a pacer who broke behind the gate in her local debut last time out, but was perfect tonight in another gate-to-wire performance in 1:55.4, for her owner Heather Mathews, of California. The Tuesday night feature was the $9,000 Fillies & Mares upper-level conditioned pace, and it was Part Time Lady with Trainer/Driver Steve Wiseman aboard, who charged home fastest in the stretch to just beat Flick a Fly's (Rick Magee) inside rally, with the sharp mare Windsun T Bird (Tim Maier) a close third, in the 1:55.3 mile. Part Time Lady is a 7 year old mare by Jereme's Jet, and is owned by Ron and Tammy Wells, of California. Tonight's victory was her 4th win in 16 starts this year, and boosted her seasons bankroll to $19,540. The next card of live Harness Racing at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack will go to post on Saturday night, June 4th at 6:00 pm CDT, with a carryover in the .50 cent Jackpot Pick-6 wager of $2,100.20, and a carryover in the .50 cent Hi-5 wager of $1,471.92 Darin Gagne, Running Aces

Hi Ho Houdini may have gotten off to a late start, not making his first trip to the post until December, but he's certainly making up for lost time having won six of his seven starts with sights set squarely on Sunday's Sire Stakes for the harness racing 4-year-old pacing males. The son of Hi Ho Silverheel's, who races for Lujuanna Lopez, takes his lessons from Gordie Graham and is regularly piloted by Luke Plano, was an impressive winner of the first stakes dance of the season for the division a month ago and has captured the Marvin Shapiro and a conditioned event in the interim. "It's a dream come true to have a horse like this," Lopez related. "This is beyond what I could have ever hoped for with Hi Ho Houdini." Lopez , who currently has five horses, first became involved with the sport when she was rescuing horses some nine years ago and started to meet members of the harness racing community. "The more people I met, the more interested I became," she explained. Lujuanna's farm was home to the Park Place mare Holls Park Place while she was carrying Hi Ho Houdini, so she has been involved with the pacer from the very beginning. "He's quite the athlete, but he can also be very mischievous," she noted. "The day he was born, that night there was a ruckus coming from the barn and I went out with my rifle, thinking it might be a fox or a coyote. It turned out he was he was racing back and fourth and it was causing Holls Park Place to throw a fit." At the moment, the only ones who are throwing a fit are Hi Ho Houdini's rivals. Sire Stakes, pair of Opens head marquee A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old pacers featuring Hi Ho Houdini and Uringoodhands; an Open Trot headed by Northern Stormont and an Open Pace featuring I'm An Athlete head the Sunday program at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races presented by Watch and Wager LLC and the action gets under way at 5:05 p.m. The Open Pace is the third event on the evening, the Open Trot occupies the sixth-race slot and the Sire Stakes goes as the eighth race. In the first stakes dance for the 4-year-old males one month ago, Uringoodhands was the 1-5 favorite , but it was Hi Ho Houdini who prevailed while turning in a lifetime best 1:53 1/5 performance with a sparkling :26 3/5 final quarter. Uringoodhands is a Kent's On Nuke homebred who races for Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will be guided by James Kennedy. Hi Ho Houdini is another Graham trainee who represents Lujuanna Lopez with Luke Plano once again handling the lines. Since that Sire Stakes score, Hi Ho Houdini has added two more victories, including a handy decision in the Marvin Shapiro Pace two weeks ago. Sent off the 1-9 favorite in that contest, came out late on the final bend, took command early in the drive and went on to a two-length score. Suiting up for a conditioned affair last week, the sharp performer once again rewarded the chalkplayers to the tune of $4 as did the track-and-attack to perfection for Plano and won going away by two and a quarter lengths. Taking on this dynamic duo, from the rail out: Lodi Machete Man from the Pierre Girard barn; the Vickie Desomer-conditioned Musician, Sounion for Edwin Quevado; the Sal Wenceslao-trained Laissezmoipicoler and Hi Ho's Little Rev from Bob Johnson's shedrow. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity - Cal Expo Harness

