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Cherry Tree Nicole saves her best for last
Thursday, November 14th, 2013 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

 If you’re a regular fan of Cal Expo racing, watching Cherry Tree Nicole roll by the leaders in the stretch like she did last weekend is nothing new.
 
The 7-year-old daughter of British Sterling was winning for 15th time from 29 appearances on the season, already topping the dozen photos she posed for last year. When she suits up Saturday night for Tim and Denise Maier, she will be seeking victory No. 55 from 160 trips to the post and she has definitely earned her $127,000 bankroll the old-fashioned way.
 
“She doesn’t like to be rushed, but she certainly knows where the wire is,” driver/trainer Tim Maier related. “I don’t believe Denise and I have ever raced a horse who won 30 races in two years, but she’s on track to do it.”
 
Cherry Tree Nicole is out of the Cumin mare Yankee Reflection, who raced for the late Nicol Tremblay. “Alan Kirschenbaum named this one as a tribute to Nicol,” Tim said. “In the past, we’ve taken her with us to Running Aces, but she doesn’t like the smaller track so this summer we just kept her here and gave her a break.”
 
Tim and Denise also raced her sire British Sterling, who passed away recently and has been represented by some nice performers from limited opportunities. “I purchased him in Florida as a 4-year-old for Alan, because at the time he was looking for a trotter to drive in the amateur races. He turned out to be a very nice performer, and his strength was the fact he was good-gaited, honest and a big finisher.”
 
That sounds a lot like his daughter Cherry Tree Nicole, who will strut her stuff in the final race on Saturday. Not only does she do Tim and Denise proud, but the late Nicol Tremblay and Alan Kirschenbaum as well.
 
A REMINDER THERE ARE THREE WAGERS EACH NIGHT WITH A REDUCED 16 PERCENT TAKEOUT RATE. THEY ARE THE 50-CENT PICK FIVE THAT BEGINS ON THE THIRD RACE; THE 20-CENT PICK 4 ON THE FINAL FOUR RACES; AND THE 10-CENT HI-FIVE ON THE NIGHTCAP.
 
Sire Stakes, Open Pace hold the spotlight
 
A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacers with A Stitch In Time looming the solid choice and an Open Pace that finds Phantom Dan eyeing his fourth straight trip to the charmed enclosure are the main events on the Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo Saturday night.
 
A 13- race program is on tap, with the Open Pace set as the second contest on the evening while the Sire Stakes follows as the third race on the card. First post is set for 5:55 p.m.
 
A Stitch In Time looms large in the Sire Stakes as the son of Kent’s On Nuke comes into the assignment with nine victories from 14 starts and a 1:53 3/5 mark. He will be challenged by Hi Ho Disguise, Bit Player, Kablooie and Me Tarzan.
 
In an effort to level out the playing field a bit in the Open Pace, racing secretary Fred Kuebler has assigned Phantom Dan the demanding No. 10 post position for this week’s gathering at the head of the class. This will mean he will have quite a bit of separation at the start between himself and his four rivals.
 
Phantom Dan is a 5-year-old son of Little Steven who hasn’t been beaten to any of the poles in his last three trips to the post. James Kennedy owns, trains and drives this razor-sharp performer who has posted two of his scores in 1:54 2/5 and another in 1:55 flat while never looking like a loser in any of those outings.
 
Off as the prohibitive 1-2 choice in his most recent appearance, Phantom Dan never looked like a loser as Kennedy buzzed him off the gate to command and he was able to moderate the fractions to his liking, coming home with a length and a quarter over Giant Sculpture that night.
 
The latter was making his California debut for A Piece Of The Action LLC and driver/trainer Gene Vallandingham and has every right to make a move forward with a local effort under his belt. The son of Village Jolt was a 1:52 1/5 winner at Balmoral earlier this season. One And Only has gone a series of powerful miles over this layout and will appreciate having his main rival marooned in that outside slot. Lino Pacheco conditions the 5-year-old Bettor’s Delight offspring for Richard Morita and David Yamada with Luke Plano once again handling the lines.