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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cal Expo Saturday Advance

Army Of One, Western Devil do battle
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Army Of One and Western Devil, who have dominated the division this season, go at it once again in Saturday night’s featured $6,500 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing males.

An 11-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post at 6:15 p.m. There will also be a California Sire Stakes for the sophomore fillies to be decided as a non-betting affair prior to the regular card.

Army Of One is a homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel’s and the Artsplace mare Aftermatch who races for Wayne and Rod Knittel, takes his lessons from Bob Johnson and will as usual have Mooney Svendsen guiding.

The Knittel performer accounted for the first four Sire Stakes of the season in impressive fashion on the frond end, but had to settle for second in the most recent big-money clash on April 8 as Western Devil overpowered him in the final stages that evening.

The latter is a Power Of Art homebred who races for Frank Nevarez, is conditioned by Edwin Quevedo and has Luke Plano giving directions. After checking in second behind arch-rival Army Of One in the three of the first four stakes gathering, he was able to turn the table in that last one while coming home smartly.

Taking them on are Muscle Beach, who also hails from the Johnson barn and will have Steve Wiseman in the sulky; and Firstdibbs, who will have the services of James Kennedy.

Next week will feature the final two nights of the current meet, with programs slated for Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6. Harness racing is scheduled to return to Cal Expo in late October

Arnold, Bergstein lived up to the billing

Last week’s Stan Bergstein Trot and Lloyd Arnold Pace showcased some top performers,  with Zoraze scoring a decisive win in the former while I’m An Athlete hung a nose decision on favored Barbarian in the Arnold.

Despite not having seen evening action since January 13, Zoraze was certainly ready to rock and roll in the Bergstein off a pair of qualifiers for the team of owner Jamie Marra, trainer Sparky Clarke and pilot Luke Plano.

Zoraze left into a perfect pocket trip from his No. 2 slot, took command on the final bend and then left the field in his dust once straightened for home in a 1:56 peformance. At the wire, it was some three and three-quarter lengths back to the hard-hitting mare My Little Susie, with favored Flameon checking in third.

The Clarke/Plano team looked poised to pull off the Bergstein/Arnold double with Barbarian the following night, or at least that’s what the public thought as they sent Robert Orr colorbearer off at 40 cents on the dollar.

I’m An Athlete had other ideas, however, as the Lino Pacheco trainee proved ultra game on the front-end for James Kennedy and prevailed by a nose over Barbarian in a 1:53 2/5 tour.

It was the fourth victory in the last five starts for the 7-year-old son of Art Major, who carries the banner of Ronald Rettig-Zucchi and pushed his career bankroll close to the $140,000 mark with that decision.