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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cal Expo Sunday Barn Notes

Vallandingham, Lackey team with talented filly
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Two veteran horsemen and a talented 3-year-old trotting filly joined forces last weekend, as the Gene Vallandiingham-trained, Chip Lackey-driven My Little Susie captured the first Sire Stakes of the season for the division.

A daughter of Claudius Augustus, My Little Susie carries the banner of A Piece Of The Action LLC and was winning for the fifth time in 14 lifetime appearances. Last year saw the bay miss scoring in 1:59 at Lexington, and she lowered her mark to 1:58 1/5 with last week’s stakes score.

In that latter decision, Lackey sat a stalking trip to the stretch, unleashed the filly once straightened for home and she came a sharp :27 3/5 final quarter to seal the deal by two lengths over Kissed The Boys and favored Lodi Bank Robber.

“She’s a small filly, but has a big motor and quick speed,” praised trainer Vallandingham following the win. “I’m only going to race her in stakes races here at Cal Expo.”

My Little Susie actually used front-end tactics to capture the Alan Kirshenbaum finale in her previous start, but her versatility on display with the come-from-behind score in the Sire Stakes at most recent asking.

“I told Lackey before the race that if she was within three of four lengths of the leader at the top of the stretch, she would smoke them down the lane,” Vallandingham said. “She has a big turn of foot and Lackey did a good job.”

Both Gene and Chip have been mainstays in California for the last five decades, with Vallandingham electing to concentrate on the training things these days, while Lackey continues to guide home his share of winners, including My Little Susie for his longtime friend.

Open Trot brings out Northern Stormont

A $6,600 Open Trot that finds Northern Stormont seeking his fourth straight victory is the highlight on Sunday evening’s program at Cal Expo.

An 11-race card is on tap and first post for the Sunday action is 5:05 p.m. The headliner is the fourth event on the program and Northern Stormont will be asked to do his work from the demanding No. 10 post position for the second straight time.

Northern Stormont is a 5-year-old son of Earl Of Stormont who carries the banner of George McCrystal, Mark Kremen and Scott Ehrlich with Steve Wiseman doing the driving and training. He set his 1:54 4/5 mark last year at Hoosier Park.

The long-fused sidewheeler is perfect in 2016, starting the streak with an Open III score on January 3 in which he was adding Lasix. He was unhurried early that night as is his custom, ignited when the question was asked and prevailed by a length with Luke Plano at the controls.

Off as the even-money favorite in his next try three weeks later, he came with cover to the stretch and flew by the leaders to get the job done by two lengths with Wiseman handling the lines.

Leaving from the assigned No. 10 post at most recent asking two weeks ago with his trainer in the sulky, Northern Stormont once again used his powerful late kick to reward the chalkplayers at 1-5 with a two and three-quarter lengths tally.

Taking him on this weekend are Bankers For All with Mark Kennedy; Big Baller, David Siegel; Franks Best, Mooney Svendsen; Commandergalleon for James Kennedy; Winsom Kelly, Luke Plano; and It’s Not Over with Chip Lackey at the helm.