Donald Arnstine Pace holds Friday spotlight

Quarantini and Handsome Harvey, impressive winners of last week’s eliminations, head the cast for Friday night’s $13,700 Donald Arnstine Pace.

Watch and Wager LLC will present a 10-race card getting underway at 6:45 p.m with an Open Pace and a Distaff Open Pace sharing center stage.  

Quarantini is a 3-year-old son of Huntsville who is owned by the partnership of Smolich, Wood, Hunsucker and Ballard, takes his lessons from Nathalie Tremblay and will once again be guided by Chip Lackey.

The dark-hued performer was runner-up in his California debut on opening week after coming in from Hoosier Park, then looked every bit the part of a 1-9 shot in his Arnstine division as he withstood a strong challenge for command on the final bend and went on to a four and three-quarter length score in 1:54 3/5.

Handsome Harvey was likewise impressive in his elimination heat while coming in from Minnesota for Dave Haness and driver/trainer Luke Plano. He was able to work out a pocket journey and then exploded in the lane to win going away and would appear to be the main rival for Quarantini on Friday.

Completing the cast are Cenalta Firedragon, Tin Can Timmy, SB Prince Archie, Spoken For, Ideal Poppy, Devil’s Brother and Ivar.  

The Open Pace will find Dancin Lance seeking his third win at the meet while doing his work from the assigned outside post in the field of seven, while Rockin With Lou gets top billing in the Filly and Mare Open for owner/driver/trainer Gerry Longo.

Quarantini gives Tremblay strong hand in Arnstine Final

Nathalie Tremblay has apparently been very nice this year, as she got an early Christmas present last month in the form of Quarantini, who figures to be a solid favorite in Friday night’s featured Donald Arnstine Final.

“I basically got a call out of the blue from the partnership, and they asked me if I wanted to train him,” Nathalie explained. “For two of these owners, I think this is the first harness horse they’ve owned, and they wanted to have one to watch here at Cal Expo.”

The Smolich/Wood/Hunsucker/Ballard group purchased the sophomore pacer off three straight wins at Hoosier Park and he has continued his sharp form since arriving in California and landing in the Tremblay barn.

He had a tough trip in his local debut two weeks ago and had to settle for second behind a very nice prospect in Unfiltered, then looked every part the overwhelming favorite in his Arnstine elimination at most recent asking with Chip Lackey at the controls as he waltzed home with nearly five lengths to spare.

“He’s very easy to handle and has shown he can race just about any way you want,” his mentor noted. “He got roughed up pretty good against a nice horse in the first start and then did what he was supposed to in his last. And he’s still just a 3-year-old.

“Chip said the other night this is one of the nicest horses he’s sat behind in quite a while, and that he just does everything effortlessly.”

Bill Vallandingham Memorial headlines Sunday program

Nebble Hanover and Prom Queen, both dominating winners in their two starts at the meet, figure to get most of the attention in Sunday evening’s $20,000 Bill Vallandingham Memorial for pacing fillies and mares.

The Vallandingham headlines a 10-card presented by Watch and Wager LLC and there will also be an Open Trot that brings out the likes of Silverhill Volo, Pridecrest and Mandeville. First post is set for 4:55 p.m.

Nebble Hanover has taken Cal Expo by storm since arriving from Ohio for owner/trainer/driver Chip Lackey, including a romping score at 1-9 in her elimination last week.

A 4-year-old daughter of Well Said, she captured the Filly and Mare Open in her first appearance, then looked every bit the overwhelming favorite when she was parked to the lead at the quarter and went on to a seven and one-half length romp for Lackey.

Prom Queen looms the main rival as she also comes into the feature with back-to-back wins to start the meet. The dark-hued Little Steven mare goes about her business for owner Robin Clements, trainer Quentin Schneider and will once again have the services of Mel Mullet.

She accounted for a Distaff Open II contest at 20-1 on opening week, then was the 7-5 chalk in her elimination last weekend and came storming from double digits off the pace to prevail by a length and three-quarters.

Completing the field are Muffin Top, Sweet Young Thing, Kiss On The Lips, Johnny’s Gal Jane, Blue Star Mystic, Dilly Dilly Time, Uniquerock and Alwaysalittlemore.

Doug Stout makes overdue trip to Cal Expo

One of the new faces on the scene this season is Doug Stout, who has come down from his native Canada with a dozen performers.

“I’ve been thinking about it for some time, mostly because of the weather,” the 73-year-old conditioner noted. “My son Derek finally convinced me to try it and here we are. The other day I called home and it was 25 below, so I certainly don’t miss that.

“As far as the track goes, I like it and the horses like it. I wish I had done this year ago.”

Doug explained that he was around horses as a child and when he was 16 he decided harness racing was going to be his future, first in his native Saskatchewan and then in Alberta.

“One of my favorites would have to be Moon Maid, who was the first mare to win the Stewart Fraser at Northlands Park back in the late 60’s,” Stout said. “I also had a real nice mare in the 70’s named Neelys Hot Spot and a pretty special colt named Neelys Ten Spot.”

Stout, who plans to stay through most of the meet, explained that the best formula for his barn has been to own half the horses himself and have the other half with different owners. It’s certainly served him well over the last six decades.

A reminder there are three wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate – the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, with the latter featuring a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool.

2022-23 RACING CALENDAR

Join us for opening day November 18, 2022 for our extended Pari-Mutuel meeting of 46 race dates.

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