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A $15,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old harness racing pacing males and a $7,400 Open Trot featuring Mandeville, Pridecrest and Silverhill Volo will be front and center at Cal Expo Sunday evening. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. Lodi Phillip looms large in the stakes clash. He is a homebred son of Another Mile who goes about his business for Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, is conditioned by Greig Watson and has Luke Plano at the controls from the middle of the seven-horse cast. Sent off the even-money choice in the first stakes gathering for this group on February 21, he had serious traffic trouble along the rail through the stretch and lost his chance. With Plano guiding in the most recent big-money event two weeks ago, he went right to the front and made every pole a winner with a length and a half to spare at the wire. Believe In Dragons had to be happy with a second-place finish that night after prevailing the first Sire Stakes with a game performance. He is a 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. Rounding out the field are Chase The Gold, Arnie's Army, Allthundadownunda and SD Watch Me Now. Pancetta on the verge of a milestone With his victory last weekend, the 12-year-old pacer Pancetta is just shy of reaching the $500,000 plateau, earned by winning 39 of his 175 starts with a 1:51 1/5 mark that was established at Pocono Downs. "He's like the little engine that could," related Richard Morita, who co-owns Pancetta with longtime racing partner David Yamada. The veteran is conditioned by Jessie Pacheco and was guided by Luke Plano. "If you look at him, he's so small you would never think he'd be the warrior racehorse he's been," Morita continued. "Dave and I bought him late in his 3-year-old year, hoping to have a nice horse and he's far exceeded our expectations." Among Pancetta's accomplishments are a victory in the Sagamore Series at Yonkers as well as multiple Open victories over that half-mile New York oval. "He's always been best on a small track because he can pace around the turns as fast as on the straights," David noted. "The tough racing has taken a bit of a toll on him physically, but he has such a big heart. He keeps bouncing back because he loves the racing and we've really enjoyed the ride." Yamada did note, however, that Pancetta's racing days may be coming to an end, with a new career on the horizon. "We hope to be able to stand him as a stud in California, producing future Pancetta's to thrill the crowd. His sire No Pan Intended is a half-brother to Bettor's Delight, so we think he has a future in the breeding shed." 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    

Harness racing driver Luke Plano, who has his share of leading driver trophies on the mantle, is back for another Cal Expo Harness stand and is looking forward to making his share of winner's circle appearances. To that end, he was posing for pictures after the first race on opening night and added another tally before the program had finished. "I spent the summer at Hoosier Park, and that's one of the toughest places to race right now," Luke related. "That first quarter and last quarter are always fast and position is so important." In addition to competing in the sulky here, Plano has 10 performers under his care, including a quality pacer named Ponda's Prospect, who was scheduled to suit up in Friday's Open versus Allmyx'sliventexas. "He was racing in Chicago with Casey Leonard and hopefully he'll fit well here." While racing in Indiana this summer, Luke would sometimes find himself driving against his 68-year-old father Rick, who was once a California mainstay and still holds three track records here. "Dad's doing well," Luke noted. "Driving against him is nothing new, because I've been doing it ever since I started out." By the way, Luke has two course standards to his name, including the fastest trotting mile ever at Cal Expo when he guided Pridescrest to a 1:53 2/5 victory three years ago. Distaff Open, Bill Conlin eliminations highlighted A $7,200 Filly and Mare Open Pace and two eliminations for the Bill Conlin Pace get the marquee treatment Saturday evening at Cal Expo. Harness racing has returned to this oval with Friday and Saturday night action and there will be an 11-race program Saturday with first post set for 4:55 p.m. Looking at the Filly/Mare Open, Velocity Mcsweets will certainly be one of the major players for the Jennifer Sabot shedrow. The hard-hitting distaffer prepped for this contest last weekend, checking in second behind the classy Allmyx'sliventexas in a 1:56 3/5 qualifier which should have her ready to rock and roll with James Kennedy guiding from the outside post in the field of seven. Looking to keep her from the winner's circle Saturday are Marys Pretty Girl with Phil Knox; Bettor Lady, Mooney Svendsen; Brighten Your Life for Jacob Cutting; Royal Mistress, Kevin Anderson; Bertha Vanation, Nick Roland; and Delightfully Wild with Luke Plano in the sulky. The main even will be decided as the sixth race on the card, while the Conlin eliminations occupy the fifth and eighth-race slots on the evening. Sherwood is eyeing a curtain call in the first Conlin division after scoring as the chalk on opening night and leaves from the outside slot, while Bobs Time is likewise looking to keep his record perfect at the meet from the outside post in the other elimination. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness        