There was a lot more to Winsom Kellys harness racing victory in a conditioned trot last week than meets the eye. The 10-year-old Egocentric gelding, who carries the banner of Nikki Hudson and KC Carvalho and is reined and trained by Luke Plano, was putting a happy ending to what could have been a tragedy last spring. We were taking him to Running Aces for the summer meet and he got what they call shipping fever, Plano explained. He had pneumonia with lots of fluid in his lungs and he had to be rushed to the University of Minnesota. He was there for several weeks and it was actually touch and go there for a while. I want to thank Mike Minnella, who really stepped up when we needed it. Winsome Kelly, who was claimed by Plano a year and a half ago for a bargain $4,000 before working his way up to the Open level, got back into training late last year and was making his fourth start on the comeback trail when he clicked in that last appearance. I was a little concerned when he first came back, because hed always been very aggressive in his training and he was acting a little on the lethargic side, Luke related. I raced him a little conservatively in his first couple of starts, then he showed me in his race two back that he was getting to his old self when he came a :27 and change final quarter. He put it all together last week, and it was a very satisfying win all the way around. Northern Stormont heads marquee in Open Trot The Steve Wiseman-trained Northern Stormont, who has accounted for two of his last four appearances in impressive fashion, heads the cast for Sunday evenings $6,000 Open Trot. A field of six will face the starter with Northern Stormont leaving from the assigned outside post. Taking him on are the James Kennedy-trained pair of Commandergalleon and Bankers For All; the Robin Clements-conditioned Frank Provolone and Winsom Kelly from the Luke Plano shedrow. There will be 12 races Sunday night with first post of 4:55 p.m. and the headliner will occupy the eighth-race slot on the program. Northern Stormont is a 5-year-old son of Earl Of Stormont who carries the banner of George McCrystal, Mark Kremen and Scott Ehrlich. He has captured 11 of his 62 lifetime starts and set his 1:54 4/5 mark last year at Hoosier Park. The bay sidewheeler was an easy winner of a conditioned event on December 12, then had to settle for a third and a fifth-place in his next two starts with conditioner Wiseman at the controls while taking on the likes of hard-hitters El Azteca and Flameon. He last suited up on January 3 in an Open III affair with Plano guiding and returned to his winning ways with a perfect stalk-and-pounce trip while adding Lasix. Northern Stormont should be tough in this spot no matter how things shake out early. Winsom Kelly is fresh from a facile conditioned tally over a sloppy track and looks like a major threat right back for Plano. Nikki Hudson and KC Carvalho own the 10-year-old son of Egocentric, who was a 1:56 1/5 victor here last season for his career standard. By Mark Ratzky

