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Western So Gets The Marquee Treatment At Cal Expo
Thursday, September 1, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Western So, a solid runner-up behind Ivegotwhatuneed on opening week, gets away from that rival in Friday’s (September 2) Cal Expo $3,400 pacing feature and looks like the one to beat.  He will be one of three performers in the cast racing with the optional $10,000 base claiming price.
An 8-year-old son of Western Hanover from the Abercrombie mare So Close, Western So is owned and trained by David Merrick.  He comes into Friday’s assignment with $124,000 on his card and a 1:52.4 mark that was established here earlier in the year.
The Merrick color-bearer chased home a swift Got The Giggles in his August 20 qualifying prep, then was dispatched at 10-1 while once again taking on that mare and Ivegotwhatuneed in last Friday evening’s (August 26) headliner.  Got The Giggles faltered on the front end in that affair, while Ivegotwhatuneed did the track and attack to perfection and posted and a three and a quarter length tally.
While Western So had to settle for the distant exacta completion that night with Scott Cisco at the helm, he finished nicely and appears to have landed a very good spot this time around.  He’s versatile, so it shouldn’t matter how things shake out early in this field of six.
Myra’s Hiho and Stanza finished third and fourth behind Western So.  The former is a Bob Johnson trainee who figures to come out tighter with that effort under his belt, and will also appreciate not having to tackle stable-mate Ivegotwhatuneed here.
Stanza carries the banner of Mark Benvenga and lost his chance with an unlucky break turning for home.  Steve Wiseman reins and trains.  Completing the cast are Coal Younger, Heartbreak Ridge and Yiannoulas Boy.  A 12-race program is on tap, with the feature set as the second race on the evening.
Smith's Pacer Lights Up The Sky
Pilgrims Skyfire accounted one of the biggest upsets of opening weekend at Cal Expo when she ignited late at 17-1 to post a neck surprise with Steve Wiseman in the sulky.  Lester Smith owns and trains the pacing mare, getting the new meet off to a good start for both of them.
Pilgrims Skyfire, a 7-year-old daughter of Dragon Again, had only been able to click once in her previous 21 starts on the season, but responded when the question was asked last Friday night (August 26) and got her picture taken.
“I’ve had her since last October, and she’s got a good personality and is a pleasure to be around,” informed Smith.  “She didn’t go anywhere during the time off, and I had a feeling she’d race well the first one back because she got quite a bit out of her qualifier.”
The bay miss, who set her 1:56 career standard as a 2-year-old, will have to do some more winning if she wants to match last season’s six victories, but that last tour is certainly encouraging.
“When he came back, Steve told me she raced real strong,” Smith said.  “I was very happy, and he was also real happy for me.”
Speaking of upsets, Laredos Goose didn’t get much respect in last Saturday night’s (August 27) main event despite finishing up the last meet with a hat trick and a sweep of the Get Away Amateur series with Amanda Fraser at the controls.  George Reider’s trainee finished smartly to record a length and a half victory to the tune $45, providing Scott Cisco with one of six wins on the 11-race card.
“I know he was facing tougher, but those last three wins in June at 1-9, 1-5 and 8-5 got him real brave,” Cisco said after the score.  As far as the six-bagger goes, Scott summed it up by saying, “It was one of those nights where everything worked out.”
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (September 2) & Saturday (September 3) at 6:00 p.m. (PDT).  Carryover on Friday in the Early Pick-4 (Races 2-5) is $3,940.33.  Total estimated pool is $15,000.  Also on Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour between 6:00-8:30 p.m., where $2 Beer, $2 Wine & $2 Buffalo Wings an order is offered.  On Saturday, its Dollar Night, on which hot-dogs; beer, soda, and wine will be sold for one dollar from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.