Shamderock had never lost a Sires Stakes race in ten races over two years, but Live A Little proved that all good things must come to an end.
Sophomore colts & geldings were spotlighted at Cal Expo in a pair of $15,000 California Sires Stakes on Saturday night (November 26).
In the division for the pacers, held prior to the wagering card in a non-betting race, Live A Little, despite lagging the start by 1-1/2 lengths from post-four in the field of five, came away in third into a first-quarter, timed in 28.2. Now fourth at the half-mile juncture (:58.1) as Shamderock (Luke Plano) was moving fast for the lead, driver Lemoyne Svendsen had some concerns.
"I was worried because my horse was on the left-line bad."
Moving to second-over position to the three-quarter mile station, time in 1:26, Svendsen didn't mind that Shamderock had a 2-1/2 length lead with a quarter of a mile to go while his charge was 5-3/4 lengths back in fourth.
"I kind of liked the fact that he went a :27.4 third-quarter because that type of move into the heavy air (fog was rolling in) we had tonight had to take its toll," stated Svendsen. "But I was still very worried about the situation with my horse because he used to make breaks."
Moving three-wide to the top of the lane with 3-1/2 lengths to catch Shamderock, Svendsen could see optimism.
"I was pretty sure I was going to catch him at the top of the stretch because I looked over and saw he was failing pretty badly."
Brushing to the seven-eighths mile pole with Plano all-out with Shamderock, Svendsen knew all was good.
"At that point I could tell I was going right by him."
Closing in very willing fashion, the gelding got up late to win by 1-3/4 lengths. Bred & owned by Wayne & Rod Knittel, the Bob Johnson trained pacer stopped the timer at 1:55.2, a lifetime best. Shamderock had to settle for second, and Badger Creek (Harold Herrera) finished another two-lengths back, in third.
"It means something, doesn't it, that we ended Shamderock's Sires Stakes streak. My horse raced excellent, considering," finished Svendsen.
In the division for the trotters, also held before the races in a non-wagering event, Im So Sulky won as pleased for his third straight victory, all in Sires Stakes.
Getting the lead for driver Steve Wiseman into the first-turn from post-position two in the field of five into a :30.2 first quarter, the pair had to deal in the second-quarter with a lead moving Final Chapter (Rich Wojcio).
"I figured I'd let him go and just retake," said Wiseman.
Yielding at the three-eighths mile marker, did Wiseman have issues when Final Chapter made a break at the 7-16ths mile pole?
"The break didn't bother me because I already had started to come out to go around."
Reclaiming the front past the 7-16ths mile station into a 1:01.3 first half, and into a 1:33.2 three-quarters, was Wiseman concerned that he soon had to deal with the Lodi Nickolus (Pierre Girard), who pocket pulled at the head of the lane and was gaining with a head of steam to the seven-eighths mile marker-mile?
"No, because even though he eventually got up to my neck, I hadn't even popped the earplugs yet. I popped them at the seven-eighths, I started yelling, and he responded well and was very strong. All it was was a ride to the wire - - I was just sitting there enjoying it."
Totally under wraps while Lodi Nickolus was all-out, Im So Sulky reported home under a pretty good grip to win by 1-1/2 lengths. Bred in part by owner/trainer Alan Anderson, the gelding covered the mile in 2:03.1. Lodi Nickolus was clearly second best, and Lodi Kristopher (Scott Cisco), who broke at the start, finished an inherited third, another 21-1/2 lengths farther back while the two other trotters in field broke later in the mile.
"He won very easily and was very comfortable doing it," concluded Wiseman.
Due to dense fog, which made for unsafe conditions, Cal Expo had to cancel races 9 through 15.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (December 1) at 5:30 p.m. (PST) and continues on Friday (December 2) & Saturday (December 3) at 6:00 p.m. On Thursday and every live card, Cal Expo offers free admission, as well as free preferred & general parking after 4:30 p.m. Also on Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Cal Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00. Additionally on Thursday, beer & wine can be purchased for $3.00 each as well.
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). Carryover in the Early Pick-4 (Races 2-5) on Thursday is $4,588.29. Estimated total pool is $15,000. 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.