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The Toucam Sam story got even better last week as the veteran pacer captured the Alan Kirchenbaum Series consolation in impressive fashion for Michael and Patricia Minnella with Luke Plano doing the honors. An 11-year-old son of Cams Card Shark out of the Western Hanover mare Arizona Yankee, Toucam Sam has just shy of $600,000 in his bank account and sports a sparkling 1:49 2/5 mark that was established six years ago. "We purchased him in August of 2013 after we found him on the Ongait.com website," Michael Minnella said. "We felt if we could not get him back to the races and compete at a high level, we would register him as a stallion in California. "Training down we were very optimistic. We got down to miles in 2:20 and Toucam was having major breathing problems. We consulted with Dr. Audrey Clifton and she suggested we have UC Davis come out and do a dynascope on him while training. We then gave the video of the dynascope to Dr. Mueller and Dr. Yarborough of Los Caballos Equine. "We consulted with the doctors and let them know that Toucam still wanted to compete. Dr. Muller felt he could help, so Dr. Yarborough did the tie back surgery on Toucam in the spring of last year. We gave him the time off he needed and started him back at Keith Wileys Farm in July." Minnella noted that Emilio Cisneros takes care of Toucam Sams day-to-day needs and has been a vital part of his return to the races, while Luke Plano has been very helpful with training and equipment adjustments. "The beginning of this meet has been a dream come true to my wife and I," Michael noted. "Toucam gives us all that he has every race. He leaves nothing in the tank." County Jewel gets top billing in Distaff Pace An Open II Distaff Pace headed by Country Jewel and Ladys Art and an Open II Trot featuring Hillcrest Romeo and Franks Best headline the Saturday night program at Cal Expo. A 13-race card is set with first post at 6:15 p.m. The featured trot is going as the fifth event on the evening, while the featured pace occupies the eighth-race slot on the program. Racing is now being conducted on Saturdays and Sundays, expanding to three nights a week at the end of the month with Friday racing being added to the mix beginning December 26. Country Jewel is a 6-year-old daughter of Pacific Missile out of the Towners Big Guy mare Country Fences who races for Brev Creech, David Siegel, Gregg Robinson and Bob Thronson, is conditioned by George Reider and will be guided by co-owner Siegel from the outside slot in the field of seven. The bay mare comes into this assignment with eight wins and 11 seconds on the year from 34 trips to the post, sports a 1:53 mark that was established this season at Running Aces and is looking to add to a $116,000 bank account. After facing the boys in her previous starts at the meet, Country Jewel surfaced with fillies and mares for last weeks assignment and proved a punctual 4-5 choice with Siegel at the controls. She made what proved to be the winning move past the half, opening up on her rivals turning for home and coming to the wire with four and three-quarters lengths to spare in a 1:54 tour of the good track. Taking her on Saturday, from the rail out: Starry Skys for Gerry Longo; Stable Eyes, who will be guided by Tim Clevenger; Free Girl, Luke Plano; Internal Check, Daniel Maier; Love Live Laugh, Tim Maier; and Ladys Art with Chip Lackey in the bike. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

One of the best races of the meet could be for the driving crown, with Luke Plano, Steve Wiseman and James Kennedy staking a claim for the title through the first six weeks of this stand. Plano came into this week atop the standings with 20 trips to the charmed enclosure, bringing his lifetime total to 2,644 with $9.5 million in earnings. Luke is following in the footsteps of his father Rick, who was a leading driver and trainer in California for many years. There are some new horsemen here and that adds to the competitiveness of the racing, Plano said. Ill have a few horses in my barn, but I prefer to concentrate on the driving. Steve Wiseman is currently second with 18 victories to his credit at the meet, while leading the trainer stands with 15 of his representatives returning to have their picture taken. His total driving wins now stands at 2,136 with $8.2 million in earnings. Being the leading driver and trainer was the goal coming into the meet, Steve explained. Ive never won a training title before, so that would be nice, and Ive got a great crew to help me. James Kennedy is also off to a good start here with 13 snapshots and figures to be right in the hunt through the close of business in early May. Kennedy, who recorded a number of driving and training victories with the popular mare Haggin Oaks, currently sits with 866 sulky scores on his resume. (use as a reverse box) A reminder there are four wagers offered here every night with a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the Jackpot 6; the Pick 4 and the Hi-5 on the nitecap. Featured Pace brings out A Real Miracle A Real Miracle, victorious in three of his five appearances at the meet, looks to keep the momentum going when he heads the cast for Saturday nights $6,000 Open Pace at Cal Expo. A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There is now Saturday and Sunday racing under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. Beginning December 26, Friday action will be added to the mix. A Real Miracle is a 4-year-old son of Real Desire who is owned by Junior Wilkinson, Billie Schwartz and Ivan Axelrod, is conditioned by Wilkinson and is guided by Luke Plano. He established his 1:52 1/5 career standard this summer over the seven-eighths Hoosier Park oval. The Wilkinson trainee has clicked three times from five stats at this meet, including a dominating victory in the main event on opening week. After tiring in his next two tries, he returned to his winning ways last week as he made what proved to be the winning move for Plano on the backside and went on to a length score. In the most recent clash at the top of the class, A Real Miracle was dispatched as the 3-5 favorite and did not disappoint the chalkplayers. Plano buzzed the bay performer right to the front, moderated the pace and then held safe by a neck over the pocket-sitting longshot Mar Dream. The latter put a score into the favorite last week, as he sat the pocket journey and missed by only a neck while two and a half-lengths clear of the rest of the field A 6-year-old son of Cambest, Mar Dream is owned by David Neumeister, is trained by Bob John and will again have Mooney Svendsen at the controls. He has a 1:50 2/5 mark and over $171,000 in his account. Rounding out the field from the rail out are Cenalta Power for Ryan Grundy; Lifetime Louie with Dave Siegel; Ideal Smile, Steve Wiseman; and Pointsman, who will have the services of Chip Lackey. The headliner goes as the fourth race on the program. A reminder that there are four wagers offered here every night with a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the Jackpot 6; the Pick 4 and the Hi-5 on the nitecap By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness    

