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David Siegel got a solid start to the Cal Expo meet last Saturday night while guiding a pair of harness racing pacers into the winner's circle. Native's Revenge, who is co-owned by Siegel and trainer Bob Johnson, got the job done in the third race on opening night card, with Walker Meister posting a $38 surprise in the 12th race with Siegel handling the lines for trainer George Reider. "Bob (Johnson) has had nice success with Native's Revenge here after a challenging campaign at Running Aces," Siegel noted. "He's a classy horse and seems to really like the track. "I was looking for a reliable horse to buy a piece of in Bob's barn to diversity my holdings and Native's Revenge fit the bill. So when he returned to the left coast, I purchased a piece of him and was fortunate that he fit the bottom conditioned class in his first start and returned to his old winning form here." David added that Native's Revenge is being pointed for the Alan Horowitz series, with the opening leg of that event scheduled for Saturday, November 11. A few hours after prevailing with Native's Revenge, Siegel once again got his picture taken after working out a pefect trip with Walker Meister and lighting up the toteboard in the process. "It's somewhat similar in that he had not been racing in great form at Running Aces," Siegel said. "It seems like Walker Meister has fared best here in California. "George approaches the return of his horses with a long-term view, that is six months of racing ahead, and he also wanted to give the barn a nice breather after Aces. So, as expected, most of his horses were a little short last week. "I had a conservative plan for Walker Meister, but when I looked left from the seven hole, there were very few that had that 'leave' look so I jumped out of there along with the horse I thought I had to beat in Hi Ho's Little Rev. "Mooney (Svendsen) did the right thing with that horse and retook. At that point I knew Bobby Johnson's horses were all ready to rock and roll on opening night and I thought I could be good enough to be second. "But Walker Meister kept right up at the half and that's when I thought I just might get there. By the three-quarter pole I had a good feeling I would win and the gelding was solid. "I use Speed Ratings and his 77 was about 10 points up from his recent Running Aces efforts. No doubt he likes the Cal Expo surface and maybe just likes being home. He'll have to step up now, but the way he raced I expect him to be quite competitive." Open Trot, Pick 5 carryover in spotlight A $6,600 Open Trot and a Pick 5 carryover of $4,400 with a $20,000-guaranteed pool head the program Friday night at Cal Expo. The trotters and pacers are now in action on Friday and Saturday evenings under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There will be 10 races on both Friday and Saturday. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent wager which is conducted on the first five races each night and features a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. That low takeout is also offered on the 20-cent Pick 4 that covers the penultimate four races on the card. Looking at the featured Open Trot, racing secretary Robin Schadt has assigned the Luke Plano trained-and-driven Pridecrest the outside post in the cast of seven, with the other six sidewheelers drawing their slots. A 5-year-old son of Angus Hall, Pridecrest carries the hopes of Mark Hinshaw and invades from the Midwest having met some solid company at Hawthorne and Hoosier Park this season. He scored his most recent victory in an Open event on August 26 over a good track at Hawthorne, as he set a stalking journey that evening and ignited in the stretch to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths while rewarding his backers as an 11-1 shot. Taking him on, from the rail out: Agrestores Comet with Chip Lackey; Becky Badger Baby, Nick Roland; Itzaziam, to be handled by Sean Smithpeters; Talkin Tootsie, Mooney Svendsen; and Silverlode with Steve Desomer. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Window Wiper turned in a solid effort in her first start for Robin Clements and David Siegel, checking in a close third in the harness racing Filly and Mare Open after sitting a tracking journey. The 7-year-old daughter of Island Fantasy was claimed from her prior effort here and co-owners Clements and Siegel are looking forward to some good things with their new acquisition. "I had watched Window Wiper when she had been in the $6,000 claimers earlier and raced against Windsun T Bird and almost claimed her a month ago," trainer Clements related. "I loved how she was so versatile and could leave a first quarter and how she had a huge kick coming home. "I had previously lost a few horses either claimed or sold, and needed to replace them. I had talked to Dave and asked if he wanted to partner up with me as he is a great owner and we had just sold Every Day Hanover and Brandon's Colt had been claimed earlier from us. Dave loved the mare as well, so we claimed her." Window Wiper finished third the night she was red-tagged as the 3-2 favorite after having some traffic troubles, then followed with the nice try at the Open level in her initial try for the new connections. "She has a few issues and is a bull of a mare and needs to learn a few manners, but that will come in time. She is a big and beautiful mare and should fit well with my barn." Silverlode gets top billing in Open Trot Silverlode has been assigned the demanding No. 10 post position as she heads the cast for Friday night's featured $6,600 Open Trot. Silverlode is going in razor-sharp form for Steve and Vickie Desomer, and it will be interesting to see how driver Luke Plano navigates the extremely outside slot as the mare looks to continue her winning ways. Thirteen races will be presented by Watch and Wager LLC with a first post of 5:55 p.m. and there will also be a California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters going as a non-betting