Day At The Track
Search Results
33 to 48 of 78

COLUMBUS, MN. - Despite torrential rains during the last half of the first Saturday night card of the season at Running Aces, some quick miles resulted in the co-featured pacing events for fillies and mares. In the $9000 mares open it was Keystone Christa (Nick Roland) edging Lady's Art (Steve Wiseman) by a short head in 1:56 over the sloppy surface. Nocturnal Rose (Tim Maier) got the show dough.   The five-year-old Mach Three lass, making her initial Minnesota start after a successful winter season at Pompano Park, sat patiently in third along the pylons until the head of the stretch then found room between horses to engage in a fiesty winning stretch drive. It was the fourth win of the season for Keystone Christa, who is owned by Lee Cullen and is being conditioned in Minnesota by Bev Kingston.   The co-featured $7800 Class A event for state-sired three-year-olds went to the outstanding filly Delco Voracious (Nick Roland) in impressive gate-to-wire fashion. It was the seventh win in just nine lifetime starts for the daughter of Voracious Hanover who also won two-year-old filly honors for owner-trainer Jesse DeLong. FF Big Show (Jason Ryan) finished four-and-a-half lengths back in second with Flick A Fly (Rick Magee) third to cross the wire.   Racing resumes on Sunday night (June 1) with a ten race program featuring a $9500 Open Pace and two $6500 divisions of Minnesota-sired trots. Post time is 6:00 PM (CST).   From the Running Aces Media Department

COLUMBUS, MN. - A warm night, a fast track and an enthusiastic crowd all welcomed live commercial harness racing back to Minnesota on Wednesday night as Running Aces Harness Park presented its firstof 54 programs in 2014.   Barbazon upset a field of talented squaregaiters in the $8,500 Open Trot by leaving alertly, yielding to sit the pocket for most of the mile, then angling out in deep stretch to win by a head in 1:56.4 at 13-1 odds.   It was the ninth on-the-board finish in the last ten starts for the eight-year-old gelding owned by Timothy Hall and driven by newcomer Rob Dinning. Although he appeared to be moving up in class after racing in mid-range claimers at Northfield Park, Miami Valley Raceway, Hazel Park and Hoosier Park in recent months, the razor sharp son of Wilson Wyoming was able to best favorites Sharpshootennorris (Steve Wiseman) and Natural Forces (Kim Pluta) who finished second and third while racing respectably in their own right.   Driver-trainer Tim Maier enjoyed a huge opening night at Running Aces with three trips to the winner's circle, all with charges from his own stable. One of Minnesota's perennial leading conditioners, Maier's trio of wins started with his wife Denise's Sinimatic, who broke his maiden in 1:58.1. The next race Tim guided Terror Time, who impressed in his initial Running Aces season in 2013, to an eye-popping 1:53.2 score in a $3500 claiming pace for owner Robin Clements. The veteran horseman capped of his triple by capturing the finale with Emery Vern, also owned by his wife, in 1:55.3.   Jason Ryan notched a driving and training double with claiming pacers Sgt. Charlie (1:56.2) and Haroun Hanover (1:54.3). Racing resumes on a four-nights-a-week schedule every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday night throughout the summer.   From the Running Aces Publicity Department

