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No Upsets In Sires Stakes At Cal-Expo
Sunday, December 7, 2008 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity -- Cal-Expo

Sophomores were featured on Saturday night (December 6) in $15,000 California Sires Stakes, on which Stars And Sites and Themaninthewindow prevailed.
In the trotting co-feature, it was clearly, on paper, a match-race between the 1-5 Meringue (Luke Plano) and the 3-1 Stars And Sites (Bruce Clarke).
With the field sent on their way, it was Stars And Sites who would make the lead an eighth of a mile past the start from post-three in the field of six while on his way to a first-quarter, timed in :29.1.
"I was hoping Meringue would pop out of the pocket and go to the front past the quarter-pole because my horse is better out of a hole and not as good on the front," said Clarke, who also conditions the gelding. "That, however, is also how Meringue prefers to race - - which I'm sure is why Luke (Plano) didn't move."
Walking in a :31.4 second-quarter while reaching the half-mile station in 1:01, Clarke would continue to set a very tepid pace in a :31.2 third-quarter, thus tripping the beam at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:32.2.
"I kept peaking back to the three-quarters and saw the Chrome Coquette (Rick Plano) was coming.  I was going to try and keep Meringue locked in, but I knew he'd get out, so I just drove on past the three-quarters."
Letting out a notch on his trotter late in the final-turn, Clarke would soon have to deal with perfect trip sitting Meringue when that foe pulled to the seven-eighths mile marker.
Now under moderate urging and in a fight for the lead, Stars And Sites would just hold off the final surge of Meringue at the wire to win ($8.80) by a head.  Owned by breeder Jack Coffey in partnership with Traci Camilli, Stars And Sites, off an excellent rating, would stop the timer at 2:01.4.  Meringue had to settle for the place honors, and Dirty Dog (Steve Wiseman) was just 2-1/2-lengths farther back, finishing a respectable third.
"I know Meringue was getting to me at the wire, but my horse was very good - - especially when you consider he has been racing all across the country and is a tired horse.  I'm quite happy with how he raced - - he has a lot of heart.  I'll be glad, however, when the Sires Stakes final is over in two weeks," finished Clarke.
In the pacing co-feature, Themaninthewindow and driver Luke Plano would come away in third position from post-two in the field of five.
Remaining third through first-half fractions of :28.2, and :57.4, Plano would move his charge first-over past the five-eighths mile pole.
Now just a neck back at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:27.1, Plano was respectfully optimistic.
"My horse felt good at the three-quarters, but my concern was Rod's Famous Ribs (Lemoyne Svendsen) because he's good off of no-use trip," noted Plano.
Taking over the lead from the pace-setting Star Time Kid (Rick Plano) with 3-16ths of a mile to go and now under a drive, Plano would now have to deal at mid-stretch with the pocket sitting horse he was worried about.
"I was concerned when Rod's Famous Ribs was coming at me because he was coming on pretty strongly, but my horse finished strong and hung tough."
Owned by Erica Plano, and trained by her father Rick, Themaninthewindow would hold on to score ($3.00) by a neck, in 1:55.1.  Rod's Famous Ribs finished in second, and Bronte Anas Boy (Gilbert Herrera) finished another seven-lengths farther back, in third.
"He's in pretty good form right now and it was a good mile," concluded Plano.
For Rick Plano, the training victory was one of four on the night, not to mention two driving wins for the ageless veteran, who turns 57 on December 10.
Live racing resumes at Cal-Expo on Thursday (December 11) and continues through Saturday (December 13).  All post-times are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (PST).  On Thursday, Cal-Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00.
Cal-Expo now offers a minimum $1 Super High-Five wager on the last race of every card.  If no one selects the top five finishers, that pool is carried over to the next card’s Super High-Five.