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After spending several years under the tutelage of his father Lino, 25-year-old Jessie Pacheco is making a name for himself here at Cal Expo, including a four-bagger on last Saturday night's harness racing program. Among the performers in Jessie's barn is the hard-hitting 8-year-old I'm An Athlete, who races for Ronald Rettig-Zucchi and has several wins in the Open Pace to his credit at this meeting, with last week's top dance among his triumphs. Jessie was born in California, but after an accident at age 1, he went to Mexico to live with his mother. While visiting his father at age 9, he was exposed to harness racing and upon his return to the States at 18 he set out to make it his life's work. "In Mexico I rode quarter horses, but I knew I wanted to come back here and work with my dad and the harness horses," he explained. It was two years ago that Pacheco took out his trainer's license and he has been making a steady stream of visits to the winner's circle at this meeting. "Everything I know about this sport I learned from my dad. I also want to thank the owners who have been very supportive." In addition to training, Jessie is slowly segueing into driving with a few evening ventures to his credit at this meeting. "I definitely need to get more experience with the driving," he noted. "Right now, I'm concentrating on the training." Talkin Tootsie, Silverlode headline main event Talkin Tootsie, who has won three of her last five starts including an upset over division leader Pridecrest two weeks ago; and the hard-hitting Silverlode loom the top combatants in Friday night's $5,500 Open II Trot. There will be 12 races on the Watch and Wager LLC program with the headliner going as the fourth event on the evening. A pair of $6,500 California Sire Stakes will be decided as non-betting events prior to the regular card. Talkin Tootsie is a 5-year-old daughter of Cantab Hall from the Westgate Crown mare Minnesota Carol who carries the banner of Martin Garey and Henry Wieseneck, takes her lessons from Bob Johnson and will once again have Mooney Svendsen giving directions. Two weeks ago in the Open Trot, Talkin Tootsie was patient early, began to pick up momentum turning for home and hung a neck decision on the 1-5 Pridecrest in a 1:57 2/5 performance. In last week's clash at the head of the trotting class, Pridecrest returning to his winning ways with a coast-to-coast score, while Talkin Tootsie sat the pocket and had to settle for third that evening. Silverlode was up to nail her for the place money in that affair and like Talkin Tootsie will appreciate getting away from Pridecrest. She is a 9-year-old British Sterling homebred who races for the Desomer Stables with Vickie Desomer conditioning and Steve Wiseman in the sulky. Completing the field are Silverhill Volo, The Evictor, Franks Best, Windsun Galaxie and Dougs Hobby Horse. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The Evictor changed tactics last week to post a coast-to-coast harness racing score with William Hernandez at Cal Expo, pushing his lifetime earnings past the $522,000 plateau. The 10-year-old trotting son of Valley Victory is owned and trained by Gordie Graham and was posing for pictures for the third time this season from nine trips to the post. "This horse raced against some of the best trotters in the country and has a lot of back class," Graham related. "Having said that, when I got him about four years ago he was in pretty bad shape and the first thing I did was to give him eight months to rehab. It was a slow process with a lot of ice." Graham explained that he prefers to race his horses from off the pace, especially the ones like The Evictor who have issues, but Hernandez called an audible in last week's outing that saw the trotter setting all the pace on the way to a nearly five-length score. "When he saw the speed horse Windsun Galaxie make a break and not many horses on the gate, he made the decision to send," Gordie noted. "The horse showed his class." His owner/trainer explained that keeping The Evictor in race shape is a challenge. "With all his issues, there's a lot of tubbing and rubbing, but it's all that more rewarding when he goes a mile like he did last week. He absolutely loves to race." Allymx'sliventexas gets the marquee treatment Allymx'sliventexas, coming off a sensational mile at the head of the class where he was parked the mile and still gutted out a 1:50 4/5 score, gets the top billing in Saturday night's featured $6,000 Open Pace. There will be 12 races presented by Watch and Wager LLC with a first post of 6:10 p.m. and the main event is scheduled as the fourth contest on the evening. A 5-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel's out of the Distinguishedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun, Allymx'sliventexas races for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson conditioning and Mooney Svendsen in his usual spot in the bike. He has been assigned the outside post in the field of six. Allmymx'sliventexas went over the $100,000 earnings plateau with last week's tally and established a new lifetime mark with the 1:50 4/5 clocking. Sent off the 7-5 choice in that affair, he was parked the mile from the No 8 post, but refused to give up and prevailed by a neck over pace-setting Bettor's Promise. The latter is a 7-year-old son of Bettor's Delight who goes about his business for Richard Morita and David Yamata, takes his lessons from Lino Pachecho and has Chip Lackey at the controls. Third in the Glen Holt Memorial on March 3, he carved out all the fractions in last week's clash at the top rung and battled it out gamely to come up just short as a 10-1 shot. He has three wins here this season, including a 1:52 lifetime-best performance last month. Rounding out the field are One And Only, who gives the Lino Pacheco barn two looks at the outcome; the Luke Plano-trained Eastender; the Jessie Pacheco-conditioned I'm An Athlete; and Some Playa from the Jen Sabot barn. