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Monday, October 24, 2011

Littlest Mermaid, Vari Forgetful Capture Sires Stakes At Cal Expo

Saturday, October 22, 2011 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity – Cal Expo

Freshmen fillies, on both gaits, were featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (October 21) in a pair of $15,000 California Sires Stakes.

In the Stakes for the pacers, Littlest Mermaid was confidently driven to victory.

In advance of starting from post one in the field of seven, driver Luke Plano had the foundation to be confident.

"She raced pretty good in the first Sires Stakes two weeks ago," said Plano.  "In her overnight race last week, she raced really well in an educational mile where she finished smartly under little urging.  With that being said, I thought she would be about as good as anybody if she got the right type of trip."

Leaving moderately and pushing the pace some, Plano yielded after an eighth of a mile and got what he was looking for while his main foes didn't get what they were looking for.

"I wanted to come away good, but I didn't want to push her too hard off the gate - - so I left on the delay to come away as good as I could.  When Twentyone Guns (Rich Wojcio) broke at the eighth, I didn't know how much Pismo Beach (Bruce Clarke) and Brimstone Threat (Lemoyne Svendsen) had been bothered, but I did know that they got away worse than they were going to initially - - which helped me because I thought they were the two horses to beat."

Coming away two-lengths back in second behind On The Way Home (Steve Wiseman) into a :28.4 opening quarter, Plano closed the gap at the three-eighths mile pole, then was on the move out of the pocket at the 7-16ths mile station.  Did he have good reason to not want the garden-seat?

"We were going pretty slow, plus On The Way Home seemed to be struggling a little gait wise.  As slow as Wiseman was going with her, I thought he would back Brimstone Threat and Pismo Beach back into the race and that was my main concern.  So since she felt good, I put her on the front with the hopes of going all the way."

Getting chased after to clear to the lead well past a :59.2 first-half, Plano continued to chase after his youngster on the final-turn.

"She felt like she had a lot of pace, but was pacing kind of green as she was acting like she had never been on the front before and was acting pretty lax.  So I was trying to keep her attention and get her on the bit and moving."

Going on some in the third-quarter and leading by two-lengths at the three-quarter mile juncture, timed in 1:28.4, Plano soon saw, or didn't see why he could be very optimistic.

"She felt good and real strong at that point and I didn't know where anybody else was - - so obviously I thought I had a real solid chance."

Moving out by three-lengths with an eighth of a mile to go, it "appeared" the filly had the race sewn up.

"She was pacing strongly at that point and I thought I had a real good chance of getting home - - but I still wasn't exactly sure where anybody else was."

With the field now approaching deep-stretch, Littlest Mermaid gave her pilot a bit of a scare.

"Inside the sixteenth pole she started to get a little tired at the same time Pismo Beach (Bruce Clarke) started getting close and I was concerned a little bit because I wasn't sure how much pace Pismo Beach had.  My filly, however, didn't stop by any means as I kept after her and she responded with every urge and held safe and in-hand despite being a bit tired."

Luke Plano
Bred & owned by Alan Kirschenbaum, who raced the sire (Little Steven) & the dam (Jethica Tandy), the Denise Maier trained lass won ($6.60) by one-length, in 1:58.1, establishing a lifetime mark.  Pismo Beach was a good and unlucky second, and On The Way Home finished 4-1/4-lengths farther back, in third.

"This was her third start and she dropped three seconds off of her fastest race-mile and raced very well.  She's a really nice filly who is starting to figure things out," concluded Plano.

In the first division for the trotters held prior to the wagering card, Vari Forgetful cut out fractions for Bruce Clarke of :29.2, :59.4, and 1:30.3 to score in 2:01 while chased after some in the lane for back to back Sires Stakes victories.  Bred & owned by Jack Coffey, the Bob Johnson trained daughter of Armbro Variable won by 160-3/4 lengths. Yes, 160-3/4 lengths as a result of the only other horse in the race, Silverlode (Steve Desomer), making a break an eighth of a mile to the start and obviously never  being involved.