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Shelby County Bests The Boys

Published: February 11, 2012 9:49 am ET

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A two race bump after beating these twice to start off the year came to an end when Shelby County never looked back.

Winners Over trotters, racing for a $4,500 purse, were featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (February 10), on which Shelby County successfully changed tactics.

Prior to starting from her assigned Post 5 in the field of a half-dozen, did trainer Rocky Stidham feel good about his chances given his trotter might have needed her last after being off two weeks?

"I was very concerned because I actually looked at it as being off three weeks because in her start on January 20, she broke and was so far back and just kind of went around the track," stated Stidham. "Then in last week’s performance she was short and flat so I was really concerned about tonight because I didn't know if she was on her game. My strategy was to get her into the race early, whether it was for position or on the lead."

With the gate rolling and the field a sixteenth of a mile from the start, Stidham chased after his charge.

"I did that because of a little break she made in the post-parade, and I wanted to prepare her to leave."

Leaving and racing three-wide until the field had just entered the first turn, the five-year-old didn't obtain the front until the field had travelled 3/16ths of a mile into a :29.1 first quarter. Did Stidham use his trainee?

"I used her a little because I left with her with three others, then we kind of all took back because everybody knew we were going some, then I asked her to go again. But it didn't concern me a whole lot because we kind of had a tailwind going around the first turn."

Resting the whip on the tail of his mare in the second quarter, Stidham had good reason, especially with Franks Best (Lemoyne Svendsen) stalking in the pocket at the half-mile juncture, timed in :58.1.

"It was past the point of no return, which is why I had the whip on her tail as I wanted to keep her alert in case someone came fast and tried to get around us, all while Franks Best was hard on my helmet."

Chasing after his horse to the three-quarter mile station (1:28) when stablemate Putoneonnetformom (James Kennedy) was gaining while uncovered, Stidham, off a rated third quarter, was optimistic.

"I was pleased with the fractions and started to go with her just before the three-quarters because I wanted to get a jump on Franks Best and Putoneonnetformom, all while thinking my chances were good at that point, as I had a lot of horse."

Drawing clear to the seven-eighths mile pole after rebuffing Putoneonnetformom, Stidham now had to deal with a fresh Franks Best up the inside.

"I had a major concern because she was starting to tire and Franks Best had gotten a pocket trip."

Now under urging with a sixteenth of a mile to go, was Shelby County looking for something?

"She was looking for the wire, plus Franks Best is a big fighter late in the mile, but my horse is also a fighter and she was able to hold on and beat the boys."

Bred and owned by Ben Kenney, Shelby County won ($11.40) by a neck in 1:57.1, equalling a lifetime best. Franks Best had to settle for second, and Putoneonnetformom had his three race win streak end, finished one and a half lengths farther back in third.

"It was probably her best race ever because this time she did it wire to wire," finished Stidham.


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