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Friday night's Cal Expo harness racing card features a $12,658 carryover in the Pick 6 with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. The Pick 6 is conducted on the final six races of the night and is a 50-cent wager. Last Saturday night, despite two favorites winning, including even-money Directing Traffic in the Distaff Open, as well as a 2-1 shot, there were no correct tickets in the sequence. In addition to the carryover and guaranteed pool for the Pick 6, there are a pair of wagers offered here each evening that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is held on the first five races on the program, and the 20-cent Pick 4. The latter comes with a $50,000-guranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guarantee on Fridays. Friday's co-features are a Filly and Mare Open Pace headed by Directing Traffic and an Open Trot that provides a rematch for Pridecrest and Talking Tootsie. First post for the Friday program, which is conducted under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC is 6:10 p.m. and there will be three California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds decided as non-betting races prior to the regular card. Directing Traffic avoids rush hour Directing Traffic comes into this week's action riding a two-race winning streak, including a narrow victory in the Filly and Mare Open Pace at most recent asking that saw her come a :27 flat final quarter to seal the deal with Luke Plano. A 6-year-old daughter of Real Desire, Directing Traffic competes for Junior Wilkinson and Billie Schwartz and hails from the Wilkinson barn. "We bought her as a yearling from the Kentucky sale and she's been a solid performer for us," Wilkinson noted. "She's had some physical issues, but she's shown what she can do with the right trip." The right trip? "That would be making the last move, which is what she does best," Junior explained. "She always gives you a generous finish when she can sit back and come late." That's exactly what the bay mare has done in her last two scores, the first of those coming over a sloppy track and that last one with firm footing. On both occasions she was well back in the early stages, saving her best for last to get the picture taken. "She wasn't really ready for her top effort at the start of the meet, but she's racing into form now," Wilkinson said. "The thing is, with her style, sometimes she's going to be compromised by the shape of the race." By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

There are two harness racing bets offered here at Cal Expo each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, those being the 50-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 5 is offered on the first five races each night, while the Pick 4 is held on the final four races on the card. In addition, on Saturday nights there is a $50,000-guaranteed pool for the Pick 4, with a $40,000 guarantee on Fridays. To give you some idea how this low takeout translates into real money, last Friday evening's Pick 4 contested over a sloppy track saw favorites struggling and resulted in a $4,408.96 payoff for each correct 20-cent ticket. Using the regular takeout rate, the payoff would have been $3,936, a difference of a cool $472 per winning ducket. The tone for last Friday's sequence was set by Rockinaroundheaven, who appeared to have his work cut out from the No. 8 post, but Chip Lackey let his charge fall well back early and then made a steady first-over move to the lead in the stretch while obviously loving the off going. Directing Traffic likewise came from well back to capture the featured Filly and Mare Open for trainer Junior Wilkinson and pilot Luke Plano, while Laissemoipicoler used late heroics to post an $18 upset in the penultimate leg. That set the table for Cordees Fantasy in the nitecap at 12-1 for the Richard Remillard/Gary Clark combination. Like the other winners in the sequence, she left from an outside post and took her time through the early stages, then rolled late through the slop to get the job done. Sire Stakes, Distaff Open atop the marquee The first $6,500 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing fillies and a $5,500 Filly and Mare Open Pace get the spotlight treatment Saturday night at Cal Expo. Things get underway at 6:10 p.m. under the Watch and Wager LLC banner, with the Sire Stakes going as the second on the 11-race card, while the Distaff Open occupies the 10th-race slot. The field for the Sire Stakes will line up this way: Glad to Meet Ya from the Junior Wilkinson barn with Luke Plano guiding; the Robin Clements-trained Pep Rally with Steve Wiseman; James Kennedy will guide Goturnumber for Gordie Graham; the Pierre Girard reined-and-trained Lucky Seven Oflodi; and Brigitte Bordeaux for trainer Bob Johnson with Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. Directing Traffic, who last week added her name to the distaffers who have captured a Filly and Mare Open Pace at this meet, looks to do an encore in the co-featured Open. Directing Traffic is a 6-year-old daughter of Real Desire from the Park Place mare Park It Ashley who is owned by Junior Wilkinson and Billie Schwartz, takes her lessons from Wilkinson and will once again have Luke Plano giving directions. In last week's clash at the head of the class over a sloppy racetrack, the bay mare was reserved early and sat double digits off the leader in the opening stages. She began to pick up some momentum from the outside on the final bend, then stormed home in the stretch to win going away by two and a half lengths. Shesamysterytome will be looking to make amends after checking in third as the 6-5 favorite in last week's Distaff Open. She was hard used on the front end on an off track that favored closers as the night progressed and looms large for owners Ashlee Sluggett and Trevor Williams and driver/trainer Ryan Grundy. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The $6,600 Glen Holt Memorial Pace featuring I'm An Athlete occupies the feature-race slot on Saturday night's 11-race harness racing program at Cal Expo. First post is 6:10 p.m. and the card will also include a $5,500 Open Trot headed by the streaking Pridecrest and a pair of California Sire Stakes that will go as non-betting events prior to the regular program. The Glen Holt Memorial is named for the respected horseman who passed away in February at the age of 87. Glen had a love of horses from the time he was a child. On his days off from the Shafter Police Department he would go to the two local racing stables, one being owned by Bill Lachenmeier and the other by Joe O'Brien. He assisted with jogging the horses, helping around the stables and asking a lot of questions in an effort to learn the business. Lachenmeier eventually gave him a broodmare and Glen's career as a sergeant with the Police Department ended and his career in the harness racing industry began. He started the Diamond HR Ranch, a boarding, breeding and training farm. After a few years, a swimming pool for conditioning horses was added to the farm, the first to be built in California. Diamonte King was Glen's first two-minute horse. He was followed by such top performers as Regret Me Not, David's Marenga and Something Sexy. Shafter Queen, a broodmare at Diamond HR, received numerous awards as Broodmare of the Year. Glen's career in the sport spanned 50 years and one of the highlights was being the leading driver at the 1971 Cal Expo meeting. He was well respected and shared friendships with many owners, trainers, grooms and racing officials throughout the circuit. Said son Mike Holt, "Dad loved the horse racing business and could spend hours telling countless stories about his experiences and friendships." In addition to Mike, Glen Holt is survived by his daughters Debbie and Sharla and son Philip, nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Glen had a high-profile marriage for 25 years with actress Annette Funicello. They met through their mutual love of horses and were often seen at the harness races in the 1980s and 1990s. Annette passed away in 2012 after a lengthy and well-documented battle with Muscular Sclerosis. What Glen and Annette learned during this time ultimately led them to establish The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases in 1993. Charlotte's Web embarks on new journey Charlotte's Web, who has distinguished herself both on and off the racetrack, is entering a new phase in her career. Steve and Vickie Desomer have announced that the mare has been placed with Nick Roland and Set The Pace Racing and will be headed East to be bred to Roland's stallion Tamarind. Charlotte's Web was foaled on the Desomer farm in 2002, out of the multiple stakes producing mare One to Top and by the multiple stakes producing stallion Website. She went on the become the 2-year-old divisional champion but was retired in the midst of her 3-year old campaign, going on to become a multiple stakes-producing broodmare herself. "Charlotte has made us proud time and time again," said Vickie. "She's produced divisional leaders Silverlode, Placer and Cadet, and she continues her production with Kissed the Boys, Minnesota eligible Pay Dirt,and Minnesota eligible yearling Shudabinaclaudius. "Steve and I wish Nick and Jessica all the best with this fine mare." Robin Clements has been with Charlotte's Web throughout her career and is high in her praise for the mare. "I took care of Charlotte when she raced at 2 and 3 and have taken care of her since she became a broodmare. She is one of my favorites as she has that laid back personality and was so easy to get in foal." Cal Expo has announced that the guaranteed gross pool for the 20-cent Pick 4 on Saturdays has now been raised to $50,000, with the guaranteed pool for Friday's Pick 4 remaining at $30,000. The Pick 4 is one of two wagers each night at Cal Expo with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, the other being the 50-cent Pick 5, which is offered on the first five races of each program. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Cal Expo has announced that the guaranteed gross pool for the 20-cent Pick 4 on Saturdays has now been raised to $50,000, with the guaranteed pool for Friday’s Pick 4 remaining at $30,000. The Pick 4 is one of two wagers each night at Cal Expo with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, the other being the 50-cent Pick 5, which is offered on the first five races of each program. "We started our guarantee at $25,000, went to $30,000. then $40,000, now $50,000, “ said Cal Expo General Manager Chris Schick. “The Saturday Pick 4 guarantee equals that of The Meadowlands and Woodbine. We have now joined an exclusive club. The low 20-cent minimum, coupled with the low 16 percent takeout, have certainly proved a powerful combination".   By Mark Ratzky Publicity – Cal Expo Harness

George Reider appears to have a nice prospect for the upcoming California Sire Stakes in the harness racing gelding Prideofthesierras, who put it all together last weekend in his fourth start with Steve Wiseman in the sulky. A son of Little Steven out of the Personal Power mare Brooklets Kia, Prideofthesierras was bred by Rick and Marlene Thomas and they co-own along with Reider and Dave and Rob Haness. George had tipped in a column back in December that he felt this was a promising youngster, and nothing this pacer has done in the interim has made him change his opinion. "He's the second offspring from the mare, who also had Feeling Fancy Free, and it really is two different tales," Reider noted. "She is very small and very high strung, but he's big and strong with a very nice demeanor. He trained down so nice we've had high hopes all along." Now it's time for Prideofthesierras to get serious, as the first round of Sire Stakes action for the class of 2015 is upon us. "We've got 12 weeks for the six stakes races, and I'm very excited for the connections," George said. "As far as plans for