By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
The Robert Farrington Memorial Race for trotters and the finales of the Annette Funicello and Bill Conlin pacing series headline the Saturday night Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo.
A 14-race card is on tap with a first post of 5:40 p.m. Racing will be conducted on Saturday nights in October, expanding to Saturday and Sunday programs in November. Plans then call for a three-night-a-week schedule beginning on December 26 with Friday racing added to the mix.
The Farrington Memorial is named for one of harness racing's first superstar trainer/drivers. Robert “Bob” Farrington, 85, passed away on Monday from an apparent heart attack. Mr. Farrington trained and drove one of the sport’s most popular horses of all time, the fabled pacer Rambling Willie.
Razzle Be Dazzled figures to be a solid favorite in the Annette Funicello finale for owner John Rogers, trainer Steve Wiseman and driver James Kennedy. The 4-year-old daughter of Voracious Hanover is looking for her eighth victory on the year from 18 trips to the post.
Razzle Be Dazzled romped home by six and a half-lengths in a division of the opening leg of this event two weeks ago, then proved a punctual odds-on choice last week while prevailing by a neck over High Bet Hanover while lowering her lifetime standard to 1:54 1/5 in the process.
The Wiseman/Kennedy team also looms large in the Conlin finale with Rich Native going postward for owners Mark Benvenga and Kathy Plested. The 8-year-old Allamerican Native gelding was runner-up in a division of the first leg and then posted a $41.80 upset last week while getting the job done from the demanding No. 10 post that evening.
There is also an excellent $6,000 Open Trot going as the third event on the card. The returning Franks Best and El Azteca will be squaring off against last week’s Open II victress Silverlode, Sharpshootennorris, I Love New York and Silence Son in that affair.
Silverlode relaxing, saving best for last
They don’t get much more dramatic than last week’s Kent Fox Memorial for the trotting set with just a neck separating the first four finishers.
When all was said and done, it was Steve and Vickie Desomer posing for pictures with their 5-year-old homebred mare Silverlode. She continues to work her way toward the $100,000 earnings mark while lowering her lifetime mark to 1:57 1/5 in that most recent tour.
When last seen here during the spring meet, Silverlode was doing her work on the front end, but her two starts at this meet have seen the mare coming from off the pace with her veteran pilot Steve Desomer playing it very cool. By the way, that was victory No. 2,619 for the California mainstay, who has over $10.9 million in earnings.
“Silverlode has always been better racing from off the pace but has been somewhat lacking in manners,” Vickie explained. “Maybe the long turnout or just maturity has settled her down.
“Whatever accounts for the change, we like it. Silverlode spent her vacation turned out with the rest of the barn and being a loner, she spent most of her time well away from the others.”
For a mare who prefers to be a loner, she was certainly in a crowd last weekend when they reached the wire in the Fox Memorial.
A reminder that there are three wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 14 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4 (with a $20,000-guaranteed gross pool); and the 10-cent Hi-Five in the nightcap. Last Saturday, the Hi-Five returned a juicy $4,130 with Rich Native’s upset in the Bill Conlin series igniting the payoff.