Bruce Clarke has returned for another winter stay in California, bringing along his top trotter I Love New York and a dozen other assorted performers. You can say that Im hoping to rebuild, said Clarke, an accomplished driver/trainer who has driven over 2,900 winners in his career and recently went over the $12 million mark as a chauffeur. I Love New York is owned by Clarke along with longtime clients Jack Coffey and Patricia Waldeck and the 6-year-old Broadway Hall homebred is nearing $250,000 in earnings while sporting a 1:54 3/5 career standard that was established here last season. His most recent victory came in late August over the five-eighths Tioga Downs oval in the state hes named after and the dark-hued trotter has gone some big miles for Clarke since his introduction to the game. Im out here for the winter and its nice to get away from the cold, Bruce related. This wasnt the best of summers for the barn, because we had a lot of bad luck, but Ive got some young ones here that Ill be getting ready. The one thing missing from his arsenal this year would be some Sire Stakes performers, which has been a mainstay of the shedrow over the years, but Clarke still figures to make his presence felt during the course of this meeting. A reminder that there are now four wagers here that feature a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the Jackpot 6; the Pick 4 and the Hi-5 on the nitecap.    High Bet Hanover High Bet Hanover, who has fired nothing but bullets at this meet in five appearances, heads the cast for Sunday evenings featured Open III Pace for fillies and mares. An 11-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a first post of 4:45 Pacific. The headliner will go as the second race on the evening with a field of six set to face the starter. High Bet Hanover has recorded two victories and three seconds from her five starts at the stand for owner Kc C Cavalho, trainer Tim Brown and driver Luke Plano. Overall, she is going for her eighth snapshot on the season from 41 trips to the post. The 6-year-old Bettors Delight established a new lifetime mark three starts back when she captured the finale of the Annette Funicello Series on October 18 in 1:53 4/5. She came back to be the runner-up in a conditioned affair and then returned to her winning ways in her most recent tour. Sent off the even-money choice in that contest, High Bet Hanover sat a tracking trip for a half, then attacked to the final bend and went on to a two and three-quarter length score with Plano This time around, Director of Racing Robin Schadt has assigned the mare the outside post. Dont Hurry Love completed the exacta behind High Bet Hanover last week and will be looking to turn the tables. The 5-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway races for Ed Actkinson, takes her lessons from Bob Johnson and will be guided by Mooney Svendsen. She boasts $135,000 in earnings and a 1:54 1/5 career standard. Completing the cast are Free Girl, who gives the Brown barn two looks at the outcome; the Steve Wiseman-trained duo of Surprisingly Sweet and Razzle Be Dazzled; and Rag Doll, who hails from the Lino Pacheco barn and leaves from the inside slot. Mike Ratzky - Cal Expo Harness

