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Open Road Was All Persuade Me Needed At Cal Expo
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity – Cal Expo

Persuade Me made 14 trips to the winner’s circle last year at Cal Expo, and anybody who watched her December 30 effort could easily imagine that number being 15 with better racing luck.
There were no such traffic troubles in her first tour of 2011, however, as Lemoyne “Mooney” Svendsen came first over with Bob Johnson and Cynthia Rios’s mare en route to a clear-cut victory last week.
“That race one back, she was shuffled badly at the half,” Svendsen related.  “I had to do a lot of weaving in the stretch, and when we finally got some room, she was screaming with pace.  She definitely would have won if we would have got out a couple of seconds earlier.”
Mooney corrected the oversight in the most recent outing, coming first over from fourth after a half and overpowering the leader for a two and a half-length decision in 1:56 and no change.
“You can be sure I wasn’t going to let happen a week earlier happen again,” he said.  “She can be touchy, but she’s learning how to relax in the hole with age.  When I came out with her going to the far turn, she was very strong.”
Speaking of photogenic pacers, Most Happy Lavros added 15 snapshots to the scrapbook last season and also got the New Year off to a winning start last Thursday (January 6) when he prevailed for Rick Plano to compete the daily double with Persuade Me.  He suits up again in Thursday night’s (January 13) feature.
Continuing this win-win situation theme, Plano currently has over 5,600 victories on the resume, including track records here with Pulse (2000); Kings Realm (2000); Claudius Augustus (2008) and Pacinello (2009).  Rick trained three of these performers, and in an upcoming column we’ll have his thoughts on those course-standard tours.
Most Happy Lavros Eyes Another Cal Expo Score
Most Happy Lavros, who won a third of his 45 starts last year in a very productive season and then kicked off 2011 with another tally, looms the one to beat in Thursday night’s (January 13) $3,400 headliner at Cal Expo.
The event is designed for pacers carrying base claiming prices of $12,000 down to $8,000 and set to line up against the probable favorite are Nicota, Ivegotwhatuneed, Satire, Grandpa Stevie and Cat Call.
Most Happy Lavros is a 10-year-old who carries the banner of Maryann Plano with Rick Plano doing the driving and training.  He rattled off three straight victories to begin the month of December, sitting a tracking trip in two of those and coming from well back in the other over a sloppy track.
The Plano color-bearer had to settle for third on New Year’s Eve behind Ivegotwhatuneed and Cat Call, but returned to his winning ways last week.  The veteran left smartly for the early lead, was covered up in the middle half, then came out for the drive and proved strongest in a solid 1:54.1 tour.
Ivegotwhatuneed is back to the level of his December 31 win after stepping up to tackle tougher in his most recent attempt.  The 8-year-old son of Givemewhatineed is owned by Bob Johnson and Marty Garey, takes his lessons from Johnson and will once again have the services of Lemoyne Svendsen.
He looked more like a 1-2 shot than a 22-1 chance when he handled this caliber two back, turning in a powerful mile that evening to leave little doubt with a length and three-quarters advantage at the wire.  He moved back up the ladder last time and could make only slight impact while taking on Red Star Ruffles and company.
Nicota completed the exacta behind Most Happy Lavros last week and helps make things interesting. The Linda Magnusson-owned, Tim Maier-trained Blissfull Hall offspring was a game, first-over winner with a bit easier on New Year’s Eve and finished smartly for the place money last week.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (January 13) and continues through Saturday (January 15).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-time on Friday (January 16) 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.