It was only fitting that a horse named D Man won a race named in the memory of a great man.
Conditioned trotters, racing for a purse of $3,400, were featured at Cal Expo on Thursday night (November 9), on which D Man dropped down in class to score in the Stan Bergstein Memorial.
Leaving and racing four-wide from post six in the field of seven for driver Jim Lackey until two-wide an eighth past the start, the pair didn't clear to the top until past a :30 first-quarter. Did Lackey have to use his charge?
"Driver Bennie Mancino didn't hurt me for the lead with Cobina - - and that improved my chances," stated Lackey.
Getting rated in a :30.2 second quarter, the four year-old reached the half-mile juncture, timed in 1:00.2.
"You have to let him dictate out of the gate, but once he makes the front he'll release the bit a bit and that's what he did in the second-quarter. As for my chances, I wanted to see how things would go in the final-turn, but what I did know was that he would be trying hard in the stretch, like he always does."
Chasing after his trotter some past the half, Lackey had good reason.
"He can go to sleep a little when he's on the lead, so I chased after him to keep him alert and ready for the stretch drive."
Reaching the three-quarter mile station, timed in 1:30.3, Lackey was getting optimistic.
"I kind of felt I had a pretty good shot from there, I just had to make sure I didn't accelerate him too quickly because sometimes when you do that off the final-turn - - horses can make a mistake."
Drawing clear with 3-16ths of a mile to go and trotting nicely, the gelding had 2-1/2 lengths on his foes with an eighth of a mile to go.
"At the seven-eighths it seemed like he was doing enough to win - - I was just trying to keep him to his task."
Owned by Maurice Sigmon and trained by Larry Hastings, D Man wouldn't be caught while just under minor urging to win ($10.60) by 1-1/4 lengths, in 1:59.2, a lifetime best. Dudis Angel (Lemoyne Svendsen) finished in second, and Cherry Tree Nicole (Steve Wiseman), who had road trouble at the head of the lane, finished 2-3/4 lengths farther back, in third.
"He's a good little horse that raced good. It was special and an honor to win the Stan Bergstein Memorial given that Stan was one of the greatest ambassadors that our sport has ever had and someone who truly gave his heart and soul to harness racing," finished a touched Lackey.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (November 11) & Saturday (November 12) night at 6:00 p.m. (PST). On Friday, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m. Also on Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour between 6:00-8:30 p.m., where $2 Beer, $2 Wine & $2 Buffalo Wings an order is offered.
Beginning this week, all Pick 4’s on Thursday (in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee), Friday and Saturday nights will feature a reduced 15 percent takeout rate, with the Late Pick on each of these programs coming with a $10,000-guaranteed gross pool. In addition, on Saturday nights there will be a 0% takeout rate on the Late Pick 4 for winning wagers made on track or at Twinspires.com.