the summer go, we'll see how he progresses toward the end of the meet and go from there." As usual, Reider is quick to point out that a trainer is only as good as his help, with Juan and Chicky being singled out for their excellent work behind the scenes. Pacing fillies and mares command the spotlight An excellent $6,600 Distaff Open Pace serves as the main event at Cal Expo Saturday night with a very contentious cast of nine set to face the starter. There are 11 races on tap and the Watch and Wager LLC card gets under way at 6:10 p.m. The headliner will be the eighth event of the evening. Last week's Filly and Mare Open turned out to be a thriller, with Delightfully Wild getting home by a nose over Blue Note, with that pair a length and three-quarters ahead of Shesamysterytome at the wire. Delightfully Wild is a 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight who races for Richard Morita and David Yamada, is conditioned by Lino Pacheco and will have James Kennedy back at the controls while leaving from the No. 7 slot. In last week's clash, the bay miss relaxed early, came first over at the half, continued on gamely in the lane and wore down pace-setting Blue Note by a nose in a 1:54 4/5 tour. It was her third win from seven starts on the year. Blue Note is going in razor-sharp form for owner/trainer Rick Cisco and will have the services of Luke Plano. She has won three of her last seven starts, including a victory in the Alan Kirschenbaum Final on February 2. She has been runner-up in the other four efforts, including that narrow setback at most recent asking. Completing the field are Capitol Hill, Shark Festival, Poorlittlerichgirl, Sparkin Your Fire, Getter Queen Flush, Shesamysterytome and Melodies That Rock. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Chip Lackey worked out a perfect trip with his trainee Silverhill Volo in last weekend's Jim Grundy Final at Cal Expo, getting up by a head over harness racing favored Silverlode in the fixture. The trotter is co-owned by Lackey and Roland Dekeyser Jr. and was recording his biggest victory since joining the barn back in November of 2016. Silverhill Volo came into the Grundy final off back-to-back tough beats, finishing second in the Prep after carving out all the fractions and then dropping a nose decision to division leader Pridecrest in the Open Trot one start back. "Roland likes trotters and we got this one from Joe Anderson," Chip related. "He always tries hard, but up until recently, he could be a little silly. He's learned to sit in a hole now and I was also able to work out some shoeing issues with some very useful help." Chip mentioned that a lot of credit for Silverhill Volo's success goes to Fern Wald, who has a very special bond with the trotter. "I honestly think he digs a little deeper because of her," he said. Lackey admits he wasn't happy when the post positions came out for the Final and he was in the No. 6 slot, while main rival Silverlode was a cozy draw in the No. 2 post. "We got lucky and were able to get a good trip, and then he came the fastest final quarter of his life to get up." What made the win extra special was it being named for longtime California driver/trainer Jim Grundy, against whom Chip competed for many years and had the utmost respect. "It was a big thrill to win a race named for Jim Grundy, because he was the best horseman I've ever known, in every sense of the word." Allymx'sliventexas, Gorgeous For Real battle A solid $4,400 Open III Pace gets the marquee treatment Friday night, with Allmyx'sliventexas and Gorgeous For Real among the major players. The feature will be decided as the fourth race on an 11-race card under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC with a first post of 6:10 p.m. Allymx'sliventexas and Gorgeous For Real are one of five members of the his cast who chased home favored I'm An Athlete in last week's Open Pace, checking in second and fifth, respectively, in that contest. Allymx'sliventexas is a 5-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel's who races for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. Two starts back with Nick Roland at the helm, the Knittel charge was a dominating winner of a conditioned event, and then last week he turned in a solid effort to complete the exacta behind I'm An Athlete in a 1:52 4/5 tour. Gorgeous Fore Real has a pair of Open victories to his credit at this meet and found himself with too much work to do from last place in that mile and had to settle for a minor check. He is owned by Schwartz, Wilkinson, Axelrod and O'Neill with Junior Wilkinson training and William Hernandez in the sulky. Rounding out the field, from the rail out: Pancetta with Luke Plano; Julerica, Richard Remillard; One And Only, to be guided by Ryan Grundy; Almost Cut My Hair, also with Svendsen named; and Ragin's Flight, who will have the services of Steve Wiseman. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness                        

Manley Stanley is coming off back-to-back wins for harness racing owner/trainer Lisa Caposio and driver Rene Goulet, on both occasions at Cal Expo defeating heavily-favored Deeply. A 7-year-old homebred son of Panama Hanover out of the Sacramento mare Finale, Manley Stanley was a 1:59 4/5 winner here last season and it looks like his best work is still to come. "Manley is a small, nice looking horse just over 14 hands, but he's strong and energetic," Lisa related. "He is smart, and full of personality. He has a beautiful gait, and is nice to handle in a race or training trip. "He has overcome several serious illnesses and injuries. On the farm as a 2-year-old, he completely ripped his eyelid off and it was ugly and hard for me to look at. I really didn't think the eye could be saved, but Dr. Kathy Jones amazingly stitched him up saving his eye." More drama was to come into the Manley Stanley story, according to Caposio. "When he was gelded, Dr. Schloeder quickly noticed a complication, and we shipped Manley for emergency surgery