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

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

Nestled in Cottonwood, California is Harmony Haven Therapeutic Riding and Horse Rescue, a facility devoted to horses and people. The farm is operated by Jeannie Womack and her daughter Tiffany. "We rescue and rehabilitate horses, so they can rescue and rehabilitate the people who need them the most, related Jeannie, who for several years was a groom for the Steve and Vickie Desomer barn. "Horse therapy teaches people to challenge their bodies and minds to help them make their dreams of a happy and health life possible for themselves. Jeannie explained that standardbreds work best for the program because they do anything and everything that is asked of them. Harmony Haven is a non-profit organization and has been in operation for six years and growing, according to Womack. Its all about leaving your mark or hoofprint and helping others to have a better life just because you were part of theirs. Among the well-known harness performers currently at Harmony Haven is Linear, the dam of last years 3-year-old pacing colt champion Bit Player. Linear is very valuable to our program because she is our main vaulting mare, Jeannie continued. She is also Tiffanys main riding horse when we are pleasure riding. Among the other former harness performers on the grounds are Tricky Deal, whose offspring include Wastin Time and Cordealia; and the recently-retired Yiannoulas Boy, who is easily recognizable to Cal Expo racing fans. For more information, please go to www.harmonyhaven.wordpress.com One And Only eyes another Open Pace One And Only, who has rattled off back-to-back impressive victories at the head of the class; and stablemate Pancetta, who is set to over the $200,000 earnings plateau and has gone a number of big races over this layout, head the cast for Saturday nights $5,000 Open Pace at Cal Expo. A 12-race card is scheduled with first post at 6:15 p.m. Racing secretary Fred Kuebler has assigned One And Only the demanding No. 10 post position for this go-around, while Pancetta moves inside his barnmate while doing his work from the No. 4 slot this weekend. One And Only is a 6-year-old son of Bettors Delight who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada with Lino Pacheco the conditioner and Chip Lackey handlng the lines. He is looking for his eighth win from 12 starts on the year and recently pushed his bank account into six figures. The Pacheco trainee earned a 1:51 2/5 career standard when he captured the April 5 Open with Lackey, then came right back the following week to do an encore. In that latter mile, he showed the way to the half, got a strong challenge from co-favorite Pancetta, but re-rallied gamely in the stretch to prevail by a length and a quarter. Pancetta also races for the Morita/Yamada/Pacheco combination with Steve Wiseman at the helm. He was a 1:51 1/5 winner last season over the five-eighths Pocono Downs oval and should be rounding to his best form now as he makes his fourth appearance after being away from the wars for over three months. Taking on this dynamic duo are Im An Athlete for trainer Gretchen Smith with Tim Maier in the bike; and a pair from the George Anthrop barn in Docs Zippy with Patrick Galbraith and Mobil Big John, who leaves from the cozy rail slot with Dave Siegel handling the lines. A reminder there are three wagers here with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4 with a $20,000 guaranteed gross pool on Friday and a $25,000 guarantee on Saturday; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the finale. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness        

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

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            

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

Fridays main event is an Open 2 Trot that finds Hellogottagobuhbye and Franks Best escaping the top ranks and getting away from the streaking El Azteca, who has rattled off six straight victories. Hellogottagobuhbye is a 6-year-old son of Dream Vacation who is owned and driven by Daniel Maier with Tim Maier the conditoner. He has won three of his nine trips to the post this season, including a victory in the opening leg of the Jim Grundy Series on March 1, and has been second and third behind El Azteca in his last two appearances in the Open Handicap. Franks Best comes into this assignment with some impressive credentials, as the multiple stakes-winning Armbro Scribe gelding has banked over $190,000 for his owner/breeder/trainer Bob Johnson with a 1:56 2/5 lifetime standard. Mooney Svendsen will once again be in the sulky. While Franks Best is still looking for his first snapshot on the year, he has four runner-up finishes from his seven attempts and like Hellogottagobuhbye will appreciate getting away from El Azteca. He figures to play the role of stalker behind his main rival in Fridays headliner. $25,000 guaranteed Pick 5 Friday There is a Pick 5 carryover of $9,145 going into Friday nights program with the wager sporting a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool and a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent wager and begins on the third race. There are three wagers on the card that offer the 16 percent takeout. In addition to the Pick 5, there is the 20-cent Pick 4 that has a $20,000-guaranteed pool on Fridays and a $25,000 guarantee on Saturdays and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the nightcap. Friday nights carryover is the result of favorites blanking in last Saturday evenings Pick 5. While the opening event in that sequence was a two-horse race between the winner King Of The Crop and arch-rival Rikybrunthegaragdwn, 14-1 upsets by Scooter Babe and Fox Valley Wyatt and victories by 7-2 Try This and 3-1 Me Tarzan sealed the deal. Dream Weaver, George Reider join forces with winner Wanna Win did the track-and-attack to perfection last weekend, getting the cheese for the combination of owner Dave (Dream) Weaver of TVG fame, trainer George Reider and pilot James Kennedy. Wanna Win posed for pictures nine times last season, including a lifetime-best 1:52 4/5 clocking over the mile and a quarter Colonial Downs oval in Virginia. Her win last week was her second in her last four trips to the post here for Team Weaver and Reider. I met the Dave through our mutual friend Wade Miller, Reider explained. He told me that Dave was looking to relocate a few horses from Northfield Park to Cal Expo and asked me if I was interested. After a few phone calls the partnership was made. I have two mares for him right now, and when they got off the truck from Ohio they both had their problems. Racing on a half-mile track with sub freezing temperatures will do that, but both horses have adapted to California quite well. Wanna Win, a 6-year-old daughter of No Pan Intented, sat a pocket trip when she clicked on February 22 with Luke Plano in the bike, then came from next-to-last with a :27 3/5 quarter to romp home at most recent asking with Kennedy handling the lines. This is a mare who hits her knees like a lot of standardbreds, some doing it more than others, George continued. Shes in the latter category, and.with the bigger track, the shoeing change and the different equipment with some slight adjustments, she's responded quite well. Weaver, who is known for his ice cold exactas on TVG, has always been a big booster of the trotters and pacers. Dave is not your typical horse owner, Reider said. Hes very knowledgeable about situations that arise on the track..I just wish that we could race down in Los Angeles, so he could actually see his horses race live. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                                                                                                                                      

