By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
After mixing it up with the likes of El Azteca and Inside Broadway in his previous two outings, Franky Provolone got some class relief last weekend and responded with a solid victory for owner Robin Clements, trainer Vickie Desomer and pilot James Kennedy.
The 7-year-old trotter has carried the Clements banner for the last two years and the victory put him over the $115,000 earnings mark. After getting shuffled at the midway point in that mile, he got clear sailing when it counted and motored home in :28 and change to seal the deal.
“When he came back from Minnesota last summer, he was pretty tired and not 100 percent,” Robin noted. “I raced him one time at the opening of this meet and he was no good, so I turned him out.”
In the past, Clements would have given Franky Provolone some time at the Desomer ranch, but that was no longer an option and her fields were filled up with broodmares.
“Jennifer Sperry is a good friend of mine and she ended up taking him to her farm down in Patterson for a well deserved break. Franky became part of the Sperry family, hanging with retirees Pussy Cat and her Claudius Augustus filly Sassy Catitude along with 30 yr old Steroid Stallion.
“He was turned out for two months and put on about 150 lbs. Jennifer and her husband Steve did a great job as Franky is a horrible eater and hard to get that weight on. Jennifer was patient and found out Franky is a buffet kind of guy and doesn't like to eat the same thing everyday.
“ When he came back we stuck to the same plan on his feeding and switched him up a lot. I raced him in the Open Trot, but he wanted no part of El Azteca, and then I was finally able get him in a class where he belongs. James Kennedy did a great job with him the other night and I was very happy how things worked out.”
Sire Stakes, Open Trot, Distaff Pace headline card
A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds featuring De Valeria and Snuff N Beer, an Open Trot headed by El Azteca and an Open Distaff Pace hold the spotlight Friday night at Cal Expo.
El Azteca, who recently over the $100,000 mark in earnings, eyes his sixth straight win while once again doing his work from the assigned No. 10 post. The 5-year-old son of Panama Hanover is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and will have Luke Plano in the sulky.
De Valeria is a daughter of Little Steven and the Fandango Fella mare Princess Kiara who has captured three of the four stakes races for the sophomore pacing fillies at this meeting. She is owned by Eugene Afentoulis and is reined and trained by Luke Plano.
The dark-hued miss used track-and-attack tactics to draw away through the stretch in the first two Sire Stakes clashes, then had to settle for third as the 3-5 choice in the February 14 gathering. She got her revenge in the most recent big-money joust two weeks ago, having no trouble with the sloppy track as she rallied smartly to the lane and pulled away by two and a half lengths.
Duet accounted for the other stakes and goes postward for owner/trainer Rick Cisco and pilot Tim Maier, while Clara Bea carved out all the pace in that last Sire Stakes before checking in second and carries the banner of Schwartz, Axelrod, Rachford and trainer Junior Wilkinson with James Lackey guiding.
Looking at the trotting event, Snuff N Beer and Placer have each earned two stakes trophies to this point while establishing themselves as the leaders of the division. Snuff N Beer is a Mary Harris homebred from the Kennedy Lindsey barn with Luke Plano in the bike, while Placer is a Desomer Stables homebred with Steve Desomer handling the lines.
In the most recent get-together on February 28, Snuff N Beer appeared to relish the off going as he dueled to the stretch and then came away late for a two and three-quarter lengths score. He also posed for pictures following the first stakes of the year on January 17 with a strong finish.