Day At The Track

Claimer proves to be a boon for Lisa Ehrlich

05:54 AM 07 Jun 2012 NZST
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Lisa Ehrlich
Lisa Ehrlich - who owns Red Star Popeye.

Red Star Popeye has proven to be a very good purchase since being taken out of a $2,500 claimer just over a year ago at Cal Expo by harness racing owner Lisa Ehrlich and trainer Bob Johnson. He's recorded 10 wins, nine seconds and 10 thirds from 42 starts for the connections and has banked over $27,000 during that period while doing the majority of his work with the $5,000 to $7,000 sellers.

It was some eye-popping finishes at Cal Expo prior to the claim that caught Scott Ehrlich’s attention and prompted him to do some homework on the British Columbia-bred son of As Promised.

“I went back and watched replays of his races at Fraser Downs and took note that he didn’t have as explosive a close there, perhaps because it’s a five-eighths oval, but he did love going first over. Figuring he took a liking to Cal Expo’s mile layout, combined with his love of taking air, not to mention my love of horses that close, got us to claim him.

“Popeye is my pacing Challenge The King, but much sounder. They both love(d) to race, to pass, and to win, and their never-ending determination is impossible to dislike.”

Red Star Popeye’s record would be even better, but last week some traffic troubles resulting in a break on the final turn conspired against the gelding and he checked in fifth as the 6-5 public choice.

“We had to move back inside sharply to avoid the breaker,” explained pilot Luke Plano, referring to the off-stride Incredible Gambler.

Once Red Star Popeye recovered, he came a sparkling :26.4 final quarter, but the eagle had flown by that point and he had to be happy with a minor award. He will suit up once again in Friday night’s (June 8) fourth race.


Getting back to the aforementioned Incredible Gambler, her 12 victories this season ties her for the winningest harness performer in North America with another mare named CMR Maybe Loaded.

Among the trotters, last week’s upset tally at the top rung was win No. 10 on the season for Alpine Hawk, leaving him just one behind the 11 decisions registered by the aptly-named Winning Mister.


Alpine Hawk and Giles L S Hanover, who put on quite a show finishing one-two in last week’s match-up at the head of the class, get another chance to settle the score in Friday night’s (June 8) $6,800 Winners-Over Trot at Cal Expo.

Alpine Hawk is an 11-year-old son of Movie Mogul who is owned by Jim Winske, takes his lessons from Gordie Graham and will as usual have Rich Wojcio in the sulky. He comes into this assignment with 10 wins from his 15 starts on the season, $182,000 in his account and a 1:56.4 career standard.

The classy veteran captured back-to-back optional claiming events on May 11 and 19, on both occasions winning easier than the final margin would indicate. He lost a heartbreaker on May 25, as he was hung out the first half, came on gamely at the end and missed by a head to Dreaming Of Amy.

Alpine Hawk was on the right end of the photo in last week’s mile, however, after taking back in the early stages. He began to pick up momentum on the final bend, engaged for the lead at mid-stretch and held off the late charge of Giles L S Hanover in a 1:57.2 performance.

Giles L S Hanover is a 7-year-old S J’s Photo offspring who carries the banner of Marty Garey, Hank Wieseneck and his conditioner Bob Johnson, with Jim Lackey guiding. He has one victory and seven runner-up finishes on the year, with the score coming in a 7-1 upset in the May 18 Winners-over gathering.

Putoneonnetformom has gone several big miles on this layout and has to be respected. The Trot For Joy homebred races for Jeff, Gerald and Diana Cimini with Rocky Stidham doing the training. He sports a 1:57.2 mark from last season with $143,000 in earnings and recorded his most recent tally in dominating fashion on May 13.

Completing the field are Dreaming Of Amy with Luke Plano and Broadway Victory for John McKeon Jr.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (June 8) & Saturday (June 9) at 6:00 p.m. (PST). On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m. On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s. Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool. Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

by Mark RATZKY

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