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Contentious Cal Expo Open Friday

Published: March 14, 2019 12:23 pm ET

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A very contentious $6,500 Open Pace and the $4,500 Jim Grundy Memorial for pacing fillies and mares will get the marquee treatment Friday evening (March 15) at Cal Expo.

There will be 12 races under the ‘Watch and Wager LLC’ banner. First post will be at 6:10 p.m. There will also be three California Sires Stakes to be decided as non-betting events prior to the regular program.

A solid case can made for each of the half-dozen performers in the Open Pace. Blue Star Maverick is a six-year-old son of As Promised who is owned by Lorne Duffield, takes his lessons from Kathie Plested, and will have Mooney Svendsen giving directions.

He accounted for the Shelly Goudreau Final on February 23, was runner-up in the Open Pace two weeks ago, and then prevailed by a head in a blanket finish in the most recent top dance for the division last week.

Eastender and Bettor In The Bank dead-heated for second in the aforementioned affair. The former is owned by Maryann Plano and Nikki Hudson with Luke Plano reining and training, while Bettor In The Bank carries the banner of Debra McCarthy, hails from the Gordie Graham shed row, and has James Kennedy back at the controls.

Eastender captured a conditioned race on February 22, then came right back to post a 23-1 upset in the Open Pace the following week. He sat a tracking trip for Plano to the stretch last week, took the lead at the midway point of the drive, and just failed to last that evening.

Bettor In The Bank came flying to be right in that tight finish last week and has used his strong closing kick to account for half of his 10 trips to the post this season. He won back-to-back Open Paces last month and has found himself with too much work to do in the stretch in his last two appearances.

Silverlode, Wiseman On A Roll

The ten-year-old trotting mare Silverlode and Steve Wiseman have made quite the pair over the last couple of months, as they teamed up to win three of their last five starts at the head of the class.

Included among those victories is romping score in the Joe Lighthill Trot on February 23, with the 2:57.2 clocking for the mile and a half journey resulting in a new North American record for the elongated distance over a mile track.

Silverlode was bred by Steve and Vickie Desomer and earned a good chunk of her $242,000 bank account while racing for them. She now goes about her business for Medinah Racing and Kathie Plested with Kathie and Wiseman calling the shots since late last year when she returned from the Midwest.

“This mare and Kathie and I have a lot of history, because we were working for Steve and Vickie when she was racing at two and three,” Wiseman noted. “The Desomers always thought she had a lot of talent, and she’s matured with age and is a real professional.”

Silverlode has completely dominated her opposition in the last two top dances for the trotting set, following her score in the Lighthill with a nearly six-length romp in the most recent Open Trot two weeks ago.

On both occasions, she has settled early, made a brush to the lead midway and taken complete control of things from that point. “That’s really her preferred style and it’s worked out perfectly in the last two starts.”

Silverlode will be suiting up once again in Saturday night’s featured fifth race. “The plan is to race her a few more times and then take her back to Running Aces for the summer,” Wiseman said.

(Cal Expo)

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