Alwaysalittlemore, a dominating front-end victress the last time the top harness racing pacing fillies and mares got together, gets the marquee treatment in Saturday evening's $6,700 main event at Cal Expo Harness. The Filly and Mare Open will go as the third on an 11-race Watch and Wager LLC card that gets underway at 6:10 p.m. Alwaysalittlemore is a 6-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin who carries the banner of Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith with Edward Hernandez training and Luke Plano once again at the helm. The hard-knocking bay miss closed out 2019 with romping conditioned victory and has ended up in the charmed enclosure following three of her six trips to the post this season. She recently went over the $100,000 earnings mark and set her 1:52 3/5 standard here on January 18. Her most recent appearance came two weeks ago in the Distaff Open and she made 3-1 look like a gift as she made every pole a winning one with Plano while coming to the wire with four and a half lengths on her nearest rival. Taking her on are Royal Mistress, Dancingonthesand, Delightfully Wild, Virgin Eyes and Surprisingly Sweet. James Marshall IV charting his course James Marshall IV is another new face in the driver's room here this season, with the highlight thus far being his Open victories behind the Jenna Cornelison-trained Bright Your Life. "I got the opportunity to drive for Jenna and I wanted to see California," said the 34-year-old New Jersey native. Even though James came to the sport full time at a bit older age that many, he certainly has a harness racing pedigree as his mother and father are heavily involved as were his paternal grandparents. "I've driven over different-sized tracks, but I would have to see I prefer the mile ones like Cal Expo because those are the tracks I've raced over the most," he noted. "Having said that, just give me an inside post and I'm happy to be driving over any size." The biggest change for James has been driving mostly pacers, where he previously did a lot of his steering behind the trotting set, including several Billings competitions. The 7-year-old pacing mare Brighten Your Life has certainly been the highlight to this point in the stand, including a coast-to-coast victory on January 10 over the best disaffers on the grounds. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                            

A well-matched field of top-class pacing fillies and mares will take center stage Friday night at Cal Expo in the $10,000 Kirk Breed Pace. A 10-race program is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post at 7:10 p.m. and the main harness racing event will go as the sixth contest on the evening. Trainer Kathie Plested looks to have a strong hand in the race with Capitol Hill and Dancingonthesand representing the shedrow. The former is owned by the trainer and George McChrystal with Steve Wiseman guiding, while Dancingonthesand races for the trainer and Alan Cooper with Mooney Svendsen at the controls. As has often been the case at the head of the distaff pacing class, last week's Open saw an upset as Capitol Hill sat a pocket trip for Wiseman and came home smartly to get the job done by a length and a half as a 15-1 shot. Dancingonthesand has recorded six wins from her 10 trips to the post on the season and the long-fused mare looms large. Her most recent tally came on April 6, as she did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection to win going away. Legio X Equestris is going in very sharp form at the moment for owner David Shell and trainer Luke Plano with a win and two seconds from the last three clashes at the top rung here. Ryan Grundy guides the daughter of Roll With Joe and she was a 1:53 victress two back in a handy coast-to-coast decision. Completing the field are Lickcreek Speedway, Brighten Your Life, Delightfully Wild and Magnifique.   