Mandeville, who has posted three straight impressive victories at the head of the class, gets the marquee treatment in the $7,150 Open Trot on Saturday (Feb. 12) at Cal Expo.
A 10-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with things getting underway at 5:45 p.m. Next week will see a return to the regular Friday/Sunday evening schedule.
Mandeville is owned and trained by Gerry Longo and has been perfect in three teamings with pilot Luke Plano. The 10-year-old Majestic Son gelding comes into this weekend with 43 trips to the charmed circle from 182 attempts while earning $364,000 and sporting a 1:54 mark set two years ago at Running Aces.
Plano first climbed behind Mandeville for the January 16 Open and was able to sit a pocket trip that night, streaking home along the rail to prevail by a length and three-quarters.
In his last two scores, he has taken back early, made a power brush first-over on the backside and gone on to handy decisions on both occasions while having plenty in reserve.
Track-record holder Pridecrest was his most immediate victim in the last two Opens with Mooney Svendsen after coming out after him on the final bend, while Silverhill Volo completed the exacta three starts back after rattling off back-to-back Open scores on December 19 and January 1 for Chip Lackey.
Taking them on are Hot Chapter with Michael Campbell at the hem; Hypocrisy, Cordarius Stewart and Warrawee Welcome with James Kennedy in the sulky.
Senga Nightmare ignites when it counts
Ryan Grundy’s gameplan with his top pacing mare Senga Nightmare is a simple one – track, attack and get your picture taken.
Grundy has used these tactics to guide the four-year-old daughter of Vertical Horizon to victories in four of her last six starts, including a tally in the Funicello/Holt Final in December and a demonstrative win in the first Sire Stakes of the season two weeks ago.
Senga Nightmare was dispatched at 3-5 in that latter contest for her owner/driver/trainer and did not disappoint her many backers. Unhurried early from the outside post, which is her custom, she came first over midway on the backside, took aim on the leaders at the head of the drive and motored away for the length and a quarter decision.
There will be four more opportunities for Senga Nightmare to pick up Sire Stakes trophies, with three $20,000 events on the horizon and then a $50,000 finale set for April 15.
“She was bred by my client Kenn Gunn in Alberta and I’ve had her from the start,” Grundy noted. “The plan was to come down and target the two late closers and then the Sire Stakes, and to this point it’s worked out pretty well.
“As far as her style goes, she’s always been a closer and I can always count on her giving me a real nice finish. It’s never preferred to be first-over, but that’s the way it shook out last time and she was very strong in the stretch.”