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

Bill Vallandingham, who was the harness racing starter here from 1994 until health issues forced him to leave the job in 2014, will be honored Saturday evening by Cal Expo. I had a lung transplant on January 7 at Stanford, Vallandingham explained. I was able to leave the hospital a week later, but I had to stay in the area for a month to make sure everything was fine. Bill related that he is right on schedule with his recovery. Its getting better and better every day. Im playing golf two to three times a week, and the only difference is, now Im using a cart. Bill was inducted in the California Harness Horsemens Association Hall of Fame last year along with his brother Gene and Alan Horowitz, and estimates he has sent somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 fields on their way as the starter. He has worn many hats around the racetrack, including groom, paddock judge, horse identifier and horse tattooer before eventually assuming his 20-year stint as the Cal Expo starter. A horsemens friend and a big supporter of California racing, Vallandingham would often on his own time make sure he had the gate on the track so the young horses could get gate time, or if a farm needed their foals tattooed, Bill was there when asked. Ken Fowler worked those two decades at the wheel while Bill was in the back of the car sending the fields on their way, and he took over the starting duties last year. :Billy and I were pretty much joined at the hip for 20 years. I owe everything to him, Fowler said. I miss him being here so much. Hes been like a father to me, helping me through my personal problems and all the time teaching me about the starting car and everything thats involved. Bill Vallandingham has always stood up for California harness racing, and Saturday night, Cal Expo is proud to stand up for him. Shelly Goudreau Pace headlines card The Shelly Goudreau Pace brings out a field of nine Saturday night at Cal Expo with last weeks Prep winner Real Attitude getting the top billing. There will be 13 races Saturday evening with a first post of 6:15 p.m., and the action continues Sunday night under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a 12-race program that gets underway at 4:55 p.m. Real Attitude is a 13-year-old son of Real Artist who carries the banner of Kc C Carvalho and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. Last season saw the veteran posing for pictures following 12 of his 41 appearances and he pushed his career earnings to $434,000 with a 1:51 1/5 mark. Real Attitude won an Open III contest here in late November, then had to settle for minor awards in his next three outings before returning the charmed enclosure in last weeks Shelly Goudreau Prep. Sent off the 6-5 choice in that affair, Real Attitude sat next-to-last for the first three-quarters of the race. Swung to the extreme outside by Plano for the stretch, he exploded late and prevailed by a length and a half. Frankthebank was a fast-closing runner-up to complete the exacta at 32-1 while leaving from that outside post that evening. The now 14-year-old Sportsmaster gelding races for Richard and Marlene Thomas, takes his lessons from George Reider and will be guided by James Kennedy. He is looking to add to a $455,000 bank account with a 1:51 career standard. Completing the field, from the rail out: Midnight Destroyer for Gerry Longo; KFG Cody, Williams Hernandez; Wrangler Potogold, Steve Wiseman; Rascal Flatter, Frank Petrelli; Sheer Desire, David Siegel; Rays Rayzer, Tonny Succarotte; and Lucky Land, Tim Clevenger. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness

With his victory in last Saturday nights opener, V Mack became the first six-time winner at the Cal Expo meet for harness racing trainer George Reider and pilot Luke Plano. The 4-year-old Iowa-bred son of Voracious Hanover is owned by Reider in partnership with Dave and Rob Haness and has been putting both his gameness and versatility on display during the course of the opening weeks of this stand. What a nice find this one was on the last night of racing in Minnesota, Reider explained. I split a horse transportation truck with Luke Plano coming back to California and there was one spot left on it. Nolan Van Otterloo is one of the mainstay breeders out there and told me he had V Mack for sale, so I went over to the barn to check him out. I liked what I saw and purchased him. Dave Haness was a little surprised that I bought the horse so fast, but he believes in me and I believed in the horse. V Mack won with Plano at the controls on opening night, had traffic troubles at next asking and was unable to threaten, and has since rattled off five straight victories while just missing his 1:54 4/5 mark in a couple of those scores. Luke says a horse like Mack helps in races that dont necessarily set up the way you plan. Hes just so versatile, and whenever you call on him hes there and you can use him a couple of times during a race. V Mack will make his next appearance in Saturday nights 10th race. With Plano having a horse from his barn in the line-up, veteran Gerry Longo will be at the controls this time around. Robert Gordon Final gets marquee treatment The $9,200 Robert Gordon Final for pacers holds the spotlight at Cal Expo Saturday night, with last weeks elimination winners Outlawsparkthewind and Dickies Motel heading the cast. A 13-card is on tap with a first post of 6:15. In addition to the Gordon final, there is a $5,000 Open I Pace and a $5,000 Open for pacing fillies and mares. The racing action will continue Sunday evening with a 4:45 starting time. Getting back to the Robert Gordon, Outlawsparkthewind is a 4-year-old Canadian-bred son of Blue Burner who comes into this weekends assignment having posed for pictures following four of his last five trips to the post. Hes owned by Drew Anderson, hails from the Bob Johnson barn and will be handled by William Hernandez. Outlawsparkthewind kicked off his hot streak with a tally in a elimination for the Bob Staats Pace, then finished sixth in the final after being hard-used early. Since that setback, he has rattled off three straight victories on the front end with Hernandez at the controls on each occasion. Sent off the 8-5 second choice in last weeks Gordon elimination, the Anderson colorbearer went right to the top, set the fractions without challenge and came to the wire three-quarters of a length on the pocket-sitting favorite Crusin For You while completing a 1:55 3/5 tour. Beginning with the Saturday, December 26 program, purses at Cal Expo will be raised by 10 percent across the board. Ben Kenney, Cal Expo CFO said, The purse pool was in good shape coming out of the last meet, with each live race up 19 percent over the previous season. This meet is off to a good start and the horsemen deserve this purse increase. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness

