Luke Plano doubles his pleasure in Opens
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
Luke Plano was posing for pictures after both Opens last week, guiding Barbarian to victory in the Open Pace for Sparky Clarke and prevailing in the Open Trot with Silverlode for Team Desomer.
Barbarian went coast-to-coast in the Open Pace as the 7-2 third choice, leaving his nearest rival four and a quarter lengths in his wake while polishing off a 1:52 4/5 mile.
“It was actually the first time I’ve ever driven him,” Luke related. “Sparky told me he was a Cadillac, which you hear quite a bit when you’re a catch driver, but in this case it was true because he has great manners.
“He left it up to me as far as strategy is concerned and he was push button away from there and just cruising up front. They gave him a lot of respect and he came home great.”
Silverlode was capturing her third straight Open Trot, this time doing her work from the demanding No. 10 post position. It didn’t matter, as she sat last early, made a steady move to the leaders by the half and got the job done by a length to go over the $150,000 mark for Steve and Vickie Desomer.
“She was real relaxed behind the gate and I saw a couple of them being aggressive, so I just let her drift back at the start,” Plano explained. “The previous mile she had raced so strong from behind, it gave me a lot of confidence.
“She was coming from what would seem to be an impossible start, bit I actually think the slower fractions helped her because she was able to advance quickly when I swung her out and she even picked up a little unexpected cover on the turn. She’s a real nice mare.”
Pair of Sire Stakes atop the marquee
A pair of California Sire Stakes for 4-year-olds headline the Saturday night Cal Expo card, with Allyx’sliventexas getting top billing into the male division and Kissed The Boys seeking another added-money score in the distaff end.
There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and the action gets under way at 6:15 p.m. The Sire Stakes will go as the first and third races on the evening.
Allymyx’sliventexas is strictly the one to beat in the Sire Stakes for the boys. The homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel’s and the Distinguishedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun races for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson and the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen in the sulky.
In the first stakes dance of the year on February 4, Allymx’sliventexas was sent off the 1-9 favorite and looked every bit the part, as he romped home by 11 lengths over stablemate Mathachusetts while lowering his lifetime mark to 1:51 4/5 in the process.
Taking him on this weekend are stablemate Mathachusetts; Midnight Adventure from the Gordie Graham barn; the Edwin Quevado-trained West For Gold; and Rock Of Ages from the Sal Wensceslao shedrow.
Looking at the Sire Stakes for the mares, Kissed The Boys is a converted trotter who is owned and bred by Desomer Stables with Vickie Desomer training and husband Steve handling the lines.
A stakes winner on the trot, Kissed The Boys made her first start as a pacer in the February 4 Sire Stakes and got the job done, albeit with some trouble behind her in the stretch. Set to line up against her Saturday are Plain Awesome, Be My Lucky Lady, Little Emma and Feeling Fancy Free.