Day At The Track

Veteran Magee gets acquainted quickly

06:30 AM 24 Nov 2018 NZDT
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Dean Magee, harness racing
Dean Magee

Dean Magee wasted little time making an impression in his California invasion, winning the second race on the opening-night harness racing program with Mystery Dragon and then adding another victory in the sixth race behind Eddie Brush.

The 54-year-old Magee comes into this meeting with over 4,700 winning drives and just shy of $30 million in earnings while becoming a mainstay in the Midwest.

"I've taken the last couple of winters off," Dean related. "I'd watch the races from here (Cal Expo) and say to myself, "Well man, I wish I could be out there with those guys.

"I guess it gets in your blood, and you get a hankering to be out there with everybody and racing. And whether you're doing good or not, they seem like a good bunch of guys to race out here with, so I thought it was time to come out this way."

Magee also took advantage of the situation to spend some quality time with his son Taylor.

"A big part of coming out here was taking a trip across country with my son. We decided we were going to head out to Cal Expo with the RV.

"The only problem was it seemed that everywhere we stopped, the weather was nice when we went to bed, but when we woke up it was cold and rainy," he said with a laugh.

"Everybody has been really nice since we got here."

One of the biggest wins in Dean's career came in the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine in 2003 with an emotion-filled score behind Yankee Cruiser.

The pacer was trained by Tim Pinske, who had taken over the conditioning duties for the 3-year-old following the sudden death of his son Brian at the age of 38 eight months earlier.

"I really wanted to win that race for Brian, because this was his horse," Magee noted. "He stuck with me all the previous year when he could have had anybody drive this horse. That win was for him."

Scott Ehrlich goes back some 30 years with Dean, beginning when he was announcing the races at Quad City Downs and later when handling those duties at Balmoral and Maywood Park.

"I can't tell you how happy I am to see Dean Magee here," Ehrlich said. "My favorite memories with Dean involve a couple of pacers named Armbro Kopas and Olympus Heights."

Open Paces get the marquee treatment

A $7,000 Open Pace featuring Last Dragon and Allmyx'sliventexas and a $6,000 Distaff Open Pace that provides a rematch between Capitol Hill and Legio X Equestris are in the spotlight at Cal Expo Saturday night.

There will be nine races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post at 7:10 p.m.

Last Dragon is an 11-year-old son of Dragon's Lair who is owned by Paul Blumenfeld and is reined and trained by Chip Lackey. He comes into this assignment with eight wins from his 31 trips to the post this season and a 1:49 3/5 mark that was established two years ago.

Sent off the 8-5 second choice in last weekend's Open, Last Dragon shot right to the front for Lackey, carved out modest fractions and then blasted home to prevail by two lengths in a 1:53 3/5 performance.

Allmyx'sliventexas made an impressive return to California in a conditioned event on that same program, making 50 cents on the dollar look like a gift as he romped home by four and a half-lengths with Mooney Svendsen in a 1:52 2/5 tour. He lands the outside post in the field of eight for Saturday's assignment.

A multiple stakes winner over this track the past few seasons, the Hi Ho Silverheels homebred goes about his business for owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson the conditioner. He went over the $150,000 earnings mark with his victory and has a 1:50 career standard that was established this year at Hoosier Park.

Capitol Hill is a 7-year-old daughter of Badlands Hanover out of the No Pan Intended mare Champagne Blue Chip who carries the banner of George McChrystal and Kathie Plested with Plested training and Mooney Svendsen back in the sulky. She left into a pocket trip last week and overpowered heavy favorite Legio X Equestris in that contest.

By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

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