Day At The Track

Veteran Gerry Longo lights up the night

11:12 AM 14 Dec 2017 NZDT
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Gerry Longo, harness racing
Gerry Longo

Gerry Longo put on a show at Cal Expo last Friday night as he sent out four winners on the harness racing card, guiding three of them himself. The 71-year-old Longo kicked off his four-bagger when Sparkin Your Fire accounted for the Filly and Mare Open with Mooney Svendsen in the sulky, making it two straight scores at the head of the class.

Longo came right back and captured the next race with HairwayTo Heaven to the delight of the chalkpayers and added victories with Place at the Beach and Gene Eugene before the 12-race program was concluded.

Once a fixture at or near the top of the standings at this track, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos, Gerry was away from California for three decades when he came out for this meet in 2014 and has been returning on a regular basis for the local action.

"I can tell you that the weather is nice, the people are great and I'm impressed with the way they've upgraded the facility," Longo has said.

When asked about his exit from the Golden State in the mid-1980s, Longo explained that he made the move to Chicago at a time when it looked like harness racing was about to go down for the count in California.

"I did some racing back there in '78, '79 and '80, then I bought a place and started racing in Chicago full time," he said. "I like to travel, so I've also been racing at tracks in Virginia and Minnesota."

Last Friday evening, he was traveling quite a bit to the winner's circle and it was great to see those green, black and gold colors getting photographed.

Sparkin Your Fire, Capitol Hill clash

Friday night's Cal Expo program is headed by a $6,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace that finds Sparkin Your Fire and Capitol Hill getting another chance to settle the score.

A 13-race program is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. and the main event is scheduled as the 4th contest on the evening.

Sparking Your Fire is a 5-year-old mare who carries the banner of Peg Hoffman with Gerry Longo the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen doing the honors.

She is coming off back-to-back decisions in the Distaff Open, storming home late for Svendsen on both occasions to get the job done. While the first of those tallies was going away by three lengths, the most recent saw her late heroics handing a neck decision on Capitol Hill.

The latter will leave from the No. 6 post just inside her main rival for owners George McChrystal and Kathie Plested with Plested the conditioner and Steve Wiseman giving directions. She captured three of her first four outings at this meet between November 4 and November 25 at this Open level.

There are two wagers that are 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 on the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, on the penultimate four races. The Pick 4 comes with a guaranteed gross pool that has been raised to $30,000.

***

There will be no live racing here next week, with the trotters and pacers back in action on December 26 with a special Tuesday evening card that will begin at 5 p.m. There will also be racing that week on Friday and Saturday, December 29 and 30.

By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

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