The late Jim Grundy is remembered

05:48 AM 17 May 2012 NZST
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Jim Grundy
Jim Grundy

Friday night's (May 18) $7,200 feature at Cal Expo is the Jim Grundy Memorial Trot, named for the driver/trainer harness racing fixture in California harness racing for over 30 years who passed away in 2009 at the age of 74.

The purse includes $400 from Jim’s brother Art and nephew Glenn and another $200 for the winning blanket, and both hope to be in attendance. Set to contest the event are Putoneonnetformom, Shelby County, Dudis Angel, Broadway Victory, Winsom Kelly, Twice The Ruckus and Giles L S Hanover.

Jim Grundy made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with more than $10.3 million in career purses. Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Jim to hang up his skates and stick in 1958.

Going into the family business of harness racing, he found his second niche in life as a driver/trainer.

Grundy apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodges and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s. He was the leading driver at Monticello for three straight years beginning in 1971 before heading west with his wife Deborah, a former schoolteacher and bookkeeper for the stable.

It was here that Grundy blossomed into one of the state’s top harness horsemen. Teaming with owners like Chris Bardis, Lloyd Arnold and Ron Zumbrun, he won countless stakes races with the likes of Googie, Hugabear, Steam and Easel. He was especially noted as an outstanding trainer of young trotters.

Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and have high praise for his skills.

“Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses,” Desomer said. “He was an exceptional horseman and that resulted in a long and successful career.”

Vallandingham related, “I knew Jim from the time he came to California. He was a nice guy and a great horseman and I always enjoyed his company.”

Kuebler also did battle with Jim on many occasions at Cal Expo, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. “I’d have to say he was the most accomplished trainer of young trotters we’ve ever had in the state. Even after his retirement, horsemen would seek him out to get advice in shoeing and balancing a trotter.

It was all about his expertise and passion and he is missed.”

The Grundy Memorial will find a rematch between Broadway Victory, Putoneonnetformom and Giles L S Hanover, who were separated by only a neck while finishing in that order in last week’s top dance for trotting set.

Broadway Victory recorded the $26 upset that night while finishing on the right end of a nose photo with the even-money favorite Putoneonnetformom. The 5-year-old daughter of Broadway Hall is owned, trained and driven by John McKeon Jr. and was recording her first victory of the season in her eighth appearance as she sat a stalking trip and ignited late with a :28.2 final quarter to get the job done.

Putoneonnetformom lost a tough decision after carving out all the fractions while doing his work from the assigned No. 9 post position. The 8-year-old son of Trot For Joy is owned and was bred by Jeff, Gerald and Diana Cimini with Rocky Stidham the conditioner and James Kennedy once again handling the lines.

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For the second time this month, beginning this week, purses at Cal Expo will be increased by 25 percent across the board. The increases will remain in effect through the end of the current meeting on June 16.

“We are pleased to provide this additional purse increase to the horsemen who have supported our program,” said Director of Racing David Elliott. “This increase is due to the underpayment because of increased handle, while Cal Expo has also reached into their own pocket with an additional $175,000.”

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (May 18) & Saturday (May 19) 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 Twinspires.com, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

by Mark RATZKY

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