Last Saturday night was a good one for harness racing pilot and co-owner Dave Siegel, as he guided Lifetime Louie to victory in the Open III Pace and finished second with the mare Country Jewel in the Open II Pace. Both horses are conditioned by George Reider. Siegel partners with Brev Creech, Greg Robinson and Bob Thronson on Country Jewel and with Reider and Dave and Rob Haness with Lifetime Louie. Country Jewel is a diamond,no pun intended, that I found for the Reider barn while scouring the country for a horse that I thought would fit in Minnesota and California and that would fare well in George's barn. Her being Minnesota sired is preferable given the Running Aces allowance program and our DHA program. That said, I expected her to be a mid-level claimer and George and her day-to-day groom Kim Hines have done wonders with her as she has become an open-level mare. They both have a way of getting sometimes difficult horses to relax and not that she was that way, but they did that with Axle last year, and Silence Son this year. I wanted to help George get some nice horses that I could drive, and Jewel has become just that, the Jewel of the barn. Lifetime Louie did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection last weekend to pick up his first score of the meeting. Lifetime Louie was a horse we claimed last year that we knew had some feet problems, which is another area of George's strengths. We correctly thought he could improve the horse and he is another that has surpassed expectations. Kim does an exceptional job with Louie too, which I have come to expect from all of the horses in her care. He is a delight to drive and very handy. He has a huge heart and he is one I get along with very well. Co-features honor Joe Lighthill, Robert Staats The Joe Lighthill Trot, the Robert Staats Pace and an Open II Pace share the spotlight on Saturday nights 13-race program at Cal Expo. Racing is now being conducted under the Watch and Wager LLC banner on Saturday and Sunday nights, expanding to three nights a week on December 26 when Friday racing is added to the mix. First post Saturday is 5:40 p.m. with a 4:45 p.m. start on Sunday. The Joe Lighthill and Robert Staats are named for the late driver/trainer and late owner/breeder who were so important to California harness racing. The Lighthill goes as the sixth event on the card, the Open II Pace occupies the 11th-race slot and the Staats has been designated as the penultimate race of the evening. The Open II Pace is headed by A Real Miracle, a 4-year-old son of Real Desire who is owned by Junior Wlkinson, Billie Schwartz and Ivan Axelrod, is conditioned by Wilkinson and is guided by Luke Plano. He established his 1:52 1/5 career standard this summer over the seven-eighths Hoosier Park oval. The Wilkinson trainee has clicked twice from four stats at this meet, including a dominating victory in the main event on opening week. After tiring in his next two tries, he returned to his winning ways last week as he made what proved to be the winning move for Plano on the backside and went on to a length score over favored Country Jewel. Lining up against A Real Miracle are Del Rio Seelster, who hails from the Gordie Graham barn; the George Reider-trained Lifetime Louie; Mar Dream from the Bob Johnson shedrow; and Cowboy Cold, who calls the Tim Brown barn home and leaves from the cozy rail slot. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness                    

A contentious Open III event for pacing fillies and mares headlines the first Sunday program of the Cal Expo meeting. Racing is now being conducted here under the Watch and Wager LLC banner on Saturday and Sunday nights with a first post of 4:45 Pacific on Sundays. Plans call for an expansion to a three-night-a-week schedule on December 26 with Friday action being added to the mix. Looking at the feature, High Bet Hanover is a 6-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight out of the Artsplace mare Highland Dexter who is owned by Kc C Carvalho, conditioned by Tim Brown and will once again have the services of Luke Plano. The bay miss was a close second in the first two legs of the aforementioned Funicello Series, then rode a second-over journey to victory in the October 18 finale of the event as she showed the way home by a length and a quarter over Wild About Eagle in that event while lowering her mark to 1:53 4/5 in the process. Wheeled back in a conditioned contest last weekend, High Bet Hanover was sent off the 4-5 favorite. She found herself well back early and with too much to do, but did come calling late to finish second while missing by three-quarters of a length in another big mile. Wild About Eagle will be looking to avenge her loss to High Bet Hanover in the Funicello final. The 7-year-old daughter of The Panderosa is owned by Kathy Plested and Mark Benvenga with Steve Wiseman doing the driving and training. In last weeks tour she drew the tough 9 slot, but was able to leave strong and eventually settled into the two-hole by the quarter. Once straightened for home, she took aim on favored pace-setter Windsun T Bird and overhauled that one by a neck while recording a 1:55 flat mile. High Bet Hanover goes for solid trio High Bet Hanover figures to have her share of backers in Sundays filly-mare main event as she goes postward for the productive team of owner Kc C Carvalho, trainer Tim Brown and pilot Luke Plano. The 6-year-old Bettors Delight mare captured the finale of the Annette Funicello Series two starts back while lowering her lifetime mark to 1:53 4/5 in the process, then finished gamely be second while taking on males in last weeks assignment. "We bought her privately last year to fill a spot we needed with our Minnesota barn," Brown related. "She had a good meet, but then she started hitting herself and there were some shoeing issues that had to be worked out." High Bet Hanover lost tough decisions in the first two legs of the Funicello, but got the job done in the finale while changing tactics to ride a second-over journey to the stretch. "Luke used to have her, so he knows her real well and drives her great," Tim said. "I actually think shes better when she can sit near the pace, but she got a perfect trip in the final and it all worked out." Sundays headliner is a chance for High Bet Hanover to renew acquaintances with Wild Wild About Eagle, who hung a nose decision on her earlier in the meet before completing the exacta behind her in the Funicello finale. Tim Brown and Kc C Carvalho have formed one of the more lucrative owner/trainer relationships on the Cal Expo backside in recent memory. Ive trained for him for three years now, and hes more like a brother to me than an owner. Hes very much involved in everything to do with the horses. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                           

