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Berkshire gets better at Cal-Expo

September 17, 2010

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His "mettle" was tested with a class rise and a much faster pace, but that didn't prevent Berkshire from repeating.

Open 2 Handicap trotters, racing for a purse of $5,200, were featured at Cal-Expo on Thursday night (September 16), on which Berkshire won his third race in the last four.

Prior to starting from post-three in the field of six, did driver Steve Wiseman fear the tougher competition, especially Calzone (Rich Wojcio) - - who was gunning for his fourth in-a-row?

"The class hike didn't really concern me because he's been trotting pretty good since he got here," stated Wiseman.  "I know that Calzone is tough, but I also know my horse can trot home just as much as Calzone - - if not more."

Coming away in fourth position into a :29.1 opening quarter & a :58.2 first-half, Wiseman knew he had some time.

"I could feel that Calzone wasn't on my back - - so that allowed me to sit as long as possible before I had to come with him."

With the field now three-eighths of a mile from home, Wiseman knew it was time to pull - - especially when Sheila's Dream (Gene Vallandingham) made a break in front of him.

"I was getting ready to pull right there anyway because I know Sheila's Dream gaps in the turns."

Moving first-over at the five-eighths mile marker, then back to the inside just before the midway point of the final-turn, Wiseman and his charge found themselves three lengths off the pace-setting Easter Call (James Kennedy) and the pocket sitting Jam And Jelly (Luke Plano).  Now quickly making up ground at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in a speedy 1:26.4, Berkshire soon caught the top two to the top of the stretch.

"I knew it was going to be a sprint home between Jam And Jelly and me because I figured the :28.2 third quarter had taken it out of Easter Call."

Moving three-wide for the drive and gaining at the seven-eighths mile station, Berkshire started to drift out at the same time a game battling Jam And Jelly had taken over the lead.

"Jam And Jelly is always tough and you can't underestimate her, but keep in mind my horse drifted out the last two times and that's the way he's comfortable trotting in the lane - - so it didn't really concern me at all.  I knew, however, it was going to be a battle between Jam And Jelly and my horse, especially off the trip she got - - I just got the better of her right down in the last couple of steps and got her."

Drifting way out in deep-stretch, the four year-old still surged to the wire to get up ($11.60) by a neck.  Owned by Ron Lingle and trained by Earl Kennedy, the gelding stopped the timer in a very nice 1:56.1, a lifetime best.  Jam And Jelly went down fighting and had to settle for the place honors, while Easter Call tried hard and finished 1-1/2-lengths farther back, in third.

"It was a very good race for him especially considering the class hike.  Mr. Lingle made a very good purchase when he bought this horse - - he's a very nice animal," finished Wiseman (Cal Expo)

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