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Trotters, Pacers clash in Sire Stakes action
Friday, April 10th, 2015 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness 

A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes and the Terry Kelly Memorial Distaff Open Pace are the main events on Sunday evening’s program at Cal Expo.
 
There will be 12 races Sunday and the action gets underway at 4:55 p.m. The Sire Stakes go as the third and fifth events on the card, while the Distaff Open is slated for the fourth race.
 
Speak English is the one to beat in the Sire Stakes for the pacing fillies with two big-money victories to her credit in as many starts for owner/breeder Frank Nevarez, trainers Gordie Graham and pilot Tim Maier.
 
She was 15-1 when she made her debut in the March 15 stakes gathering and went a powerful, first-over mile to prevail by two and three-quarter lengths that night. It was another game victory for Speak English in the most recent Sire Stakes two weeks, recorded a three-quarters of a length tally while lowering her mark to 1:55 2/5 in the process.
 
Smash was her most immediate victim in that affair and has three stakes trophies on her mantle, with the most recent coming by five lengths on March 1. The homebred daughter of Little Steven races for Junior Wilkinson and Billie Schwartz, is conditioned by Wilkinson and will once again have Luke Plano at the helm.
 
Taking on this pair are Pips Valentina and Little Cher Amo from the George Reider shedrow; the Bob Johnson-trained Avila Beach; and Could Be Dancing, who takes her lessons from Junior Wilkinson.
 
Sandy’s Song has made a clean sweep of the first six Sire Stakes for the sophomore trotters. Hank Wieseneck owns the daughter of Claudius Augustus with Bob Johnson training and Steve Wiseman handling the lines. She will be challenged by Zoeys Delight, Cadet, Dougs Hobby Horse and JK Journey.
  
Reduced takeout wagers spice up the action
 
Fans are reminded that there are four bets offered here each night that come with a reduced 16% takeout rate, including the 10-cent Jackpot 6 that returned a cool $65,456 on March 21.
 
The other wagers with lower takeout are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 has a 10-cent minimum; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool as part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program.
 
Speaking of the Hi-5, last Saturday’s nitecap saw the two favorites both making breaks and the result was healthy prices filling out those first five positions. Each winning 10-cent ticket was worth a nice $15,790.
 
To put the reduced takeout in perspective, using the normal takeout rate, that ticket would have returned $14,098, a difference of  $1,692 a copy.
 
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Love Live Laugh, who has spent much of the latter stages of this meet dealing with the likes of Show Runner and Part Time Lady, escapes the long shadow of those rivals in Sunday’s co-featured Filly-Mare Open Pace.
 
The Denise Maier owned-and-trained, Tim Maier-driven daughter of Hi Ho Silverheel’s got her most recent snapshot on February 7 at this level in a powerful performance and was assigned the outside slot for this assignment with a couple of the big guns now missing from the line-up.
 
Rag Doll has been runner-up in her last two starts at this level and leaves just inside Love Live Laugh with Mooney Svendsen guiding for owners Larry and Carol Parlin and conditioner Lino Pacheco. She scored back-to-back victories with softer company in her previous two appearances and set her 1:54 mark earlier in this session.