Harness racing returns to Cal Expo Saturday night under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a 14-race program on tap and a first post of 6:15 p.m. Racing will be conducted on Saturday nights in October, expanding to Saturday and Sunday programs in November. Plans then call for a three-night a week schedule beginning on December 26 with Friday racing added to the mix. Heading the opening-night card are two divisions each of the opening legs of the Bill Conlin and Annette Funicello Pacing series; an Open II event for the pacers and an Open II contest for the trotters. Robin Schadt is the new Director of Racing. My goal is to produce a racing program where every horseman gets their horses raced on a regular basis for decent money and to provide the betting public with competitive fields on which to wager, she said. Saturdays program features four wagers at a reduced 16 percent takeout, including the new 10-cent Cal Expo Jackpot Pick 6 that starts on the third race. The wager requires a single winning Pick 6 ticket, or there is a carryover. The other low-takeout wagers are the 50-cent Pick 5 that begins on the first race; the 20-cent Pick 4 that covers races 10 through 13 and comes with a $20,000-guaranteed pool; and the 10-cent Super Hi-Five on the nitecap. Taking a closer look at the Open II Trot, multiple stakes-winning I Love New York returns to California for Bruce Clarke, while the Open II Pace finds A Real Miracle heading an interesting cast as he makes his way back from Indiana for Junior Wilkinson. Luke Plano back to defend driving title Luke Plano, fresh from capturing the driving title at the winter/spring Watch and Wager LLC meeting here at Cal Expo, is back to defend the crown. At that last meet, Luke made 160 trips to the winners circle, with his nearest competitor being James Kennedy, who had 121 winning tours at that session. Both will be in action on Saturdays 14-race program. Its exciting to be back, said Plano, who has been plying his trade in Indiana this summer. I know there are going to be some new horsemen here, and that should certainly add to the competitiveness of the racing. As far as switching from the seven-eighths track at Hoosier Park to the one mile here, there are a lot of similarities. The one difference would be that even though you can win from the back at Hooiser, there is more of a speed bias and you want to be close if you can. Here are Cal Expo, its a much fairer track in that regard and you have more options. As has been the case in the past, Plano will have a very small stable of his own while normally driving in just about every race on the card. Ill have anywhere from three to six horses in my barn, but I prefer to concentrate on the driving, he explained. Its worked out real well that way. Luke will be looking to get off to a quick start on opening night with several very live performers set to go to the post under his direction. Its a good bet hell be posing for more his share of pictures. By Mark Ratzky                      

COLUMBUS, OH. - Harness racing driver Lemoyne 'Moonie' Svendsen reached the coveted 3,000 wins plateau at Running Aces on Sunday night.   The 55-year-old Minnesota native (born in Albert Lea) drove his first winner at an Iowa county fair at age 16 in 1975 and has won races each of the 39 years since then. The likeable green and yellow-clad reinsman is also approaching the coveted $10 million earnings mark with horses he has steered in his career.   Svendsen's best year was 2011 when he guided 266 winners and just lost the dash title at Cal Expo (to Luke Plano) in the waning weeks of the meet. Lemoyne has been a mainstay in California harness racing circles for the past 15 years and has been making his summer home at Running Aces for the past five years.   He also won 206 races in 2009 and over 100 times in ten other seasons. Earlier in his career Svendsen won dash titles at both Quad City Downs and Thunder Ridge.   The milestone triumph came with Meritage Hanover, fittingly owned and trained by fellow native Minnesotan Mark Anderson, for whom Svendsen has driven regularly over the past couple years.   An adept passing lane move allowed Svendsen to gain a thrilling half-length 1:54.3 victory over Gencor's Z Tam (Jason Ryan) and Nancy's Skyscape (Gerry Longo) in a bottom claiming class event. Off at 7-1 odds, Meritage Hanover rewarded $2 backers with a $16.40 win mutuel.   The elated newest member of the 3,000 Wins Club was joined in the winner's circle by his immediate family--wife Jodi, son Sonny and daughter Kaitlyn.   "My dad got me started in this business as a kid and its all I've ever done," chuckled Svendsen after the race. "I'll never forget the thrill that my first win with a horse called Miss Lasko forty years ago gave me. For that matter, this one was pretty darned thrilling, too. I must say every win between those two has been exciting as well. Winning never gets old!"   Gregg Keidel        

