The two had never met, but the 20 year-old Harry Landy had knowledge of his charge, and that contributed to Albion pacing to the fastest mile thus far of the year at Cal Expo.
Winners-Over pacers, racing for a purse of $4,500 purse, were featured on Saturday night (February 18), on which Albion got back on the winning track.
Before starting from his assigned post-five in the field of seven, east-coast invading driver Harry Landy was already in-the-know in regards to his charge.
"I knew this horse when he raced out in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and knew he was a little lazy," stated Landy. "But I also knew that when he turns for home he really kicks in and I thought I had a real good shot."
Coming away last, but into a speedy :27.3 opening quarter, Landy wasn't complaining.
"They were rolling pretty good and for sure it helped me because the faster they go up front, the likelihood they'll come back to you instead of sprinting for him. And knowing my horse is pretty lazy, I knew I had to keep him on the bit as long as possible and get his confidence - - so I just kept him on the helmet in front of me and just kept him on the bit."
On the move first-over to the half-mile pole, timed in :56.2 by the pace-setting favorite Marlin Hanover (Luke Plano), was Landy look for a draft?
"To the half, I was definitely looking for cover and was surprised no one pulled because we were rolling pretty fast. I just kept a good hold of him and kept his confidence up even though we were coming first-up and slowly grinding up to the leader."
Slowly advancing on the final-turn, the strategy for the young New Jersey native had now changed.
"In the final-turn I was really wanting to roll up and get close to Marlin Hanover and battle him out - - so I was not looking for cover at that point."
Now moving a little quicker to the three-quarter mile station, timed in 1:25.2, did the third-quarter split work in the favor of the six year-old?
"That :29 quarter brought me in a little closer and helped me."
Getting half pushed three-wide late in the final turn by the pocket pulling Haggin Oaks (James Kennedy), was Landy still thinking he had a real good shot?
"I knew that Haggin Oaks is a pretty good horse and was the horse to beat, especially from the pocket - - but I hadn't pulled the earplugs or the blinds down yet and was still pretty confident."
Starting to drive on his horse with Haggin Oaks now on the move, Landy knew two things.
"When Haggin Oaks got moving I got a little worried - - but my horse was coming and he's lazy, so once I gave him some urging I could tell he was going to take off."
Charging into the lead with less than 3-16ths of a mile to go, Landy knew his first west-coast winner's circle picture was soon to be taken.
"He kicked in real strong and I could just tell that he was starting to really pick up - - I knew I had it."
Getting driven in the lane and drawing clear to the wire, Albion won ($11.00) in solid fashion by three-lengths. Owned by Dan Tullio & James Mascola in partnership with trainer Matias Ruiz, the gelding stopped the timer at 1:52.4, a seasonal best and his third victory in his last four outings. Haggin Oaks was a good second, and Ivegotwhatuneed (Lemoyne Svendsen) finished 1-3/4 lengths farther back, in third.
"He was real strong and real good and going in 1:52.4 was pretty incredible with a back half in :54.3 - - which was really impressive. It was thrilling to win my first race at Cal Expo and beat the best horses on the grounds in my fastest win time ever," finished Landy, who will be returning to drive next Friday & Saturday.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (February 24) & Saturday (February 25) 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 (Thursday/Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee). Beginning February 24, all Late Pick 4’s will now come with an increased $15,000-guaranteed gross pool. Also starting this upcoming weekend, 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.