By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
When Franks Best lines up at the gate for Saturday night’s sixth race, he will have just shy of $250,000 in his bank account for trainer Bob Johnson.
“I bred him and own him, and he’s been a nice little ATM machine over the years,” Johnson said with a smile when asked about the 9-year-old trotting son of Armbro Scribe and the American Winner mare Inside Edition.
“He’s obviously lost a step or two, but he absolutely loves to train and race and the one other thing about him, he gives his best every single time.”
Franks Best actually established his lifetime mark of 1:55 4/5 here earlier this year, but didn’t see action between the end of that meet on May 8 and a third-place finish on last weekend’s card.
“He came with us to Hoosier Park this summer, but pulled a suspensory the first time we trained him back there,” his mentor explained. ”That type of injury can be tough, but he’s come back well and now that he’s had a race under his belt, I expect him to improve.”
Mooney Svensden, who has been his main chauffeur for several years, will once again climb Behind Frank’s Best as he leaves from the No. 4 post in the field while meeting some familiar foes like Franky Provolone and Winsome Kelly.
As far as this meeting goes, Johnson is optimistic as we move into the fourth week of action and the first week of Friday and Saturday programs. “I’m optimistic. I think the meet is shaping up very well, with a lot of new horses and very competitive racing. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pacing, Trotting Opens command the spotlight
A $6,000 Open Pace that finds Barbarian eyeing his fourth straight victory and a $6,600 Open Trot that rematches Silverlode and Flameon headline the Cal Expo program Saturday night.
There will be 12 races on the Watch and Wager LLC card with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The featured Trot goes as the second event, while the featured Pace is the third contest.
A reminder that starting this week, there will be Friday and Saturday night programs.
Barbarian eyes a grand slam in the Open Pace and has been assigned the outside post in the field of six. A 5-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere, he is owned by Robert Orr, takes his lessons from Sparky Clarke and will have Tony Succarotte back at the controls.
Barbarian finished up his Vernon Downs campaign in New York with back-to-back wins in the Miracle Mile series at that New York track, then made his local debut here last week in the Open and was sent off as the 5-2 second choice.
The Clarke trainee was shuffled a bit midway, took aim on the leaders at the head of the stretch and came a sparkling :26 final quarter en route to winning by two and a quarter lengths in a 1:54 4/5 mile.
Silverlode and Flameon put on one heck of a battle two weeks ago in the most recent Open Trot, with the former prevailing by a head over a “good” track after carving out all the fractions and just holding off the first-over Flameon.
Silverlode is a homebred British Sterling mare who races for Desomer Stables and will once again have the services of Luke Plano, while Chip Lackey will guide Flameon for owner Mark Anderson and conditioner Gordie Graham. It should prove to be a very interesting rematch.