By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
An $8,400 Pick 5 Carryover with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool and a reduced 16 percent takeout rate; and the first leg of the Alan Kirschenbaum and Richard Staley Pacing Series are the highlights at Cal Expo Friday night.
A 14-race card is on tap with first post set at 5:20 p.m. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent wager and there is also a reduced 16 percent takeout on the 20-cent Pick 4 with a $25,000 guaranteed pool on Friday and a $25,000 guaranteed on Saturday; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the finale.
The first leg of the Kirschenbaum goes as the third race on the evening, while the opening of the Staley Series occupies the fifth-race slot on the program.
The co-featured Trot is a conditioned affair that finds Axle dropping out of the Open Handicap and getting away from the likes of the streaking El Azteca and stablemates Inside Broadway and Franks Best, which he should very much appreciate.
A 5-year-old son of Hard Rock N Roll, Axle is trained by George Reider and driven by David Siegel, and they are co-owners along with Robert Thronson and Greg Robinson. He was a six-time winner last season, including a lifetime-best 1:57 4/5 performance over the five-eighths Running Aces oval.
Axle made his most recent appearance in last week’s clash at the head of the class, crossing the wire fourth but placed third through disqualification. He has recorded a second and a third in his two starts outside of the Open ranks this season and will be very much at home with this group.
The co-featured Pace is for distaffers and brings out the likes of Strings, who has been having some tough battles with arch-rival Show Runner; and the classy and hard-hitting Haggin Oaks from the James Kennedy shedrow.
Desomers add another trophy to mantel
When Steve Desomer guided the 3-year-old homebred Placer to victory in last weekend’s Sire Stakes, it was first win for the trotter and tally No. 2,610 for the 77-year-old Desomer.
As far as stakes trophies go, Steve and wife Vickie stopped counting those many years ago. Placer is one in a long line of top performers bred, owned and raced by Team Desomer, and this gelding is obviously starting to get the hang of things.
“He’s by Panama Hanover and he’s out of a divisional champing in Charlotte’s Web,” Vickie related. “That makes him a half-brother to Silverlode, who is by British Sterling.”
Silverlode is a 5-year-old mare who captured several Sire Stakes in her younger days, has put over $80,000 into her bank account and sports a 1:58 standard that was established here last season.
Placer showed good early interest but was no match for Snuff N Beer in the first stakes clash for this group on January 17, then made a miscue at next asking in a conditioned affair. He put it all together last week in the second stakes gathering and got the job done nicely.
“Let’s just say that the effort was certainly a pleasant surprise for both Steve and myself,” Vickie explained after adding yet another Sire Stakes victory to the Desomer scrapbook.
Desomer, along with the rejuvenated Gene Vallandingham and the recently-returned Gerry Longo, continue to show their young racing rivals a thing or two about driving and training winners. Those may be modern sulkies out there, but these guys help add a cool, old-school vibe to these Cal Expo nights.