The 3-year-old trotting filly Katie Mouse appears to have acclimated nicely to her new home, scoring back-to-back wins for the team of owner Stephen Grollneck, trainer Kennedy Lindsey and pilot Luke Plano. The Illinois-bred daughter of Armbro Tropicana captured three of her 19 starts before joining the Lindsey barn and moving her act to the West Coast, and has now posed for pictures the last two weeks while establishing a new mark in the process. I bought her from someone I know in Illinois who was looking to sell, Lindsey related when asked about the bay miss. It looked like she would fit out here and would benefit by racing on a mile track. After a needed effort with her trainer in the bike, Katie Mouse was paired with Plano for the first time on November 15 and came with a nice late charge to get the job done by a half-length as a 7-1 shot. Sent off an even-money co-choice last week, they took advantage of the rail post and made every pole a winning one while prevailing by three-quarters of a length over the pocket sitter. Luke said she was real good in that first win, Kennedy said. We were going to play it by ear as far as the tactics go last time, and she just went right to the front. I was pretty confident the entire way, although I know shes the type of horse who waits a bit on them. Can Katie Mouse keep the momentum going and complete a hat trick? Stay tuned. Quality Sport, BBs Harley in main event Quality Sport, who has used a strong closing kick to win two of his last three starts; and BBs Harley, his most immediate victim last time, get another chance to settle the score in Saturday nights featured $5,000 Open I Pace. A 12-race program is on tap with the headliner going as the third event on the evening and a first post of 6:10 p.m., while racing continues Sunday with things getting underway at 5:10 p.m. Quality Sport is a 7-year-old son of Sportsmaster who carries the banner of Ronald and Tammy Wells and is reined and trained by Steve Wiseman. He comes into this assignment with seven wins from his 36 starts on the year with a lifetime mark of 1:53 1/5 that was set this summer at Running Aces. The dark-hued pacer came from well back to post a neck upset at 10-1 on November 7 with Tony Succorotte at the controls, had to settle for third at next asking and then came calling late with trainer Wiseman in his last outing to prevail by a half-length over BBs Harley while returning $20 to his backers. BBs Harley is a 3-year-old from the Gene Vallandingham shedrow who races for A Piece Of The Action LLC with Williams Hernandez in the sulky. He registered solid front-end victories on October 31 and November 14, led the way to deep stretch in that last tour but was unable to contain Quality Sport at crunch time. Rounding out the field are Endeavors King, who gives the Vallandingham barn another look at the outcome from the cozy rail slot; Im Real Good from the Lino Pacheco shedrow; and At Last for Grodie Graham. A reminder there are two wagers on the program that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout race. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which this season features a 25 percent minor pool payout; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. by Mark Ratsky, for Cal Expo Harness        

