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Luke Plano Sweeps Saturday Sires Stakes At Cal-Expo
Sunday, November 23, 2008 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity -- Cal-Expo


They figured strongly anyway, but added racing luck made the road to victory for Meringue and Themaninthewindow an added plus.

In the first of two $15,000 California Sires Stakes, this for trotters, Meringue and driver Luke Plano, leaving from post-six in the field of six, would race three-wide for the lead for an eighth of a mile before clearing to the front well after the field had traveled 3-16ths of a mile into a brisk opening quarter mile.

"We went a solid first-quarter and I used him considering we went a :28.2 quarter," said Plano. "It was a little more than what I wanted to go, but I wasn't concerned."

With Plano now slowing down the pace, this prompted a three-eighths mile pocket pull from the 9-5 second choice in the wagering - - Stars And Sites (Bruce Clarke).

"I was surprised by the move because I thought after the last Stake race that Bruce (Clarke) would be content with the two-hole - - given he had beaten me from it in that Stake. Now with me having the pocket - - I thought I had a better chance of beating him than if I had been on the front."

Yielding to the half-mile pole, timed in :58.2, Meringue would remain in the pocket through three-quarters of a mile, timed in 1:29.1.

Continuing to draft until moving outside with less than 3-16ths of a mile to go, Meringue would send a victorious message to his young pilot.

"He felt real good when I pulled him and as soon as I got him out - - I knew I had the race won."

Taking the lead with a little more than a sixteenth of a mile to go while under urging, the Dawn Evango owned and Hans Rynningen trained gelding would edge away to the wire to win ($3.00) by 1-1/2-lengths, in 1:59. Stars And Sites finished a very clear second, and Ray's Pride (Rocky Stidham) finished a distant third, some 15-lengths farther back.

"It was a good race for him. He's becoming a real nice racehorse," finished Plano.

In the pacing stake, Themaninthewindow, also starting from post-six in a field of the same number, would get unexpected help right from the start.

"When I saw Bronte Anas Boy (Lou Pena/25-1) floating out, I thought that helped me out quite a bit because I originally thought there would be a quick lineup and no fractions," stated Plano. "With him leaving, I knew he would definitely push the pace a bit."

Coming away last through first-half fractions of :28.4, and :57.3, Plano was liking it with a half mile to go.

"Things were setting up pretty good for my horse, plus he's pretty hard to beat when they go fast early. That combined with them mixing it up a little bit was beneficial to him."

On the move with 7-16ths of a mile to go while having to catch cover, Themaninthewindow would catch third-over cover midway through the final-turn on a moving train headed toward the three-quarter mile station, timed in 1:26.3.

"My horse felt pretty good at the three-quarters and I didn't think I had any excuses from there off the pretty good lead-up trip."

Tipping four-wide for the drive and now under a drive, Themaninthewindow would fly into the lead to mid-stretch and draw clear to the wire.

"He was strong all the way down the stretch."

Owned by Plano's sister Erica, and trained by his father Rick, Themaninthewindow would score ($6.20) by 2-1/4-lengths, in 1:55.1. Rod's Famous Ribs (Lemoyne Svendsen) finished in second, and Star Time Kid (Rick Plano) finished another 3-3/4-lengths back, in third.

"He got the trip he wanted and a little luck that he needed. It was a good mile for him," concluded Plano.

Live racing resumes at Cal-Expo with a special Wednesday card (November 26). Then after a dark day on Thanksgiving Thursday (November 27), racing will resume on Friday (November 28) & Saturday (November 29). All post-times are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (PST). On Wednesday, the estimated total Early Pick-4 (Races 2-5) pool is $27,500. Also on Wednesday, Cal-Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00. Additionally on Wednesday, the Super Hi-Five Wager Debuts!