A pair of excellent California Sire Stakes rivalries will be on display Sunday (April 17) night at Cal Expo, with Alilthundadownunda and Chase The Gold squaring off in the $50,000 Championship event for the four-year-old pacing males, while Ihopeurhappynow and Worthy Opponent renew acquaintances in the $15,000 Championship contest for the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races Sunday with things scheduled to get underway at 5:54 p.m. In addition to the two Sire Stakes Championships, the $10,000 Kirk Breed Pace for fillies and mares will be spotlighted.
After finishing second to Chase The Gold in the first four stakes match-ups for the division, Alilthundadownunda was able to turn the tables in the most recent big-money match-up on March 27 in a lifetime-best 1:52.1 mile.
He is owned by Set The Pace LLC and trained and driven by Nick Roland, he returned two weeks ago to take the measure of a solid conditioned cast in another strong mile.
Chase The Gold came into last month’s Sire Stakes riding a nine-race winning streak, including the first three Sire Stakes for this group in impressive fashion. Owned by QKS Racing, trained by Quentin Schneider and driven by James Kennedy, he will be looking for some revenge this weekend.
Meanwhile, Ihopeurhappynow and Worthy Opponent have developed a fierce rivalry among the sophomore males and get one more chance to settle the score in stakes company before the meet ends. Ihopeurhappy has accounted for the last two added-money clashes for owner Mark Anderson, trainer Gordie Graham and driver James Kennedy.
Worthy Opponent prevailed in his first in his first five starts, including a pair of Sire Stakes tallies for his owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and pilot Mooney Svendsen but has been narrowly edged in the last two Sire Stakes by Ihopeurhappynow.
Longo holds strong hand in Kirk Breed Pace
Trainer Gerry Longo is sitting pretty in Sunday’s co-featured $10,000 Kirk Breed Pace for fillies and mares with Kiss On The Lips and Rockin With Lou representing the shedrow.
Kiss On The Lips is owned by Peg Hoffman and will have Nick Roland giving directions, while Longo owns and trains Rockin With Lou. Taking on this pair will be Avaya Hanover, Lickcreek Speedway, Uniquerock, River Lassena and Shesureissomething.
After finishing second in three straight outings, followed by a qualifier, Kiss On The Lips returned to her winning ways in last week’s Distaff Open with Roland doing the honours.
She was parked to the lead at the quarter, was covered up on the backstretch, then rallied gamely in the drive to be up by a half-length over her barnmate while coming home in :27.1 to seal the deal in a 1:55.1 mile.
Rockin With Lou is having an outstanding meeting with six wins from her 10 appearances on the year. She was parked a long quarter to the top last week, showed the way to deep stretch and could not quite hold off Kiss On The Lips at crunch time.
Sunday’s race is named for Kirk Breed, who served as executive director of the California Horse Racing Bord from 2008 until his death at the age of 73 in 2013.
Mr. Breed was appointed as general manager at Cal Expo by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1979 and was credited with turning around the event’s financial fortune during lean times. He later became a lobbyist on behalf of the racing industry and also served for eight years on the Cal Expo board of directors.