event prior to the regular card. Looking at the co-featured Open III Pace, Sandestin Hanover gets the nod. The 6-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere is owned by Little Bapa LLC, is conditioned by George Reider and like Silverlode will be guided by Plano. A 1:50 2/5 winner at a 4-year-old. Sandestin Hanover had one victory last season, a 1:52 4/5 score that was recorded at Philadelphia Park. He closed out his 2016 campaign by making his California debut in an Open II contest at this meeting on December 3, where he was no factor. The Little Bapa representative subsequently turned in a sharp qualifier on February 4 to get his new year rolling, then followed that tuner by finishing fifth at the Open level while chasing home China King in a tough February 10 contest. Ideal Art comes into this assignment having captured two of his last three outings and may very well handle the step up in class. The American Ideal gelding is owned by Kathleen Plested, Benvenga Racing LLC and Tyler Wiseman with Plested training and Steve Wiseman handling the lines. Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness        

When the sharp Genuine Desire lines up for Saturday night's harness racing Bill Conlin Final, he'll be gunning for his fourth win from his last six trips to the post, including two of his last three over this layout. The sophomore son of Real Desire is owned by Rick and Marlene Thomas and George Reider, is conditioned by Reider and will be handled by David Siegel. Genuine Desire started his recent streak with a 43-1 shocker in his Hawthorne finale last month with Tim Curtain at the controls and has recorded his last two tallies after being re-united with Siegel. In last week's Conlin Prep over a sloppy track, the pair made a power move to the top on the final bend and went on to a two and a half-length decision that sets them up perfectly for this assignment. "I am glad I finally got the opportunity to get back behind Genuine Desire after his venture back to Illinois," Siegel related after last week's score. "Going by his record and speed ratings, there is little doubt he likes the going at Cal-Expo better. "He is very handy and can be driven as the situation dictates, on the front, off the pace, and has the ability to two-move if needed. "He fits the Conlin field well and hopefully we can get the right trip and get the job done for his supportive owners Rick and Marlene. I fully expect George will have him prepared for the challenge." Marie Hill Pace brings out distaffers The Marie Hill Pace, a $4,400 Open II event for fillies and mares, heads the 13-race card Friday night at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting. First post is 6:10 p.m. Lady's Art, for driver/trainer Chip Lackey; and the Robin Clements-trained, David Siegel-driven Windsun T Bird have been assigned the outside posts in the field of seven. The race is named for the memory of Marie Catherine Hill, a Canadian who fell in love with harness racing as a young girl and became an important author of books about participants in the sport. She passed away on November 22 at the age of 85 in Merlin, Ore., near the residence of her daughter, Irene, after a brief illness. Born Aug. 12, 1931, in Blacks Harbor, New Brunswick, Ms. Hill attended her first harness race at the half-mile track at St. Stephen, New Brunswick, when she was 11 years old. At 13 she wrote her first article for The Canadian Sportsman, a few paragraphs titled "Watchim on the Trot," which was about the trotting track record holder at St. Stephen. The story led to other articles for The Canadian Sportsman's Christmas editions. She also wrote for The Horseman And Fair World, Hoof Beats, The Harness Horse, and Trot magazines. Ms. Hill became one of harness racing's most prolific historians, writing six books including: Single G: The Horse That Time Forgot; Adios: The Big Daddy of Harness Racing; Gentleman Joe-The Story of Harness Driver Joe O'Brien; Mr. Harness Racing-the Story of Delvin Miller; and The Horseman from Alberton. In 1959 Ms. Hill moved to California, where she worked as an accountant and office manager for construction companies in the San Francisco Bay area. Her interest in harness racing, its horses and people, never waned. During the 1970s and early 1980s she bred, owned and raced horses in California, Kentucky and Indiana. Ms. Hill became acquainted with Delvin Miller by mail when he responded to an advertisement she had run in The Horseman And Fair World in which she had asked for historical information about Single G. Miller responded, as was his habit, and thus began a lifelong friendship. Miller subsequently asked Ms. Hill to write his biography and she delightedly agreed to the project. In 1992, when Adios was inducted into the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame, Ms. Hill accepted the award at Miller's request. In 1984, Ms. Hill nominated B C Count to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The horse's subsequent election, which came in 1998 following a 14-year campaign on her part, brought her great satisfaction. In 2005 Ms. Hill was honored with the Harness Racing Museum's Pinnacle Award and in 2007 she was inducted into the Communicators' Hall of Fame. In addition to harness racing, Ms. Hill's hobbies included the Civil War and watching the New York Yankees. She loved her family, friends, animals, her Catholic faith, and was a devoted mother and daughter. In addition to her daughter, Irene (Stephen), Ms. Hill is survived by her cousin, Sheila Hurley and friend, Arlene Matheson, both of whom she called sisters; the Walker family, Hill and O'Connor cousins; and many more cousins. Ms. Hill was an avid supporter and former board member of the Stable of Memories at The Red Mile and memorial contributions may be sent to Stable of Memories, P.O. Box 11073, Lexington, KY 40512-1073, or to Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, P.O. Box 15368, San Francisco, CA 94115-0368, or to any animal shelter or rescue. