By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
De Valeria is cut out to be a nice filly, being a full sister to the accomplished Pacinello, and she’s beginning to realize that potential with back-to-back Sire Stakes victories for owner Eugene Afentoulis and driver/trainer Luke Plano.
Pacinello was a real terror here at Cal Expo, dominating his peers before heading on to points East while making an occasional return visit. He has $347,000 in the bank and a 1:50 2/5 mark.
His sis De Valeria rode a second-over journey to capture the first big-money event at this meeting for the sophomore pacing fillies on January 17, then did the track-and-pounce to perfection last week for Luke to prove a punctual favorite in the most recent stakes dance.
“Pacinello was a champion, but since that the mare has had all fillies and while they trained nicely, they’ve had issues between the ears that kept them for doing their best,” Plano related.
Luke’s dad Rick broke this filly in Florida and then trained her down in New York last season, getting a good foundation under the daughter of Little Steven before shipping her out to get ready for these stakes engagements.
“When she got her she still had a few issues, including being a little aggressive away from the gate, but she’s matured,” Luke explained. “She’s real nice to be around and a very smart filly, and that’s half the battle right there.
“I’ve been racing her from off the pace, because that’s the way the races have been coming up for her, but I’m sure I could use her early if I had to and she would be just as good. Last time it just worked out for me to sit in with her and then she gave me a real nice finish.”
Open Pace, Marvin Shapiro Series in spotlight
An Open Pace that finds One And Only gunning for his sixth straight victory and two divisions of the opening leg of the Marvin Shapiro Series get the marquee treatment Saturday night at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo.
For the second straight week, One And Only has been assigned the demanding No. 10 post position in the Open Pace. He will be challenged by A Stitch In Time, who is having an outstanding meet; Giant Sculpture, Somethinginthewind, Doc’s Zippy and Emery Vern.
One And Only is a 6-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada, is conditioned by Lino Pacheco will once again have Luke Plano giving directions. He sports a 1:52 2/5 standard that was established here last season and was equaled in his most recent tour.
The bay performer started his streak on December 21 and has been untouchable in the interim, putting his class and versatility on display. He went coast-to-coast to get the job done in his three starts between January 4 and 25, leaving little doubt on any of those occasions.
In an effort to help level the playing field last week, racing secretary Fred Kuebler assigned One And Only the 10 slot. Unhurried early in that affair, Plano made a big move off the final turn with the pacer and overpowered his rivals in the lane by two and a quarter lengths while recorded the second 1:52 2/5 score of his career.
A Stitch In Time is a 4-year-old son of Kent’s On Nuke homebred who is trained by Gene Vallandingham and will be guided by Mooney Svendsen. He has made a sweep of the four Sire Stakes events at this meeting for his group, but saw his win streak snapped two weeks ago when he was second to One And Only in his most recent outing.
“That’s as good a race as he’s ever gone for me,” Svendsen related after the runner-up finish. “He came that final quarter in :26 2/5 and he would have definitely won if we would have come first over and not had a roadblock ahead of us.” It certainly helps the cause that his main rival has the 10 post this time around, while he leaves from the No. 5 slot.