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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Friday racing kicks off with 12-race card

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Beginning this week, the trotters and pacers will be in action on Friday and Saturday nights, with Friday’s inaugural program headed by a $4,400 Open III Pace.

First post under the Watch and Wager LLC banner will be 6:10 p.m. for both the Friday and Saturday programs. 

Mr. Pearl has been assigned the outside post in the field that will line up for the main event and should have his share of supporters after turning in three solid efforts in as many tries at the meeting.

A 4-year-old son of Always A Virgin out of the Artiscape mare Penny Artcade, he carries the hopes of A Piece Of The Action LLC with Gene Vallandingham the conditioner and James Kennedy doing the honors.

Mr. Pearl was a runner-up at 10-1 in his first start at the meet, then flew home and missed by a head at second asking here while going off the 2-1 favorite that evening with Chip Lackey in the sulky for both those outings.

The pacer was 4-1 when he suited up for last week’s assignment with James Kennedy taking over the controls. He stalked early, came first over on the backside, took over with a bold move in the stretch and drew off by six lengths in an impressive 1:53 1/5 mile that shaved two-fifths off his career standard. 

Set to line up inside him on Friday are Strings, who has the cozy rail slot, Back Stock, Shark Festival, Windsun T Bird, FF Bigshow, Anderlecht and Rusty Carter. The headliner goes as the 10th race on the program.

Reduced takeout wagers offer great value

Both the 20-cent Pick 4 and 50-cent Pick 5 here at Cal Expo feature a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, and looking at last Saturday night’s payouts in those two wagers shows just how much value that equals.

The Pick 5 sequence that kicked off the program featured winners that paid $5.80, $16.60, $21, $15.20 and ended with an even-money favorite getting the job done.

For each correct 50-cent investment there was a return of $3,131. Using the regular takeout rate, the payoff would have been $2,796, a nice difference of $335 per ticket.

The 20-cent Pick 4, which is decided on the final four events on the evening, saw a 6-5 favorite, a 2-1 second choice, an $8 victor and a $20.80 winner in the nitecap.

The payoff for half a buck was $1,759, while the normal takeout return would have been $1,570, meaning $189 more went to holders of winning duckets in that sequence. Not bad at all.


A big welcome back to trainer Sparky Clarke, who made a pair of trips to the winner’s circle last Saturday with a couple of pacers who had made their most recent starts at Vernon Downs in New York.

Sevenatenine is a 2-year-old filly who was picking up her first lifetime score with Chip Lackey giving directions, while Barbarian was parlaying two wins at Vernon to a local score with Tony Succarotte giving directions.