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Walker Meister, who comes into this weekend's action riding a two-race win streak, is scheduled to suit up again in Sunday's ninth race at Cal Expo Harness. A 4-year-old pacing son of Henry Clay, Walker Meister goes about his business for George Reider and Dave, Rob and Kimberly Haness with Reider the conditioner and David Siegel doing a return engagement in the sulky. The first of Walker Meister's recent wins came off some class relief two weeks ago on a sloppy track, as he inhaled the leaders at the top of the stretch and went on to a five and half-length romp With that confidence builder under his belt, he came a sparkling :26 2/5 final quarter to hang a neck decision on odds-on Hi Ho Houdini at most recent asking over firm footing. "I'm glad I finally got the opportunity to get back behind Walker Meister," Siegel noted. "I drove him some early in the meet when George was still figuring him out. Now, he has him going quite well and he has become a much different and improved horse. "He can be raced up front, or off the back like I did last week when his final quarter speed rating was a prodigious 117. I was in an advantageous spot behind Luke (Plano and Hi Ho Houdini) which helped a great deal." Sunday's assignment will see a rematch with Hi Ho Houdini, with that rival landing the rail while Walker Meister will do his work from the outside post in the compact cast. It should be interesting. My Little Susie eyes another stake trophy My Little Susie, who has posed for pictures following four of the five Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old trotters, heads the cast for Sunday night's $10,000 main event at Cal Expo. Ten races will be presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with the action slated to begin at 6:25 p.m. The trotting Sire Stakes occupies the third-race slot on the program. My Little Susie is a daughter of Claudius Augustus and the S J's Photo mare Sue's Photo who is owned by A Piece Of The Action LLC, takes her lessons from Gene Vallandingham and will once again be handled by Chip Lackey. Overall, the bay miss has captured eight of her 18 trips to the post, with her lifetime mark of 1:57 2/5 being established here in the February 28 Sire Stakes, where she sat a two-hole trip and then inhaled the leader to win going away by four lengths. In the most recent stakes gathering two weeks ago over a track labeled "good", My Little Susie was sent off the even-money co-favorite. She sat third early, attacked the leader turning for home and drew off in the lane to post a six-length victory. She is the one to beat again no matter how things shake out early. Kissed The Boys is the other member of the cast with a stakes trophy, as she accounted for the March 13 gathering on a sloppy track. Another daughter of Claudius Augustus, she is from the outstanding producer Charlotte's Web and races for The Desomer Stables with Steve Desomer in the sulky. Completing the cast are Lodi Bank Robber with Luke Plano; Delta Breezeoflodi for Pierre Girard; CW Rainette, Steve Wiseman; and Sixstringsandapick, who will be handled by Mooney Svendsen. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Last weekend saw some pretty wild weather here at Cal Expo and David Siegel was one of the drivers right in the middle of it, making winner's circle appearances on Saturday with Moon Is on Fire and Outlawdangruswatrs. "This past weekend's conditions were perhaps the most challenging I have faced in my short career," said Siegel, whose day job is as President of TrackMaster. "For openers, what can make things really dicey is the physical condition of the track. The drivers agreed that the track crew did an outstanding job with the surface both nights. Given those conditions, we did not see how the track could be better prepared. "During the race, the most challenging aspect of driving is visibility and hearing. The winds on Saturday made hearing difficult. Every driver has his own methods for dealing with visibility. I happen to use special moto-cross goggles which look really funny, but they allow me to see pretty well which helps me feel safely confident." Siegel also pointed out that preparation is a key when driving any race, especially one where the weather and track conditions add to the variables. "A sharp driver will look at a horse's lines or ask the trainer about how the horse is on an off-track as some really like it, and some perform predictably poorly. In addition, how the wind is blowing also plays a major role in strategy. It is logical that into a head wind you would prefer to draft and certainly not be in front. "On the flip side, if you are not near the lead in a fierce stretch head wind like we had on Saturday, you have little chance to gain much ground. So while that matters for the last quarter, it affects how you think about position throughout the race." Stan Bergstein Trot, Sire Stakes head marquee The $10,000 Stan Bergstein Trot, which finds Northern Stormont seeking his sixth straight victory, and a $15,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters featuring My Little Susie are center stage Sunday at Cal Expo. First post is 5:05 p.m. Northern Stormont is razor sharp right now and strictly the one to beat in the Stan Bergstein. A 5-year-old son of Earl Of Stormont, he races for George McCrystal, Mark Kremen and Scott Ehrlich with Steve Wiseman reining and training. Northern Stormont has used his powerful late kick to make five straight trips to the charmed enclosure, with the last three seeing the Wiseman charge overcoming the assigned No. 10 post position. He lands the rail for Sunday's assignment. Looking at the Sire Stakes, My Little Susie is a daughter of Claudius Augustus from the S J's Photo mare Sue's Photo, My Little Susie carries the banner of A Piece Of The Action LLC with Gene Vallandingham the conditioner and Chip Lackey is his usual spot in the sulky. After a couple of needed efforts to start the year, the bay miss has been perfect in her last three trips to the post and has been putting her versatility on display in the course of those victories. My Little Susie started her streak by going coast-to-coast in the finale of the Alan Kirschenbaum series, then accounted for the first stakes dance of the season for this group on February 14 with a come-from-behind score. Sent off the 3-5 choice for the most recent stakes get-together two weeks ago, she did not disappoint her many backers as she sat the pocket trip to the stretch for Lackey and then drew off by four lengths while lowering her career standard to 1:57 2/5 in the process. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

