Smithpeters returns to California and the sulky

05:22 AM 11 Apr 2014 NZST
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One of the recent additions to the Cal Expo drivers room is Sean Smithpeters, a 31-year-old native of Illinois who drove two winners last weekend for his mother, owner/trainer Gretchen Smith.

"I first got involved with harness racing at the same time my mom did", Sean explained. "She took over a boarding facility at the Champaign County fair grounds back home in Illinois when I was in high school.

"At the time, we only had riding horses, but on the grounds was a half mile limestone track and several Standardbreds were training there. We decided to try our hand and I began driving on the fair circuit the few horses we had. In 2008 we had enough horses that I was able to get the qualifying drives to obtain my "P" license. I actually made my first starts here in 2009 while out on vacation."

As can happen, Smithpeters explained that soon after events in his life conspired to keep him from perusing this driving ambition, but now things have come full circle and he is back in California and the sulky.

"Recently my family and I decided it was time for a change of scenery and made the move out here from Illinois," Smithpeters said. " A few weeks back, after a couple weeks here jogging and qualifying a few, I made my first starts since 2009.

"Everyone here has been very helpful and kind while I'm trying to shake off the rust and hit my stride driving," Smithpeters said. "Hopefully everything keeps moving forward well and I'll be driving here for quite some time."

And so far for Gretchen, shes happy to be joining forces on the racetrack once again with her son.

"Its exciting for me to see him back in the bike and watch him develop his skills," Gretchen Smith said. "Being able to see him everyday again is great. I'm very happy he and his family have come to California."

Sire Stakes, Open Trot, Open Pace on tap

A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for pacing males headed by Rikybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop; an Open Trot featuring Hellogottagobuhbye and Sharpshootennorris and an Open Pace share the spotlight at Cal Expo Saturday night.

A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:15 p.m. The Sire Stakes will go as the second event, with the Open Pace the third race and the Open Trot the fourth on the evening.

Rikybrnthegaragdwn is a 3-year-old son of Livin It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra who has accounted for three of the stakes events decided for the division with King Of The Crop capturing the other three. He is owned by Maryann Plano and is now conditioned by Tim Brown with Rich Wojcio handling the lines.

In the most recent big-money clash two weeks ago, Rikybrnthegaragdwn took advantage of a mid-race break by his arch-rival over a sloppy track and made every pole a winning one. With former driver/trainer Luke Plano at the controls, he waltzed home by five and a half lengths that evening. His 1:55 standard was established in a February 22 conditioned affair.

King Of The Crop is son of Little Steven who is owned, trained and driven by James Kennedy. He comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following five of his 10 trips to the post.

He has been alternating stakes scores with his main rival, picking up his most recent trophy on March 15 and then losing his chance in that last get-together two weeks ago with the break over the off going. He established his lifetime mark of 1:55 1/5 with his February 1 score.

Completing the field are Laissez Moi Passer, who leaves from the rail with Williams Hernandez; Holme Base with Steve Desomer at the controls; and Tony Cheesecake, who will have the services of Chip Lackey.

By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

 

 

 

 

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