Shakespeare wrote, “The play’s the thing”, but if he was a harness driver instead of the greatest author of all time, he would have changed that to, “The trip’s the thing.”
That was certainly the case with Bertha Vanation in last week’s Filly and Mare Open, as Nick Roland worked out a perfect two-hole journey from an inside post with the pacing distaffer and she was up by a nose over Brighten Your Life for the $52 surprise.
Taking nothing away from the winner, it was Brighten Your Life and Tony Succarotte who did all the heavy lifting in that mile and suffered the toughest of beats.
Brighten Your Life is an 8-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture who is owned by Tyler Gunderson and Jenna Cornelison and is conditioned by Cornelison. She has $163,000 in the bank and her 1:53 1/5 mark was established here last season.
Cornelison is a Sacramento native who got her original education in the sport while working with Gene Vallandingham. “Gene had a pacer named Run Baby Run who I got as a riding horse and in 2005 I ended up going to work with him here at Cal Expo,” Jenna related. “In 2007 I went back East with Pete Foley and spent four years at Pocono.”
Cornelison was out of the game for a brief period, but returned in 2012 and eventually came back to California to once again work at the Vallandingham barn.
“I just love coming out here each morning and having those heads sticking out and waiting for me. The real satisfaction comes after putting in all that work, sometimes in the cold and rain, and then watching them go out there and give everything they have in a race. It’s very rewarding.”