When Lino Pacheco saw Real Attitude surface in a Cal Expo $3,000 claimer last month, he dipped in and took the pacer for client Ronald Rettig-Zucchi, and the result has been three trips to the harness racing winners circle from four appearances in the new barn. Real Attitude is a 12-year-old son of Real Artist with over $400,000 on his card and a 1:51 1/5 mark, and he continues to do good work under Pachecos direction. Last weeks score came with $5,000 company and he proved a punctual favorite in a 1:54 1/5 tour with Tim Maier at the controls. I like the older horses with back class, Lino related when asked about the claim. I was very happy when I got him back to the barn after the claim and hes been very game in his races. After two impressive scores right off the bat under his new banner, including a first-over 1:53 2/5 tally on March 29, Real Attitude stepped up to face Open II rivals on April 4 and couldnt match strides with a red-hot Hoboken Hanover that evening. Wheeled back in a more realistic spot for his most recent assignment, the veteran pacer did the track-and-attack to perfection for Maier, prevailing by a neck to give his new owner and trainer another snapshot. We decided to take a chance and move him up for that Open II race, but it was a little too much for him, Pacheco said. When we brought him back for $5,000 last time, he was very game. Thats why I like these older class horses. This week finds the Rettig-Zucchi colorbearer suiting up for Saturday nights sixth race with David Siegel in the sulky. Can he add another score for the Pacheco shedrow? Stay tuned. Sharp pacers, trotters clash in co-features An Open II Trot headed by Franky Provolone and Winsom Kelly and an Open II Pace featuring Toucan Sam and Bettormeboy are among the highlights on Saturday evenings Cal Expo program. There will be nine races with first post on Saturday nights now being 6:55 p.m. Through the end of the meet on May 3, purses have been increased by 10 percent across the board. Franky Provolone figures to get plenty of respect in the featured trot for owner Robin Clements, trainer Vickie Desomer and pilot Steve Wiseman. He comes into this assignment with $163,000 in his bank account and a 1:55 4/5 mark that was established last season at Running Aces. The 8-year-old son of Armbro Scribe, recorded his first victory on the year back on February 28, had to be happy with minor awards in his next three appearances, then returned to the charmed enclosure last weekend. The Clements colorbearer made every pole a winning one in that affair with Tim Maier giving directions. Winsom Kelly was third in that contest as the 9-5 choice and will be looking for some revenge for the combination of owners Nikki Hudson and Kc Ccarvalho and driver/trainer Luke Plano. The veteran was a sharp winner at this level on March 21 in a rail-skimming performance. Toucam Sam will be stepping up to the Open II level after registering a powerful 1:52 4/5 upset last weekend with conditioned rivals under Luke Planos guidance. The 12-year-old is owned and trained by Patricia Minnella and is now at the $600,000 earnings plateau with a sizzling 1:49 2/5 career standard. Bettormeboy is coming off a third-place finish in last weeks Open I Pace and should hit very hard with this group. Richard Morita and Davida Yamada own the 5-year-old with Lino Pachecho doing the training. He recorded his most recent score under these conditions on March 7. By Mark Ratzky

Deerfield Beach, FL – The American Harness Racing Secretaries annual meetings will officially get underway Thursday morning at the Embassy Suites at 9:00 am. These meeting are celebrating the 50th anniversary since the association first met. Featuring most of the race secretaries, State Sire Stakes officials and staking service companies from throughout North America, the meetings taking place will all but finalize the 2015 stakes schedule. Despite sunny skies, breezy winds and temperatures at around 80, the group meets daily on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to review, make changes, try and avoid conflicts and come away with a tentative schedule for nearly 1,800 stakes and added event races in 2015. President of the association is Ian Fleming, the race secretary at The Raceway Western Fair in Ontario and vice president is race secretary Rick Kane at Pocono Downs. The Recording Secretary is Sharon Hermann, formerly of Buffalo Raceway and the Stakes Administrator is newly elected Hall of Famer Communicator, Carol Cramer, who has attended these meetings for the past 48 years. Thursday evening is the American Harness Racing Secretaries annual dinner. Friday’s special guest presenter is David Siegel, president of Trackmaster and then on Saturday is the 50th anniversary awards luncheon. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Bud Hatfield scored his record seventh CKG Billings Trot victory with Really Really Sweet in Sunday action at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Rewrite the Rules (Dein Spriggs) and Timer (Gregg Keidel) finished second and third respectively. Hatfield drove the 5-year-old brown mare Really Really Sweet. In the opening quarter, Really Really Sweet was neck-in-neck with Rewrite the Rules timed in 0:30. At the half mile station, Rewrite the Rules stuck a head in front of Hay Look Out (Patricia Miller) on the outside in 1:02. By the three-quarter mark, Rewrite the Rules was still holding his place and Hatfield was forced into the fourth position as Sammy Merlot (Simeon Hundson) was sent three wide. As the field of eight hit the top of the stretch, Sammy Merlot broke stride allowing Really Really Sweet to come off the rail and outsprint Rewrite The Rules to the wire by a half length in 2:05. Really Really Sweet is trained by Brent Davis and owned by the Hatfield Stables. In the second $3,000 division it was David Siegel driving Texas Ridge to victory in 2:00.2. Tioga Thunder (George Bonomo) and What Do You Want (Larry Steenbergen) were second and third. The seven-year old brown gelding is trained by Marvin Raber and owned by David E. Miller of Millersburg, Ohio. In the final Billings division Bold Strike scored over Margarita Man (Larry Farley) and Cody Coy (Matt Zuccarello). The five-year old son of So Striking is trained, driven, and owned by Stephen Oldford of Croswell, Michigan. Bold Strike went gate to wire in 2:00. by Conor Golden, Little Brown Jug Publicity Intern

Handicappers that closely follow the racing at Yonkers Raceway may have noticed a subtle change in the program information the last month. The morning line odds are now being prepared by a computerized program.   For the last three years, TrackMaster has been developing software to generate automated morning lines. In statistics compiled by TrackMaster, these automated lines have proven to be more accurate than the lines currently being used at most harness tracks   "While this has taken a substantial investment by TrackMaster and the USTA to build the automated line seamlessly into the eTrack race office system, it is of substantial benefit to racetracks and players," said David Siegel, TrackMaster President and Chief Executive Officer. "The lines are demonstrably more accurate in predicting what odds that the public ultimately dictate. Additional benefits include a uniform and unbiased approach to the line, fast turnaround time, perfectly balanced lines, reliability and potential cost savings."   Yonkers Raceway continues its five day a week racing schedule with a 7:10pm first post on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Yonkers has requested permission from the New York Gaming Commission to offer day racing on Sundays beginning November 9 through the end of the meet on December 14. The Sunday racecards would replace Tuesday nights and would begin weekly simulcasting of Yonkers races into the French PMU markets in Europe.   From the SOA/NY

A $5,600 Open 2 Pace is the featured attraction Saturday night, as the curtain falls on the winter/spring Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo. We want to thank the horsemen and the fans for their support, said General Manager Chris Schick. "We look forward to returning in October for our third year of racing and are planning to implement some exciting new things, including a Jackpot Pick Six. Im An Athlete gets top billing in the main event. The 4-year-old son of Art Major is owned by Ronald Retting-Zucchi with Gretchen Smith the conditioner and Tim Maier handling the lines. The hard-hitting gelding has posed for pictures following four of his 18 appearances on the season. His most recent victory came in an Open 3 event on April 11, where he prevailed by two and a quarter lengths with Patrick Galbraith at the controls and lowered his lifetime mark to 1:53 2/5 in the process. Since that outing, Im An Athlete has had to settle for a second and a pair of thirds, including a show finish behind Shax in last weeks Open Handicap Pace. He should be very much at home in this line-up. Taking him on are Ladys Art with Chip Lackey Lifetime Louie, David Siegel; Gold Duece for Gene Vallandingham; Scarboro Hanover; Silver Spir, Sean Smithpeters; Split Ticket, Mooney Svendsen; Oompa Loompa; Laissez Moi Passer, Williams Hernandez; and Ideal Smile, Steve Wiseman. A 13-race card is on tap with first post set for 5::45 p.m. with the feature going as the seventh event on the evening. Axle taking his show on the road Axle finished up this meet strongly for trainer George Reider, handling a conditioned field two weeks ago and then just missing to Sharpshootennorris in the Open Trot at most recent asking. Hes going to Running Aces in Minnesota along with 11 of his barnmates, Reider said. Thats where we claimed him last year and he won his first start for us back there. He really seems to like that track, because its five-eighths with a different surface. While assistant trainer Kim Hines was on site last year at Running Aces, George explained that he will be joining her for this summers assault. Ive decided to come along this year and hopefully well have a good meet. In the meantime, Reider reports that he will have plenty of performers remaining in California and they will be eyeing the return of racing here in October. Ive leaving a half-dozen 2-year-olds and some race horses at the farm here, and Ill be back in August to resume their training schedule. Im really looking to forward to coming back and getting them ready for the next meet. As this is closing night, which means there will be a mandatory payout in all wagers. A remember there is a reduced 16 percent takeout rate on the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4 and the 10-cent Hi=-Five on the nightcap! by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Silver Spir comes into this weeks action having rattled off back-to-back victories for harness racing owner Maureen Pittaro and trainer Gretchen Smith, equaling his lifetime mark of 1:54 1/5 on both occasions. The 5-year-old Michigan-bred son of Cheyenne Rei was handled by Tim Maier in the first of those scores, with Gretchens son Sean Smithpeters handling the lines in the most recent outing. I cant say enough nice things to say about this horse, Gretchen related. He is such a pleasure to have in the barn. He is very quiet for a stud and he takes very good care of himself. He takes his morning nap everyday as well as one in the afternoon. He doesn't get in much of a hurry jogging either. Im certain