Kirk Breed, Tony Miller remembered with races Friday's Kirk Breed Pace is named for the man who served as executive director of the California Horse Racing Board from 2008 until his death at the age of 73 in 2013; while the Tony Miller Memorial is in honor of the harness valet here at Cal Expo who passed away recently at age 56. Mr. Breed was appointed as general manager at Cal Expo during the first term of Gov. Jerry Brown in 1979, and was credited with turning around the event's financial fortune during lean times. He later became a lobbyist on behalf of the racing industry and also served for eight years on the Cal Expo board of directors. The Oklahoma native loved horses and worked tirelessly to reduce equine fatalities and improve track safety for horses, jockeys and drivers. Tony Miller was a third-generation horsemen who was an owner, thoroughbred valet and most recently harness valet here at Cal Expo for the past 12 years. He passed away after a battle with colon cancer. *** The 14-year-old pacing mare Blue Note will be making the final start of her career Friday evening when she suits up in the evening's fifth race and there will be a special ceremony prior to that start in the winner's circle to honor this popular performer. Rick Cisco owns and trains the daughter of Little Steven, who is out of the Denali mare Romantic Music. She comes into her final assignment with 37 wins from her 321 appearances, $155,000 in her bank account and a 1:54 1/5 mark that was set here two years ago "She's a gem, and always tries her heart out," Cisco said. "I want to be sure to credit Luke Plano, because he's had a lot of success driving her over the years. The plan is to send her to Minnesota, where she'll be bred to Wind Me Up."     By Mark Ratzky publicity – Cal Expo Harness

‚ÄčLuke Plano relates that the pacing mare Magnifique, who proved clearly best in last week's Distaff Open II event, has been a pleasant surprise at this harness racing meeting. The now 8-year-old daughter of Tell All carries the banner of Nikki Hudson with Luke reining and training and has turned in a series of solid efforts at this meeting, including a close third in the Alan Horowitz Memorial two weeks ago. "I've had her since September," Plano explained. "Nick Roland claimed her at Running Aces for $6,000 toward the end of the meet and then I took her over. "We thought she would do well here with her conditions, and she's exceeded what we hoped for to this point." Magnifique proved a liking for an off track when she prevailed in a conditioned contest on opening week, then went a powerful mile two back when missing by only a half-length to heavily-favored Scary Harry in the aforementioned Horowitz. In her most recent appearance, she looked every part the even-money favorite as she brushed to the lead at the half and took complete control of the race from there, coming to the wire with a two and a half-length advantage. "She can a little quirky when she jogs, but when it's time to race she's all business out there and has a touch of class," her mentor added. "Now she'll have to step back up to the Open, so we'll see how that goes." Opens bring out quality trotters, pacers A $7,000 Open Pace headed by Icy Blue Scooter, Gorgeous For Real and I'm An Athlete and a $7,000 Open Trot that finds Silverhill Volo in the spotlight are the main attractions on Friday night's Cal Expo program. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with first post set for 6:10 p.m. Icy Blue Scooter is coming off a dominating front-end victory in last week's Open Pace for driver/trainer Nathan Sobey, who also co-owns the 6-year-old son of Blue Burner with Diane Bertrand and Robert Gilhespy. He was runner-up in his first two outings here after coming in from Canada, including a nose setback on November 14, then got his revenge in the most recent clash at the top rung with his two-length score in a lifetime-best 1:52 1/5 clocking. Gorgeous For Real completed the exacta in that contest while going off the mild 5-2 favorite He was a 1:51 victor at Hoosier Park last summer and goes about his business for the partnership of Schwartz, Wilkinson, Axelrod and O'Neill with Junior Wilkinson the conditioner and Dean Magee handling the lines. I'm An Athlete accounted for the December 14 Open when hanging that nose decision on Icy Blue Scooter and was third in that last clash at the head of the class. The 9-year-old son of Art Major is approaching the $200,000 earnings plateau for owner Ronald Rettig-Zucchi, trainer Jessie Pacheco and pilot James Kennedy with a 1:51 mark that was established over this track. Completing the field are King Of The Crop, Bettor's Promise, Almost Cut My Hair, Jazzmanian Devil, Why Ask Why and Prodigal. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

A $6,000 Open II Distaff Pace headed by Magnifique and a $5,500 Open II Trot featuring Dougs Hobby Horse and Windsun Galaxie are the main attractions on Friday night's harness racing program at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races presented by Watch and Wager LLC with first post set for 6:10 p.m. Looking at the Filly and Mare Open II event, Magnifique figures to have her share of backers leaving from the cozy rail slot for Luke Plano, who reins and trains the 7-year-old mare for Nikki Hudson. Magnifique started the meet with a victory in a conditioned contest, was third in a blanket finish in the November 30 Open and at most recent asking was beaten only a half-length while picking up the show money behind the streaking Scary Harry in the Alan Horowitz Memorial. Several of the performers in the