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Favorites Come Up Second Best In Sires Stakes At Cal-Expo
Sunday, November 9, 2008 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity -- Cal-Expo

Favorites Come Up Second Best In Sires Stakes At Cal-Expo
Sunday, November 9, 2008 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity -- Cal-Expo

California's best sophomores were spotlighted on Saturday night (November 8 ) at Cal-Expo, on which the chalk didn't quite walk the walk.

In the first of two $15,000 events, this for the trotters, trainer Bruce Clarke knew what was possible if things turned out his way against his archrival.

"I thought I had a shot of beating Meringue (Luke Plano) if I could sit on his back and make him cut the mile," said Clarke. "I've watched that horse a lot and I know my horse can trot home pretty good - - which is how I beat the Opens at Tioga."

Leaving from post-position two in the field of seven and getting a quick two-hole, Clarke would secure a pocket trip to the 1-5 favorite Meringue through first half fractions of :29.4 and 1:00.1.

With Plano now starting to his ask his charge to go on at the five-eighths mile marker, Stars And Sites would now be sitting a loose second midway through the final-turn, then was two-lengths behind Meringue at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:30.1, but Clarke had no worries.

"I wasn't concerned because I had lots of trot left. When I came off the turn though, I kind of blew the turn a little because I didn't want my horse being scared of Luke's (Plano) whip as I wanted to make sure my horse was out far enough so he couldn't see it."

Now starting to creep closer with an eighth of a mile to go, Clarke would hardly drive on his horse while Plano was all-out, yet Clarke wasn't counting his chickens just yet.

"I wasn't 100 percent sure I was going to get to him, but I knew that I was closing ground with every step. In deep-stretch when I asked him - - he was tremendous because he responded every time I asked him and he was able to get up."

Owned by Traci Camilli in partnership with breeder Jack Coffey, Stars And Sites would win ($8.60) by a nose, in 1:59. Meringue just failed while second, and Chrome Coquette (Rick Plano) finished a distant third, some 19-1/2-lengths farther back.

"My colt is a nice horse that always races good, plus he has won on every size track he has stepped on. My thanks again goes out to Jack Coffey," finished Clarke.

On the pacing side, Check Raisin would do the best work.

Coming away in fourth position from post-three in the field of seven for trainer Steve Hyman, Check Raisin would race unhurried through first-half fractions of :28.4 and :58.2.

With the field know heading toward the midway point of the final-bend, Hyman knew it was time to go.

"I was going to sit in until Shoot The Works (James Kennedy) was going to start to gap in front of me," said Hyman. "Once he did, I pulled."

Gaining momentum at the three-quarters mile station, timed in 1:26.1, Hyman was faced with the fact that the 2-1 second choice - -Star Time Kid (Rick Plano), and the 4-5 favorite - - Themaninthewindow (Luke Plano), had been sitting 1-2 throughout most of the mile.

"I thought for sure at that point that Themaninthewindow was the horse to beat, but my horse was going real good. Still, I wasn't sure I was going to beat Themaninthewindow until he pulled out of the two-hole and didn't explode."

Tipping three-wide for the drive and being asked to go, Hyman had more of a reason to be optimistic.

"As soon as I saw that Themaninthewindow didn't have the explosion he usually has - - that's when I thought I could beat him. My horse just dug in hard and we got the W."

Bred and owned by Roger Mc Dow and Michael Rosenthal, Check Raisin would close in determined fashion to take the lead in the shadow of the wire to win ($13.00) by one-length, in 1:55, a lifetime best. Themaninthewindow finished in second, and Rod's Famous Ribs (Lemoyne Svendsen) came on to finish in third, another 1-1/2-lengths back.

"I thought going into this race that he would go a real good race and that he had a real good chance to win, and he didn't disappoint me," concluded Hyman.