Saturdays finale of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series is named for the driver/trainer who was a California mainstay for four decades. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 74. Jim Grundy made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with more than $10.3 million in earnings and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007. Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Grundy to hang up his skates and stick in 1958. Going into the family business of harness racing, he found his second niche in life as a driver/trainer. Grundy apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodgins and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s. He was the leading driver at Monticello for three straight years beginning in 1971 before heading west with his wife Deborah, a former schoolteacher and bookkeeper for the stable. It was here that Grundy blossomed into one of the states top harness horsemen. Teaming with owners like Chris Bardis, Lloyd Arnold and Ron Zumbrun, he won countless stakes races with the likes of Googie, Hugabear, Steam and Easel. He was especially noted as an outstanding trainer of young trotters. Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and have high praise for his skills. Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses, Desomer said. He was an exceptional horseman and that resulted in a long and successful career. Vallandingham related, I knew Jim from the time he came to California. He was a nice guy and a great horseman and I always enjoyed his company. Kuebler also did battle with Jim on many occasions at Cal Expo, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. Id have to say he was the most accomplished trainer of young trotters weve ever had in the state. Even after his retirement, horsemen would seek him out to get advice in shoeing and balancing a trotter. It was all about his expertise and passion and he is missed. Jim Grundy Series final, Open Pace, Sire Stakes set A $10,000 California Sire Stakes headed by Rikybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop; the $12,300 finale of the Jim Grundy Trotting Series and an Open Pace featuring One And Only are the highlights on Saturday evenings 14-race card at Cal Expo. Rickybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop have divided up the first four stakes races at the meeting for the 3-year-old pacing colts. Rikybrnthegaragdwn races for Maryann Plano with Luke Plano driving and training, while King Of The Crop carries the banner of his breeder Frank Nevarez and is trained and driven by James Kennedy. A son of Living It Up out of the Sportsmaster mare Sports Bra, Rikybrnthegaragdwn captured the first stakes race of the season for this group on January 18, then was second and third in the next two big-money events while King Of The Crop was posing for pictures. In the most recent stakes two weeks ago, he made every pole a winning one, holding safe by nose over King Of The Crop in a 1:55 2/5 clocking, two ticks off the mark he established in his previous decision in a conditioned affair. The latter is by Little Steven accounted for back-to-back stakes on February 1 and 15 in game fashion, including a 1:55 1/5 tally. Sent off the 4-5 choice in that last added-money clash, he sat the pocket behind his arch-rival and just missed while coming a :26 3/5 final quarter. In the Open Pace, One And Only is a 6-year-old son of Bettors Delight who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada, takes his lessons from Lino Pacheco and will once again have Luke Plano giving directions. He comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following five of his seven starts on the year and is closing in on the $100,000 mark in career earnings with a 1:52 2/5 standard. The field for the Jim Grundy finale will line up this way from the rail out: Axle, with David Siegel at the controls; Donna Letsgo, Luke Plano; Try This with Williams Hernandez; High Dollar for Tim Maier; Giles L S Hanover, Mooney Svendsen; and Silverlode, to be guided by Steve Desomer. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

