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SIRE STAKES, OPEN PACE HEAD MARQUEE
Friday, December 21st, 2012 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for pacing colts and an Open Pace that rematches Military Stratcom and Pancetta are the highlights on Sunday afternoon’s Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. First post is set for 2:35 p.m.

Ra Ra Steven looks to add another trophy to the mantle and gets top billing in the Sire Stakes for the sophomore males going as the fourth event on the evening, while Bit Player accounted for the first big-money clash for the 2-year-old colts two weeks ago and will meet some extremely promising youngsters in the seventh race.

Ra Ra Steven is a homebred son of Little Steven who goes about his business for Billie Schwartz, David Rachford and trainer Junior Wilkinson with Rich Wojcio once again handling the lines. In the last stakes clash for this group on November 24, the bay performer did the track-and-attack to perfection and drew off by two lengths while coming a snappy :27 flat final quarter.

Leaving inside the Wilkinson trainee are two Bob Johnson trainees in Bloom N Doom with Mooney Svendsen and Hollywood Star with Bruce Clarke; Ridgerson, who has the services of Scott Cisco; Looks Don’t Count, James Kennedy; and That Space, to be handled by Luke Plano.
Bit Player will be one of three Vickie Desomer-trained pacers in the 2-year-old stakes, with Daring Do and Miner joining him at the starting car. They will face two Johnson representatives in Kablooie and Cocked and Locked, while Winonefordoug and Hi Ho Disguise will complete the line-up.

In the Open Pace, Military Stratcom attempts an encore for Jen Sabot and driver David Siegel after invading from Yonkers last week and posting a handy victory over the sloppy going as the 8-5 co-choice. Pancetta came into that affair with a four-race winning streak, but had to settle for the exacta completion that evening and will be gunning for some revenge for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Liberio Pacheco and pilot Luke Plano.

Next week will find a special Wednesday (Dec. 26) card that gets underway at 5 p.m., followed by Friday and Saturday racing (Dec. 28-29) with a scheduled first post of 5:55 p.m.

BOBBY BACCALA MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME

Due to some issues that plagued him through the first half of the season, Bobby Baccala hasn’t had the chance to match the 13 victories he racked up last year, but he is finishing up 2012 on a high note.

The 5-year-old trotter goes about his business for George Reider, who co-owns the son of New Age Hanover with Dave and Rob Haness. Bobby Baccala has only made seven starts this season, ending up in the winner’s circle after his last pair.

“It was a long road back from his injury,” Reider informed following last Saturday night’s clear-cut score as the favorite with regular pilot James Kennedy. “He’s such a high-strung horse that he really doesn’t help himself out by being so hyper. For sure it’s day-by-day and race-by-race with him and the groom really earns his money because the horse needs to be iced twice a day.”

George also gives plenty of credit to the trotter’s co-owners and pilot James Kennedy. “I told Dave and Rob that the road back would probably be a long one and the great owners that they are, they put their trust in me and said they were in it for the long haul. As far as James Kennedy, he gets along outstandingly with the horse and that’s very important.”

The bay performer put his versatility on display in last week’s score, making a couple of moves to the lead at the half and then taking complete control of things from that point. The sloppy track didn’t bother him a bit and the issue was never in doubt through the stretch as he opened up once straightened away and rewarded the chalkplayers for the 15th time in his last 45 trips to the post.

“I’m glad I was able to get him back to the races,” his mentor added. “What I’ve learned in this business is if you do the right thing, most of the time good things will happen. I can’t wait to send him out there again.”