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It Was A Great Night's Work For RP At Cal Expo
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity – Cal Expo

Rick Plano accounted for half of the 10 races here last Thursday night (February 3), prevailing with his trainees Wide Screen, Mr. Friendly and Star Time Kid, while also posing for pictures with Matty Rose for Dario Solares and Paul The Powerful from the Matias Ruiz barn.
While a trio of these winners were favored, Rick also got Star Time Kid home at a nice $11 mutuel and lit up the tote-board at $48 when he captured the opener with Matty Rose, who had been beaten a combined 24 lengths-plus in her previous two appearances and was having her first teaming with the veteran pilot.
Wide Screen was making his California debut for Rick’s wife Maryann and Dave and Rob Haness and left little doubt as the odds-on choice with a three and a half-length waltz on the front end.
“He was one of three horses I bought last month at the Meadowlands sale,” Plano informed.  “It’s the kind of horse you want to bring here, one with plenty of conditions, and for $3,000 we’re having some fun with him.”
Mr. Friendly is a trotter with a split personality who was on his best behavior and prevailed by a length and a quarter after being parked a long way to the lead from the tough No. 9 post.  The 8-year-old was good enough to rip off a 1:57.3 mile over the seven-eighths Vernon Downs layout in New York, but has also been known to jump off-stride and give his opposition a nice head start, if not completely losing his chance.
“He’s definitely got the wrong name,” his mentor noted.  “There are times he just doesn’t pay attention, and it can get pretty frustrating, but he’s an 8 to $10,000 horse who is racing for $2,500.  He’s got four legs, two of them are bad, and all you can do is try your best to keep him calm.”
As far as Matty Rose’s upset goes, Rick came close to that number when he got the job done with Jill’s Sooter at 21-1 in Saturday’s opener.  He was asked about the last time he could recall guiding two horses to victory that paid that much in the same week.
“Of course it’s happened, but it’s been so long I can remember the last time."
Big Baller Getting The Thursday Marquee Treatment At Cal Expo
Big Baller, the hottest trotter on the grounds with five wins from his last seven starts for Team Desomer, heads the cast for Thursday night’s (February 10) $4,500 headliner at Cal Expo.  Set to take on Big Baller, who will have veteran Steve Desomer at the helm, are Frank’s Best, Jam And Jelly, Broadway Victory, Alpine Hawk and Berkshire.
A 4-year-old homebred son of Panama Hanover out of the Rowdy Yankee mare Charming Spirit, Big Baller is going at the top of his game right now.  He finished up 2010 in smart fashion, taking advantage of a miscue by archrival Franks Best to account for the December 11 Sire Stakes.
He kicked off the new year with a coast-to-coast decision on January 6, then just missed to a pocket-sitting Jam And Jelly after carving out all the fractions at next asking.  He has rattled off two victories in a row since that defeat, with Lemoyne Svendsen guiding two back while Steve was in the bike for the most recent.
Hard used early on January 14, he had the right answer when the question was asked in the drive and scored by three-quarters a length that evening.  Last week, he was again used to the top, fought off a strong challenge from Franks Best into the stretch, then came home smartly to prevail by two and a quarter lengths over that foe while lowering his career standard to 1:57.4 in the process.
Franks Best is a multiple stakes winner who always has to be respected.  Bob Johnson owns and trains the Armbro Scribe offspring with Lemoyne Svendsen handling the lines.  He has $90,0000 in the bank, posted a dominating win over softer two back and completed the exacta last week behind Big Baller after a big-first challenge turning for home and through the early stages of the drive.
Also competing for the top honors are Jam And Jelly, the hard-knocking mare from the George Reider barn with Luke Plano guiding, the long-fused Berkshire with Steve Wiseman in the bike; the always-dangerous Alpine Hawk for Rich Wojcio, and the John McKeon owned/trained/driven Broadway Victory.
A 12-race card is on tap, with the feature set as the second on the evening.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (February 10) and continues through Saturday (February 12).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-time on Friday (February 11) and Saturday is at 6:00 p.m.  On Thursday and every live card, Cal Expo offers free admission, as well as free preferred & general parking after 4:30 p.m.  Also on Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Cal Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00.  Additionally on Thursday, beer & wine can be purchased for $3.00 each as well. 
On Saturdays, Cal Expo offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on both the Early & Late Pick-4 wagers with both Pick-4’s having a $10,000 gross guaranteed pool.  Additionally, on Saturdays, for winning wagers made on the Late Pick 4 online at or on track at Cal Expo, a bonus payout of 17.65 percent of the gross Late Pick 4 mutuel payoff will be paid.