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Sophomores In Spotlight At Cal-Expo
Sunday, May 25, 2008 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity -- Cal-Expo

Spring Sires Stakes Championship Finals, each carrying a purse of $25,000, were the featured attraction at Cal-Expo on Saturday night (May 24), on which some won as expected, and some didn't.

In the first Sires Stakes, this for filly trotters, Smooth Jazz, to no ones surprise, would remain unbeaten in ten career starts.

Coming away in fourth position from post-one in the field of seven, trainer Tim Maier, off of an opening quarter of :30.1, would move his star pupil to the front after 5-16ths of a mile.

Making the lead at the half-mile pole, timed in 1:01.3, Maier would open up the pacing bred (Tulane-Jazzplace-Artsplace) filly to the middle of the final-turn before reaching the three-quarter mile marker, timed in 1:32.

Expanding the lead to the seven-eighths mile pole, and even more for the balance of the mile, Smooth Jazz would clobber her foes while barely urged on her way to a 10-1/2-length triumph ($2.10). Bred in part by owner Denise Maier, Smooth Jazz would stop the timer at 2:02.1. Sad Parting (Gilbert Herrera) was a good first-over second, and Letter Of Intent (Bruce Clarke) finished another 2-1/2 lengths back, in third.

Next up were the pacing boys, on which Star Time Kid won ($3.20) as expected.

Coming away in third in the field of six, driver Ed Hensley would quarter move his gelding off the :28.3 opening split.

Clearing to the front just before the field had traveled 7-16ths of a mile, Star Time Kid would reach the half-mile pole, timed in :58, and the three-quarter mile station, timed in an unchallenged 1:26.4.

Now being asked with the field in the upper-stretch, Star Time Kid would open up the lead, then under wheel-disc encouragement would continue to respond on his way to a 4-1/2-length victory. Bred and owned by Sheldon Perry and Alan Kirschenbaum, and trained by Gene Vallandingham for the Rick Plano stable, Star Time Kid would pace the mile in 1:55.1. Themaninthewindow (Luke Plano) was a non-threatening second, and Nightscreamer (Jim Lackey) finished another 4-1/2-lengths farther back, in third.

The boys remained in the spotlight for the third Sires Stakes, this for trotters, and 'trot' was the keyword, as the only two that did in the field of seven, that being Meringue and R Big Ben (Scott U'Ren), finished one-two.

Getting the lead quickly off the gate for Luke Plano, Meringue would trot the first-quarter in :29.3, but with the favored (3-5) Stars And Sites (Bruce Clarke) right on his back. This while four of the other five trotters in the race jumped it off after the start and into the first-turn.

With Meringue having now traveled 5-16ths of a mile, luck would be on his side, but not on the side of Stars And Sites -- who would make a terribly costly break at that point and spot Meringue roughly twenty-lengths.

Reaching the half-mile pole, timed in 1:01.3, with R Big Ben now having inherited second, Meringue would reach the three-quarter mile station, timed in 1:32.2, all while Stars And Sites had now recovered to trot within five-lengths of the lead.

Now in the stretch, Meringue would own a commanding open-length lead as Stars And Sites would gamely take over second with an eighth of a mile to go, but only to make would had to be a tiring break soon after that.

As a result, Meringue would cruise to an 11-1/2-length win ($4.20). Proudly owned by Dawn Evango and trained by Hans Rynningen, Meringue would stop the timer at 2:02.2, thus giving Plano the middle portion of a driving triple. R Big Ben had luck on his side and finished in second, and Stars And Sites finished an unlucky third, just a neck farther back.

In the final Sires Stakes, this for the filly pacers, Wooski would provide a slight upset.

Looped out of the gate with Ed Hensley driving from post-position four in the field of eight, the pair would get the lead just past a testy :28.1 first-quarter.

Once on the lead though, Hensley would give his charge a :30.2 second-quarter breather as they'd reach the half-mile marker, timed in :58.3.

With the field now midway through the final-turn, Wooksi would meet up with the 2-5 favorite My Fanny (Luke Plano) and would only hold a neck advantage at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:27.

Now drawing clear into the lane, Wooski would pour it on at the seven-eighths mile pole and there'd be no catching her as she'd smartly score ($8.20) in solid fashion by 2-1/4-lengths. Owned by the partnership of Billie Schwartz, Jw Standardbreds, Hans Karge and Jay Rosenberg, who co-bred the filly with trainer Jim Wilkinson Jr., Wooski would pace the mile in 1:56.2, thus giving Hensley the third of four driving wins on the card. My Fanny had to settle for second, and Late Bloomer (Bruce Clarke) was a respectable third, another 2-3/4-lengths back, in third.

Live racing will resume at Cal-Expo on Thursday (May 29) and continue through Saturday (May 31). Post-time each night is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. (PDT). On Thursday, Cal-Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00.

The Pick-6 at Cal-Expo is now a $1 wager.