COLUMBUS, MN. - American Dancer and Stuckey Dote swept their respective $8000 splits of Minnesota-sired two-year-old races on Wednesday night in their final tune-ups before Minnesota Night Of Champions on Sunday, September 12 at Running Aces, when each of the eight freshman and sophomore divisions will race for $21,000 purses. With three $11,000 races for older state-breds also scheduled that night total purses will be $201,000. American Dancer broke her maiden in the filly division following six straight show finishes in her first six starts. Sent off at 5-1 odds, driver Luke Plano positioned American Dancer in third from the innermost post position then sent her first-up following the halfway station. Lapped onto favored pacesetter Dag Inmy Stockings (Duane Roland) at the head of the stretch, American Dancer paced home strongest of all to repel Cruzin Coco (Adam Hauser) by just over a length in 1:57 with Dag Inmy Stockings holding for the show dough. The win was one of three on the program for Luke Plano, who also won the opener with Fox Valley Salsa and the nightcap with Stylemaster. Stuckey Dote (Tim Maier) added to his impressive rookie season resume with another resounding triump, this time by better than ten lengths in 1:57.1. The Merlin Van Otterloo owned and trained son of Voracious Hanover now sports six wins and two place finishes in eight career starts and a bankroll of $24,960 entering the upcoming championship fray. You'llseemeupfront (Lemoyne Svendsen) and Mint To Cruise (Nick Roland) earned the place and show payoffs. Gregg Keidel

COLUMBUS, MN. - Harness racing driver Luke Plano, a winner of 2,818 races, reached the $10 million purse earnings plateau on Wednesday night (August 26) at Running Aces. The 35-year-old son of veteran trainer-driver Rick Plano began his driving career at Cal Expo in California in 2000 when he won 26 races and earned $121,902 in purse money for the owners of the horses he drove in his rookie season. He had his first 100 win season in 2003 and has captured between 118 and 292 races every year since. Luke has sported a UDRS over .320 for the last eight seasons and earned purses in excess of $500,000 every year since 2004. Currently Plano is completing his first full season at Running Aces and stands fourth in the dash standings behind Nick Roland and Steve Wiseman, who are tied for the lead with 62, and Tim Maier who is one win ahead of Plano with 48. Plano's milestone victory came behind the trotter Al-Mar Pizzazz, who notched her fifth win in six starts since Luke became her regular pilot. The four-year-old SOS Lunar Eclipse daughter bested a field of condition and claiming trotters chasing a $4800 purse in 1:58.4. Norwegian-born trainer Ulf Holm-Johansen owns the Minnesota-sired trotter in partnership with Vernon Devine. A single astute handicapper solved the 50-cent Pick Six on Wednesday and was rewarded with a handsome $2,452 return. Gregg Keidel

Driver Luke Plano captured half of the eight races on the Tuesday night (July 21) harness racing program at Running Aces, including a triumph in the night's featured $8000 Open Pace. Plano worked out an ideal two-hole trip for Coopers Beach as he followed heavily-favored Headsup Yankee (Nick Roland) until the head of the stretch then held off fellow closers Quality Sport (Tony Succarotte) and It's Getting Hairy (Gerry Longo) by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.1. Coopers Beach, a six-year-old Western Ideal gelding, took a life mark of 1:50.2 at Pompano Park earlier this year, but had been languishing in claiming races at Hoosier Park of late until moving to Running Aces a month ago. Owned by Plano's mother Maryann and partners John Darrah and Lawrence Keethe, the winner now has two wins in addition to a place and a show finish in his first four starts in Minnesota. Plano also guided Forceful Gale to an impressive front-stepping 1:57 victory in a $5500 top condition trot, besting Margin Call (Rick Magee) and Evolution Of Dance (Dean Magee). Jeff Brewer trains the winning six-year-old Strong Gale gelding for owner Ann Wrobbel. Plano stablemates Stylemaster (1:56.1) and Up Town Watts (1:55.3) copped the final two races on the card, giving Luke four wins on the night and running his total to nine in the last four nights. Stylemaster is owned by Nikki Hudson, while K C Carvalho became new owner of Up Town Watts via the claim box one week ago. A single winning 50-cent Pick Six ticket was sold with the astute handicapper scoring a handsome $1,957.65 return on his astute half-dollar investment. Gregg Keidel