by Dr. Muller at Caballos Equine Clinic. "Then when he was 4, in his third start in a California Sire Stakes, he cut the half in 58 and a piece not finishing well as I thought he should, and the next morning he had 106 temperature. "I had blood work done, and had him scoped. Dr Schloeder pulled him through a difficult pneumonia that really affected him for about eight months. "Last year coming out of his first win, he had a wall separation that closed the season for us. This meet Manley has pulled himself together, and we are enjoying our track time." It turns out Manley Stanley also has a second career going as he accompanies Lisa to her job as a teacher. "He goes to school with me. Yes, he's a teacher too! He teaches kids how to groom, wash, walk, lunge and hug a horse. It's called extreme elective day, a day where we teach students about something we love, instead of the everyday Math, English, science or history curriculum. "So of course, I load up Manley, along with Poncho the donkey, Dazzle the goat, Roxy the potbelly pig, Max the 106 pound dog and other animal ambassadors... shipping them to where I teach on the edge of the tough part of town. "These kids haven't ever touched a horse, but by the time they leave that one day many of them have a new passion for horses. You can see him on our Facebook Page called Camp Norwood Animals." You can also see Manley Stanley in action here at Cal Expo on a weekly basis, the last two times ending up in a photo session with Capioso in the charmed circle. Contention runs deep in pair of Opens A $6,600 Open Pace and a $5,500 Filly and Mare Open Pace are the main events on Saturday night's 12-race card at Cal Expo. First post for the Watch and Wager LLC program is 6:10 p.m. The Open Pace has lured a field of eight and racing secretary Robin Schadt had I'm An Athlete, Bettor's Promise and Gorgeous for Real draw for the outside three posts and they will leave the starting gate in that order. Last week's clash at the top rung saw Bettor's Promise posting a 10-1 upset for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Lino Pacheco and pilot Chip Lackey while doing his work from the rail. Bettor's Promise brushed to command before the half, withstood a strong challenge in the lane and came away for a length and half score in a lifetime-best 1:52 flat performance that evening. I'm An Athlete came into that event having won back-to-back Opens, but found himself with too work to do from the assigned No. 10 post that night. He has a much better draw this time around and looms large for owner Ronald Rettig-Zucchi, trainer Jessie Pacheco and driver James Kennedy. Looking at the co-featured Distaff Open, the Kathie Plested-trained pair of Boozier Bruiser and Capitol Hill have been assigned the outside slots in the field of seven with Steve Wiseman and Mooney Svendsen guiding, respectively. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Pridecrest, who has rattled off five straight dominating victories at the top rung since arriving from the Midwest, looks to extend that harness racing streak Saturday night in the $6,600 Open Trot at Cal Expo. An 11-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event is scheduled as the third contest of the evening. Pridecrest put his name in the record books here on November 11 when he toured the Sacramento oval in coast-to-coast fashion in 1:53 2/5 to establish a new track record. For the fourth straight time, Pridecrest will be asked to start from the assigned No. 10 post position this weekend with trainer Luke Plano at the controls behind the Mark Hinshaw colorbearer. The 6-year-old son of Angus Hall has been ultra impressive in his five scores here, the most recent coming in the January 13 Open. As mentioned earlier, the last three have been recorded from this demanding 10 post, including his November 25 decision that came after he made a break before the start. The dark-hued sidewheeler registered one of those victories on the front end, three have come from a stalking position and his most recent saw him making a power brush to the lead at the half that led to a three and three-quarters lengths victory as the 1-5 favorite. Looking for an upset this weekend are Silverlode, Silverhill Volo, Talkin Tootsie, Wisom Kelly, Windsun Galaxie and The Evictor. Clements eyes special victory in Grundy Trot Robin Clements will send out Franky Provolone in next Friday night's Jim Grundy Final, and would love to win not only for her beloved trotter but because of the person for whom this race is named. "I was fortunate to know Jim when he and his wife Debbie had a big stable and he was at the top of his game," Robin related. "Jim was a heck of a horseman, especially with the young horses, and he was always dominant in the stakes races. "He could be kind of a gruff guy at times, but he had a big heart for the animals, especially for the dogs." Clements recalled a specific incident with the mare Taxi Dancer that involved Grundy. "When I first got Taxi Dancer, I was out training her and as I was coming back, I passed Jim who was standing by the rail. "He yelled to me to 'drop that mare's head', meaning to lower her overcheck. I told him this is Taxi Dancer and she can pull, but he yelled back that he knew who she was and I should drop the head! "I went back to the barn and lowered her overcheck, and she won her next start and even set a new lifetime mark. After that race I saw Jim and he said he could see that mare wanted her head between her knees and started to laugh." By the way, Taxi Dancer won 36 races for Robin with that "low head". By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness  