that is the reason for his soundness. He only puts out an effort when duty calls. Even right after a race he just moseys back down to the paddock to be hooked back to the jog cart for his return to the barn area. According to Smith, Silver Spir is the kind of horse that makes a very difficult job much easier. He is every trainer and owners dream because what you see from him on the track is all him. No expensive vet bills, no fancy rigging, he isn't even a picky eater. How can anyone ask for any more than that? Hes definitely a special kind of horse. Silver Spir will step up in class for Saturday nights Open Pace with Smithpeters once again doing the honors. Dont let those easy-going ways around the barn fool you, hes all business when its starter call for the pacers. Open Pace entices Shax, Smith pair Shax, a winner of two straight for trainer Tim Brown; and the sharp Gretchen Smith-trained pair of Im An Athlete and Silver Spir get the marquee treatment in Saturday evenings $5,000 Open Pace. Shax races for Kc C Carvalho and David Siegel will once again handle the 6-year-old Florida-bred son of Red River Hanover. He got the job done two weeks ago under Open 3 conditions stalking the pace to the lane and then finding a path along the cones to motor through for the score. Racing at the Open 2 level last week while racing over a sloppy track, Shax sat last in the early stages, rallied second-over to the stretch and hung a neck decision on Haggin Oaks, who was making the final start of her career. Im An Athlete is a 4-year-old son of Art Major who carries the banner of Ronald Retting-Zucchi and will have the services of Tim Maier. The Smith trainee is looking for his fourth trip to the charmed enclosure from his last seven trips to the post. His most recent decision came on April 11 in the Open 3 with Pat Galbraith at the controls, with his 1:53 2/5 clocking not only being the nights fastest but a new lifetime standard. He was second to One And Only at next asking and third as the 4-5 choice behind Shax at most recent asking. Silver Spir gives the Gretchen Smith barn two solid looks at the outcome. He has captured his last two starts in sharp style, doing the track-and-attack to perfection on both occasions with identical 1:54 1/5 final clockings. Sean Smithpters has the return assignment. Rounding out the field are A Real Miracle, who leaves from the cozy rail slot with Chip Lackey giving directions; and Laissez Moi Passer with Williams Hernandez in the bike. First post is 6:15 p.m. By Mark Ratzky

The multiple stakes-winning harness racing mare Haggin Oaks, who posed for pictures following 35 of her 116 starts while banking over $165,000, has been retired and will get to work on being a mother next season. The 8-year-old is by Hi Ho Silverheels out of the Incredible Finale mare Ladyladybemylady and set her mark of 1:52 3/5 last year in New York over the five-eighths Tioga Downs oval. Haggin Oaks was campaigned by Shari Burns, Ferris Funk and Jerry Cimini and was trained early in her career by Lester Smith before James Kennedy took over the duties, as well as being her regular pilot. We call her Liza, because her original name was Cherry Tree Liza, Shari related. She was bred by the late Alan Kirschenbaum and he decided to re-name all the yearlings that year after golf courses, which is how Haggin Oaks came about. Burns pointed out that in their 20-plus year friendship, Jerry Cimini and her husband Ferris had always wanted to campaign a horse together and couldnt have found a better performer for the partnership. Liza was the last yearling left that year. She was a difficult 2 and 3-year-old and it took a lot of love and patience to make her a racehorse. I want to thank Jason Landers for keeping her feet in such great shape and that was not easy. Lester Smith also did a great job and has always been a big supporter of our farm. Of course, when James took out his trainers license, she was his first winner. For me, seeing the joy in my husbands face and hearing the joy in Jerrys conversations about this mare made it all worthwhile. Its not too often someone gets the chance to own such a nice Cal-bred making well over $100,000 in California and we will now give her the life she deserves on the farm where she was born and raised. Hopefully she will produce a few more winners for Ferris and Jerry. Shari also noted the strong bond between Haggin Oaks and her driver/trainer Kennedy. After the race, the first thing James does when he gets out of the sulky is to walk up to her head and give her a big hug. On just about every occasion, she earned it. Sharpshootennorris headlines Open Trot Sharpshootennorris, an impressive winner of two of his last three appearances at the top rung, looks to keep the momentum going in Friday nights featured $5,000 Open Trot. He will do his work from the assigned No.10 post position. An 11-year-old Canandian-bred son of Earl, Sharpshoootennorris carries the banner of Bette Jean Calice with Steve Wiseman doing the driving and training. He is looking to add to a $436,000 bank account with a 1:54 career standard that was established five years ago. The hard-hitting veteran sat a pocket trip for Wiseman when he got the job done in the March 29 Open, was runner-up when coming from last in his next mile and then returned to his winning ways at most recent asking as he took the field coast-to-coast by two and a quarter lengths. Franky Provolone was his nearest rival in that affair and has gone some big miles over this layout for owner Robin Clements and trainer Vickie Desomer and Mooney Svendsen has the call. Axle took the measure of a softer group last week over a sloppy track and has to be respected as he goes for owner/trainer George Reider and driver David Siegel. Mark Ratzky

