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King of the Crop still King of the Hill
Thursday, December 4th, 2014 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

The first Sire Stakes of the meeting saw King Of The Crop picking up right where he left off during the spring, posing for pictures as he added another trophy to the mantle for his owner/breeder Frank Nevarez.
 
The 3-year-old pacing son of Little Steven, who is now conditioned by Gordie Graham, was driven for the first time in evening action by Bruce Clarke and got the job done in game, first-over fashion despite making his initial start since late June at Balmoral Park.
 
“I got King Of The Crop at the end of August,” Graham informed. “He’s a nice, quiet and laid back horse with a touch of class. I was able to get two qualifiers into him and then he was going to make a start before the stakes, but he had a little mucus and we had to scratch.”
 
Despite missing a start that could have had him nice and tight for the stakes engagement, King Of The Crop did not disappoint his many backers while prevailing by a length over Tony Cheesecake in last week’s stakes clash.
 
“I was actually surprised so many horses fired out of there at the start, but the quarter was only :29,” Gordie said. “Bruce said he didn’t want to go to the front, so he was pretty patient with him in the early going. It all worked out.”
 
Graham, who currently has 10 performers for Nevarez, is looking ahead with this pacer and likes what he sees. “There are three more Sire Stakes races, but they’re somewhat spread out so we’ll be racing him sparingly. I think he could turn out to be a very nice horse down the road.”
 
In the meantime, there are three more big-money races for this division to be contested, and there’s no question the one they have to beat.
 
Open Pace brings out St Lads Lotto
 
St Lads Lotto, who has rattled off three straight victories while steadily working his way up the class ladder, puts that streak on the line in Saturday night’s $6,000 Open Pace at Cal Expo.
 
A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:10. A reminder that the trotters and pacers are now in action on Saturday and Sunday nights, with Friday racing being added to the schedule beginning on December 26.
 
St Lad Lotto is a 4-year-old Ontario-bred son of Stonebridge Eagle who carries the banner of Ferne and Jack Frydman, is conditioned by Mark Winnacott and will have Steve Wiseman at the controls while doing his work from the No. 6 slot in a field of 10.
 
A 1:52 winner last season at Mohawk, the dark-hued performer had to settle for minor awards in his first two starts at this meet, but has had his picture taken three times in a row since. The most recent came two weeks ago when he rallied from last to get the job done over a sloppy track with Wiseman giving directions.
 
Set to line up against the razor-sharp Winnacott trainee are Paydaze on the Way; Stable Eyes; China King; Mar Dream; P H Jackpot; No Gin; Rusty Skip; Cenalta Power; and A Real Miracle.
 
Cenelta Power captured the November 15 Open Pace in an 11-1 upset in his local debut. The Alberta invader is owned, trained and driven by Ryan Grundy. He sat a tracking trip in last month’s score and ignited when it counted to be up by a half-length that evening for his fifth score on the season.
 
There are now four wagers here each night that feature a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the Jackpot 6: the Pick 4 and the Hi-5 on the nitecap.