Sophomore ladies, on both gaits, were featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (October 28) in a pair of $15,000 California Sires Stakes.
In the first division, this for the trotters, Thatssomebracciola and trainer Luke Plano took advantage of the unluckiness of one of her main foes.
With the field in behind the starting gate, the morning-line favorite Flea Flicker (Rich Wojcio) jumped it off an eighth of a mile to the start and thus lagged the start roughly 20 lengths while now on her proper gait. Certainly this worked to the advantage of
and his charge? Plano
"It helped my chances a lot because I sort of thought Flea Flicker was the horse to beat, plus it also gave me a better opportunity to sit a two-hole to Claim Jumper (Steve Desomer)," said Plano.
Getting the lead into the first-turn from post-five in the field of seven, then yielding to Claim Jumper well after an eighth of a mile into a quick :28.4 opening quarter, Thatssomebracciola sat a very tight pocket through middle-half fractions of 1:00 & 1:32, all while under a very good hold midway through the final-turn. Looking loaded and very anxious with a quarter of a mile to go,
was cautiously optimistic. Plano
"She felt very strong at that point and I definitely thought she could win, but in her first couple of starts this meet (in October) off the summer break, she hasn't finished strong, so I wanted to wait as long as I could."
Moving first-over past the three-quarters with Flea Flicker now only 3-1/2 lengths back while fourth after a huge 22-3/4 length middle-half recovery,
showed respect for his competition. Plano
"I knew Claim Jumper was done, but I still thought that Flea Flicker was the horse to beat despite her early miscue."
Quickly to the lead at the head of the lane and rolling out to a 2-1/4 length lead with an eighth of a mile to go,
still didn't feel he was home free. Plano
"When I moved her out she took right off to the lead and felt real comfortable once I made the lead, but then I heard Wojcio yell at his filly which obviously indicated he was in range of possibly beating me. So I urged my filly and she took right off again and finished strongly for me."
Bred and owned by Rick Plano, Thatssomebracciola, under minor urging until late, won ($8.80) by 3-3/4 lengths, thus notching her third straight Sires Stakes victory. Flea Flicker, whose break EASILY could have cost her the win, finished in second, and Eggwhite Inmy Beer (James Kennedy) finished 2-1/2 lengths farther back, in third.
"I thought she raced very good and it was a solid improvement over her last two," concluded
Next on the program was for the pacers, on which Whip And A Prayer was fastest of all.
Backed off the gate from post-position three in the field of six for driver Rich Wojcio, the pair came away fifth through first-half fractions of :28.3 & :58. Now racing a loose second-over past the five-eights mile marker, the filly closed the gap and was third-over with "go" at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:27.
"I was happy at that point because I figured she was going to get a decent check," stated Wojcio.
Moving 4-wide into the lane and gaining at the seven-eighths, Wojcio had a bit of an issue to deal with at the same time Racetrack Diva (Tim Maier) shook loose and was coming on.
"In the stretch she kept on marching on like she did when she was two years-old, that is until mid-stretch when she put in a step and I almost lost her. I knew it was going to be between me and Racetrack Diva, but I didn’t know if I was going to be able to recover and gain back the step I lost because she had lost her momentum. But she did and did it on her own and got the job done - - I had nothing to do with it."
Taking over a slim lead with a little more than a sixteenth of a mile to go, Whip And A Prayer actually drew clear on the wire to win ($25.40) by 1-1/4 lengths. Bred & owned by Frank Nevarez, the Gordie Graham trained lass stopped the timer at 1:56.4, a lifetime best. Racetrack Diva finished in second, and Dine N Wine finished just a nose farther back, in third.
"Gordie did a great job of getting her ready for the Stakes race. I was very, very happy for him and the owner. It has been a pleasure and an honor to drive her throughout her career thus far," finished Wojcio.
Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (October 29) at 6:00 p.m. (PDT). On Saturday, Cal Expo offers free admission, as well as free preferred & general parking after 4:30 p.m. Also on Saturday, its Dollar Night, on which hot-dogs; beer, soda, and wine will be sold for one dollar from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Cal Expo is now offering a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on Saturdays for both Pick 4’s. In addition, the late Pick 4 will come with a $10,000-guaranteed pool and there will be a 0% takeout on successful Late Pick 4 tickets made on track or at Twinspires.com.
On Saturday, the entire 12-race Breeders Crown card from Woodbine card can be wagered on at Cal Expo as well as at all California wagering outlets. Many of the top pacers and trotters will be in action on this outstanding program with $6 million in purses on the line. There will also be a pair of $100,000-guaranteed Pick 4 pools. First-race post-time is 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Additionally this Saturday, there will be second leg action of the Bronte Epilepsy Research Foundation Amateur Series. The Amateur series is being sponsored by Lou Pena and some of his owners. Between their generosity and the driver fees, a total of $7,000 beyond the purse monies will go to the Bronte Foundation. In addition, driver George Brennan has pledged an additional donation that will significantly augment that figure.