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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Clarke/Johnson Sweep Freshmen Filly Sires Stakes Cal Expo

Saturday, November 5, 2011 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity – Cal Expo

Trainer Bob Johnson
Victories by Pismo Beach and Vari Forgetful gave driver Bruce Clarke and trainer Bob Johnson a nice Friday night (November 4) daily double in a pair of $15,000 California Sires Stakes at Cal Expo.

In the division for the pacers, did post-six with Pismo Beach in the field of the same number concern Clarke?

"No, I was impressed with the filly the first time I drove her back on October 28 in a Sires Stakes," said Clarke.  "I thought she could win."

Leaving and racing three-wide until two-wide into the first-turn, Clarke had an issue to deal with.

"She got a little bumpy about halfway in the first-turn and I had to steady her and it concerned me because I had to hope she would come out of it."

Losing any momentum she had and not in sync and parked fourth at the quarter-mile pole (:29.2) while not going forward or backward, Clarke finally got his youngster to get her mind to business.

"Once I came out of the turn she smoothened out and I knew I wasn't getting a hole, so I let her pace to the front."

Starting to pick up speed to the 5-16ths mile pole and even better at the three-eighths mile marker, the daughter of Hi Ho Silverheel's got the lead after three-eighths of a mile.  What it a tough lead?

"No, I thought she paced strong to the front and I was very comfortable with her."

Controlling the tempo once on the lead into a :59.4 first-half, Clarke soon had good reason to chase after his charge a little from past the five-eighths mile station and on.

"I saw Littlest Mermaid (Luke Plano) coming first-up and I wasn't letting her go because my filly still felt very comfortable at that point.  I tapped her because I wanted to keep her interest in the race and to make sure she wouldn't let anybody go.  Even though I was chasing after her on the turn, I wasn't really worried because she was doing it on her own."

Reaching the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:30, Clarke had to deal with the pocket pulling Twentyone Guns (Lemoyne Svendsen), or did he?

"I still wasn't really concerned at that point because I knew I had horse left."

Maintaining about a one-length lead with an eighth of a mile to go, was Clarke aware that Little Anna Mae (Scott Cisco) was weaving for racing room behind him?

"I knew someone behind me was trying to squeeze up the inside, but I wasn't concerned because that wasn't going to happen - - I was never letting her through.  If she was going to beat me, she was going to have to go around me."

Now under moderate urging in the last sixteenth of a mile, the youngster held on to win ($6.00) by a long neck.

"Even thought I would say she had to last, I don't think she was really done - - she's just very green."

Bred & owned by Wayne & Rod Knittle, the Bob Johnson trained lass stopped the timer at 1:59.1, establishing a lifetime mark.  The Bob Johnson trained Twentyone Guns finished in second, and Little Anna Mae finished a blocked with contained pace third, 1-3/4 lengths farther back.

"Wayne & Rod Knittle have always raced nice horses ever since I've been driving for them.  Their filly raced very good," finished Clarke.

In the division for the trotters, held prior to the wagering card in a non-wagering two-horse event, Vari Forgetful never had competition.

Getting an easy lead from post-two with almost a sixteenth of a mile advantage as a result of Silverlode (Steve Desomer) breaking well behind the gate, Clarke and his filly cut out fractions of :31.2, 1:04.1 & 1:35.2 before trotting a nice :28.3 final-quarter into a 2:04 winning mile.  Bred & owned by Jack Coffey and trained by Bob Johnson, the daughter of Armbro Variable recorded her third straight win, all in Sires Stakes.  Silverlode, who actually nicely made up ground in the middle-half, broke at the head of lane and finished 134 lengths behind the winner.

On the 14-race card, trainer Bob Johnson conditioned five winners, while drivers Lemoyne Svendsen & Steve Wiseman each had a grand-slam.

Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (November 5) 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 all Pick 4’s.  In addition, the late Pick 4’s will come with a $10,000-guaranteed pool.  On the Saturday Late Pick-4, there will be a 0% takeout on successful Late Pick 4 tickets made on track or at

Additionally this Saturday, there will be two $10,000 finales of the Bronte Epilepsy Research Foundation Amateur Series.  There will also be a 500 T-shirt giveaway on track to commemorate the Bronte series and free TrackMaster past performances and analysis for the Saturday card will be available at and at  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.