ANDERSON, Ind.-June 26, 2014 -  Hoosier Park played host to a stakes filled card on Thursday, June 26 with five divisions of three-year-old trotting colts and six divisions of two-year-old pacing fillies battling in Indiana Sires Stakes action. It was the second round of stakes action for the three-year-old trotting colts and the opening round for the freshman fillies. After the dust settled on the evening's 14-race card, the track record for three-year-old trotting geldings was equaled and a national season's mark for two-year-old pacers had been established. Can't Touch Her and Tyler Smith stole the show after they recorded the fastest mile of the season for two-year-old pacers, regardless of gender or track size, with a 1:53.3 triumph in their $20,000 division of the stakes action. In near gate-to-wire fashion, Can't Touch Her recorded her third win of the year and a national season's mark in just her fourth career start. Leaving from post two, Smith sent Can't Touch Her away from the gate firing but Image of Felicia and Luke Plano also left alertly to get the first call in :27.4. Opting out of a pocket trip, the Steve Carter trainee took control at the half and dictated fractions of :57.0 and 1:26.1. As the field turned for home, Image of Felicia tipped from the pocket but Can't Touch Her wasn't done. Using a :27.2 final quarter, the daughter of Rockin Image-Can't Quit Smiling paced on to the wire to finish a length in front of Image of Felicia. Rockin Bikini closed well in the late stages of the mile to round out the trifecta for driver Trace Tetrick. As the heavy betting favorite, Can't Touch Her returned $4.40 at the windows. "She always had talent training down this winter but could get a little rough gaited at times," Carter noted after the victory. "We made some adjustments and she trained really well this week so I knew she would be sharp, just not that sharp. Hopefully she can stay good all season." Owned by Steve and Tammy Carter, Can't Touch Her is from the first crop of Rockin Image and the second foal from her dam, Can't Quit Smiling. Can't Touch Her has now won three of four seasonal starts while earning $13,750. On the trotting side of the stakes action, Rose Run Parker continued his winning ways and extended his win streak to 10 after he scored in 1:54.1 in his division of the $20,000 Indiana Sires Stakes for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings. Rose Run Parker remains undefeated in his sophomore season and the 1:54.1 victory equaled the track record for three-year-old trotting geldings at Hoosier Park. Driver Ricky Macomber Jr. left no room for error as he sent Rose Run Parker, heavily favored at 1-9, to the front from post three. Justice Jet and Ed Hensley would make the publics' choice work for position but Rose Run Parker pressed on and secured the lead at the half in :58.1. As the field turned for home, Rose Run Parker put his talent on display and began to trot away from the rest of the field. The son of Jailhouse Jesse-Centergy was under wraps at the wire and finished six lengths in front of Gloire Dream and Lewayne Miller. Justice Jet trotted evenly to earn third place honors. Heavily favored at the betting windows, Rose Run Parker returned $2.10 for the victory. The 14-time career winner has now amassed $403,500 for his connections of Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, and W. Haas Jr. Rose Run Parker's ten race win streak includes wins in the first $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for three-year-old trotting colts and the $45,250 Madison County Stakes last season. With the win, Rose Run Parker has earned his spot in the second of five $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings slated for July 5 at Hoosier Park. Indiana Sires Stakes action continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, June 27 with eight divisions of $20,000 Indiana Sires Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts and four divisions of $20,000 Indiana Sires Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies. The live racing schedule at Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule with a daily post time of 5:15 p.m. by Emily Gaskin, for Hoosier Park  

The winter/spring Watch and Wager LLC harness meeting at Cal Expo concluded Saturday night with Luke Plano capturing the driving title, while Tim Maier ended up the leading trainer. Plano reached the winners circle with 160 times, with James Kennedy finishing second in the standings with 121 winning tours. Tim Maier rounded out the top three with 90 victories in the sulky. In the trainer standings, Maier edged out Bob Johnson by four wins as 79 of his stable representatives got the job done, while 75 Johnson trainees were victorious. Gene Vallandingham was third with 70 visits to the charmed enclosure. The trotters and pacers are set to return to action here in October. General Manager Chris Schick is looking to add some new twists, including the addition of the popular Jackpot Pick Six to the wagering menu. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

With Gary Seibel taking a week off for a family obligation, Cal Expo is pleased to have Frank Mirahmadi handling the announcing duties on Friday and Saturday. Mirahmadi, who began his career at Hollywood Park in 1992, just wrapped up another season as the voice of the prestigious Oaklawn Park meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and will once again be calling the action on the Northern California fair circuit this summer. Frank is also well known as a TVG racing analyst, for his appearances in several racing movies and his spot-on impressions of personalities both in and out of racing. "I started going to harness races at Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos in the 80's when I was in high school." he noted. "We had a blast and I still remember many of the horses. "My favorite was Courageous Red. He was so talented and very consistent. I always bet on him and was frequently rewarded." It may surprise some people that Mirahmadi will actually be calling his first harness race Friday evening. "I attempted to call one harness race, at a fair in Michigan," Mirahmadi said, "from the infield in the voice of Marv Albert back in 1999. This will be my debut as I can't really even consider that an official call. "It's definitely going to be a challenge. My top priority is to never use the words run or running in my calls. Im really looking forward to it and was very happy to get the call from management." Sophomore Sire Stakes get marquee treatment A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes featuring Brewski in the pacing event and Placer in the trotting affair headline the Friday night Cal Expo program that gets under way at 6:15 p.m. Brewski is a homebred daughter of Little Steven and the Tulane mare Wooski who races for Billie Schwartz and trainer Junior Wilkinson with Chip Lackey at the controls. She picked up her first stakes trophy two weeks ago when she made every pole a winning one while equalling her mark with the 1:57 3/5 clocking. De Valeria was runner-up in that affair is another offspring of Little Steven and is a multiple stakes victress for owner Eugene Afentoulis and driver/trainer Steve Wiseman. Her most recent added-money decision came on February 28 over a sloppy track with former trainer Luke Plano in the sulky. Js Littlerockstar rattled off back-to-back Sire Stakes tallies in March, but made a break as the 3-5 choice in that last gathering on April 11. James Kennedy owns, trains, drives and bred the bay filly. She will be looking to return to her best form while back with her peers. Placer is a homebred son of Panama Hanover who carries the banner of Desomer Racing Stables Inc. with Steve Desomer in his usual place in the bike. He has accounted for four of the last six Sire Stakes for the division, including two weeks ago when he hung a neck decision on Snuff N Bear as the even-money favorite. The latter is a New Age Hanover colt who is owned and was bred by Mary Harris, takes his lessons from Kennedy Lindsey and will be guided by James Kennedy. He was a dominating winner of the February 28 get-together for this group and has just missed in the last two stakes clashes behind Ahh Panama and Placer. The racing continues Saturday evening with a Sire Stakes contest for the 3-year-old pacing colts that rematches the most recent trophy earner Laissez Moi Passer with previous stakes victors King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