After mixing it up with the likes of El Azteca and Inside Broadway in his previous two outings, Franky Provolone got some class relief last weekend and responded with a solid victory for owner Robin Clements, trainer Vickie Desomer and pilot James Kennedy. The 7-year-old trotter has carried the Clements banner for the last two years and the victory put him over the $115,000 earnings mark. After getting shuffled at the midway point in that mile, he got clear sailing when it counted and motored home in :28 and change to seal the deal. When he came back from Minnesota last summer, he was pretty tired and not 100 percent, Robin noted. I raced him one time at the opening of this meet and he was no good, so I turned him out. In the past, Clements would have given Franky Provolone some time at the Desomer ranch, but that was no longer an option and her fields were filled up with broodmares. Jennifer Sperry is a good friend of mine and she ended up taking him to her farm down in Patterson for a well deserved break. Franky became part of the Sperry family, hanging with retirees Pussy Cat and her Claudius Augustus filly Sassy Catitude along with 30 yr old Steroid Stallion. He was turned out for two months and put on about 150 lbs. Jennifer and her husband Steve did a great job as Franky is a horrible eater and hard to get that weight on. Jennifer was patient and found out Franky is a buffet kind of guy and doesn't like to eat the same thing everyday. When he came back we stuck to the same plan on his feeding and switched him up a lot. I raced him in the Open Trot, but he wanted no part of El Azteca, and then I was finally able get him in a class where he belongs. James Kennedy did a great job with him the other night and I was very happy how things worked out. Sire Stakes, Open Trot, Distaff Pace headline card A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds featuring De Valeria and Snuff N Beer, an Open Trot headed by El Azteca and an Open Distaff Pace hold the spotlight Friday night at Cal Expo. El Azteca, who recently over the $100,000 mark in earnings, eyes his sixth straight win while once again doing his work from the assigned No. 10 post. The 5-year-old son of Panama Hanover is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and will have Luke Plano in the sulky. De Valeria is a daughter of Little Steven and the Fandango Fella mare Princess Kiara who has captured three of the four stakes races for the sophomore pacing fillies at this meeting. She is owned by Eugene Afentoulis and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. The dark-hued miss used track-and-attack tactics to draw away through the stretch in the first two Sire Stakes clashes, then had to settle for third as the 3-5 choice in the February 14 gathering. She got her revenge in the most recent big-money joust two weeks ago, having no trouble with the sloppy track as she rallied smartly to the lane and pulled away by two and a half lengths. Duet accounted for the other stakes and goes postward for owner/trainer Rick Cisco and pilot Tim Maier, while Clara Bea carved out all the pace in that last Sire Stakes before checking in second and carries the banner of Schwartz, Axelrod, Rachford and trainer Junior Wilkinson with James Lackey guiding. Looking at the trotting event, Snuff N Beer and Placer have each earned two stakes trophies to this point while establishing themselves as the leaders of the division. Snuff N Beer is a Mary Harris homebred from the Kennedy Lindsey barn with Luke Plano in the bike, while Placer is a Desomer Stables homebred with Steve Desomer handling the lines. In the most recent get-together on February 28, Snuff N Beer appeared to relish the off going as he dueled to the stretch and then came away late for a two and three-quarter lengths score. He also posed for pictures following the first stakes of the year on January 17 with a strong finish. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness    

After making a clean sweep of the Sire Stakes for his division at this meeting, the 4-year-old trotter Freedombird has added two more conditioned victories to the resume, including a dominating score at even-money with Luke Plano last weekend. "He's still a work in progress, but hes very game and all business when that gate starts rolling," trainer Gordie Graham related. "He likes to have a target, because when hes out in front he has a tendency to think his work is done. The key with trotters is to relax, and hes definitely getting there. Luke said when he moved with him the other night he only needed two fingers, which is a great sign. Hes late maturing and Im sure we havent seen his best yet. Freedombird is a son of Panama Hanover out of the diminutive Sacramento mare Kimmie Girl, an extremely popular performer who carried the banner of Walt and Patty Petersen. Like Freedombird, she retired with a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on her mantle. Gordie is an excellent trainer and Luke does a great job driving Freedombird, Patty related. This horse is very lucky to have them on his team. Patty reports that Kimmie Girl is at home right now and enjoying life. She has a 2-year-old filly named Pattycakepattycake by Claudius Augustus who is the process of being broken, Petersen informed. Shell come home during the break and be given some time to grow. She doesnt look a all like Kimmie, as she is very big but light on her feet and fleet of foot with a lot of spring in her step. Sounds like another nice trotter could be coming down the line. El Azteca puts streak on line in Open Trot El Azteca, who went over the $100,000 mark in earnings while registering his fourth straight victory two weeks ago, heads the cast set for Saturday nights featured $5,500 Open Handicap Trot at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo. A 5-year-old son of Panama Hanover, El Azteca is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and will have Luke Plano in the sulky. For the second straight time, he will be asked to get the job done from the demanding No. 10 post position this weekend. The razor-sharp performer won an Open Pace at 22-1 in June at Hoosier Park in a sparkling 1:55 with Scott Cisco at the controls, but then went to the sidelines until mid-January, when he returned with an easy win in an Open Handicap here with Tyler Smith driving. Luke Plano took over two weeks later and it was a curtain call for the Rios charge. El Azteca was then assigned that.10 post for his most recent tour on February 21 and was up to the task as the 1-2 choice. Plano dropped in early with the trotter, made a big move past the half and after opening five lengths in midstretch, came to the wire with a length and a half on Franks Best that evening. Owner/trainer/breeder Bob Johnson sends out the main threats in the uncoupled pair of Inside Broadway with James Kennedy giving directions and Franks Best with Mooney Svendsen at the controls. They are also half-brothers, both being out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition. Franks Best was 3-5 when facing his stablemate last week, but it was Inside Broadway who got the barn bragging rights. He went right to the front for Kennedy and won easily, while Franks Best had too much work to do from last and had to settle for second money. Looking for an upset are Sharpshootennorris, who has the inside slot and Steve Wiseman guiding; High Dollar for Tim Maier; and Hellogottagobuhbye, who gives the Maier barn two looks at the outcome. The 14-race card will begin at 5:45 p.m. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness      