co-featured Open II Trot have the credentials to get the picture taken, including a pair from the Rick Bertrand barn in Dougs Hobby Horse and Majestic Lady Jo. The latter, who carries the banner of Bertrand and Amy Grunwald, was a 29-1 upset winner of the December 7 Open, while Dougs Hobby Horse races for Bertrand and Doug Flores and sports an Open victory from last month. Windsun Galaxie is coming off a solid runner-up effort behind Silverhill Volo in the most recent clash at the head of the division two weeks ago and has been assigned the outside post in the field of six. Dean Magee handles the lines for owner Ronald Rettig-Zucchi and conditioner Jessie Pacheco. Low takeout wagers offer true value There are two wagers offered here nightly that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, giving players extra incentive to participate in these horizontal bets. The wagers are the 50-cent Pick 5, which begins on the first race; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $20,000-guaranteed pool on Fridays and $30,000 on Saturdays. In addition, Cal Expo offers 20-cent Trifectas and 10-cent Superfectas, affording players the opportunity to spread deep in these vertical wagers. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Last Friday night saw Nathalie Tremblay making a pair of winner's circle appearances, sending out the pacers Windsong Lindsey and Lilbitofmama for solid victories. Windsong Legacy carries the banner of Ericka Lugar and was guided by Mooney Svendsen, while Lilbitofmama is the pride and joy of her owner/breeder Wendi Wiener and had Luke Plano in the sulky. Windsong Legacy was rattling off her second straight victory last weekend and has certainly turned things around of late. She romped home over a softer group on February 16 in a 1:54 1/5 tour, then repeated that clocking in another coast-to-coast score while up a notch in class. Lilbitofmama closed out the program with a 9-1 upset as he did the track-and-attack to perfection for Plano and was up by a half-length. He is a 6-year-old son of Little Steven out of the Distinguishedbaron mare Mamahaswhiskerstoo and was also recording his second win of the year. Cal Expo has announced that the guaranteed gross pool for the 20-cent Pick 4 on Saturdays has now been raised to $50,000, with the guaranteed pool for Friday's Pick 4 remaining at $30,000. The Pick 4 is one of two wagers each night at Cal Expo with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, the other being the 50-cent Pick 5, which is offered on the first five races of each program. "We started our guarantee at $25,000, went to $30,000. then $40,000, now $50,000," said Cal Expo General Manager Chris Schick. "The Saturday Pick 4 guarantee equals that of The Meadowlands and Woodbine. We have now joined an exclusive club. The low 20-cent minimum, coupled with the low 16 percent takeout, have certainly proved a powerful combination."   Trotting Sire Stakes, distaff Pace share spotlight A $4,200 contest for pacing fillies and mares headed by Shesamysterytome and Shark Festival and a $6,500 California Sire Stakes for 4-year-old trotters head the marquee at Cal Expo Friday night. First post for the 11-race program is 6:10 p.m. Set to do battle in the first Sire Stakes of the season for the 4-year-old trotters are Lodi Jazz Player with Tony Succarotte; Bo Plenty, Leon Smith; Indio Azteca, to be guided by Gerry Longo; Gravel Girl for George Luster; and Never Onebadchange with Pierre Girard in the sulky. Looking at the co-feature, Shesamysterytome is a 4-year-old daughter of Mystery Chase who is owned by Ashleet Sluggett and Trevor Williams with Ryan Grundy reining and training. She established her 1:54 2/5 career standard here earlier in the meet. The bay mare was runner-up to Blue Note in the Alan Kirschenbaum Final on February 2 and has come back with a third and a fourth-place finish while racing at the Open level in her last two outings. She has a tough, first-over trip when facing a very sharp Delightfully Wild in last week's appearance. Shark Festival usually comes with a solid finish and has to be respected as she also drops out of the Open ranks for this assignment. Medinah Racing and Scott Ehrlich own the Shadow Play mare with Kathie Plested training and Steve Wiseman handling the lines. She recorded her most recent score on January 13 in a conditioned event, exploding in the stretch to win going away by three-quarters of a length with Mooney Svendsen at the controls. She has a 1:53 3/5 mark that was established two years ago. Mark Ratzky