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        

Duet will be looking for the second trophy of her career when she suits up in Friday nights featured Sire Stakes for owner/trainer Rick Cisco and pilot Tim Maier. The daughter of Disco Devil posed for pictures following the February 14 added-money gathering for this division, which features a very contentious group of 3-year-old pacing distaffers. I got this filly last summer and broke her, Cisco related when asked about the bay miss. She needed some time, so I was patient and waited with her. Luke Plano qualified her and told me she was ready for stakes company, so thats where we went. He had a filly of his own in there, and when I asked who I should drive, he suggested I get Tim. Hes done a great job with her and hes also been very helpful as far as giving me suggestions after the races. Since her February stakes tally, Duet was fourth and fifth with her peers and then turned in a solid effort in the most recent gathering for this group two weeks ago. She finished well that evening to complete the exacta behind Js Littlerockstar and should be sitting on a good outing Friday. After the race following her stake win where they went to the three-quarters in 1:25 and change, I had her scoped and she had a sinus infection, Rick noted. It took her awhile to truly recover from that and it hurt her in the next two stakes races.. As far as this week goes, James Kennedys filly has won the last two stakes, but I still think this is a pretty wide-open field as all of these have the ability to win on an given night. My filly is still green and learning and after this meet is finished Im going to give her all the time she needs. Sophomore Sire Stakes feature contentious casts Two $10,000 California Sire Stakes are the focus of attention at Cal Expo Friday night, with Js Littlerockstar eyeing her Third Straight big money score in the distaff pacing event while Placer and Ahh Panama are among the major players in the Trotting contest. Js Littlerockstar is a daughter of Little Steven and the Pacific Fella mare Sweet Sakra Sue who has moved to the head of the sophomore pacing filly division over the last month. James Kennedy owns, trains, drives and bred the distaffer. In the March 14 stakes clash, the Kennedy performer was unhurried early, came first over at the half and ignited when it counted to be up by a length. In the most recent gathering for this division two weeks ago, Js Littlerockstar raced up close and personal and got the job done by a length and a quarter as the 8-5 favorite. Duet was the runner-up in that affair for owner/trainer Rick Cisco and pilot Tim Maier. The Disco Devil offspring was an impressive winner of the February 14 stakes in a 1:57 2/5 performance and turned in a solid effort in that last get-together for this group two weeks ago. De Valeria was the leader of the division earlier in the meet and helps make things very interesting with her top effort with Steve Wiseman, while Brewski rounds out the compact field with Chip Lackey at the controls. The last three Sire Stakes for the trotting set have gone to three different performers. Ahh Panama was the most recent to be taking pictures two weeks ago, as she made every pole a winning one at 8-1 that evening for owners Henry Wieseneck, Marty Garey and Bob Johnson, who also conditions the daughter of Panama Hanover. Placer has three stakes trophies on the mantle for Team Desomer, but lost his chance in the most recent get-together when he made a break before the half. Snuff N Beer got the job done in the February 28 stakes for owner/breeder Mary Harris and trainer Kennedy Lindsey and must be respected.  by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness            

This past Sunday the California Harness Horsemen’s Association (CHHA) held its annual awards meeting at the Hilton in Sacramento to honor divisional stakes winners, horse of the year and the induction of a horse into the CHHA’s hall of fame. Cut It Out, by Levity out of the Jenuine Hanover mare, Jenuine Frost was inducted into the hall of fame for California this year. Owned by Mark Holden and trained and driven by Bob Rosen, Cut it Out was a sensational mare, taking a mark of 1:55.1f and earned $436,594 lifetime. Winning 19 out of 22 races and earning over $212,000 in her 3 yr. old year, she won every sire’s stakes race either on the front end or coming from behind while setting the 3 yr. old filly track record at Los Alamitos.  Cut it Out was voted California horse of the year in 1985 and 1986. Show Runner by Little Steven out of Peace Runner was voted 2013 California horse of the year. Bred by the late Alan Kirschenbaum and owned by Denise Maier and Eileen Brodbar , Show Runner dominated the 3 yr. old filly stakes races, while winning 19 out of 33 starts for the year. Awards were also handed out to divisional stakes Champions who were, Show Runner 3 yr. old pacing filly owned by Denise Maier and Eileen Brodbar. Bit Player 3 yr. old pacing colt, owned by Desomer Stables More Tequila 3 yr. old trotting filly owned by Frank Neverez Freedombird 3 yr. old trotting colt owned by Melissa Erzene. 2013 Stallion awards were handed out to top breeding stallions, Hi Ho Silverheels, pacer owned by Wayne Knittle Panama Hanover, trotter owned by Debbie Budahn . The CHHA also welcomed new board of directors Steve Wiseman and Luke Plano. by Robin Clements, for the CHHA

