Day At The Track

Albion attempts a curtain call this weekend

01:31 PM 15 Mar 2012 NZDT
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Rich Wojcio
Rich Wojcio

Albion figures to have more than his share of backers at Cal Expo when he suits up for Saturday night's (March 17) pacing headliner after posting a devastating victory at this same level last week for harness racing trainer Matias Ruiz and pilot Luke Plano.

The 6-year-old son of The Panderosa carries the banner of his trainer, Dan Tulio and James Mascola and is eying his fifth snapshot on the season after making 10 trips to the charmed enclosure last season from 33 appearances, including a 1:51.1 career-best tour.

“We claimed this horse with Lou Pena last summer at Chester,” Ruiz informed. “He raced a few times back there before getting hurt, then we brought him to Cal Expo. He’d been racing from behind over the five-eighths track at Chester, which can be tough, and we thought he would do better over the mile track.”

While Albion rallied from last to account for his February 18 victory here, last week’s romp was accomplished in front-end style. A two-length lead turning for home became four lengths at mid-stretch and then seven and three-quarters when he hit the line in 1:53.3 to the delight of the chalk players.

“He has some problems, but he tries hard every time,” his mentor said. “As far as tactics go, I leave that up to Luke. I tell him my job is to get him ready, and your job is to win.”


Shelby County and Alpine Hawk, who chased home Franks Best in last week’s top dance for the trotting set, get the marquee treatment at Cal Expo in Friday night’s (March 16) $3,600 main event.

Shelby County is looking for her fourth snapshot on the year from nine trips to the post for owner/breeder Ben Kenney and driver/trainer Rocky Stidham. The 5-year-old daughter of Chip Chip Hooray set her 1:57.1 mark when she was a coast-to-coast victress at the Winners-over level in her most recent tally on February 10.

In the interim, the Kenney color-bearer has recorded two thirds and then last week’s exacta completion behind Franks Best. In that mile, Shelby County carved out all the fractions, withstanding a strong first-over bid from stable-mate Putoneonnetformom on the final bend, but could not match the fast-closing favorite when push came to shove.

Alpine Hawk comes into this assignment with $170,000 in his bank account and a 1:56.4 career standard. The 11-year-old New York-bred son of Movie Mogul is owned by Jim Winske, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will as usual have Rich Wojcio handling the lines.

Alpine Hawk has returned to the winner’s circle following five of his eight starts on the year. He rattled off a hat trick between February 10 and March 2, in the last two of those scores making what proved to be the winning move to the lead at the half. In last week’s gathering at the top level, he found himself with too much work to do from last and had to be happy with a fourth-place check.

Giles L S Hanover is still seeking his initial 2012 snapshot but has four runner-up finishes and has to be considered. Bob Johnson trains the son of S J’s Photo and also co-owns with Mary Garey and Hank Wieseneck.

Rounding out the field are Winsom Kelly, who will have Luke Plano in the sulky; BK’s Stiff from the Kennedy Lindsey barn; and Twice The Ruckus, who goes from the outside post with James Kennedy guiding. A 13-race card is on tap, with the headliner set as the second on the evening.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 16) & Saturday (March 17) at 6:00 p.m. (PST). On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m. On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s. Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool. Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

by Mark RATZKY

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