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Aggressive Handling Fits The “Bill” At Cal Expo
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity – Cal Expo

Split The Bill may have been the longest price on the board in his last appearance, but owner/trainer Keith Willey drove him like he was the odds-on choice and the result was an overdue snapshot for the 9-year-old trotter.
 
Willey flew from the gate with his homebred veteran, gladly accepted the two hole from favored Mr Me on the first turn, then came right back out on that one going into the final bend.  Split The Bill opened up a huge lead at mid-stretch and had enough left to hold safe over the long-fused Edgar Allen Coe to record the $54 surprise.
 
“You can see I’ve been taking back with him every week, but it was frustrating because we kept getting caught behind horses that were gapping,” Willey related when asked about the race.  “He was feeling pretty good in the warm-up, so I just decided to tap him away from there and get a good early spot.
 
“The two just inside me didn’t have much speed, and I thought the driver on the rail horse might be a bit careful, because that one had make a break the week before.  It all worked out on the first turn, because we got the pocket behind the favorite.”
 
Some may have been surprised when Keith pulled from that favorable spot going to the last turn, but he admits he didn’t have much choice.
 
“My horse was all over Rick Plano’s helmet, and it does seem like most of his wins have come when he made a move just like that one.”
 
It turned out to be perfect timing in fact, as Mr Me hit the brakes soon after and was beaten double digits.  Meanwhile, it was Split The Bill and Willey posing for pictures for just the second time in a little over a year.
 
“That was fun,” he added.
 
By the way, the son of Monterey Judge got his name as a result of a dining ritual.
 
”On Sunday mornings, myself, Tom Parris, Norm Honath and our wives have breakfast together.  Back when this trotter was getting ready to start his career, we were trying to come up with a name during one of these breakfasts, and then the check came.”  You can figure out the rest.
 
 
Solid Trotters Square Off In Cal Expo Thursday Headliner
 
Jess Or No, who lost his best chance with an early miscue as the heavy favorite last week; and Rompaway Brandon, who took advantage of the situation to post a victory at 11-1, get a rematch in Thursday night’s (February 17) $3,400 trotting feature at Cal Expo.
 
Jess Or No is an 8-year-old son of British Sterling out of the Hunter’s Star mare Hunting For Gold who recently went over the $200,000 earnings plateau with a 1:56.1 career standard.  Jim Lackey owns, Jim Wilkinson Jr. trains and Luke Plano will guide.
 
After settling for minor awards in his first four starts this year, the dark-hued trotter got the job done in coast-to-coast fashion at this level on February 3, as he moderated the pace and prevailed by a length. Backed down to 90 cents on the dollar in last week’s assignment, he made a break on the first turn to fall back, then recovered to finish third behind Rompaway Brandon.
 
The latter carries the banner of Linda Magnusson with Tim Maier doing the driving and training.  The 5-year-old Yankee Ryder offspring romped home over a softer group for his first score of 2011, then came from last to be a solid winner at most recent asking while returning $24 to his backers.
 
Foxy Lady De Vie is going in fine form at the moment and helps make things interesting for owner Ron Lingle, trainer Frank Petrelli and pilot Steve Wiseman.  The 6-year-old mare did the stalk and pounce to perfection for her January 27 score with this kind and has posted back-to-back exacta completions in the interim.
 
Rounding out the field are Aston Boko, who is moving up the ladder for trainer Marco Rios and driver Rich Wojcio; Twice The Ruckus from the George Reider shedrow; Vinnys Dance for Rick Plano; Giles L S Hanover with Lemoyne Svendsen; and Dirty Dog from the Brian Marchand barn.
 
An 11-race card is on tap, with the headliner set as the eighth on the evening. 
 
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (February 17) and continues through Saturday (February 19).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-time on Friday (February 18) 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 TwinSpires.com or on track at Cal Expo, a bonus payout of 17.65 percent of the gross Late Pick 4 mutuel payoff will be paid.