A Filly and Mare Open Pace headed by Show Runner and Haggin Oaks and an Open Trot the brings out the likes of Franks Best, Fort Valley As and Hellogottagobuhbye share the spotlight at Cal Expo on Friday. Show Runner comes into the Distaff Open have ended up in the winners circle following 22 of her last 37 trips to the post. The Little Steven mare, now racing under the banner of A Piece Of The Action LLC, is trained and driven by Tim Maier The bay mare was a dominating winner of the January 31 Open, then did not see evening action again until last weekend. Sent off the 1-2 favorite in that affair, she went coast-to-coast in a sparkling 1:52 4/5 performance with Luke Plano at the controls. She has been assigned the No. 10 post by Racing Secretary Fred Kuebler for this go-around. The Open Trot finds Franks Best, Hellogotagobuhbye and Fort Valley As vying for favoritism after chasing home Sharpshootennorris in last weekends top dance for the trotting set. Franks Best is on the verge of reaching the $200,000 earnings mark for his owner/trainer/breeder Bob Johnson and will as usual have Mooney Svendsen giving directions. He is looking for his first snapshot on the season after finishing second in six of his nine trips to the post. Hellogottagobuhbye has been victorious in three of his last six starts for owner/driver Daniel Maier and trainer Tim Maier and was fourth in his most recent attempt after doing his work in first-over fashion from the 10 slot over the slop. He made every pole a winning one on March 21 in impressive fashion. Fort Valley As is looking to make amends after making little impact at even-money favorite in that last clash at the top rung in his first evening appearance since early December. Jennifer Sabot owns, George Reider trains and Chip Lackey pilots the son of Tom Ridge, who is looking to add to a $366,000 bankroll with a 1:55 mark in tow. Pick 5 is hit for $8,773 payout! There are three wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, including the 50-cent Pick 5 that was hit by a single ticket last Saturday night to the tune of $8,773 with another 60 cents tossed in for good measure. To put this in perspective, if the regular takeout had been in place, the payoff would have been $7,832, with $941 less going into the winning players pocket. The other bets with the 16 percent takeout here are the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $20,000-guaranteed pool on Friday and a $25,000 guarantee on Saturday; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the nightcap. Taking a closer look at last Saturdays Pick 5 sequence, the handicapper did a pretty good job when you consider that favorites blanked in the sequence, which was decided over a sloppy racetrack. Docs Zippy set the tone when he won the featured Open Pace for trainer George Anthrop and regular pilot Patrick Galbraith, upsetting the classy 1-5 Pancetta, who had the demanding No. 10 post in his first evening appearance of the year. Chalk it up as the Third Straight big effort from Docs Zippy and a solid return for Pancetta. Most bettors probably felt the classy returnee Fort Valley As and the repeat-seeking Hellogottagobuybye were the way to go in the Open Trot that followed, but Sharpshootennorris had other ideas and parlayed a pocket trip into a 12-1 upset for Steve Wiseman. Native Country and Tim Maier got the job done at 7-2 some 20 minutes later, while it was Wiseman again in the following as Lodi Nickolus made it look easy at $7.80 in a Trotting event. While it had already been difficult to get to the final leg, making things even more complicated was the fact that this looked to be the most wide-open race of the sequence. When all was said and done, it was Wiseman posing for pictures once again with the aptly-named Quick On My Feet. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

