Day At The Track

Shelby County bests the boys at Cal Expo

09:38 AM 11 Feb 2012 NZDT
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A two race bump after beating these twice to start off the year came to an end when Shelby County never looked back. Harness racing 'Winners-Over' trotters, racing for a $4,500 purse, were featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (February 10), on which Shelby County successfully changed tactics.

Prior to starting from her assigned post-five in the field of a half-dozen, did trainer Rocky Stidham feel good about his chances given his trotter might have needed her last after being off two weeks?

"I was very concerned because I actually looked at it as being off three weeks because in her start on January 20, she broke and was so far back and just kind of went around the track," stated Stidham. "Then in last week’s performance she was short and flat - - so I was really concerned about tonight because I didn't know if she was on her game. My strategy was to get her into the race early, whether it was for position or on the lead."

With the gate rolling and the field a sixteenth of a mile from the start, Stidham chased after his charge.

"I did that because of a little break she made in the post-parade, and I wanted to prepare her to leave."

Leaving and racing three-wide until the field had just entered the first-turn, the five year-old didn't obtain the front until the field had traveled 3-16ths of a mile into a :29.1 first-quarter. Did Stidham use his trainee?

"I used her a little because I left with her with three others, then we kind of all took back because everybody knew we were going some, then I asked her to go again. But it didn't concern me a whole lot because we kind of had a tailwind going around the first-turn."

Resting the whip on the tail of his mare in the second-quarter, Stidham had good reason, especially with Franks Best (Lemoyne Svendsen) stalking in the pocket at the half-mile juncture, timed in :58.1.

"It was past the point of no return, which is why I had the whip on her tail as I wanted to keep her alert in case someone came fast and tried to get around us - - all while Franks Best was hard on my helmet."

Chasing after his horse to the three-quarter mile station (1:28) when stable-mate Putoneonnetformom (James Kennedy) was gaining while uncovered, Stidham, off a rated third-quarter, was optimistic.

"I was pleased with the fractions and started to go with her just before the three-quarters because I wanted to get a jump on Franks Best and Putoneonnetformom, all while thinking my chances were good at that point, as I had a lot of horse."

Drawing clear to the seven-eighths mile pole after rebuffing Putoneonnetformom, Stidham now had to deal with a fresh Franks Best up the inside.

"I had a major concern because she was starting to tire and Franks Best had gotten a pocket trip."

Now under urging with a sixteenth of a mile to go, was Shelby County looking for something?

"She was looking for the wire, plus Franks Best is a big fighter late in the mile, but my horse is also a fighter and she was able to hold on and beat the boys."

Bred & owned by Ben Kenney, Shelby County won ($11.40) by a neck, in 1:57.1, equaling a lifetime best. Franks Best had to settle for second, and Putoneonnetformom had his three race win streak end, finished 1-1/2 lengths farther back, in third.

"It was probably her best race ever because this time she did it wire to wire," finished Stidham.

Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (February 11) at 6:00 p.m. (PST). On Saturday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while Hotdogs, Fries & Sodas are offered at $2 apiece.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Thursday/Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee). For the next two Saturday nights, all Late Pick 4’s will come with a $10,000-guaranteed pool. Additionally, there will be a 0% takeout on successful Late Pick 4 tickets made at Cal Expo or at Twinspires.com.

In addition to both Pick 4’s at Cal Expo continuing to offer a reduced 15 percent takeout rate, beginning February 24, the Late Pick 4’s on Friday and Saturday will come with an increased $15,000-guaranteed gross pool.

Also starting that weekend, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at Twinspires.com, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

by Scott EHRLICH

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