Everybody should get a call as good as the one harness racing trainer Luke Plano got from owner Mark Hinshaw last month. "He said he was looking for a winter home for his trotter Pridecrest and asked if I was interested," Plano related. "I'd seen him race a little at Hawthorne and didn't waste any time saying yes." All Pridecrest has done in two starts at Cal Expo is win back-to-back Open Trots by a combined 16 lengths, including a track-record 1:53 2/5 tour of the Sacramento oval two weeks ago. "He's a big strong horse with a tremendous gait and he doesn't waste any action," Plano explained. "Going into that first start here he had that solid resume and had trained well, but I can't say I was expecting a mile like that one. "He was pretty aggressive that night and was setting some strong fractions, but I wasn't sure how he was going to be in the stretch, and it turned out he was super." Pridecrest wheeled back in last week's top dance for the trotters and was equally impressive getting the job done from the outside post in a field of nine. He was first-over to command going to the final bend and went on to another romp at 40 cents on the dollar. "I wanted to see if he would be manageable and he was, although we did get stuck behind some poor cover for a bit there. Once again, he was very strong in the stretch and very impressive." Annette Funicello Pace brings out distaffers The $8,200 Annette Funicello for pacing fillies and mares headed by Cenalta Call Girl highlights the program on Friday night at Cal Expo. First post under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC will be 6:10 p.m. and the action will continue on Saturday evening with the $20,000 Alan Horowitz Memorial being the main event. Friday's featured contest is named for actress/singer Annette Funicello, who passed away in April of 2013 at the age of 70. Annette Funicello was married to harness horsesman/breeder Glen Holt from 1986 until her death and was a strong supporter of the sport. Cenalta Call Girl is a 3-year-old daughter of Allamerican Merlin who is owned by Rene Goulet and Helen and Myrna Empey with Goulet doing the driving and training. She comes into this assignment having captured two of her six lifetime appearances. Cenalta Call Girl recorded her first decision at Northlands Park in late September, surging on the money to be up in the final strides, then made her Cal Expo debut a winning one in the Funicello Prep last weekend as she did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection and drew off to a length and three-quarters score as the 3-2 favorite in a 1:55 2/5 performance. Free Radical completed the exacta in that affair at 13-1 to make a nice move forward in her second outing over this layout since arriving from Minnesota. The Hot Pans offspring competes for Set The Pace Racing LLC and is reined and trained by Nick Roland. Rounding out the cast are Be My Lucky Girl with Steve Wiseman; Alwaysalittlemore, Luke Plano; Rockin Repeat, David Siegel; My Hearts Conquest with William Hernandez; and Nat-A-Katt, who will be guided by Edward Hernandez. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The featured event on the Saturday evening harness racing card at Running Aces was the $13,000 Minnesota-Sired Open Trot for 4 year olds and up, and it would prove to be an exciting contest right down to the wire.   Dougs Hobby Horse and driver Luke Plano flew off the gate wings from the far outside post 8 to secure the front-running position and control the fractions, while Whatevershesgot with veteran reinsman Mooney Svendsen left alertly from the center of the gate in post 5 to lay claim to the pocket seat behind the leader.   Plano and Dougs Hobby Horse commanded affairs through all three fractional panels of 28.3, 58.2 and 1:27.1, while facing a strong first-over bid from Al Mar Reba Babe (James Yoder) around the final turn and into the lane.   But as they straightened for home, it was Whatevershesgot ($20.00) and Svendsen who took to the inside lane and rallied right past the dueling trotters to the outside, getting up to win by a long neck in 1:57 over Dougs Hobby Horse, with Al Mar Reba Babe home in third.   Whatevershesgot is a 4 year old mare by Sos Lunar Eclipse, she now has won 14 of 48 career races and she is owned and trained by Jenni King.   Also on the Saturday card was the $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old pace, with Steve's Hot Rod providing an encore to his track record performance from last week. Steve's Hot Rod ($3.20) posted another sharp gate-to-wire victory from post one, stopping the clock in 1:53 tonight with trainer/driver Rick Magee in tow. The impressive winner is a gelding by Voracious Hanover, and has now won 5 races in 16 starts this season, bankrolling $35,852 for owner Kati Sokolowski.   Drivers Rick Magee and Steve Wiseman both picked up doubles on the Saturday program.   Steve Wiseman has a 13 race lead as the current Leading Driver over Nick Roland in second, and Kathleen Plested has a 5 race lead over Nick Roland as the current leading Trainer.   Live Racing continues at Running Aces with 3 more nights remaining in the 2017 season, Sunday September 10 at 6 pm CDT, Tuesday September 12 at 7 pm CDT and Saturday, September 16 at 6pm CDT is closing night of the season, and also Night of Champions, with all of the Minnesota-Sired divisional finals going for $250,000 (est.) in purses.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

