Bob Staats Pacing series, Don Lovier Memorial set
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
Two divisions of the first leg of the Bob Staats Pacing series and the Don Lovier Memorial Pace featuring Haggin Oaks and That’s Mara have center stage at Cal Expo Friday evening.
A 13-card is on tap as the Watch and Wager LLC meet will now find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday and Saturday nights. First post has been set at 6:10 for Friday’s program.
Gene Vallandingham figures to have a strong say in the opening leg of the Staats as his barn will have three representatives in each division, including last week’s winners After Alimony and R Journey Together, both of whom he will guide.
That’s Mara also gives Gene a major look in the co-featured Lovier Memorial as she is coming off a game decision two weeks ago and should be well supported in the event. She will be taking on the likes of the hard-hitting Haggin Oaks, Strings, Scooter Babe and No Mo Parking. That event carries a $4,500 purse and goes as the third on the card, while the Staats divisions are scheduled as the seventh and twelfth contests.
After Alimony deserves plenty of respect as the Staats series gets underway after turning in a pair of big races since arriving from the East Coast. Owned by A Piece of the Action LLC and reined and trained by Vallandingham, she finished nicely for second in her local debut and then proved a punctual 3-5 favorite in last week’s tour in a 1:57 flat performance.
R Journey Together is a 3-year-old daughter of Western Ideal who races for the same connections. Like her stablemate, she was a runner-up in her local debut after coming in from Pocono Downs and followed with a trip to the winner’s circle last week as the odds-on choice.
That’s Mara looks to make it two straight in the Lovier and could be part of a big night for A Piece of the Action LLC and Vallandingham. The 4-year-old Lis Mara offspring took the measure of an optional claiming field on opening night, was hard used early and paid the price at second asking here and then rebounded to hold safe by a neck with this group last time.