When Get Down Tonight ignited in the stretch at nearly 12-1 last weekend with Mooney Svendsen in the sulky, it was the second straight victory for the pacer and his owner/trainer Karen Isbell and Earl Kennedy. Get Down Tonight, a 6-year-old son of Red River Hanover, was haltered by the pair in January. After a few starts of getting to know the gelding, they have sent him out for back-to-back impressive wins from off the pace. Last year Earl helped me with my trotter Boo Coo Blush, who was having some issues with a quarter crack, jockey/turned harness conditioner Isbell related. He was the one who picked out Get Down Tonight and thought it would be a good idea for us to go partners on him. What he liked was that he had some good races in the past back East and seemed to be a pretty easy horse to train. The night we claimed him he was 1-2 and won off pretty easy. With James Kennedy at the helm, Get Down Tonight looped a field of $3,000 sellers to get the job done two weeks ago, then came to test deeper waters at most recent asking and was up to the task at those healthy odds with Svendsen giving directions. Meanwhile, Isbell is looking forward to one of her passions, which is competing under saddle with the standardbreds. I think the first competiton will be coming up this summer at Pocono Downs, she said. They are always a lot of fun. A reminder that there are three wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4 with a $20,000 guaranteed gross pool on Friday and a $25,000 guarantee on Saturday; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the finale Sire Stakes. Open Trot heading the marquee A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds and an Open Trot featuring stablemates Inside Broadway and Franks Best are the highlights on Friday evenings Watch and Wager LLC card at Cal Expo. The Sire Stakes for 3-year-old fillies finds the rapidly-improving Duet, who captured the most recent big-money dance for the division, taking on two-time stakes victress De Valeria. Duet is a daughter of Disco Devil and the Tulane mare Harmony who is owned and conditioned by Rick Cisco with Tim Maier at the controls, while De Valeria is a Little Steven offspring who carries the banner of Eugene Afentoulis with Luke Plano doing the reining and training. Duet was a promising third in her January 31 debut, then caught a sloppy track at next asking and made a break. She put it all together two weeks ago in the most recent Sire Stakes, as he did her work in first-over fashion for Maier and went on to a convincing two and three-quarter length decision with a solid 1:57 2/5 clocking. De Valeria proved clearly best in the first two stakes clashes on January 17 and 31. On both occasions she did the stalk and pounce to perfection for Plano while coming away at the end, then had to settle for a third-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in that last added-money gathering for his group. The dark-hued miss came back last week in a conditioned affair and overcame the No. 9 post to get the job done. Well back early, De Valeria came rolling in the stretch to prevail by three-quarters of a length in a lifetime best 1:56 3/5 final clocking. In the Sire Stakes for the sophomore trotters, Placer is eyeing his third straight trophy. The Panama Hanover homebred is trained by Vickie Desomer with husband Steve in the sulky and has been very impressive getting the job done with his peers in the last two stakes appearances. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

