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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cal Expo Friday Barn Notes

Sire Stakes, Open Trot, Hi-Five Carryover
  Featured on special Friday program  
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

A pair of California Sire Stakes for 4-year-olds headed by Speak English and Sandy’s Song and on Open Trot featuring Northern Stormont are the main attractions on a special Friday card at Cal Expo.

First post for 12-race race program is 6:15 p.m. This week will find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday and Saturday, with no live racing on Super Bowl Sunday.

There will be an $11,355 Hi-Five carryover on the 10th race. The Hi-Five is a 20-cent minimum wager and will feature a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool.

Looking at the pacing distaff stakes, Speak English is a homebred daughter of Power Of Art out of the Incredible Finale mare Credible Preciosa who is conditioned by Tim Clevenger and will have Luke Plano giving directions.

The dark-hued mare made her belated debut last March and has made all four of her starts in Sire Stakes company, coming away with three wins and a third. Tim Maier was at the controls in the first three starts, including two victories, while Plano was at the controls for her final start of last year with a coast-to-coast stakes score.

Speak English had a pair of qualifiers before last week’s 2016 debut and she turned in a solid second-place finish behind Mistup Magic that should set the Nevarez colorbearer  up perfectly for this assignment.

Taking her on are Smash, Little Cher Amo and Avila Beach. The trotting stakes will find Sandy’s Song being challenged by Comedienne, Zoeys Delight, Dougs Hobby Horse, Get Ziggy and Cadet.

There will be an $11,355 Hi-Five carryover on the 10th race. The Hi-Five is a 20-cent minimum wager and will feature a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool.

Speak English eyes addition to trophy case

Speak English didn’t get to the races until last March, but certainly made up for lost time by winning three of the last four Sire Stakes races decided for the pacing fillies.

Fast forward to Friday, where the first stakes contest of 2016 for the division will be decided and Speak English figures to have plenty of support. The Power Of Art homebred carries the banner of Frank Nevarez with Tim Clevenger the conditioner and Luke Plano handling the lines.

Speak English showed she was a force to be reckoned with right off the bat when she made a victorious 15-1 debut in a March 15 Sire Stakes and ended up with two more added-money tallies before the meet came to an end in the spring.

She was rested up following that and had a solid return to the wars last week over a “good’ track, checking in second to Mistup Magic in a conditioned affair that should prove to the perfect prep for Friday’s return to the stakes action.

“She actually qualified in June of 2014 and again here in December of that year, but came with a virus and we didn’t want to rush her,” trainer Graham explained.

“To be honest, I was surprised she was such a big price in her debut, because we knew she had plenty of talent. She came her back half in :55 3/5 that night, which is awfully impressive, especially for a first-time starter.”

Graham related that Speak English’s only loss in her four stakes attempts last season was likely due to a cough she had earlier that week, and she returned to crush those same rivals two weeks later in the last big-money race for the division at that meeting.