A pair of Winners-Over events, on both gaits, each offering a purse of $4,500, were featured at Cal Expo on Saturday night (February 25).
In the pacing event, Haggin Oaks got back on the winning track with her 23rd career triumph.
Before starting from her assigned post-four in the field of a half-dozen, trainer James Kennedy knew one thing, but was unsure about another.
"As far as my strategy, I wanted to get to the front and control the pace," said Kennedy. "As for my chances, I wasn't really sure because off of Albion's (Harry Landy) last mile (1:52.4). If he raced back to it, then I thought I was second-best."
Leaving with two others and three-wide until entering the first-turn, the six year-old didn't clear to the front until the field had traveled 3-16ths of a mile into a hot :27.2 opening quarter.
"Mooney (Lemoyne Svendsen) pushed pretty hard with Ivegotwhatuneed and that caused me to push pretty hard to clear down to the inside. In the back of my mind it concerned me, but I was hoping that it didn't."
Now pushing the pace until yielding at the 5-16ths mile marker, Kennedy could take credit for making Marlin Hanover (Luke Plano) work for the lead. Was this helpful?
"I kind of pushed the pace on purpose to keep the pace at a good flow. I think the tough lead for Marlin Hanover helped me a lot because I wanted to be able to control the pace and I knew if I came back (out) that Luke would let me go easy."
Right back out past the 5-16ths mile pole and obtaining a two-move lead to the 7-16ths mile station, Kennedy took a hold of leather and advantage of a good headwind while reaching the half-mile juncture, timed in :58.
"I had her pretty strong up on the bit and she felt pretty good and I was kind of feeling a little confident. I, however, didn't know where Albion was, but I was happy I was on the lead."
Under a hold of his charge while resting his whip on her tail in a rated :29.4 third-quarter, Kennedy was pleased with the middle-half numbers.
"The 1:00.2 middle-half and the third-quarter were very helpful as I kind of got my own way. I now thought my chances were pretty good."
Asked to go when Marlin Hanover was on the move at the head of the lane, the lone lady in the race drew clear by two-lengths, then was under a strong drive with an eighth of a mile to go as several of her all male opposition started getting dangerously close.
"I got after her when they started coming and was asking her for everything she had and she was giving it."
Now all-out with a sixteenth of a mile to go with Marlin Hanover, One And Only (Jim Lackey) and a flying Cycle Power (Steve Wiseman) closing in, Haggin Oaks refused to be passed.
"She just put them away and was frickin awesome!"
Owned by the birthday girl Shari Burns in partnership with Ferris Funk & Gerald Cimini, Haggin Oaks won ($7.80) by a long neck, in 1:55.3. Marlin Hanover was a good second, and One And Only was just a half of one-length farther back, in third.
"It was a good birthday present for Shari and another good mile for my mare - - a mare that I love," finished a proud Kennedy, who had four driving wins on the program.
On the trotting side, Franks Best (Lemoyne Svendsen) won for 21st time in his career.
Leaving from post-position three in the field of five and getting the lead after a sixteenth of a mile, the five year-old pushed a bit before yielding after an eighth of a mile, then found himself third at the quarter (:29) with Putoneonnetformom (James Kennedy) moving up for the lead.
Remaining in third through a half-mile, timed in :58.4, Svendsen moved his gelding first-over to the midway point of the final-turn with three-lengths to Putoneonnetformom, but while quickly narrowing that margin at the three-quarter mile marker, timed in 1:29.
Nicely moving up and one-length back at the top of the stretch, the gelding quickly took over the lead with less than 3-16ths of a mile to, got a wheel-disc urge at the seven-eighths mile pole and went on, then eventually drew clear some to the wire in a nice effort. Bred, owned & trained by Bob Johnson, Franks Best scored ($14.60) by 1-3/4 lengths, in 1:58.1, a seasonal best. Putoneonnetformom finished in second ,and Shelby County (Rocky Stidham) finished a half of one-length farther back, in third.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 2) & Saturday (March 3) at 6:00 p.m. (PST). On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m. On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.
Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee). Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $15,000-guaranteed gross pool. Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at Twinspires.com, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.