Gerry Longo makes return to Golden State

06:58 AM 17 Jan 2014 NZDT
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From left to right, Gene Valandingham, Steve Desomer and Gerry Longo

Your eyes are not deceiving you, Gerry Longo is back in California and competing here at Cal Expo.

Once a fixture at or near the top of the driver standings at this track, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos, the 68-year-old driver/trainer has returned to the West Coast for at least the foreseeable future.

Its been over 30 years since I raced out here, said Longo, who recently passed the 2,600-win plateau with over $11 million in earnings. Ive come to California quite a bit to visit my mother, who lives in Garden Grove, and my daughter in Riverside, but this is the first time Ive raced here in a long time.

I can tell you that the weather is nice, the people are great and Im impressed with the way theyve upgraded the facility since I was here the last time.

Longo explained that he made the move to Chicago at a time when it looked like harness racing was about to go down for the count in California. I did some racing back there in 78, 79 and 80, then I bought a place and started racing in Chicago full time, he said. I like to travel, so Ive also been racing at tracks in Virginia and Minnesota.

Gerry has brought out six performers and is almost treating the visit like a vacation. Right now the plan is stay at least under March, but well see how it goes.

Open Pace, Sire Stakes, Joe OBrien set

An Open Pace spotlighting One And Only; a trio of $10,000 California Sire Stakes and the first leg of the Joe OBrien Pacing Series are the main events on Saturday nights 15-race program at Cal Expo.

The Open Pace is the third race on the evening with One And Only looming large. He is a 6-year-old son of Bettors Delight out of the Western Hanover mare Gallie Too who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada with Line Pacheco the conditioner and Luke Plano handling the lines. He is looking for his Third Straight win at the top level.

The bay performer got a perfect pocket trip with Plano on December 21 and drew off by five lengths when push came to shove in a lifetime-best 1:52 2/5 mile. Sent off at 40 cents on the dollar in the most recent top dance two weeks ago, One And Only took matters into his own hands and went coast-to-coast by a two and a half lengths to the delight of his many backers.

Set to challenge One And Only are Its Getting Hairy for Tim Maier; Phantom Dan with trainer James Kennedy in the sulky; Docs Zippy, Tyler Smith; and Winsmith Syd, who leaves from the rail with Steve Wiseman.

A Stitch In Time and Show Runner are strictly the ones to beat, respectively, in the Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old pacers, while the 3-year-old colts get their first chance to race for added-money at the meeting.

By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

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