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Team W Strikes Again at Cal Expo
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity - Cal Expo

Trainer Junior Wilkinson unveiled another promising prospect here at Cal Expo last weekend when the sophomore pacer Whipped Dreams got the job done at first asking, and as is often the case, it was Rich Wojcio handling the lines.

Whipped Dreams, who was scheduled to make his second start Thursday night, is a son of I Am A Fool out of the New Zealand mare Dreamline Jeb. He displayed potential in his lone qualifier when he came from well back to win going away, and this was not lost on the bettors who sent him off as the 2-1 second choice into an odds-on One And Only for his initial evening appearance.

 The Wilkinson performer did a virtual repeat of his qualifying mile in his pari-mutuel bow, coming from nearly eight lengths back to prevail by three-quarters of a length over the late-closing favorite.

 “I think this will be a nice horse later on,” Wojcio noted after the pictures were taken. “He has plenty of talent, now he just needs more time to develop. He certainly handled everything like a professional.”

 Wojcio and Wilkinson have certainly formed one of the more successful driver/trainer relationships here in recent years, combining talents with a steady stream of top performers.

 “Driving for Junior has been nice because he always has young horses and every year brings new possibilities of having a good horse for the Sire Stakes races and beyond,” Rich said. “When he shows up with top 2-year-olds, that in itself is very satisfying.”

Wojcio was asked if he had a favorite horse among those he’s guided for the Wilkinson barn, and was quick to come up with an answer. “That would have to be Nightmareonelm, probably pound-for-pound one of the toughest horses I have driven for Junior.”


 Rick Plano is holding a solid hand in Friday night’s (March 10) feature at Cal Expo as he suits up Coal Younger, who upset this group last week at 14-1; Hi Ho Steverino, who checked in third as the 7-5 favorite in that affair; and Star Time Kid, who continues to climb the class ladder in search of his fourth straight victory.

 Hi Ho Steverino is a 4-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheels who carries the banner of Rod Knittel and has several stakes trophies on his mantles with a 1:53 1/5 career standard that was established here earlier this season.

 The bay performer started the year with three strong victories, but has had to settle for minor awards of late, including runner-up finishes behind Lily’s Hi Ho in all three legs of the Denali series. In last week’s get-together at this level, he made a power brush from fifth to first down the backside, showed the way to the stretch with a clear advantage but weakened to third behind barnmate Coal Younger.

The latter is also a son of Hi Ho Silverheels who is owned and was bred by Jan Cowell and was picking up his first decision of 2011 in the aforementioned contest. He was hard used early to command before being covered up by Hi Ho Steverino at the half, tracked that one to the drive and then ignited when the question was asked to prevail by a length and a quarter in a 1:55 1/5 lifetime-best tour.

 Star Time Kid is going in razor-sharp form at the moment and figures to get plenty of respect with his conditioner in the sulky. The Little Steven offspring races for Sheldon Perry and Maryann Plano and is another member of the cast who has experienced Sire Stakes glory in his younger days.

 Star Time Kid was racing with $4,000 company as recently as two weeks ago, but after back-to-back romping scores with that caliber, he was up a notch for his most recent outing and once again proved a clear-cut victor with Rick at the controls as he turned in a sparkling 1:52 4/5 once-around. It will be interesting to see if he can step up another level and keep the streak alive.

 Completing the field are Bob Lee with Ralph Silvestri III; Deep Red from the Rocky Stidham barn; Grandpa Stevie, Satire and Little Box Out, who all take their lessons from Matias Ruiz; and ML Jackhammer for Tim Maier.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (March 10) and continues through Saturday (March 12).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-time on Friday (March 11) & 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.