Sharpshootennorris, fresh from a pair of big efforts at the top level; and Franks Best, who has gone several huge miles over this layout during his career, head the cast for Friday evenings featured Open Trot at Cal Expo. A 13-race Watch and Wager LLC card is on tap with first post set for 6:15 p.m. The Open Trot will go as the second event on the evening with a field of five facing starter Bill Vallandingham. Hellogottagobuhbye has dominated the Open Trotters the last two weeks, but with that one out of the line-up, Sharpshootennorris figures to have more than his share of backers in the main event. Sharpshootennorris completed the exacta last week and a was a solid 12-1 upsetter in his previous outing in the March 29 Open. The 11-year-old son of Earl is owned by Bette Jean Calice with Steve Wiseman reining and training and is looking to add to a $434,000 bankroll in Fridays headliner. Franks Best comes into this assignment on the verge of going over the $200,000 earnings mark for his owner/trainer/breeder Bob Johnson and regular pilot Mooney Svendsen. While he is looking for his first victory of the season after 11 outings, he does have six runner-up finishes and finished right with Sharpshootennorris last weekend. Rounding out the field are Franky Provolone with James Kennedy at the controls; Axle, to be guided by David Siegel; and Rich Dessert from the rail with Tim Maier at the helm. Looking ahead to Saturdays program, One And Only will be seeking for his third straight victory at the head of the class in the Open Pace for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Lino Pacheco and driver Chip Lackey. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Saturdays finale of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series is named for the driver/trainer who was a California mainstay for four decades. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 74. Jim Grundy made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with more than $10.3 million in earnings and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007. Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Grundy 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 Hodgins 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 states 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. Id have to say he was the most accomplished trainer of young trotters weve 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. Jim Grundy Series final, Open Pace, Sire Stakes set A $10,000 California Sire Stakes headed by Rikybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop; the $12,300 finale of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series and an Open Pace featuring One And Only are the highlights on Saturday evenings 14-race card at Cal Expo. Rickybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop have divided up the first four stakes races at the meeting for the 3-year-old pacing colts. Rikybrnthegaragdwn races for Maryann Plano with Luke Plano driving and training, while King Of The Crop carries the banner of his breeder Frank Nevarez and is trained and driven by James Kennedy. A son of Living It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra, Rikybrnthegaragdwn captured the first stakes race of the season for this group on January 18, then was second and third in the next two big-money events while King Of The Crop was posing for pictures. In the most recent stakes two weeks ago, he made every pole a winning one, holding safe by nose over King Of The Crop in a 1:55 2/5 clocking, two ticks off the mark he established in his previous decision in a conditioned affair. The latter is by Little Steven accounted for back-to-back stakes on February 1 and 15 in game fashion, including a 1:55 1/5 tally. Sent off the 4-5 choice in that last added-money clash, he sat the pocket behind his arch-rival and just missed while coming a :26 3/5 final quarter. In the Open Pace, One And Only is a 6-year-old son of Bettors Delight who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada, takes his lessons from Lino Pacheco and will once again have Luke Plano giving directions. He comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following five of his seven starts on the year and is closing in on the $100,000 mark in career earnings with a 1:52 2/5 standard. The field for the Jim Grundy finale will line up this way from the rail out: Axle, with David Siegel at the controls; Donna Letsgo, Luke Plano; Try This with Williams Hernandez; High Dollar for Tim Maier; Giles L S Hanover, Mooney Svendsen; and Silverlode, to be guided by Steve Desomer. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

An $8,400 Pick 5 Carryover with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool and a reduced 16 percent takeout rate; and the first leg of the Alan Kirschenbaum and Richard Staley Pacing Series are the highlights at Cal Expo Friday night. A 14-race card is on tap with first post set at 5:20 p.m. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent wager and there is also a reduced 16 percent takeout on the 20-cent Pick 4 with a $25,000 guaranteed pool on Friday and a $25,000 guaranteed on Saturday; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the finale. The first leg of the Kirschenbaum goes as the third race on the evening, while the opening of the Staley Series occupies the fifth-race slot on the program. The co-featured Trot is a conditioned affair that finds Axle dropping out of the Open Handicap and getting away from the likes of the streaking El Azteca and stablemates Inside Broadway and Franks Best, which he should very much appreciate. A 5-year-old son of Hard Rock N Roll, Axle is trained by George Reider and driven by David Siegel, and they are co-owners along with Robert Thronson and Greg Robinson. He was a six-time winner last season, including a lifetime-best 1:57 4/5 performance over the five-eighths Running Aces oval. Axle made his most recent appearance in last weeks clash at the head of the class, crossing the wire fourth but placed third through disqualification. He has recorded a second and a third in his two starts outside of the Open ranks this season and will be very much at home with this group. The co-featured Pace is for distaffers and brings out the likes of Strings, who has been having some