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No Surprises On Championship Saturday At Cal-Expo
Sunday, November 30, 2008 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity -- Cal-Expo

Freshmen trotters and pacers were featured at Cal-Expo in four $25,000 California Sires Stakes.
In the first featured event, this for the filly pacers, Silver Bloom and driver Rick Plano would cut out fractions of :28.1 and :57.2 before opening up the lead just past the midway point of the final-turn.
Opening up a quick 2-1/2-lengths at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:26.3, and expanding that lead past the three-quarters, Plano will still go to work on his filly in the lane.
"I knew she wasn't 100 percent going into the race because there's a lot of sick horses on the backside," noted Plano.  "I could feel her giving up a little bit in the stretch, so for that reason I drove on her a little harder than I normally would have had to."
Holding firm to win ($2.60) by 1-3/4-lengths, the Wayne Knittel bred and owned, and "Sparky" Clarke trained youngster would stop the timer at 1:56.3.  Make Me Late (Jim Lackey) rallied well while very wide to be second, and Cinnamon (Steve Wiseman) finished another 4-1/2-lengths farther back, in third.
"Everything went according to 'Plan-A' and she raced very well," finished Plano.
For trainer Clarke, this victory would be the start of a training triple.
Filly trotters were next, on which Firewall and driver Rich Wojcio found themselves behind a big gapper through a :30.1 first-quarter until moving to the outside at the 5-16ths mile pole.
Bypassing a huge three-hole once around the gapping foe, Wojcio would have good reason for his decision.
"I was actually going to duck in third, but the pace wasn't that quick and she was rolling pretty good - - so I continued on," said Wojcio.
Moving fast at the three-eighths mile pole, Firewall would clear to the lead past the half-mile marker, timed in 1:02.3, and wouldn't have company until Dani California (Tim Maier) drew even at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:34.
Now with Dani California taking a short lead past the three-quarters, Wojcio would be sitting chilly.
"I knew if she got through the turn trotting that she wouldn’t get beat in the stretch.  She, however, was a little anxious at the three-quarters because she has never been on the lead at that point in a race, plus she had heard Dani California coming at that point - - and thus wanted to go."
Down by one-length with three-sixteenths of a mile to go, Firewall would take matters into her own hands by quickly trotting back into the lead at the seven-eighths mile pole while Wojcio's whip rested on his shoulder.
"Once we straightened out and she settled down without a mistake - - she would do it all on her own.  I didn't even ask her, I didn't even move a muscle."
Bred and owned by Jack Coffey, and trained by Bruce Clarke, Firewall would draw clear late to win ($5.60) totally under wraps by 3-3/4-lengths, in 2:03.4.  Dani California finished in second, and Prenup Agreement (Bruce Clarke) finished 1-1/4-lengths farther back, in third.
"She has been racing good all the time and deserved to win it," concluded Wojcio.
Trotting colts & geldings were next on the menu on which Credit Score repeated, but not before having some road trouble just past the start.
"When Try This (Gilbert Herrera) broke at the start, I was a little concerned I was going to hook his wheel," said trainer Bruce Clarke.  "But I hollered pretty good at Gilbert and he did a good job of getting out of the way."
Veering around Try This and coming away in third position with four-lengths to the next foe, Credit Score would cut his own mile through a first-quarter, timed in :30.3.
Continuing to cut his own mile until closing the gap to 1-1/2-lengths at the half-mile juncture, timed in 1:01.4, Credit Score would stay put until moving to the outside at the three-quarter mile station, timed in 1:32.3.
Moving three-wide for the drive when the pace-setting Lodi Cooper (Lemoyne Svendsen) made a very costly break, Credit Score would take the lead at mid-stretch and gamely go on to score ($4.80) by three-quarters of one-length, all with Clarke's whip never leaving his shoulder. K D Amazin Spirit (Keith Willey) was a nice second, and Lodi Cooper finished another 9-3/4-lengths back, in third.
"All my two year-olds raced very good.  I had an awesome night (three driving wins & four training wins) and can't complain," Clarke proudly finished.
In the final Sires Stake of the night, Glad To Be Back would repeat despite not making the lead until after what appeared to be a testy :28.3 first-quarter.
"It actually wasn't a testy lead because we went a reasonable quarter," said driver Rich Wojcio.
Getting an easy second-quarter of :30.4 while reaching the half-mile pole, timed in :59.2, Wojcio would pop the earplugs of his charge with 7-16ths of a mile to go, but for a good reason.
"I had heard in the summer when I wasn't here that in one of his races, that he wanted to go into the chute, and sort of pulled himself up when he got toward the chute (located past the three-quarter mile pole).  So thinking about that, I popped his earplugs and he responded very well and went a great and strong next eighth of a mile."
Gradually opening up on the final-turn, Glad To Be Back would lead by 3-1/4-lengths at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:27.3.
Now in the stretch, Glad To Be Back, while under urging, would open his lead to 5-1/2-lengths with an eighth of a mile to go before winning by a diminishing 1-1/4-lengths as Holme Invasion (Etienne Desomer) would fly like a jet late while raging with pace.
"He was good and strong to the wire, and right at the wire I pretty much shut him down because I didn't hear Holme Invasion coming until he got to my wheel.  I felt very comfortable in the lane that he'd be okay and win."
Owned by Jay Rosenberg, Billie Schwartz, Jw Standardbreds and Hans Karge, the Jim Wilkinson Jr. trained gelding would win ($4.60) in 1:55.2.  Holme Invasion finished a very eye-catching second, and Artless (Steve Desomer) finished another 3-1/2-lengths back, in third.
"I think he's a good horse and I'm glad he won.  I just hope he continues next year for Junior (Jim Wilkinson Jr.) and all the owners," finished Wojcio, who had four winners on the card.
Live racing resumes at Cal-Expo on Thursday (December 4) and continues through Saturday (December 6).  All post-times are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (PST).  On Thursday, the estimated total Pick-6 pool is $7,500.  Also on Thursday, Cal-Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00.