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Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

The Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo offers reduced 16 percent takeout rates on the Pick 5, Pick 4 and High 5, and last Saturday was a great night to take advantage of this attractive discount.
Thanks to some horses coming through at healthy prices, the Pick 5 returned $3,375; the Pick 4 during the latter part of the card came back $1,793; while the High 5 on the nightcap was worth $4,390.

To put things in perspective, under the regular takeout the Pick 5 would have dropped from $3,375 to $2,690; the Pick 4 would have gone from $1,793 to $1,600; and that High 5 would have been a little less juicy with a $4,390 return dropping to $3,919.

The Pick 5 is 50-cent based wager that begins on the third race each night, while the $1 Pick 4 is conducted on the last four races of the evening, with a $15,000-guaranteed gross pool on Thursdays, a $20,000 guarantee on Friday and $25,000 guaranteed on Saturday. The 10-cent High 5 puts a spotlight on the final race and all of these wagers offer the reduced 16 percent takeout rate.


The $12,400 final of the Joe Lighthill Trotting Series is the featured attraction at Cal Expo Thursday night, with Vari Forgetul and Chevie Balboa among the major players.
Vari Forgetful captured her divisions of the first two Lighthill legs for owner/breeder Jack Coffey and driver/trainer Bruce Clarke and will certainly have her share of backers. The 4-year-old daughter of Armbro Variable is a multiple stakes victress with $68,000 in her bank account and a 1:57 4/5 mark that was established two weeks ago.

The new standard came in the Lighthill opening leg when the bay miss came from well back to win going away by two lengths as a 9-1 shot. Sent off the 7-5 choice in last week’s penultimate leg, Vari Forgetful put her versatility on display as she left for position from the outside slot, tracked to the stretch and got the job done once again in sharp style.
Chevie Balboa just missed in his division of the opening leg and then left little doubt last week with a romping four and a half-length victory in a lifetime best 1:58 2/5 clocking. Ed Actkinson owns the son of Rocky Balboa, Bob Johnson trains and Mooney Svendsen will be in his usual place in the sulky.

Go Go Fast looped rivals to account for a division of the first leg of the series and then checked in third last week. The 5-year-old Iowa-bred miss is owned by Kc C Carvalho and hails from the Tim Maier barn and got the best of the draw with a cozy rail start.

Completing the field are Loose Cannon with Steve Wiseman; D D’s Tiger for Tim Maier; Dukeofhazards, James Kennedy; Hillcrest Romeo with Luke Plano; La Cantera for Rocky Stidham; Silverlode, Steve Desomer; and Exquisite Gem, who has the outside slot with Williams Hernandez.
Thursday’s co-feature is a $5,000 Trot that finds K D Amazin Spirit eyeing his third straight trip to the winner’s circle for owner/breeder/trainer Keith Willey and pilot Scott Cisco. The long-fused 7-year-old son of Thadrow was extremely impressive in last week’s score under these conditions, doing the track-and-attack to perfection for Cisco and pulling away by two and a quarter lengths when all was said and done.

An 11-race program is on tap Thursday night, with first post set for 5 p.m. The Lighthill finale is set as the ninth contest on the evening, while the co-featured Trot occupies the second race slot.

The action will continue this week with Friday and Saturday racing, with the finale of the Joe O’Brien Pacing Series headlining the Saturday card.