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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cal Expo Friday Night Advance

Pancetta, Bettermeboy get the job done
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

The team of owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Lino Pacheco and leading driver Luke Plano book-ended last Friday’s program here, taking the opener with Pancetta and the nitecap with Bettormeboy.

“Those were nice wins for each horse,” Morita related. “Pancetta is really coming around now, after very limited starts over the past two seasons.  Luke knows him best, and when Pancetta is right, he can race with any of them. 

“Leno Pacheco has done such a good job getting Pancetta sound, and with each completed start, he is getting stronger.   The best is yet to come this summer, we hope. We are going to race him at Hawthorne for the start of summer, and see how it goes from there.  He is superior on the turns, so a smaller track might be his ultimate destination.”

Bettormeboy completed the double last week, proving a punctual 6-5 favorite after attacking the leader first over on the final bend and gamely prevailing by a neck.

“He found his game again, not coincidentally, when reunited with Luke for that latest race,” his co-owner noted. “He was really sharp a little earlier in the meet, but tailed off a bit. We gave him a few easier starts, and he seems to be coming back on. That race was actually much more like an Open III event or something, with the likes of V Mack and Ragin's Flight in there.

“All of the horses that Dave and I own will be headed to Chicago to race at Hawthorne.  They have a lot of conditioned races there, including a late-closer for our fast improving mare, Delightfully Wild.  Chip Lackey thought she might be a good fit there, so she will head there this week to prepare for opening week, with the others to follow.

“Cal Expo is our home track, and we want to support them as much as possible through the end of the racing meet.”

Plano cruising; training title up for grabs

While Luke Plano long ago wrapped up the driving title here, there is quite a battle going on for leading trainer honors between Bob Johnson, Kathleen Plested and Lino Pacheco with just two nights remaining.

Plano comes into closing weekend with 141 snapshots from 585 trips to the post while sporting impressive percentages in all the pertinent categories.

Meanwhile, Johnson has a one-length lead over Plested in the trainer race with his 52 victories, while she likewise has a one-victory advantage over Pacheco’s 50 entrances into the charmed enclosure.

It’s certainly anybody’s ballgame going into the Friday and Saturday programs, with each of those barns being well represented.

Trotting Sire Stakes commanding the spotlight

A pair of California Sire Stakes for the 3 and 4-year-old trotters have center stage on Friday night at Cal Expo, the penultimate card of the meeting.

First post will be 6:15 p.m. for the Watch and Wager LLC program.

In the Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old trotters, My Little Susie is a daughter of Claudius Augustus out of the S J’s Photo mare Sue’s Photo who races for A Piece of the Action LLC and is conditioned by Gene Vallandingham

The hard-hitting mare has accounted for all three of the added-money contests decided for this group in 2017, putting her class and versatility on display in the process while winning on the front end and also getting the job done from a stalking position. She will be tough no matter how things shake out on Friday.

Meanwhile, Gravel Girl moved to the head of the sophomore trotting class with her stakes score last week for owner/trainer George Luster and pilot Mooney Svendsen and looks to close out the meeting in style.

The All in Tad filly made a break in her debut the previous week, but was all business at most recent asking as she sat the pocket to the lane and then ignited when it counted to waltz home with four and three-quarter lengths to spare.


Saturday is closing night of the harness meet here at Cal Expo and there will be mandatory payouts in all wagers. Harness racing is scheduled to return on Saturday, October 28.