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Tab Orlando’s Express as an up-and-comer
Thursday, December 19th, 2013 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Orlando’s Express has been under the care of James Kennedy for less than two months, but this could be the start of something big as the 3-year-old continues his march toward next week’s Bob Gordon Series final.
 
The Frank Nevarez-homebred son of Wicked Island only made it to the post one time last year and didn’t get to the races again this season until November 15, but he’s doing his best to make up for lost time. He’s won two conditioned events, finished second to divisional powerhouse A Stitch In Time in a Sire Stakes and then captured his section of last week’s opening leg of the Gordon.
 
Sent off at a juicy 9-1 in the latter affair, he sat a stalking trip for Kennedy until the stretch, then unleashed a :27 3/5 final quarter to prevail by a half-length over favored Party Cove.
 
“He’s a nice one who doesn’t do a thing wrong,” Kennedy related. “When I first got him, I learned quite a bit right away by going some trips and you could tell that he had a lot of potential.”
 
Orlando’s Express came from well back to win his first two outings for Kennedy, then was far from disgraced finishing a distant second behind the very talented A Stitch In Time in his initial stakes foray. Last week’s Gordon opener fit snugly into the schedule and he responded by getting the job done while lowering his mark to 1:56 4/5 that evening.
 
“There aren’t any more stakes for him until January, so this series is perfect,” his mentor noted. “He’s definitely getting better and better with each start, and he’s shown that he really likes to finish his races. He’ll have more experience when he goes up against A Stitch In Time again.”
 
Kennedy is having a tremendous meet, with extremely high batting averages as both a driver and a trainer. “It’s been a joy to have the opportunity to drive and train such nice horses,” he added.
 
Bob Gordon Series, Invitational Pace head card
 
The second leg of the Bob Gordon Pacing series, featuring last week’s opening leg winners After Alimony and Orlando’s Express; and an Invitational Pace headline Saturday night’s 14-race program at Cal Expo.
 
After Alimony will be one of six Gene Vallandingham trainees in this weekend’s penultimate leg of the Bob Gordon. A 3-year-old daughter of Lis Mara out of the Sportsmaster mare Fox Valley Lucerne, she carries the A Piece Of the Action LLC banner.
 
After Alimony sat a pocket trip to handle conditioned foes two weeks ago at 5-1 odds, then was sent off at 4-1 in last week’s division of the opening leg of the Gordon and proceeded to make every pole a winning one with Vallandingham in the sulky. Vallandingham will once again handle After Alimony in the second division and Party Cove in the first section.
 
Orlando’s Express is a lightly-raced 3-year-old homebred son of Wicked Island who races for Frank Nevarez and is reined and trained by James Kennedy. He won his first two starts in November, finished second to the outstanding A Stitch In Time in a December 6 Sire Stakes and then did the track-and-attack to perfection to take his Gordon division while lowering his mark to 1:56 4/5 in the process.
 
Looking at the Invitational Pace, Stueben Jumpinjack is going in sharp form at the moment for trainer Gretchen Smith, who co-owns the 5-year-old son of Pacific Fella with Maureen Pittaro. He will appreciate getting away from Pancetta, who has headed East after two dominating Invite victories here.
 
Stueben Jumpinjack, who will be handled by Tyler Smith, captured four of his five starts between November 2 and November 30, with those scores coming in optional claiming events. He has made his last two appearances at this top level, registering a second and a third behind the aforementioned Pancetta.
 
Completing the field are It’s Getting Hairy with Tim Maier; One And Only, Luke Plano; Phantom Dan for James Kennedy; Somethinginthewind with Gene Vallandingham; Emery Vern and Mobil Big John, who both hail from the George Anthrop barn and leave from the inside posts.