Day At The Track

Opens and Stakes action at Cal Expo

06:46 AM 20 Feb 2021 NZDT
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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

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