Sacramento, CA — A $7,400 Open Trot that finds Silverhill Volo aiming for his fifth straight victory and a $7,200 Filly and Mare Open Pace with Bertha Vanation eyeing the hat trick are the marquee events on Sunday’s (Jan. 24) Cal Expo card.
There will be 12 races under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and things get underway at 4:55 p.m. The Open trot is scheduled as the third race, while the distaff Open will occupy the sixth-race slot on the evening.
Silverhill Volo, perfect in his four outings at this meet, looks to keep the streak going in the Open trot while leaving from the assigned outside post in the field of nine.
A 10-year-old son of Muscle Hill, Silverhill Volo is owned, trained and driven by Chip Lackey. He is eyeing his 29th victory from 140 trips to the post, has $168,000 in his bank account and sports a 1:55.1 mark.
Silverhill Volo has raced up close and personal in all his wins here, including a coast-to-coast decision in the Joe Lighthill two back. He was hard used while first over in his most recent tally three weeks ago, pulling away by two and a half lengths while making 3-5 look like a gift.
Mandeville could prove to be the main rival for owner/driver/trainer Gerry Longo. The 9-year-old sidewheeler had a second, a third and a fifth-place finish behind Silverhill Volo before returning to his winning ways two weeks ago in a conditioned affair.
Leaving from the outside post in the field of seven, he left into a pocket journey, then had the needed response when asked in the lane and drew off by a length and a quarter. It was the 31st snapshot in 142 trips to the post for Mandeville, who pushed his earnings close to the $270,000 mark. He lands two slots inside his main rival who draws post seven for this go-around.
In the co-featured Distaff Open, Bertha Vanation has posted back-to-back surprise scores at the top rung for owners Bill and Cathy Dessert and driver/trainer Nick Roland, working out sweet trips on both occasions. This time around she will be asked to depart from the assigned outside slot in the field of seven.
Bertha Vanation longshot players delight
Those who have backed Bertha Vanation in her last two starts at the head of the distaff pacing ranks have been nicely rewarded, as the mare clicked at 25-1 weeks ago and came back to get the job done at 7-1 last Saturday evening.
The 6-year-old daughter of Voracious Hanover is owned by Cathy and Bill Dessert and is trained and driven by Nick Roland, who has been able to work out perfect two-hole trips with Bertha Vanation for those two upsets.
“I’ve been with Cathy and Bill for five or six years now and we bought this horse from her breeder John Hendricks three years ago,” Nick related. “She got sick on us this summer and kind of went off form, but the minute she got here she perked right up and showed how much she likes this track.”
Bertha Vanation won her first start at the meet, had to settle for minor awards in her next two tries, then missed a couple of weeks before suiting up for the January 2 Filly and Mare Open where she dismissed at 25-1 from the post position two.
“Because she’d missed some time, she needed every bit of that two-hole trip and the moderate fractions to get there by a nose,” Roland noted.
Nick admits he didn’t see another pocket journey in Bertha Vanation’s future when she left from post four in a compact cast last week, but the racing gods were once again in her favor and she prevailed once more at the head of the class.
“I didn’t see it happening on paper, but for whatever reason Brighten Your Life didn’t go and I left hard for the top. I didn’t mind it at all when Delightfully Wild retook the lead and we were able to work out another good trip.”
Upsets are often made of such things.