Sacramento, CA – The 46-night winter/spring harness meet at Cal Expo gets underway Friday night (Nov. 18) with a $7,000 contest for the Open filly and mare pacers headed by Rockin With Lou.
An 11-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:45 p.m. (PT).
This week will see a Friday program only, while next week will see the start of racing on a Friday/Sunday basis through April 20. The exceptions will be a Monday, Dec. 26 program and a Saturday, Feb. 11 card.
The schedule finds 20 California Sire Stakes contests, including a pair of $50,000 events for the 4-year-old trotters and pacers in April, and a total of eight late-closers headed by the Alan Horowitz Pace next month.
There will also be such top events as the Alan Kirschenbaum, Kirk Breed, Lloyd Arnold and Don Fowler for the pacers and the Gary Budahn and Stan Bergstein for the trotters.
Looking at Friday’s main event, Rockin With Lou has been assigned the outside post in the field of five for owner/driver/trainer Gerry Longo. The mare has gone several big miles over this layout in past seasons.
Taking her on from the rail out are the Luke Plano-reined and trained Brooklyn Moonshine; the Bob Johnson-conditioned Sweet Young Thing; Delightfully Wild from the Lino Pacheco shedrow and the Chip Lackey trained-and-driven Nebble Hanover.
Luke Plano returns with eyes on the prize
Winning driving titles at Cal Expo is nothing new for Luke Plano, who is one of the favorites to find himself atop the standings when all is said and done in the spring.
This year, however, Plano has put a bit more emphasis on the training end, as he will have 20 trotters and pacers ready for action at the Sacramento oval.
“It’s the most I’ve ever had at one time, and I’m looking forward to racing them,” Plano related as opening-night entries were being taken. “That said, I still love driving and want to be out there for every race, so hopefully I’ll get a lot of catch drives when I don’t have one in the race.”
Among Plano’s trainees are the top pacer Bombay Hanover and a 3-year-old trotter named Walla For You who will be making her California debut.
“Bombay Hanover was racing at the top level here last meet and has been going against the best in Minnesota this summer,” Plano said. “Walla For You has been racing in Indiana and I think she’s going to fit well out here.”
While he doesn’t have any Sire Stakes performers in the barn, he could make his presence felt as a pilot when those events roll around. “I drove a couple of real nice ones in Minnesota this summer that are eligible for those races and they should be tough.”