The Sunday night (August 27) harness racing program at Running Aces saw alot of amazing performances, but none more impressive than that of Driver Luke Plano, who picked up a total of 6 wins on the program, 5 as a driver and a total of 4 as a trainer (one of his winning trainees had a different driver up, as he had two in one race). Plano started the winning off early, picking up win number one in the first race on the card with La Madawna De Rosa ($5.40) in 1:55.2 for trainer John Rogers. He was second by less than a length in Race two with Dougs Hobby Horse for trainer Rick Bertrand, and he was back in the winner's circle after Race three with his own trainee Pa's Corn Squeezin to light up the board ($61.00), and take a new lifetime mark of 1:55.1 for Owner Dave Haness. In Race 4 Plano's trainees picked up 1st and 3rd, as Nick Roland guided Plano trainee Moon Is On Fire ($14.00) to victory in 1:56.4, again for owner Dave Haness. Luke was aboard Yeswellnomaybe and checked in third by two lengths. Luke took a short break for Race 5 but was right back at it in Race 6, and right back to the winner's circle with AllmyX'sliveNTexas ($4.40) in 1:55.1 for trainer Bob Johnson. Next, Luke picked up a third driving Rusty Carter in Race 7 for trainer George Reider, then he was 2nd in Race 8 with Al Mar Money Glide for trainer Brady Jenson. In the featured 9th Race, Plano guided 22-1 longshot Bettors Promise to a good 3rd place finish for trainer Timothy Brown. Then in Race 10 Luke Plano was back to winning, as he guided his own trainee Barbosa ($6.20) to a 1:54.4 score for two wins in a row. Race 11 belonged to Plano as well, as he posted a sharp victory with his trainee Dinneratartsplace ($3.80) in 1:56.3 for wife Nikki Hudson. Final score for Luke Plano on Sunday at Running Aces: started in 10 of 11 races, 5 driving wins, 4 training wins, 2 driving seconds, and 3 driving thirds. A fantastic and very impressive night. Plano is having his best year ever at Running Aces, and is currently 3rd in the drivers standings with 55 wins and a UDRS close to .300. He has been the leading driver at Cal Expo in California for the past several years. The Sunday night feature was the $11,000 Open Handicap Pace for Horses & Geldings and Bestinthebusiness ($5.00) made it 3 wins in a row, scoring in 1:51.4 with James Yoder in the bike for trainer Gene Miller and owners Brett Boyd Racing, while Firedrake (Nick Roland) was just a head back in second and Bettor's Promise (Luke Plano) was in home in third. The $13,000 Minnesota Sired 3 Year old Trot went to Its Stormin Money ($11.40) in 2:02 with Steve Wiseman driving for trainer Brady Jenson and owner Bryce Jenson. Live Racing at Running Aces continues every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday night through September 16. By Darin Gagné, Running Aces Track Announcer    

The featured event of the Sunday night (July 30) harness racing card at Running Aces was the $11,000 Horses & Geldings Open Handicap Pace, and it was loaded with a field of 8 talented contenders. None in the field had ever displayed more talent or heart than the race headliner and favorite Roland N Rock, who reminded and doubters of exactly who is king of the Running Aces pacing department.   Roland N Rock ($3.60) floated away in sixth from post seven with Driver Luke Plano aboard, and got rolling first-over well before the half, sweeping quickly to the lead just at the midway point in the affair. Shortly after settling on top, the outer flow of horses came raging on the outside, and SF Donttellonme (Joe Casagranda) swept right by "Rocky" for the lead, opening up almost 4 full lengths around the final turn.   Rocky was down but not out. As they straightened away for home Rocky decided it was his race and nobody was beating him tonight, he stepped on the gas one more time and accelerated right past SF Donttellonme to score his 11th win in 23 starts this year, and his 49th lifetime win by 1 length in a sparkling 1:51.3 with a final quarter in 27.3.   The local superstar pacer and 5 year old gelded son of Rocknroll Hanover has now earned $489,857 for Owners Duane and Connie Roland, and Duane Roland does the training while Rocky is home. He is expected to be heading back to his winter stomping grounds at Yonkers Raceway in a few months.   The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old Trot went to Liquor'skwikker tonight, who posted a career mile with a gutsy first-over grinding win in 2:01.3 with Driver James (J.D.) Yoder in the sulky for Owners Ulf and Susan Holm-Johansen , they are also the breeders of this gelding by Matchstick Man. Tonight's victory was the first win of the season for "Liqour", who had 5 wins as a 2 year old last season and was a state champion 2 year old gelding.   Driver James (J.D.) Yoder completed a Hat-Trick on the Sunday card, and Dean Magee and Luke Plano both picked up driving doubles as well.   Live Racing returns on Tuesday night, August 2 with a first post of 7:00 pm CDT and a carryover in the .20 cent Jackpot Pick-5 wager of $21,817.41.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer  

