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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rikybrnthegaragdown Fires Bullet to Even Stakes Score

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Rikybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop put on four great battles in the Sire Stakes series for the 3-year-old pacing males at this stand, ending up with two trophies each once the dust had settled.

The Luke Plano reined-and-trained Rikybrinthegaragdwn drew first blood on January 18, but had to be happy with a second and a third in the next two stakes clashes behind King Of The Crop and driver/trainer James Kennedy.

Rikybrnthegaradgdwn evened the score last weekend, carving out all the fractions and then coming a :26 and change final quarter to hold safe by a head over his pocket-sitting arch-rival in a very game performance.

“They’re both nice horses, but still green,” Plano related after his colt scored in 1:55 2/5, a week after motoring by conditioned foes in a 1:55 tour. “Even though Riky is a stud, he’s as mild-tempered a horse as you’re ever going to be around. He’s got a great personality and a toddler could jog him.”

By Living It Up out of the fine racemare and producer Sports Bra, Rikybrnthegaragdwn was broken last year in Florida by Luke’s dad Rick and has really developed in the last few months. “He’s getting better all the time,” the younger Plano noted. “I think he’s going to turn out to be a good one.”

Of course, one can’t interview Luke without asking about the name, which it turns out goes back many years and involves his dad, his uncle and his grandfather. “The story goes that my dad burned down the garage when he was a kid, but my grandfather was never told who did it.

“Anytime my uncle Fran wanted something from my dad and he didn’t get it, he would ask my grandfather, ‘Who do you think burned down the garage?’ and my dad would have to give in.” We now have an answer to that burning question.

Haggin Oaks has top billing in Open Distaff Pace 

Haggin Oaks, who returned to her winning ways with a solid score at most recent asking, gets the top billing in Friday night’s $5,000 Open Handicap Distaff Pace at Cal Expo.

A 13-race card is on tap, with first set for 5:45 p.m. The main event will go as the second contest on the evening with Haggin Oaks leaving from the assignment outside post with trainer James Kennedy at the controls.

An 8-year-old daughter of Hi Ho Silverheel’s from the Incredible Finale mare Ladyladybemybaby, Haggin Oaks races for the partnership of Shari Burns, Ferris Funk and Gerald Cimini. She comes into this assignment with $158.000 in the bank and a 1:52 3/5 mark that was established last year at Tioga Downs.

After recording a smart win here on November 22, the dark-hued mare had to settle for a series of place and show finishes while chasing home the likes of Show Runner and Strings. Both of those mares have headed East, leaving Haggin Oaks as the big gun in the division.

Sent off at 50 cents on the dollar in her last appearance two weeks ago in the Open, the Kennedy trainee lived up to the backing as she made the lead at the quarter, took complete control at that point and came home with a length and a half to spare in a 1:54 3/5 performance.

Lady’s Art hits hard with her top mile and has to be respected. James Wilkinson conditions the daughter of Art Major for owner/breeders Kenneth Seastron and James Kouretas and Chip Lackey will be in his usual spot in the sulky. Her last score came in a conditioned affair on January 17.

Completing the field are Sea Bug, who leaves from the rail with Patrick Galbraith; Windsun T Bird, to be handled by Luke Plano; and Pismo Beach, who will have the services of Mooney Svendsen.