Friday night’s harness racing program at Cal Expo features a pair of carryovers, kicking off with an $8,245 carryover in the 20-cent Pick 5 that covers the first five events on the evening. There will be a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool for the Pick 5, which is one of two wagers each night along with the 20-cent Pick 4 that features a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. There is also a $3,840 carryover in the 50-cent Pick 6, which is decided on the penultimate six races on the card. There is a carryover in the Pick 5 despite the fact that last Saturday night’s sequence featured a 3-5 winner in I’m An Athlete, who was recording his second straight victory in the Open Pace. While three of the other winners were very logical at 5-2, 3-1 and 7-2, what ignited this carryover was Hi Fidelity’s victory in the opener at $50 for owner/trainer Rick Cisco and pilot Ryan Grundy. In addition, on Friday night Cisco sent out the 13-year-old Blue Note for a victory in the Alan Kirschenbaum Final with Luke Plano doing the honors. She made every pole a winning one in a 1:54 2/5, just a tick off the lifetime mark she established here last season. Fittingly, Blue Note is a daughter of Little Steven, who was a tremendous racehorse and sire for Kirschenbaum. Pair of Open Paces sharing spotlight A $5,500 Open Pace that finds I’m An Athlete heading the cast and another contentious renewal of the $6.600 Filly and Mare Open Pace are the main events on Friday night’s 11-race card at Cal Expo. I’m An Athlete is fresh from back-to-back scores at the head of the class and for his efforts, the Jessie Pacheco trainee will be asked to do his work this time around from the assigned No. 10 post position with James Kennedy once again guiding the Ronald Rettig-Zucchi colorbearer. An 8-year-old son of Art Major, I’m An Athlete has put his class and versatility on display in his last two scores at this Open level, going off at 13-1 in his January 27 tally and hammered down to 3-5 for last week’s decision. In that first victory from the outside post in a field of nine, Kennedy left into a tracking trip, cleared once straightened for home and came home powerfully to get the job done by a length and a half that evening. In last week’s clash at this top level, I’m An Athlete shot right to the front for Kennedy, carved out all the fractions without pressure and came to the wire with a length and three-quarters to spare in a 1:52 flat tour. Taking him on from the rail out are Bettor’s Promise, Cantholdmebackmack, Jimp The Shark, Ragin’s Flight, Almost Cut My Hair and Gorgeous For Real. A strong case can be made for most of the distaffers in the co-featured Filly and Mare Open, with trainer Kathie Plested represented by last week’s flying finish runner-up Shark Festival with Mooney Svendsen and Boozer Bruiser, who will have the services of Steve Wiseman. By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal; Expo Harness

Harness racing trainer Jessie Pacheco had a night to remember at Cal Expo last Saturday, as he sent out the winners of the Lonnie Beck Final and the Open Pace, with those horses returning $55 and $28, respectively. Cantholdmebackmack got the ball rolling in the Beck Final with William Hernandez at the controls. He looped the field to be up by a half-length in a 1:53 1/5 tour of the Cal Expo oval. A couple of hours later, the Pacheco-trained I'm An Athlete was posing for pictures after his upset score in the Open Pace with James Kennedy at the helm, igniting when it counted to win going away by a length and a half in a 1:52 3/5 mile. Cantholdmebackmack is owned and trained by Pacheco and was returning to the sharp form that saw him capturing an opening leg of the Shelly Goudreau earlier in the meet, while I'm An Athlete has been a major player around these parts for several years while carrying the banner of Ronald Rettig-Zucchi. Hernandez, by the way, added another lighting up of the toteboard a bit later in the evening when he posted a $52 score with Lucky Jewel in a conditioned affair for trainer Junior Wilkinson. That kind of thing will definitely make you the delight of the longshot players. *** The guaranteed gross pool for the 20-cent Pick 4 has now been raised to $40,000. Both the Pick 4 and the 50-cent Pick 5 here at Cal Expo offer a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. I'm An Athlete seeks Open Pace encore I'm An Athlete, fresh from an upset at the head of the class, looks for a repeat mile in Saturday night's featured $6,000 Open Pace. A 12-race program is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event will go as the third event on the evening. I'm An Athlete is an 8-year-old son of Art Major out of the Cam's Card Shark mare Female Champs who races for Ronand Rettig-Zucchi, is conditioned by Jessie Pacheco and will be handled by James Kennedy. In last week's top dance while leaving from the demanding outside post in the field of nine, the veteran left into a mid-pack spot, tracked the swift fractions to the stretch and came home smartly to seal the deal by a length and a half in a 1:52 3/5 performance. Completing the exacta in that affair behind the 13-1 I'm An Athlete was the 15-1 Almost Cut My Hair. This 4-year-old goes about his business for owner Hank Wieseneck, trainer Bob Johnson and driver Nick Roland and has posed for snapshots following two of his last five outings. Last of the nine in the early stages of last week's top dance which saw blazing fractions of :26, 55 1/5 and 1:24, Almost Cut My Hair put in a strong late move to be up the place spot. Rounding out the cast are Ragin's Flight with Steve Wiseman; Cantholdbackthemack with William Hernandez; Eastender for Luke Plano; and Jazzmanian Devil, who will have the services of Mooney Svendsen. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Trainer Bob Johnson will attempt to capture Saturday night's Lonnie Beck Pace with Allmyxsliventexas for owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, and a harness racing victory at Cal Expo would be fitting as Johnson conditioned several outstanding performers who raced under the Beck banner. Lonnie Beck passed away in 2002 at the age of 68. "Lonnie was very important as both an owner and a breeder in California, especially during the time we needed it most," Johnson said. "I remember one year we went back to the Harrisburg sale and he bought 12 horses to bring back here to race. He made a big difference." Beck was certainly one of the most important owner/breeders of the last several decades while campaigning some of the top performers on the West Coast, including Givemewhatineed, his son Ivegotwhatuneed and Mel's Best, just to name a few. *** There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races of the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool. Last Saturday night's Pick 5 featured winners that paid $3.80, $11.40, $11.80, $12.40 and $12.80, respectively, returning a healthy $7,137 for each 50-cent ticket. Using the regular takeout rate, each winning combination would have been worth $6,372, a difference of $765. Now that's value. Lonnie Beck Pace brings out solid cast The $8,300 Lonnie Back Pace has the top billing Saturday night at Cal Expo, with last week's Prep winner FF Bigshow among the major players. There will be 11 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The co-feature is a $6,600 Open Pace that finds Gorgeous For Real eyeing his third straight victory at the head of the class. To give you some idea how contentious the Lonnie Beck figures to be, last week's Prep for this event saw the first four horses separated by the grand total of a neck, with FF Bigshow prevailing in a 1:54 mile that evening. A 7-year-old son of Relentless Yankee, FF Bigshow is owned by George Reider, Greg Robinson and David Siegel, is conditioned by Reider and will have Luke Plano giving directions. In last week's outing, the pacer was shuffled to next-to-last at the half, found room late in the drive and ignited when it counted for Plano to get the nod over Allmyxsliventexas, who in turn narrowly got the place over Senga Nitro and Beacon Of Hope. Allmyxsliventexas is 5-year-old Hi Ho Silverheel's homebred who competes for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson handling the training duties and Nick Roland in the sulky. He was a 1:51 4/5 winner at Running Aces last summer and will be tough no matter how things shake out early. Rounding out the cast are the aforementioned pair of Senga Nitro and Beacon Of Hope along with I'm Blue Too and Cantholdmebackmack. The feature goes as the third race on the card. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Hats off to the harness racing mares Sparkin Your Fire and Blue Note, who has their pictures taken in back-to-back races here  at Cal Expo last Friday evening. The Filly and Mare Open has developed into one of the most contentious divisions on the grounds, and Sparkin Your Fire has now captured three of these events at this session. The 6-year-old goes about her business for owner Peg Hoffman and driver/trainer Gerry Longo. Because she had been settling for nibbles of late and had an outside post, Sparkin Your Fire was dismissed at a juicy 26-1 last week and was ultra-game getting the job done in first-over fashion in a 1:54 3/5 mile. Longo, by the way, is still going strong at age 72 and has now made 2,827 trips to the charmed enclosure in his career with nearly $12.5 million in earnings. Speaking of veterans, less than half an hour after that race, the 13-year-old Blue Note suited up for owner/trainer Rick Cisco and pilot Luke Plano and got the job done in coast-to-coast fashion. This daughter of Little Steven has earned her $129,000 bank account the old-fashioned way with a 1:54 1/5 mark that was set here last season and she continues to display the desire to show the way home. Cisco has done a great job keeping this mare on her game and she has certainly become a fan favorite, especially when she turns in performances like she did last week. Filly and Mare Open atop the marquee A $5,500 Filly and Mare Open Pace headlines Friday night's Cal Expo program with last week's upset victress Sparkin Your Fire attempting a curtail call. Five different distaffers have been victorious in the last seven Filly and Mare Opens, and last week it was Sparkin Your Fire who prevailed for driver/trainer Gerry Longo while rewarding her backers to the tune of $55 in that mile. It was actually the third win in the Distaff Open at this meet for the 6-year-old daughter of Duneside Perch, who goes about her business for owner Peg Hoffman. She was very game getting it done in last week's clash, used early for position from an outside post and then coming first-over for Longo to seal the deal by three-quarters of a length. Capitol Hill was her most immediate victim in that contest and sports a decision at this level back on November 25. The Badlands Hanover mare is owned by George McChrystal and Kathie Plested with Plested the conditioner and Steve Wiseman handling the lines. Two weeks ago, it was Delightfully Wild and Melodies That Rock who dead-heated for the top spot at this rung. The former was accounting for her third straight tally at this level, while Melodies That Rock was parlaying an upset victory in the Robert Gordon final. Delightfully Wild races for Richard Morita and David Yamada with Lino Pacheco training and Luke Plano driving and had her work cut out last week leaving from the outside slot in the field of nine and having to come from well back. Melodies That Rock is by Rockin Image and carries the banner of Brittney Nichole Thigpin with William Hernandez reining and training. She was 27-1 when she captured the Gordon with Chip Lackey doing the honors that evening. Shark Festival rounds out the field for owners Medinah Racing and Scott Ehrlich with Kathie Plested training and Mooney Svendsen guiding from the rail. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Cenalta Call Girl is in the midst of a love affair with harness racing at Cal Expo, having won five of her eight starts at this track since arriving from Canada with Rene Goulet. Goulet owns the 4-year-old homebred filly along with Helen and Myrna Empey and she'll be looking for her third late-closer victory at the session in Saturday's Marvin Shapiro Pace, having already accounted for the Annette Funicello and Robert Staats finales. The bay mare prefers to save her best for last, and that was in evidence in her elimination heat last week as she was double digits back in the early going, began to pick up momentum for Goulet turning for home and was up by a half-length to prove a punctual favorite in a lifetime-best 1:55 1/5 tour. Rene returned to Cal Expo from his native Canada in October along with his partner Glenda Smith after having been away from Sacramento for some 18 years, and the performances of Cenalta Call Girl have certainly been among the highlights at the meet. "The people here are nice and friendly," he noted. "It's also nice to get away from that cold and snow." While Goulet cut his teeth on half-mile tracks in the Great White North, he has also done his share of driving on five-eighths and mile tracks. "I actually prefer a mile track like the one here at Cal Expo, because I like to let my horses sit and finish." Cenalta Call Girl has been doing just that, and she'll try to add another feature race to her resume this weekend in the Shapiro. Marvin Shapiro Pace headlines program The $9,300 Marvin Shapiro Pace for fillies and mares holds center stage at Cal Expo Saturday evening, with last weekend's elimination winners Getter Queen Flush and Cenalta Call Girl among the major players. This race is named for Marvin Shapiro, the son of L.K. Shapiro, who owned the Hall of Fame thoroughbred and California-bred champion Native Diver. He was the president of Western Harness Racing Inc. in the 1960s and spearheaded legislation that sanctioned night racing in California. He died in 2003 at the age of 83. Getter Queen Flush and Cenalta Call Girl both got the job done last week with solid come-from-behind scores while each going off at 8-5 odds with Nick Roland and Rene Goulet at the controls, respectively. Getter Queen Flush is a 6-year-old daughter of Jk Royal Flush who comes for the team of Reider, Robinson, Thomas and Siegel with George Reider training and Nick Roland at the helm. Sent off the co-favorite in last week's second elimination heat, the long-fused distaffer was double digits off the lead in the early stages, steadily made headway while parked on the final end and then came a :27 3/5 final quarter to seal the deal by a neck over another fast-finishing Window Wiper in a 1:54 2/5 mile. Cenalta Call Girl is looking to capture her third late-closing event at the meet, having previously accounted for the Annette Funicello and Robert Staats finals. Rene Goulet reins and trains this Canadian-bred miss and co-owns with Helen and Myrna Empey. Completing the field are Hi Fidelity, Window Wiper, Cenalta Diamond, Back Stock, Yeswellnomaybe, Lovers Holiday, La Madawna De Rosa and Centalta Cougar. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The first two times James Kennedy guided Dougs Hobby Horse for Rick Bertrand didn't turn out so well, with the harness racing mare making breaks on both occasions, but the third time was the charm as they teamed up for a decisive victory in last week's Gary Budahn Trot. "It was just a case of some bad luck in those first two starts," Kennedy noted. "She has a tendency to run in and in the first one she just didn't have enough room and jumped it off. The next time the gate was a little too slow and she made a break at the start." There were certainly no such troubles in the Budahn Final, as Kennedy was able to leave alertly with Dougs Hobby Horse from their cozy rail draw to push the early issue, settled into a tracking trip behind favored Silverlode and then ignited in the stretch for the four-length score. "I know she had the early speed to take advantage of the inside post and I pushed her out of there to get a good position," Kennedy said. "She was on her game, and my only concern was to take her out a bit on the turn to make sure she had plenty of room." This was the third win from five starts at the meet for Dougs Hobby Horse, who races for Bertrand and her namesake and breeder Doug Flores. She established her lifetime mark of 1:56 1/5 when she captured a conditioned event here last month. Interestingly, she is a daughter of Claudius Augustus, who carried the banner of Gary Budahn during his racing days, which included several impressive miles over this track. "It was an honor to win a race named after such an excellent vet and horseman as Gary Budahn," Kennedy said after posing for pictures in the winner's circle. Main event matches pacing distaffers A $6,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace is the featured attraction on Friday night's Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo with Delightfully Wild and Melodies That Rock getting top billing. Delightfully Wild is a 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight out of the Western Ideal mare Wild Ride Hanover who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada, hails from the Lino Pacheco barn and will have Luke Plano once again giving directions. She is looking for her third straight decision at this Open level, including last week's clash at this top rung over a good track in a heavy fog that saw her dead-heating for the score with Melodies That Rock. The latter is a 5-year-old daughter of Rockin Image who is owned by Brittney Nicole Thigpen, and is reined and trained by William Hernandez. She was a 27-1 upset winner of the Robert Gordon Final and then dead-heated with Delightfully Wild in last week's top dance for the pacing distaffers. Looking ahead to Saturday, the Marvin Shapiro Pace will headline the program with last week's elimination winners Cenalta Call Girl and Getter Queen Flush getting the top billing. Getter Queen Flush and Cenalta Call Girl both got the job done last week with solid come-from-behind scores while each going off at 8-5 odds with Nick Roland and Rene Goulet at the controls, respectively. A reminder that there are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races of the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

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