Harness racing reinsman Luke Plano scored a hat trick at Running Aces on Wednesday night, bringing his total up to 20 after 20 nights of the current 53-night meet. The 35-year-old blue and white-clad reinsman started his night with an upset win behind Brandi Mayree, who actually finished second but was placed first after being interfered with in the stretch. Brandi Mayree is owned by the Little Bapa LLC Stable and trained by George Reider. Plano followed up with a pair of back-to-back victories in fillies and mares condition races from his own stable. Becky B Skipalong topped Wild About Eagle (Steve Wiseman) and Dakota Law (Nick Roland) in 1:55.1; then High Bet Hanover was victorious over Hotmones (Roland) and Bad Feeling (Dean Magee) in 1:55.2. Both mares are owned by K C Carvolho. Brandi Mayree paid $26.20 to win, Becky B Skipalong returned $30.20 and High Bet Hanover paid $6.40 as the second choice. Gregg Keidel Director of Racing    

Going into last weekends California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing colts, Uringoodhands and Hi Hos Little Rev had dominated the division and were getting all the love from the harness racing fans, going off at 1-5 and 5-2, respectively. Apparently Lodi Machette Man didnt get the memo. Mary Harris and Pierre Girards Little Steven homebred, who was being handled by Luke Plano for the first time, worked out a beautiful pocket trip and prevailed by a length and three-quarters for his initial stakes tally while returning $16 to his backers. Lodi Machette Man had to settle for distant third-place finishes in the previous five big-money gatherings, but now it was his turn to shine. Hes been steadily coming along, and the previous week I got locked in, said trainer Girard, who had driven the pacer in all his previous outings. The horse has still been green, which is the reason Ive been driving up to this point. I dont want another person to have to do my job. Now hes starting to mature and it was time to let another driver take over and Luke is certainly one of the best with some great hands. He had never been behind the horse before that night, but he listened to everything I said and he gave Lodi a tremendous drive, sitting in a perfect position into the stretch behind the two favorites, who were battling. It was also nice of him to give me credit when he was interviewed after the race. There are two more stakes races left at this meet for the sophomore pacing colts and it will be interesting to see if Lodi Machette Man and his new best friend Luke can pick up another trophy for Mary and Pierre before its a wrap. Contentious Distaff Open Pace headlines program Blue Gem, fresh from a 15-1 upset last week; and Part Time Lady, who battled hard with the favorite in that contest before tiring, head the cast for Friday nights $6,000 Filly-Mare Open Pace at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races Friday night under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and the action is set to get underway at 6:40 p.m. The feature will go as the eighth event on the evening. Blue Gem is a 6-year-old daughter of Nirvana and the Cambest mare Cherry Tree Blue who is owned, trained, driven and was bred by Harold Herrera. She was winning for the second time on the season from nine outings in last weeks score at this level and the 1:54 clocking shaved a tick off her career standard. Part Time Lady did the heavy lifting in that clash at this level last week, carving out the fractions and then dueling hard with odds-on Love Live Laugh to the stretch before weakening to fourth. Ronald and Tammy Wells own the 6-year-old Jeremes Jet mare while Steve Wiseman reins and trains. Part Time Lady has five wins this year from 11 appearances, the most recent coming under these conditions on March 1 from the demanding No. 10 post with the 1:54 1/5 final clocking establishing a new mark. Completing the field are Rag Doll with Mooney Svendsen; Internal Check, to be handled by Tim Maier; High Bet Hanover, Luke Plano; Diva Las Vegas with Daniel Maier; and La Madawna De Rosa, who leaves form the rail with Williams Hernandez at the controls. ******* Saturdays action will include a simulcast of the Jackpot Hi-5 from Woodbine, which features an $847,458 carryover and a mandatory payout. The Jackpot Hi-5 is a 20-cent wager with a low 15% takeout rate. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness          

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