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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cal Expo Saturday Advance

Barbarian has top billing in Open Pace
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Barbarian, who lost a tough one last week after carving out all the fractions, looks to seal the deal this time around in Saturday evening’s featured $6.600 Open  Pace.

There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event will go as the eighth event on the program.

Barbarian is a 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Idol mare Righteous Renee who is owned by Robert Orr, is conditioned by Sparky Clarke and will have Tony Succarotte giving directions from the No. 6 post in the field of seven.

The hard-hitting performer won five of his 19 starts last season, including a lifetime-best 1:52 performance at Vernon Downs and an Open II score here on December 3 to close out that campaign.

Barbarian suited up in last week’s meeting at the head of the class and was sent off as the 3-1 second choice. He went a big mile on the front end, eventually giving way to China King by a half-length in that affair.

I’m An Athlete and One And Only both had difficult assignments leaving from the 10 and 9 posts, respectively, in that race and loom large in Saturday’s headliner. I’m An Athlete captured the January 13 Open for owner Ronald Retttig-Zucchi and driver/trainer James Kennedy and has to be respected.

One And Only races for Richard Morita and David Yamada with Lino Pacheco training and Luke Plano in the sulky and is very dangerous with his top effort. Completing the field are Why Ask Why, Lodi Machete Man, Manhattan Benny and Jazzmanian Devil.

Manhattan Benny getting warm greeting

Manhattan Benny is the new face in Saturday night’s Open Pace, as the 7-year-old makes his California debut for A Piece Of The Action LLC, trainer George Reider and pilot Davie Siegel in the feature.

Manhattan Benny has posed for pictures following 13 of his 96 starts with a 1:51 mark that was established over a sloppy track last year at Pocono Downs. He is making his first evening appearance since early November and romped home by a dozen in a qualifier last week with Siegel sitting chilly in the sulky.

He’ll be getting a pretty nice test in his seasonal debut with some sharp customers in Jazzmanian Devil, I’m An Athlete and One And Only among those who will be greeting him at the starting gate.

You can only get so tight after one qualifier, but on paper Manhattan Benny certainly fits with Saturday night’s crew and it will be interesting to see how the Reider trainee does fresh off the bench.


A reminder that there are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, giving players the chance to get some real value.

They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races of the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which covers the penultimate four contests on the program.

Last Saturday night’s Pick 5 returned a healthy $1,138 for each correct 50-cent investment, enriched nicely by that reduced takeout. Jump right in, the pool is fine.