By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
After making a clean sweep of the Sire Stakes for his division at this meeting, the 4-year-old trotter Freedombird has added two more conditioned victories to the resume, including a dominating score at even-money with Luke Plano last weekend.
“He’s still a work in progress, but he’s very game and all business when that gate starts rolling,” trainer Gordie Graham related. “He likes to have a target, because when he’s out in front he has a tendency to think his work is done.
“The key with trotters is to relax, and he’s definitely getting there. Luke said when he moved with him the other night he only needed two fingers, which is a great sign. He’s late maturing and I’m sure we haven’t seen his best yet.”
Freedombird is a son of Panama Hanover out of the diminutive Sacramento mare Kimmie Girl, an extremely popular performer who carried the banner of Walt and Patty Petersen. Like Freedombird, she retired with a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on her mantle.
“Gordie is an excellent trainer and Luke does a great job driving Freedombird,” Patty related. “This horse is very lucky to have them on his team.”
Patty reports that Kimmie Girl is at home right now and enjoying life. “She has a 2-year-old filly named Pattycakepattycake by Claudius Augustus who is the process of being broken,” Petersen informed.
“She’ll come home during the break and be given some time to grow. She doesn’t look a all like Kimmie, as she is very big but light on her feet and fleet of foot with a lot of spring in her step.” Sounds like another nice trotter could be coming down the line.
El Azteca puts streak on Line in Open Trot
El Azteca, who went over the $100,000 mark in earnings while registering his fourth straight victory two weeks ago, heads the cast set for Saturday night’s featured $5,500 Open Handicap Trot at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo.
A 5-year-old son of Panama Hanover, El Azteca is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and will have Luke Plano in the sulky. For the second straight time, he will be asked to get the job done from the demanding No. 10 post position this weekend.
The razor-sharp performer won an Open Pace at 22-1 in June at Hoosier Park in a sparkling 1:55 with Scott Cisco at the controls, but then went to the sidelines until mid-January, when he returned with an easy win in an Open Handicap here with Tyler Smith driving. Luke Plano took over two weeks later and it was a curtain call for the Rios charge.
El Azteca was then assigned that.10 post for his most recent tour on February 21 and was up to the task as the 1-2 choice. Plano dropped in early with the trotter, made a big move past the half and after opening five lengths in midstretch, came to the wire with a length and a half on Frank’s Best that evening.
Owner/trainer/breeder Bob Johnson sends out the main threats in the uncoupled pair of Inside Broadway with James Kennedy giving directions and Franks Best with Mooney Svendsen at the controls. They are also half-brothers, both being out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition.
Franks Best was 3-5 when facing his stablemate last week, but it was Inside Broadway who got the barn bragging rights. He went right to the front for Kennedy and won easily, while Franks Best had too much work to do from last and had to settle for second money.
Looking for an upset are Sharpshootennorris, who has the inside slot and Steve Wiseman guiding; High Dollar for Tim Maier; and Hellogottagobuhbye, who gives the Maier barn two looks at the outcome. The 14-race card will begin at 5:45 p.m.