A class drop was just what the doctor ordered as Jam And Jelly got the dough.
A field of nine trotters, six in on a condition, three to be claimed, were featured at Cal Expo on Thursday night (April 7), on which Jam And Jelly won for the 29th time in her career.
In advance of starting from post-five, drive Luke Plano knew that good things could be ahead.
"She had raced fine against better in her last, so I thought if I could get the right trip that she should be able to best these."
Coming away in fifth position and seeming to be jammed a bit after 3-16ths of a mile, Plano had good reason to make a move.
"They were going pretty slow so I decided to move her at the quarter (:30.1).
Moving quickly in the second quarter, but having to deal with a stubborn Rompaway Brandon (Tim Maier), Jam And Jelly didn't clear to the point until a good ways past the 7-16ths mile pole.
"Rompaway Brandon pushed me a little harder than I thought he would, but my mare made the move easily."
Trotting a :28.2 second-quarter against a strong headwind, the seven year-old reached the half-mile juncture, timed in :59.4, for her confident pilot.
"That's where I wanted to be, and from that point on it was my race to lose."
With the field now midway thought the final-turn, Plano let out a notch on his charge and now led by two-lengths.
"I honestly think she's a better horse than that group, and I felt going too slow could have gotten her beat because the better horses were in the back - - and by going slow that would have gotten those guys in the race and given them a chance to out-sprint her."
Now leading by 2-1/2 lengths at the three-quarter mile marker, timed in 1:29, a respectful Plano knew whose race it was for the taking.
"She felt real good and I didn't have any excuses, but I wasn't taking any chances and was ready to get her in high gear."
Under urging into the lane, there'd be no catching the mare as she'd draw away at mid-stretch, then would coast home while not urged late and while all by herself.
"When I got after her at the top of the lane and turned her loose - - she hit top gear and trotted away from the field and was strong all the way to the wire."
Owned by Marlene & Rick Thomas in partnership with trainer George Reider, Jam And Jelly won ($3.20) by 5-3/4-lengths, in 1:57.4, equaling a seasonal mark. Rompaway Brandon finished in second, and Giles L S Hanover (Lemoyne Svendsen) finished another three-quarters of one-length farther back, in third.
"It was a real good mile given the wind and all that. She's in real good shape and off the win, she can hopefully beat the best trotters on the ground next week," finished Plano who had a driving triple.
On the nine-race program, trainer Rick Plano, Luke’s father, trained the first four winners on the card.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (April 8) & Saturday (April 9) is at 6:00 p.m. (PDT). On Friday and every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m. Also on Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour between 6:00-8:30 p.m., where $2 Beer, $2 Wine & $2 Buffalo Wings an order is offered.
On Saturday, Cal Expo offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on both the Early & Late Pick-4 wagers with the Late Pick-4 now having a $15,000 gross guaranteed pool. Additionally, on Saturdays, for winning wagers made on the Late Pick 4 online at TwinSpires.com or on track at Cal Expo, a bonus payout of 17.65 percent of the gross Late Pick 4 mutuel payoff will be paid.(Cal Expo)