A change in recent strategy and being at the top of his game made Franks Best way too tough.
Winners-Over trotters, racing for a $4,500 purse, were featured at Cal Expo on Thursday night (November 17), on which Franks Best won for the 18th time in 48 career starts.
In advance of starting from post-position five in the field of the same number, did driver Lemoyne Svendsen have a game-plan in mind?
"No, I was really just kind of waiting for the gate to swing to make that decision on what I was going to do," stated Svendsen. "I ended up leaving on a bit of delay when I saw that D Man (Jim Lackey) wasn't leaving from the one-hole."
Moving up on the outside an eighth of a mile past the start, Svendsen took a look at the pocket.
"If James (Kennedy) had kept on going with Putoneonnetformom, I would have dropped in."
With no seat available, Svendsen moved his charge forward and got the lead after 3-16ths of a mile, but with no softening by Kennedy into a :29.3 opening quarter.
"I was surprised a little bit; I thought he would have taken me a little farther. I kind of liked it that we got there that cheap because it was no effort at all for Frank."
Trotting an easy :30.4 second quarter, Franks Best reached the half-mile juncture in a comfortable 1:00.2, but with his archrival in the pocket.
"I knew we were going to have to sprint from there and I was kind of waiting for the right time to sprint. But I definitely was concerned with Putoneonnetformom behind me because he races very well out of a hole."
Appearing to want to go on on the final-turn, Svendsen had good reason to let out a notch past the midway point of the final bend.
"I pretty much turned him loose when I did because he felt so good."
Trotting an effortless :29 third-quarter and now on top by two lengths at the three-quarter mile station, timed in 1:29.2, Svendsen knew his main foe had big time work to do.
"I was almost sure Putoneonnetformom wasn't going to catch me because Frankie was just way too strong."
In full gear to the head of the stretch, Svendsen applied the finishing touches.
"I popped the earplugs at the top of the lane and he was just like a rocket when I pulled them - - he took off."
Now on top by three-lengths with an eighth of a mile to go, Svendsen soon gave his four year-old a wheel-disc urge with a sixteenth of a mile to go to keep him to his task and there'd be no catching the gelding into a :27.4 final-quarter.
"He was amazing through the stretch - - just so fluid and smooth."
Bred, owned & trained by Bob Johnson, Franks Best won ($4.20) by 2-3/4 lengths, in 1:57.1, equaling a lifetime best. Putoneonnetformom was clearly second best, and the Bob Johnson trained Giles L S Hanover (Steve Wiseman) finished four-lengths farther back, in third.
"It was a good a race as he has given us in a long time," finished Svendsen.
On the 10-race program, leading driver Steve Wiseman had five winners.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (November 18) & Saturday (November 19) 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.
Cal Expo now offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Thursday/Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee). In addition, all Late Pick 4’s will come with a $10,000-guaranteed pool. On Saturday night, there will be a 0% takeout on successful Late Pick 4 tickets made at Cal Expo or at Twinspires.com.