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Pacific Admiral in a nail-biter at Cal-Expo

March 07, 2010

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Digging down for everything he had was what was needed for Pacific Admiral to prevail.

A mixture of conditioned & claiming ($20,000) pacers, racing for a purse of $5,200, were featured at Cal-Expo on Saturday night (March 6), on which Pacific Admiral scored in dramatic fashion.

In advance of starting from post-six in the field of nine, driver James Kennedy had several thoughts.

"I thought I had the best horse in the race, but it was a very competitive race," stated Kennedy.  "My plan going into the race was to leave, but I wasn't sure what would happen if I did - - so it became a gate decision."

With the gate rolling and the start looming, Pacific Admiral let his pilot know it was a good idea to call an audible.

"He just didn't seem as if he wanted to leave - - he wasn't grabbing on enough to tell me that he wanted to leave."

Ducking and coming away in seventh position, Kennedy wasn't the least bit upset that three others fired out for the lead into a swift :27.3 first-quarter.

"I thought that was beautiful for me because that meant my horse was pacing his first-quarter in :29.3."

With the field beginning their journey up the backstretch, Kennedy got more good news when D Jokerman (John Chappell) was asked to make a 5-16ths move for the lead.

"That very much played into my hands because that meant the pace would keep going faster instead of slowing down."

Moving uncovered just past the three-eighths mile pole, the 8-year-old soon flushed cover to the half-mile pole (:56.2).  Was Kennedy pleased that he was now third-over?

"I didn't expect Ideally Magic (Tim Maier) to pull first-over, and for that reason I wasn't sure what was going to happen.  His pulling actually did concern me at the time because I've driven Ideally Magic many times and he's the type of horse that is at his best when you can save him for the late going.  But, as it turns out - - he actually helped me because he went right after D Jokerman."

Racing in a live flow and loaded midway around the final bend, Pacific Admiral soon found himself second-over at the three-quarter mile pole (1:24.3), yet despite only being 3-3/4-lengths back, Kennedy now had doubts.

"At the three-quarters, when Ideally Magic cleared and opened up - - I thought he was home free."

Moving three-wide for the drive and now under a drive, Kennedy's message to his gelding hadn't arrived yet.

"When I flipped him three wide and got after him - - he wasn't responding.  Finally, however, at mid-stretch, he decided to kick it in, but they were gaining on him and I thought I was done.  From that point on it was a drive to the wire."

Now under an all-out drive and starting to close willingly at mid-stretch as Ideally Magic started to tire, a determined Pacific Admiral forged into the lead in deep-stretch.

"I didn't think I was winning until the last ten of fifteen steps when he got his head in front and was staying in front even while they were gaining and had gotten to about his shoulder.  At that point he wasn't letting them go past."

Owned by trainer Gretchen Smith, Pacific Admiral won ($6.00) by three-quarters of one-length, in 1:52.4, a seasonal best and his 21st career triumph.  Rod's Famous Ribs (Lemoyne Svendsen) finished in second and Star Time Kid (Rick Plano) finished just a head farther back, in third.

"It was a great race for him and a new winning lifetime mark for me," concluded a proud Kennedy, who had four winners on the card. (Cal-Expo)
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