tough battles with arch-rival Show Runner; and the classy and hard-hitting Haggin Oaks from the James Kennedy shedrow. Desomers add another trophy to mantel When Steve Desomer guided the 3-year-old homebred Placer to victory in last weekends Sire Stakes, it was first win for the trotter and tally No. 2,610 for the 77-year-old Desomer. As far as stakes trophies go, Steve and wife Vickie stopped counting those many years ago. Placer is one in a long line of top performers bred, owned and raced by Team Desomer, and this gelding is obviously starting to get the hang of things. Hes by Panama Hanover and hes out of a divisional champing in Charlottes Web, Vickie related. That makes him a half-brother to Silverlode, who is by British Sterling. Silverlode is a 5-year-old mare who captured several Sire Stakes in her younger days, has put over $80,000 into her bank account and sports a 1:58 standard that was established here last season. Placer showed good early interest but was no match for Snuff N Beer in the first stakes clash for this group on January 17, then made a miscue at next asking in a conditioned affair. He put it all together last week in the second stakes gathering and got the job done nicely. Lets just say that the effort was certainly a pleasant surprise for both Steve and myself, Vickie explained after adding yet another Sire Stakes victory to the Desomer scrapbook. Desomer, along with the rejuvenated Gene Vallandingham and the recently-returned Gerry Longo, continue to show their young racing rivals a thing or two about driving and training winners. Those may be modern sulkies out there, but these guys help add a cool, old-school vibe to these Cal Expo nights. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Fridays 15-race program is headed by the Stuart A. Wiener Memorial Pace; a California Sire Stakes featuring Show Runner and two divisions of the second leg of the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting Series. First post is 5:20 p.m. (PDT). The Stuart A. Wiener Memorial is named for the man who has raced trotters and pacers with his wife Wendi since 1990. They were married for 42 years and he passed away on Dec. 5 from a heart infection at the age of 65. He is also survived by his daughter Jennifer, her husband Jon and a 10-year-old grandson Nathan. He was CFO at Health Science College in Henderson, Nevada and enjoyed his work, but it was his love of horses that really showed through, Wendi said. Our first horse was Shot N, who we had with Ross Croghan, and he is still on the farm. Stu loved everything about the game, including the betting, and a perfect union was made. For many years, the Wieners have raced their horses with trainer Nathalie Tremblay, including their favorite pacer Bewareofthisaffair. Stuarts name did appear on some of the horses along with Wendis brother Alan Kraslow, but most of the performers raced under her name. Stu loved going to Sacramento and hanging out with the horses. We both loved Nathalie and Dave (Kuri) and we have all been together so long that its not as much a business as it is family. He even had the chance to jog a horse by himself once, and he never stopped talking about it. Stu really loved the horses and proof is that we have seven retired here on the farm. Life was always interesting, especially on race night when we went to Dish Network to watch every race. The last few months Stu actually felt good and was even back to golf, but who knew. I keep telling people that we need to celebrate Stus life. Even with all the health problems he had in the last several years, he had a pretty fantastic life. It was the horses that actually lifted him at the worst times. Contentious field set for Invitational Trot A well-matched field is set for Fridays $5,000 Invitational Trot, with last weeks upset winner K D Amazin Spirit taking on the stablemates Franks Best and Inside Broadway and the hard-knocking Axle. K D Amazin Spirit is a 7-year-old son of Thadrow out of the Monterey Judge mare K D Charm who is owned, trained and was bred by Keith Willey and will have xxxx at the controls. He comes into this assignment with $104,000 in his account and a 1:54 2/5 mark that was established here earlier this season. He had no shown much in his first three starts since returning from Running Aces, where he closed out that campaign with a win, but he certainly returned to top form in last weeks clash at the head of the class. Plano motored him right to the top, he set the fractions without a challenge and came home with nearly four lengths to spare at nearly 16-1 that evening. Franks Best was runner-up in that affair as the 2-1 choice and figures to once again get plenty of support. The Bob Johnson owned, trained and bred 6-year-old has $185,000 in the bank, a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on the mantle and has posed for pictures following three of his last six trips to the post here with Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. Inside Broadway is a half-brother to Franks Best and gives Johnson another strong look at the outcome. The 4-year-ood Broadway Hall offspring rattled off three straight wins between November 9 and December 6 and has been burdened with the outside posts in his last two appearances, including the demanding No. 10 slot on December 13. James Kennedy will again be in the sulky. Axle is a Michigan-bred son of Hard Rock who figures right in the thick of things with his best mile. He dead-heated for the win in a conditioned contest on November 22, but has had to settle for minor awards in the interim while doing his work at this top rung. George Reider trains and David Siegel drives and they co-own the performer with Robert Thronson and Greg Robinson. BEGINNING THIS WEEKEND, THERE WILL BE A $10,000 GUARANTED POOL FOR THE PICK 5 ON BOTH FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. THE PICK 4 GUARANTEE CONTINUES TO BE $20,000 ON FRIDAYS AND $25,000 ON SATURDAYS. Mark Ratzky                        

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