Day At The Track

Amateur series benefits Epilepsy Foundation

06:45 AM 13 Oct 2011 NZDT
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Lou Pena is sponsoring The Bronte
Lou Pena is sponsoring The Bronte - Epilepsy Research Foundation Amateur Series

Fresh from scoring a $205 shocker with Sad Parting for harness racing trainer Raul Escobedo, Dave Siegel is looking forward to competing at Cal Expo in next weekend's The Bronte Epilepsy Research Foundation Amateur Series.

The event is being sponsored by Lou Pena and some of his owners and between their generosity and the driver fees, a total of $7,000 beyond the purse monies will go to the Foundation.

Two separate pacing events, one for the males and one for the mares, will be held over three Saturdays. The first two legs are going for $3,000, while a $10,000 pot will be waiting at the end of the respective November 5 finales.

The first leg of the series will get underway on Saturday, October 22, and will find the pacers sporting $3,000 base claiming prices, while they will have $4,500 claiming tags on the second week. The top eight purse earners from those first two legs will compete in each of the respective $10,000 finales and there will be no claiming in that affair.

Siegel, who serves as California Amateur Driving Club president, was high in his praise of Pena’s sponsorship.

“Lou Pena has been a great supporter of amateur racing since I got into the business 10 years ago, and well before then. He was always the go-to guy to put horses in amateur events, support foreign visitors in special series and even to loan out horses for publicity events in the Sacramento area. Even when he had little to give, he gave.

“Louie came to me months ago and said he wanted to do something more, even though he was no longer based here. He talked about a special connection he had with a child with epilepsy and wanted to further help finding a cure as well as helping fellow horsemen at Cal Expo. Add in his support for amateur driving, and the series was born.”

Siegel’s day job is as president of TrackMaster, and he pointed out that free past performances for those three Saturday cards will be available at, along with TrackMaster Greg’s analysis. Speaking of analysis, statistics show that Sad Parting’s victory was just the third win by a 100-1 shot or higher at this track since 1990. For the record, the other two were Flame of Tyrant in 2001 and Aberlone in 2002.

“Sometimes you get just lucky,” Dave related when asked about the huge upset with the trotter. “Sad Parting had been getting a little better each week. When I saw Steve Wiseman break at the start of the race, I had a feeling it might open up. Another longshot was stuck on the outside, causing the race to go fast, which I knew would help us in mid-pack immensely.

“Then I got some nice cover from Rich Wojcio with Mighty Kicker, who was unused and the second choice. Following him was a no-brainer and I just hoped she could keep up. Sometimes things just work out, and I’m happy Freddy (trainer Raul Escobedo) has stuck with me on giving her a shot. I’ve been driving many longshots of late, not getting many chances to win, so this was a nice surprise.”

******** Friday night’s feature is a $3,700 Trot that should find Putoneonnetformom going off a solid favorite for owner/breeders Jeff, Gerald and Diana Cimini, trainer Rocky Stidham and pilot James Kennedy. The hard-hitting 7-year-old has two wins and two seconds from his four appearances at this meet and appears to be going in peak form.

Shooting for an upset are Carpathian Hooray with Rich Wojcio; Shelby County; Dudis Angel for Lemoyne Svendsen; Meringue and Luke Plano; Aston Boko with Scott Cisco; Giles L S Hanover for Steve Wiseman; and D Man, who has the outside slot with Jim Lackey at the helm.

Looking ahead to Saturday night, the Robert Staats Memorial Pace is on tap, honoring the prominent owner and breeder who passed away in August. Shamderock looks like the one to beat in that event.

******** Cal Expo will have Friday and Saturday programs this week, expanding to a three-night menu next week with Thursday racing being added to the schedule on October 20. Post-time on Friday (October 14) & Saturday (October 15) at 6:00 p.m. (PDT). A reminder that Saturday nights finds both Pick 4’s featured reduced 15 percent takeout rates. The Late Pick 4 comes with a $15,000-guaranteed pool and there is a 0% takeout on winning wagers made on track or at

On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour between 6:00-8:30 p.m., where $2 Beer, $2 Wine & $2 Buffalo Wings an order is offered. On Saturday, its Dollar Night, on which hot-dogs; beer, soda, and wine will be sold for one dollar from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

by Mark RATZKY

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