This weekends three series finales at Cal Expo honor the memory and contributions of Alan Kirschenbaum, Richard Staley and Marvin Shapiro. The Alan Kirschenbaum Series is named for the longtime owner and breeder and past president of the California Harness Horsemens Association, who died in October 2012. Kirschenbaum was a major factor in California as an owner, breeder and amateur driver for many years. With his stallions Little Steven and British Sterling standing at Cherry Tree Farm in Wilton, he helped support the industry in California. In the past, he had even waived his stallion fees to help the California horsemen breed their mares to help the horse population survive in the Golden State. He was also a huge supporter of the California Sire Stakes and amateur races. Richard Staley, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 66, was one of the top owners to ever campaign trotters and pacers in California. He was involved in the sport for more than 25 years and during that entire period had only one trainer, Hall of Famer Doug Ackerman. Over the years Staley and Ackerman would regularly go to the major sales to select and purchase the regally-bred years that became the bulwark of the Staley Stable and provided California harness racing with many of his classiest performers. Marvin Shapiro was 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. Marvin Shapiro Finale, Open Pace in spotlight A contentious $7,350 finale of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing Series and an Open Pace headed by One And Only are the main events on Saturday nights Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. Itsabouttonight and Plum Crazy Baby captured the two divisions of the first leg of the Shapiro, while last week saw one division and it was Majestic Lass who come rolling late to post a $47 upset. An 8-year-old daughter of Art Major, Majestic Lass is owned by Kimberly Andres, is conditioned by Salvador Wenceslao and will have Mooney Svendsen in the sulky. No threat in the first leg of the Shapiro, she came back last week to be up by a head over another longshot in Pips Jenny G., with the $1 exacta returning a cool $515 in that affair. Itsabouttonight will represent owner/trainer Gretchen Smith with Tim Maier at the helm. The Illinois-bred mare dominated her division of the opening leg over a sloppy track, then was a close third last weekend after opening up a large lead at the head of the stretch that evening. Plum Crazy Baby is a 6-year-old Relentless Yankee mare who carries the banner of Derick Takahashi with Dario Solares training and Dave Siegel doing the honors. She was a very convincing victress in the first leg, then was first over in her most recent appearance and had to settle for the fourth as the 8-5 favorite behind Majestic Lass. Completing the field are Red Star Gilda with Williams Hernandez; No Mo Parking for Mike Jarvis; Curvacious with Luke Plano in the sulky; Pips Jeeny G, Patrick Galbraith; and Little Schoolgirl, who leaves from the outside slot with James Kennedy at the helm. One And Only gets top billing in the Open Pace for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Lino Pacheco and driver Luke Plano. The son of Bettors Delight rattled off five straight wins between December 21 and February 1 before having the streak broken at most recent asking after doing his work from the demanding No. 10 post position. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness    