Stable Eyes ($4.00) took the $11,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace on the Tuesday night harness racing card at Running Aces, delivering as the even-money public choice for her first local win. Trainer/Driver Luke Plano was aggressive with Stable Eyes, sending her right to the lead from post seven in the eight horse field, and they set fractions of 28.1, 57.2, 1:25.0 and completed the victory by stopping the clock at 1:52.3, 1¾ lengths ahead of her closest rival. This impressive 9 year old mare is by Million Dollar Cam and is owned by Tim Clevenger, she has now won 37 races and bankrolled $207,661 lifetime.   Firedrake ($3.20) was fantastic again while posting his sixth consecutive victory in a $6,500 conditioned pacing event tonight with Trainer/Driver Nick Roland in the bike. Firedrake dominated again with a gate-to-wire score in 1:54.1 to make it 7 wins in 8 starts this season. He has actually crossed the wire first in each and every race this year, but suffered a disqualification earlier in the meet. The ultra-impressive 4 year old gelding by Dragon Again is owned by Jessica Johnson and has now won 13 of 23 lifetime races.   The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 year old Trotting event went to Bragginade ($3.60) a gelding by Braggart, for Owners Set The Pace Racing. Trainer/Driver Nick Roland sent his charge first over past the 3/8 marker and took the lead just after the half mile post before holding off a late challenge from the early race leader SB Fine And Dandy (James Yoder). Bragginade held gamely to the wire, establishing a lifetime mark of 2:03.3 in his first lifetime win.   The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 year old Pacing event went to Giggle Monster ($2.20) in 1:56.1, who remains perfect in 3 lifetime races for owners Alan & Cheryl Sandbulte, trainer Denise Maier and Driver Dean Magee. The impressive youngster is a gelding by Wind Me Up.   The $10,000 Open Pace went to SF Donttellonme ($3.80) for his second local win and 3rd overall win of the season, as he posted a new lifetime mark of 1:52.1 this evening for Owner/Trainer/Driver Joe Casagranda. This sharp 7 year old gelding is by Cam Terrific and has now earned $162,070 lifetime.   Leading Driver Nick Roland added another Grand Slam to his resume on Tuesday, with Luke Plano and Joe Casagranda both accomplishing doubles on the card.   The .20 cent Jackpot Pick 5 carryover now sits at $9,384.91 and will highlight the wagering menu for Saturday Night, July 15 with first post at 6:00 PM CT.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

Barbosa posted another sharp gate-to-wire victory, for two in a row and his fourth local win of the season on the Sunday Harness Racing card at Running Aces. Barbosa ($3.60) is a 6 year old pacing gelding by General Aidid and he stopped the timer tonight in 1:54.1 in a $7,000 Claiming-Conditioned event with Trainer/Driver Luke Plano aboard for Owner Heather Mathews. Plano sent his pacer right to the lead from post 5 in the 7 horse affair, and set reasonable fractions of 28.1, 57.4 and 1:26.1 before posting a strong final quarter of 28.0 to seal the deal and register career win number 26.   The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old Filly Trot went to Silent Dreams tonight, who picked up her first win of the year in a lifetime best 2:02.2 with Dean Magee in the Sulky for Trainer Rick Bertrand and Owners Glen and Jody Wilson. Silent Dreams ($7.40) was the 2 year old Minnesota champion filly last year, and has now earned $64,690 in 13 lifetime races.   11 year old gelding Pacer Mighty Fine Hi Ho ($5.00) posted his fastest lifetime win (1:54.3) this evening in his 40th trip to the winner's circle from 266 career starts. The sharp campaigner is Owned and Trained by Edwin Quevedo and was driven to victory by Dean Magee, with an impressive rally from well off the pace and a winning 3-wide move around the final turn. Tonight's win also pushed his bankroll over the century mark to $100,543.   Steve Wiseman, James Yoder, and Dean Magee all completed driving doubles on the Sunday program.   The next card of live Harness Racing at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack will go to post on Tuesday night, July 11 at 7:00 pm CT, with a carryover in the .20 cent Jackpot Pick-5 wager of $7,631.79.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer  

