Pacing distaffers command Cal Expo spotlight

Sacramento. CA — Bertha Vanation, fresh from a 25-1 upset at the head of the class over a gutty Brighten Your Life; and Velocity McSweets, who had to settle for third that evening in a blanket finish as the prohibitive favorite, get a rematch in Saturday night’s $6,200 Filly and Mare Open Pace at Cal Expo.

There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:55 p.m. with the main event scheduled as the second race on the evening.

Bertha Vanation is a 6-year-old daughter of Voracious Hanover who races for Cathy Dessert and is reined and trained by Nick Roland. She was able to leave into a perfect pocket trip in that last score and prevailed by a nose over Brighten Your Life, who carved out all the fractions.

The latter is a Shark Gesture mare who led every step but the last and will be looking for some revenge this weekend. Tyler Gunderson and Jenna Cornelison own, Cornelison trains and she will once again be handled by Tony Succarotte.

Velocity McSweets will be looking for some revenge after getting the worst of things while beaten only a neck for the whole thing last time. Jennifer Sabot owns and trains and Cordarius Stewart handles the lines.

Leaving from the outside slot in that last assignment, Velocity McSweets sat behind slow fractions, put in a big move around the final bend but could not quite reach the leaders that evening.

Completing the cast are Delightfully Wild, who will be seeking her third straight victory for owners Richard Morita and David Yamata and trainer Jessie Pacheco; and Robert Staats winner Paloma Ruiz for Melinda Smith and driver/trainer Jake Cutting.

The co-featured conditioned trot carries a $5,500 purse and brings out a solid cast consisting of Major Al-Mar, MD Magic, Teachmehowtotory, Mshindi and Flameon.

Royale Big Guy, River Lassena give Svendsen pleasure drives

Mooney Svendsen had a couple of nice winners in the sulky last week, guiding Royale Big Guy to a convincing victory in the Open II Pace and sitting behind the mare River Lassena when she waltzed home by 14 lengths in a conditioned affair.

Royale Big Guy is a 7-year-old son of Ashlee’s Big Guy who carries the banner of Scott Ehrlich and takes his lessons from Kathie Plested. After suffering some traffic trouble behind the streaking Allmyx’sliventexas in the Jan. 3 Open, he appreciated the class relief last time around and responded with a length score in 1:53.

“This horse has never gone a bad mile for me,” Svendsen noted. “I was pretty confident going into that last race, so I just let him settle and then came first over with him on the backside. He was awfully strong to the wire.”

Svendsen had some idea what he had when he climbed behind the 4-year-old distaffer River Lassena for owner Mark Anderson and trainer Gordie Graham, but wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming mile the daughter of Riverboat King was going to give him.

After sitting the pocket early, he was out and moving with her to final bend, took complete control of things from that point and romped to the line with 14 lengths back to the nearest rival.

“I’d never driven her before, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect,” Mooney noted. “All I did was hit the wheel disk once and she absolutely took off. I said to myself that Andersen has another good one.

“As far as the margin goes, I did drive one once that won by 18 lengths, but this was certainly close and quite a ride.”

No kidding.

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