Sacramento, CA --- Trainer Frank Petrelli arrived at Cal Expo in October from Florida with the pacer Memphis Mobster in tow and it’s proven to be a good move. The 6-year-old is off to a great start this year, posing for pictures after three of his seven appearances, and will suit up this weekend for the first leg of the Jim Dennis Series.
The Marissa Tyler colorbearer lost his best chance two starts back when he ran into traffic troubles as the 8-5 choice, but there were no such problems last week as Steve Wiseman worked out a pocket journey with Memphis Mobster and he flew home in :26.2 to be up in the final stride.
“I had been told he raced real well as a younger horse over the bigger tracks, so it seemed like the right thing to bring him from Pompano,” Petrelli explained. “He’s a nice horse to train, he likes it here and has done very well.
“That race two back, he was locked in and loaded, and then everything worked out perfectly the last time. He really sprinted home that night.”
Memphis Mobster had the misfortune to draw the outside slot in Saturday’s nine-horse line-up, but his conditioner is philosophical about landing the poor slot.
“Better we get it now than in the final,” he responded.
Petrelli, who has 15 trotters and pacers under his care at the moment, is having a solid meet and Wiseman is his go-to driver. Having said that, he has guided a half-dozen of his charges into the winner’s circle himself.
“I actually started out as a driver and never intended to be a trainer,” he explained. “I think everybody loves to drive a winner, it’s a great feeling, and the next best thing is training one.”
Jim Dennis Series, Sire Stakes on tap
The opening leg of the Jim Dennis Pacing Series, with Jovial Joker front and center, and a $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing colts head the marquee at Cal Expo on Saturday night. A 15-race program is set with The Dennis as the eighth contest, while the Sire Stakes is a non-betting event.
Jovial Joker should be a very tough customer in the Dennis for owner Britney Dillon, trainer Gretchen Smith and driver Luke Plano. The 13-year-old son of Life Sign comes into this assignment with more than $420,000 in his bank account and a sparkling 1:49.2 career standard.
The classy veteran has accounted for three of his six trips to the post, most recently getting the job done two weeks ago in coast-to-coast fashion for Plano. He holds the distinct class advantage with this group.
Taking him on are Mister T-Rex with Bruce Clarke; Herzon and Mike Eaton; Phantom Dan for James Kennedy; Bookie Farout and Scott Cisco; Yuma with Tim Maier; Red Star Popeye for Chip Lackey; Serious Art with Richard Schneider; and Memphis Mobster, who leaves from the outside with Steve Wiseman at the controls.
Bit Player gets top billing in the stakes. He is a homebred son of Moxie and the Leading Edge mare Linear who carries the Desomer Stables banner with Vickie Desomer the conditioner and Steve Wiseman handling the lines. In the most recent stakes clash two weeks ago, he went right to the top, was able to moderate the fractions and then had enough left to hold off a charging Lebo Jones by a nose in a 1:57.2 tour.