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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Itsaboutttonight gets overdue trip to winner’s circle

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Itsabouttonight found the conditions of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing series made to order, going coast-to-coast in last weekend’s opening leg for owner/trainer Gretchen Smith and driver Tim Maier.

It had been awhile between drinks for the 5-year-old mare, who recorded a 1:53 3/5 victory as a sophomore. She made only four starts last year without a snapshot and was getting the job done for the first time in six appearances here this season.

Gretchen noted that both she and her pacer are Illinois-breds who joined forces late last year. “I bought her at the Delaware Sale in November and it’s funny how you can race so far from where you’re from and end up with a horse that was born and raised in your home state.

“It turns out that old trainer is also someone that I used to race with in Illinois and her previous trainer is good friends and partner with a friend from Illinois as well. It’s truly a small world and we are just two Illinois-born and raised girls who are far from home.”

Smith relates things did not go all that smoothly when Itsabouttonight first joined the barn. “I struggled with her when she first got here. She can be pretty strong in the bit and she didn’t want to rate very well.

“We made some minor equipment adjustments and finally she is racing like we hoped. Having a good driver like Tim Maier, who is patient and gets along well with her, certainly makes all the difference in the world. I am very thankful for his efforts with her.”

Itsabouttonight will be back in action in Saturday’s second leg of the Sharpiro, which goes as the seventh race on the program. If all goes well, she should be a major player when the finale rolls around next week.

California Sire Stakes, Shapiro Series highlighted

A $10,000 California Sire Stakes headed by King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn and the second leg of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing Series are the main events at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo on Saturday night.

King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn, have accounted for the first two Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing males, while last week’s opening leg of the Shapiro saw Plum Crazy Baby and Itsaboutttonight prevailing in the two divisions.

King Of The Crop is a homebred son of Little Steven who carries the banner of Frank Nevarez while being trained and driven by James Kennedy. Rikybrnthegaragdwn is by Living It Up and races for Maryann Plano with son Luke reining and training.

Plum Crazy Baby is a 6-year-old mare by Relentless Yankee who carries the banner of Derick Takahashi, hails from the Dario Solares barn and has Dave Siegel in the bike for a return engagement. She made two moves to the lead on the sloppy track from her outside slot and went on to a convincing three and three-quarter lengths decision.

Itsabouttonight is a 5-year-old daughter of Armbro Mackintosh and the Life Sign mare Churchbell Sign who is owned and trained by Gretchen Smith and will once again have Tim Maier giving directions.

The bay miss had actually been winless for quite some time coming into last week’s opening leg of the Shapiro, having recorded a 1:53 3/5 career-best mile two years ago. She had been making menacing noises in her past few starts here and put it all together last weekend.

Sent off the 5-2 second choice, Itsaboutttonight went right to the front from her outside slot and left little doubt over the sloppy going. She opened up over four lengths on the field on the final bend and came to the wire with five and a quarter lengths to spare in an overpowering performance.