She may be small, but Incredible Gambler packs a big kick in the stretch and has now posed for pictures following four of her last five trips to the post here at Cal Expo. The 8-year-old New Jersey-bred daughter of Allamerican Ingot who currently goes about her business for owner Clint Lugar and trainer Salvador Wenceslao, with Dave Siegel having guided her in three of those aforementioned four scores. Siegel has a long history with Incredible Gambler, having previously owned the mare, and theyve developed a great rapport over the years. Shes one of my favorite horses to drive, Siegel noted. I get along with her really well, and know her strengths and weaknesses as well as any other horse I drive. She comes ready to race every week and seems to really enjoy racing, though frankly she does not really like racing in the slop. Since she is a strong closer, she really likes the big track and the dirt surface suits her very well. She is small in stature, which makes for great visibility, really handy and two fingers to drive. The Lugar colorbearer, who sports a 1:54 career standard, recently went over the $100,000 earnings plateau. I was very happy that she returned to Cal Expo after her eastern journey and that Clint continues to give me the opportunity to drive her, Siegel added. Incredible Gambler is slated to suit up in Friday evenings ninth race with main man Siegel giving directions from the No. 4 post. She figures to make her presence felt once again when push comes to shove in the stretch. Sire Stakes, Distaff Open Pace on tap A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds and a Distaff Open Pace are on tap Friday night at Cal Expo, with Js Littlerockstar and Placer heading their respective stakes while Show Runner and Ladys Art square off in the co-feature. . A 14-race card is scheduled with first post set for 5:45 p.m. The Sire Stakes for the pacing fillies goes as the fourth on the program, while the race for the trotters is the sixth and the filly-mare Pace occupies the second spot on the program. Js Littlerockstar is a 3-year-old daughter of Little Steven out of the Pacific Fella mare Sweet Sakra Sue who is owned, trained, driven and bred by James Kennedy. After finishing second in her first two added-money outings this season, she earned a trophy in the most recent clash two weeks ago. Sent off as the 5-2 second choice in that affair, the bay miss rallied with second-over cover and ignited at crunch time to prevail by a length. She came her final quarter in :28 flat while stopping the timer in 1:58 that evening. De Valeria will attempt to make amends after finishing fourth that night after being shuffled as the odds-on choice. The Eugene Afentoulis colorbearer accounted for two of the previous three Sire Stakes for the division with trainer Luke Plano at the controls. Placer is eyeing his four stakes score in the race for the sophomore trotters. The homebred son of Panama Hanover races for the Desomer Stables Inc. with Steve Desomer handling the lines. In the last stakes gathering on March 14, Placer was parked to the lead at the half, took complete control of things from that point and came to the wire with two and three-quarter lengths to spare in a lifetime-best 2:00 1/5 clocking. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

While owners Richard Morita and David Yamada suffered a tough beat last Saturday when One And Only was nailed on the line in the Open Pace after doing all the heavy lifting from the 10 post, it was smiles all around a couple of hours later when their veteran Split Ticket got the job done in a conditioned affair. The 10-year-old son of Bettors Delight, who like One And Only is conditioned by Lino Pacheco and was handled by Luke Plano, recently went over the $200,000 earnings plateau and sports a 1:50 mark that was established four years ago. It's always a thrill for Dave and I to see the old man Split Ticket getting a chance to strut his stuff, Morita related. At 10, time is catching up with him, but in his mind I think he still believes hes the King. Its amazing that he is still racing considering he had stem cell surgery on both his front legs early in his 3-year-old campaign about three months after we bought him at the Meadowlands sale. Ticket has been responsible for most of our success today, since he basically carried the barn and made enough money to buy other horses. Every win he gets is a special thrill. As for One And Only, he is having a solid season with five wins from his eight trips to the post, including a 1:52 career-best performance, and hes on the verge of reaching a $100,000 bank account. One and Only has been as tough as nails all year, his co-owner beamed. He has met all comers, and in his earlier losses, he was gapped way behind the leaders and had no chance. With the 10 hole, you can't leave every week. As you saw this last time, they pushed hard from the inside and kept him out going :26 4/5 to the quarter. Even with that, he put in a terrific effort. Congratulations to Phantom Dan, who raced very well from the back, as did Doc Zippy. While Morita lauds the pacers, he is also quick to point out the human connections. Credit to our trainer Lino Pacheco for keeping our horses in great shape all year long. We've also been fortunate to have Luke driving for us, as he certainly knows Split Ticket the best, and has always driven One And Only very well. Docs Zippy, Natives Revenge headline co-features Docs Zippy, third in a blanket finish in last weeks Open Pace; and Natives Revenge, a well-regarded invader from the Bob Johnson barn, are top billed in Saturday evenings co-features at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo. A 13-race card is on tap with first post at 5:45 p.m. Docs Zippy will suit up for the eighth race on the program, while Natives Revenge makes his California debut in the following event. Natives Revenge is a 4-year-old son of Allamerican Native who takes his lessons from Bob Johnson and will have Mooney Svendsen giving directions. Last season he established his lifetime mark when he toured the five-eighths Pocono Downs oval in a snappy 1:51 4/5 tour. The Johnson representative should be nice and tight after last weekends qualifier, where he blitzed the field by 16 lengths with a 1:54 1/5 clocking. An early lead of three and a half-lengths turned to nearly 10 on the final bend and he came to the wire with 16 lengths on his nearest rival, the $347,000 earner Pacinello. Docs Zippy was third while beaten only a neck by One And Only and Phantom Dan in last weeks Open and looks nicely spotted in his race for owner Toman Enterprises Ltd, trainer George Anthrop and driver Patrick Galbraith. Split Ticket returned to his winning ways last week and this classy 10-year-old looks dangerous right back to loom the main threat. He races for Richard Morita and David Yamada with Lino Pacheco training and Luke Plano at the helm. The son of Bettors Delight enters this weekend with $205,000 on his card and a 1:50 standard that was set five years ago. He made every pole a winning one in last weeks 9-1 score and has that back class to draw upon. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

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