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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Karen Isbell, Earl Kennedy team up with pacer

          By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

When Get Down Tonight ignited in the stretch at nearly 12-1 last weekend with Mooney Svendsen in the sulky, it was the second straight victory for the pacer and his owner/trainer Karen Isbell and Earl Kennedy.

Get Down Tonight, a 6-year-old son of Red River Hanover, was haltered by the pair in January. After a few starts of getting to know the gelding, they have sent him out for back-to-back impressive wins from off the pace.

“Last year Earl helped me with my trotter Boo Coo Blush, who was having some issues with a quarter crack,” jockey/turned harness conditioner Isbell related. “He was the one who picked out Get Down Tonight and thought it would be a good idea for us to go partners on him.

“What he liked was that he had some good races in the past back East and seemed to be a pretty easy horse to train. The night we claimed him he was 1-2 and won off pretty easy.”

With James Kennedy at the helm, Get Down Tonight looped a field of $3,000 sellers to get the job done two weeks ago, then came to test deeper waters at most recent asking and was up to the task at those healthy odds with Svendsen giving directions.

Meanwhile, Isbell is looking forward to one of her passions, which is competing under saddle with the standardbreds. “I think the first competiton will be coming up this summer at Pocono Downs,” she said. “They are always a lot of fun.”

A reminder that there are three wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4 with a $20,000 guaranteed gross pool on Friday and a $25,000 guarantee on Saturday; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the finale  

Sire Stakes. Open Trot heading the marquee

A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds and an Open Trot featuring stablemates Inside Broadway and Franks Best are the highlights on Friday evening’s Watch and Wager LLC card at Cal Expo.

The Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies finds the rapidly-improving Duet, who captured the most recent big-money dance for the division, taking on two-time stakes victress De Valeria.

Duet is a daughter of Disco Devil and the Tulane mare Harmony who is owned and conditioned by Rick Cisco with Tim Maier at the controls, while De Valeria is a Little Steven offspring who carries the banner of Eugene Afentoulis with Luke Plano doing the reining and training.

Duet was a promising third in her January 31 debut, then caught a sloppy track at next asking and made a break. She put it all together two weeks ago in the most recent Sire Stakes, as he did her work in first-over fashion for Maier and went on to a convincing two and three-quarter length decision with a solid 1:57 2/5 clocking.

De Valeria proved clearly best in the first two stakes clashes on January 17 and 31. On both occasions she did the stalk and pounce to perfection for Plano while coming away at the end, then had to settle for a third-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in that last added-money gathering for his group.

The dark-hued miss came back last week in a conditioned affair and overcame the No. 9 post to get the job done. Well back early, De Valeria came rolling in the stretch to prevail by three-quarters of a length in a lifetime best 1:56 3/5 final clocking.

In the Sire Stakes for the sophomore trotters, Placer is eyeing his third straight trophy. The Panama Hanover homebred is trained by Vickie Desomer with husband Steve in the sulky and has been very impressive getting the job done with his peers in the last two stakes appearances.