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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                        

TrackMaster today announced an upgrade to its Pocket and Tablet Handicapper products with the addition of Harness race cards to its popular apps. The Harness products are available for both smart phones and tablets using both Apple and Android operating systems. The Harness versions of the products are similar in functionality and content to their Thoroughbred counterparts, but specifically tailored for Harness racing and include all of the value-added data that has made TrackMaster the leading brand in the market. To allow the market to appreciate the value of this new offering, all Harness downloads through and including January 1 will be free. The Pocket Handicapper was one of the very first apps geared specifically for handicappers and it provides a quick and easy way to analyze numerous key ratings and statistics," said Jim Vanderbosch, TrackMaster Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "The Tablet version, with its expanded screen size and navigation, is even more user friendly. And now, both breeds can be accessed using a single app!" TrackMaster President, David Siegel, an avid amateur harness driver, has road tested the iPhone version. "We have done a good job squeezing a lot of information into the small real estate of the smart phone. Users, who are not at home on a PC, can launch the app and have a full race card delivered in a matter of seconds. The product includes a wealth of statistics in a drill down fashion, and even includes classic program pages for handy reference. Abbreviated running lines appear in the body of the app really leveraging the portability of the product." The TrackMaster Pocket and Tablet Handicapper can be downloaded for free at itunes.com and play.google.com. The app includes a demo race card and the ability to download a free race each day. A tutorial especially created for harness racing can be viewed on YouTube. After the free Harness trial period ends, customers can access race cards for $1.49 each for any track in North America. Subscription options are also available. Handicapping information includes detailed driver and trainer statistics, TrackMaster Speed and Pace Ratings, power ratings, class ratings, post stats and sire and dam statistics. TrackMaster, a wholly owned subsidiary of Equibase Company LLC, provides a full range of handicapping products for the three major racing breeds -- Thoroughbred, American Quarter Horse and Standardbred. Equibase Company LLC is a partnership between subsidiaries of The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and serves as the Thoroughbred industry's official database. Additional information about the companies is available at trackmaster.com and equibase.com. Submitted by Trackmaster

James Kennedy had never driven the 4-year-old trotter Inside Broadway prior to opening night here at Cal Expo, but in the ensuing three weeks they have formed a solid partnership that resulted in a win at the head of the class last weekend. Inside Broadway, who is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson, checked in fourth in his first start at this stand after making an extended first-over move at the half, then was hard-used early in his next appearance and garnered the show money. In last week's tour, the trotter flexed his muscles with Kennedy's guidance and motored away to an impressive two and a half-length score. "Bob really didn't give me any instructions for that first start," James related when asked about the October 5 outing. "I came first-over with him out of last, he gave it a good try to deep stretch and then I got the impression he was a little short. "I played it by ear for the second start and decided to leave with him. He had to be used pretty hard in that opening quarter and I was happy with the effort. It set him up nicely for last time." Sent off at 9-2 from the No. 5 post for his most recent appearance, Inside Broadway was able to take a three-hole tuck around the first turn while tracking Running Aces invader Rich Dessert. He was out to engage the leader turning for home, took a clear advantage soon after straightening for home and left little doubt in a powerful mile. "I though it would be in our best interest to leave strong and make the top, at least for a little while," Kennedy noted. "That didn't happen, but fortunately I was able to duck in and drop third. He felt really strong when I pulled him and he made the lead into the stretch. To be honest, I was surprised he won that easily. Surprised, but very happy." Will James Kennedy be pleasantly surprised again? We'll find out after Saturday night's second race where Inside Broadway leaves from the No. 4 slot in the field of six. Hoping to spoil a curtain call are Axle and Franks Best to this outside and Alpine Hawk, Rich Dessert and Sharpshootennorris to his inside. Top pacers, top trotters sharing the spotlight Inside Broadway was a game first-over winner in last week's clash at the head of the division and eyes an encore in the Open 2 Trot, while Phantom Dan and One And Only are among the leading players in the co-featured Open 2 Pace at Cal Expo Saturday night. A 13-race card is on tap with first post set at 6:10 p.m. A 4-year-old son of Broadway Hall out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition, Inside Broadway is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson and will once again have James Kennedy giving directions. It had been a rather lean season for the trotter coming into last week's action, with just one victory to show from 22 trips to the post on the year, but the Johnson representative made 9-2 look like a gift. He left for third-place tuck for Kennedy, was first-over going into the final bend to put away the leader and drew off by two and a half-lengths in a 1:58 3/5 tour. Axle was a solid runner-up at 9-1 that evening and is coming off back-to-back big tries here, having taken the measure of a softer group in his previous outing. George Reider trains and co-owns the son of Hard Rock N Roll, who was claimed for $5,000 at Running Aces in August. David Siegel will be at the controls once again and he co-owns the trotter with Reider, Bob Thronson and Greg Robinson. Alpine Hawk is a fan favorite with many victories over this layout and has to be respected with Rich Wojcio in the sulky. He is on the verge of going over the $200,000 earnings mark and was an easier-than-looks winner at this level two weeks ago. Jim Winske owns and he hails from the Gordie Graham barn. Franks Best gives the Bob Johnson barn another solid look at the outcome. A multiple stakes winner at this layout with $176,000 in the bank, he is looking to make amends after checking in third last weekend as the 9-5 choice. The son of Armbro Scribe can really roll home in the lane and always makes it interesting. The Open Pace looms a contentious affair and they will line up as follows from the rail: Thedeadliestcast for trainer Gordie Graham; In Confident for the Bob Johnson barn; Giant Sculpture for driver/trainer Gene Vallandingham; the Lino Pacheco-conditioned One And Only and Phantom Dan for pilot/conditioner James Kennedy. by Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo Harness  

TrackMaster today announced the release of additional features for its line of Past Performance Products.

After winning the first four legs of the East-West Challenge on Friday Night and holding a commanding lead, the amateur squad from Cal-Expo managed to rebound after losing some of that lead in leg five and ultimately defeat the Eastern team comprised of some of the top harness racing Billings drivers with a final score of 179-112.

The harness racing team from Cal-Expo managed a clean sweep of four races last night to take a commanding 99-39 lead in the eighth annual East-West Amateur Drivers Challenge.

With March Madness well in the rear view mirror, the eyes of the harness racing world will be on Sacramento, California for the two-day, East versus West, Amateur Driving Challenge.

Michelle Ruvola and George Bonomo will be hopping a plane to the left coast this week to participate in the 8th annual East-West Challenge for harness racing 'Amateur Drivers'.

One veteran and relative newcomer to the amateur harness driving ranks will draw swords (actually whips) against eastern combatants in next week's East-West challenge.

Dein Spiggs is no stranger to the harness racing winner's circle. But he has not been up close and personal to it in our country's largest state since 2006.

The brainchild of former Californian harness racing secretary, Dave Goldschmidt, is now going into its eighth year. The 2013 installment of the East-West Amateur Driving Challenge will take place on April 12th and 13th at Cal-Expo in Sacramento, California.

With sights set squarely on next month's Lloyd Arnold Pace, Military Stratcom made his seasonal harness racing debut last week for owner/trainer Jennifer Sabot and scored a convincing length decision with Dave Siegel in the sulky.

Team Pompano consisting of professional harness racing drivers Bruce Ranges and Wally Hennessey and amateur drivers Dein Spriggs and Joe Pennachio will try to defeat counterparts from Cal-Expo in the second annual installment of the Sunshine Pro-Am Challenge.

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