There was one winning ticket in last Saturday nights Pick 5, returning $9.968 for what proved to be an excellent 50-cent investment. The Pick 5 is one of three wagers offered here nightly with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. The others are the 20-cent Pick 4 with a $20,000-guaranteed pool on Friday and a $25,000 guaranteed pool on Saturday; and the Hi-Five on the finale. Had last Saturdays winning ticket been paid out under the regular takeout rate, it would have returned just over $9,000, a difference of some $920 to the winner. "We have had these low takeout bets in place since we took over the meeting in the fall of 2012," said General Manager Chris Schick. "We are very pleased with the response to these wagers." Last Saturdays Pick 5 sequence got off to a pretty formful start as 2-1 second choice Orlandos Express got the job done for James Kennedy, followed by co-favorite Diva Las Vegas clicking at $6.60 with Tim Maier and 2-1 second choice Alpine Hawk posing for pictures with Rich Wojcio. It got a bit tougher when Hi Ho Disguise prevailed at $11.20 in the penultimate leg with Dave Siegel at the controls, then kicked into overdrive after Majestic Lass upset the second leg of the Marvin Shapiro Series at 22-1 with Mooney Svendsen giving directions. There is another chance to pick up a nice piece of change for a minor investment here Friday night with the reduced takeouts of the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4 with a $20,000-guaranteed pool; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the final contest. Kirschenbaum, Staley Series Finales headline program The $7,200 finale of the Alan Kirschenbaum Series headed by Nutmegs Davey and Larry Horse; the $6,600 Richard Staley Series finale featuring Melboy and Big Guy To Win; an Open Trot and and Open Distaff Pace are on tapFriday night program at Cal Expo. Nutmegs Davey has captured the opening two legs of the Kirschenbaum in convincing style and looms the favorite in Fridays finale for owner Osman Carrera, trainer Dario Solares and pilot Luke Plano. The 5-year-old son of Jennas Beach Boy went coast-to-coast in his division of the first leg with Dave Siegel in the sulky while competing over a sloppy track, then held safe by a neck in last weeks penultimate leg over Larry Horse as the even-money favorite with Plano at the controls. Larry Horse is a popular 12-year-old who goes about his business for Jessie Pacheco and Kristin Swab with Lino Pacheco the conditioner and Gerry Longo handling the lines. The son of Sportsmaster comes into this assignment with $230,000 in his account and a 1:52 2/5 mark. With Plano in the bike in his division of the first leg, Larry Horse proved a punctual 6-5 choice in the slop, then was handicapped by the No. 9 post last weekend with Longo at the helm and fell just short of catching Larry Horse that evening. Melboy and Big Guy To Win accounted for their respective divisions of the first leg of the Staley Series, then finished one-two in last weeks clash. Melboy is an 8-year-old son of Western Hanover who is owned by Lili Tremblay, trained by Nathalie Tremblay and driven by Tim Maier; while Big Guy To Win is a 9-year-old from the George Reider barn who carries the Kimberley Hines banner and has Mooney Svendsen giving directions. The Open Trot finds El Azteca looking for another win at the head of the class for owner/trainer/breeder Marco Rios and driver Luke Plano while leaving from the assigned No.10 post position. Haggin Oaks heads the Open Distaff Pace with trainer James Kennedy in the sulky. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Itsabouttonight found the conditions of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing series made to order, going coast-to-coast in last weekends opening leg for owner/trainer Gretchen Smith and driver Tim Maier. It had been awhile between drinks for the 5-year-old mare, who recorded a 1:53 3/5 victory as a sophomore. She made only four starts last year without a snapshot and was getting the job done for the first time in six appearances here this season. Gretchen noted that both she and her pacer are Illinois-breds who joined forces late last year. I bought her at the Delaware Sale in November and its funny how you can race so far from where youre from and end up with a horse that was born and raised in your home state. It turns out that old trainer is also someone that I used to race with in Illinois and her previous trainer is good friends and partner with a friend from Illinois as well. Its truly a small world and we are just two Illinois-born and raised girls who are far from home. Smith relates things did not go all that smoothly when Itsabouttonight first joined the barn. I struggled with her when she first got here. She can be pretty strong in the bit and she didnt want to rate very well. We made some minor equipment adjustments and finally she is racing like we hoped. Having a good driver like Tim Maier, who is patient and gets along well with her, certainly makes all the difference in the world. I am very thankful for his efforts with her. Itsabouttonight will be back in action in Saturdays second leg of the Sharpiro, which goes as the seventh race on the program. If all goes well, she should be a major player when the finale rolls around next week. California Sire Stakes, Shapiro Series highlighted A $10,000 California Sire Stakes headed by King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn and the second leg of the Marvin Shapiro Pacing Series are the main events at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo on Saturday night. King Of The Crop and Rikybrnthegaragdwn, have accounted for the first two Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing males, while last weeks opening leg of the Shapiro saw Plum Crazy Baby and Itsaboutttonight prevailing in the two divisions. King Of The Crop is a homebred son of Little Steven who carries the banner of Frank Nevarez while being trained and driven by James Kennedy. Rikybrnthegaragdwn is by Living It Up and races for Maryann Plano with son Luke reining and training. Plum Crazy Baby is a 6-year-old mare by Relentless Yankee who carries the banner of Derick Takahashi, hails from the Dario Solares barn and has Dave Siegel in the bike for a return engagement. She made two moves to the lead on the sloppy track from her outside slot and went on to a convincing three and three-quarter lengths decision. Itsabouttonight is a 5-year-old daughter of Armbro Mackintosh and the Life Sign mare Churchbell Sign who is owned and trained by Gretchen Smith and will once again have Tim Maier giving directions. The bay miss had actually been winless for quite some time coming into last weeks opening leg of the Shapiro, having recorded a 1:53 3/5 career-best mile two years ago. She had been making menacing noises in her past few starts here and put it all together last weekend. Sent off the 5-2 second choice, Itsaboutttonight went right to the front from her outside slot and left little doubt over the sloppy going. She opened up over four lengths on the field on the final bend and came to the wire with five and a quarter lengths to spare in an overpowering performance. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness            

33 to 48 of 78