Day At The Track

Funnicello/Holt Final, Joe Alto Pace in spotlight

06:10 AM 19 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Mark Ratzky publicity - Cal Expo Harness
Mark Ratzky publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The $8,700 Annette Funicello/Glen Holt Final and the $10,000 Joe Alto Filly and Mare Pace are the main attractions on Saturday night's Cal Expo harness racing program.

Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with things getting underway at 4:50 p.m.

Jennie Ann and Gitchie Girl accounted for last week's two Funicello/Holt eliminations with James Kennedy at the controls for both distaffers. Jennie Ann got her victory through the disqualification of River Lassena, who had a pylon violation.

A 3-year-old daughter of Lettherockbegin, Jennie Ann was an easy winner of her local debut on December 4 and then set all the fractions in last week's tour before being overhauled, eventually awarded the tally by the stewards.

Gitchie Girl was a 16-1 upsetter in her mile after suffering a break in her previous mile. She goes about her business for Benvenga Racing and Kathie Plested with Plested the conditioner and figures to get more respect at the windows this time around.

River Lassena will be looking for some revenge from the cozy rail slot, while completing the field are Sporty Fox, Le Montrachet, D Vigilante, Hf's Super Filly, Tropical Fruit, Prom Queen and Danzig To Dharma.

Looking at the Joe Alto, Velocity Sweets would appear to hold the aces after sweeping by the leaders as the 1-5 choice in last week's top dance for the filly and mare pacers. Jennifer Sabot owns and trains the 5-year-old daughter of McArdie and James Kennedy will once again do the honors.

Taking her on are Mary's Pretty Girl, Bertha Vanation, Brighten Your Life and Karefree Kara.

Joe Alto remembered:

Saturday's co-feature is named for Joe Alto, the announcer here at Cal Expo for many years, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 78.

Joe Alto plied his trade as a track announcer for 40 years. He started at Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs in native New York, then came west and handled the duties at Hollywood Park, Los Alamitos and Cal Expo.

He was also golden gloves boxer in his younger days and an accomplished salsa dancer.

Joe called both harness horses and thoroughbreds here in Sacramento, and was known for such signature calls "You better take a look at" and "They're coming home now!"

Trackman Marty Bridges also considered Joe a good friend. "He was a one-of-a-kind announcer and one of the sweetest people I've ever met, on or off the racetrack."

There will be mandatory payouts in all wagers Saturday night at Cal Expo, as the first portion of the 2020/2021 meeting comes to end.

The trotters and pacers will return to action next Saturday, December, 26, with Saturday and Sunday programs beginning the following week.

By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

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