One of the most impressive performances on the Tuesday evening harness racing program at Running Aces came in the $10,000 Open Handicap Trot, and it was Banker Volo ($3.20) who once again dominated the proceedings with a dazzling gate-to-wire performance, and another new all-age track record for trotters. Driver Luke Plano sent the superstar trotter right to the front from the outside 6 post, and they never looked back from there, widening the lead at every marker, and registering a 6½ length romp in 1:54.2, for the fastest trotting mile in the history of the track, a feat he also accomplished just 2 weeks ago. The ultra-sharp 8 year old stallion is by Yankee Glide, and is trained by Jenni King for owner Dan Roland, who again invited any interested fans to join in the winner’s circle celebration after the record mile, it made for a fantastic photo and it put a big smile on so many faces. Also featured on the night was the $11,000 Mares Open Pace, and Best of Jenna ($3.00) did not disappoint her fans as she posted another brilliant gate-to-wire Tally for her fifth straight victory at the top mares level at Running Aces. Tonight, Best of Jenna and Rick Magee brushed immediately to the lead from post 7 as usual, and controlled the affair, but faced a furious late charge from Shark Festival (Mooney Svendsen) in the homestretch, Best of Jenna responded gamely and fought to the wire to hold on by a neck in 1:53.3. The winner is trained by Rick Magee and is owned by Dr. Ken and Jana Lee Rucker, she remains a perfect 5-for-5 this season. The Minnesota-Sired 2 year old pacers made their debut this evening as well, and it was Aint No Uppy Girl (by Wind Me Up) who took the $8,000 Filly pace in 2:01.1 with Joe Casagranda driving for The Van Oterloo Stables and trainer David Flinn, the winning filly paid $6.00. The $8,000 colts & geldings pace went to Giggle Monster (by Wind Me Up), with a very sharp gate-to-wire showing in 1:58 with Dean Magee aboard for Alan & Cheryl Sandbulte and trainer Denise Maier, and Giggle Monster paid $7.60. Firedrake, the 4 year old pacing gelding by Dragon Again, also turned in another razor-sharp dominating win in a very nice $6,500 conditioned pacing event as he turned in another new lifetime best mile in 1:52.2 for owner Jessica Johnson. Trainer/Driver Nick Roland waited for no one and sent the razor sharp pacer right to the lead, and they turned back a strong challenge from Fire On The Water (James Yoder) through the middle portions of the mile, forcing that rival to settle for second. Firedrake has now won 4 races in a row, and 5 of 6 starts this season. Nick Roland led all drivers this evening with another Grand Slam (4 wins) on the 12 race program, he has won 13 races over the last 3 nights of racing. James Yoder also had a big night, with 3 wins on the card. The next card of live Harness Racing at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack will go to post on Saturday night, July 1 at 6:00 pm CDT, with a carryover in the .20 cent Jackpot Pick-5 wager of $2,367.20. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

Arguably the most impressive performance on the Tuesday evening harness racing program at Running Aces came in The $10,000 Open Trot, when Banker Volo ($3.60) re-bounded tonight off of his 3rd place finish last week to post his 3rd win in his last 4 starts, this one a sharp gate-to-wire romp from post six. Driver Luke Plano sent the superstar trotter fast off the gate and they never looked back, and even if they had, there was no one in sight. Banker Volo was home first by 6 ¼ lengths in 1:55.4, his Owner Dan Roland of DanJer Farms invited any fans interested in joining his trotting star in the winner’s circle for the photo, and many excited race-goers both young and old marveled at the chance to do so, making for a fun winner’s circle with Banker Volo tonight. The $10,000 Mares Open Pace also went to post tonight, and another Superstar did not disappoint her many fans in tonight’s top pace as Best Of Jenna ($2.80) also posted a great gate-to-wire display of horsepower, stopping the clock tonight in 1:52.4 with Trainer/Driver Rick Magee aboard. Best of Jenna is owned by Dr. Ken and Jana Lee Rucker and this was her fourth straight win. Firedrake ($8.00) was ultra-sharp again tonight, in a nice $6,000 conditioned pace, Trainer/Driver Nick Roland got him away quickly from post 7, and they were second in the pocket at the quarter, where they remained before finding room in the homestretch and firing past the field to post a ¾ length tally in a lifetime best 1:52.4, for his third straight tally. He is owned by Jessica Johnson. Fancy Creek Link ($3.00) also delivered another sharp performance, as she found her way to the front early in her $6,400 conditioned pacing event, and drew away from her rivals to pick up her fourth consecutive win for her owner Jim Ballinger and Trainer Brett Ballinger, and she was driven tonight by Nick Roland in the 1:54.3 victory. Nick Roland led all drivers this evening with 5 big wins on the program, the first driver to complete the 5-bagger so far this season. His other scores came with Rockin Jimmy ($12.80) for Trainer Justin Anfinson, The Lehigh Legend ($14.20) for Trainer Kathie Plested, and Jabas Luck ($11.40) again for Anfinson.  The next card of live Harness Racing at Running Aces Casino & Racetrack will go to post on Saturday night, June 24 at 6:00 pm CDT, with a carryover in the .20 cent Jackpot Pick-5 wager of $17,314.65. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

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