“It’s a lot of fun,” Plano noted as he looks for his second straight driving title under the Watch and Wager banner. “Ideally, if I was to sit out a couple, I would just as soon they be at the beginning or the end of the night, because about a 12-race card is perfect and I prefer to drive them all.”
Plano learned his lessons well from his father Rick, who was a mainstay here in California for many years and now does his reining and training in Florida and New York.
“He taught me a lot, and I guess the area where I’ve improved the most is knowing the horses.
“It’s not just the ones I’m driving, but the ones I’m in there against. Once I get the program, I do quite a bit of studying, and having just two horses of my own right now allows me a lot more time. I’d say that is the biggest plus I have out there.”
Luke is currently locked in a pretty good battle with Steve Wiseman for driving honors at the current stand, which is scheduled to conclude at the end of May. Both drivers are very much in demand and make the most of their opportunities.
“Steve and I are good friends and it means a lot to win the title and have the bragging rights,” Plano noted.
As for when the meet concludes, Plano has gone to New York in the past, but is considering a trip to Minnesota this summer. “A lot of the horsemen here are going to Running Aces, so I may just follow them there because I know I’ll have the opportunities.”
Of more immediate concern, there are some 27 chances to land in the winner’s circle over the next two nights, and Luke plans to make the most of them.
Open trot brings out sharp performers
K D Amazin Spirit, who is the midst of a career year for his owner, breeder and trainer Keith Willey and regular driver Scott Cisco, looks to earn his seventh victory from eight season’s appearances in Friday evening’s $6,000 Open trot at the Watch and Wager meet at Cal Expo.
Among those set to line up against the streaking K D Amazin Spirit are Fort Valley AS, who just missed after carving all the fractions in his first start of the year for Jennifer Sabot, and Franky Provolone, who was third in that blanket finish for owner Robin Clements and conditioner Vickie Desomer.
K D Amazin Spirit is a 7-year-old son of Thadrow, out of the Monterey Judge mare K D Charm who is the pride and joy of the Willey barn. He is going in razor-sharp form at the moment, putting his versatility on display in the process. He went coast-to-coast for Cisco two back, then came from last to get the job done in his most recent score while prevailing in that three-horse photo.
Fort Valley AS needed his outing and could prove a very elusive target this time around with Luke Plano in the sulky. The son of Tom Ridge is the richest member of the cast with his $242,000 bank account and sports a 1:55 standard that was established last season.
Franky Provolone has proven to be an excellent claim by Clements and Desomer, and Tim Maier will handle the lines. He was a 15-time victor last season and set his 1:56.3 mark when capturing an Open Handicap here on February 22. He sat a pocket trip behind Fort Valley AS last time and fought it out gamely that night.
Completing the field will be Franks Best with Steve Wiseman at the controls; Shelby County for Rocky Stidham; and Stars And Glides with Bruce Clarke giving directions. The feature will go as the third on a 15-race program with a 5:42, PT post.