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Mandeville, coming off back-to-back victories at the top rung, looks to keep the harness racing momentum going in Saturday night's featured $10,000 Stan Bergstein Free-for-All Trot at Cal Expo Harness. There will be 10 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 5:50 p.m. Mandeville is a 9-year-old son of Majestic Son who is owned and trained by Gerry Longo with Luke Plano at the controls. He comes into this assignment with 33 wins from his 147 trips to the post with $281,000 in his account and a 1:54 standard. The Longo colorbearer was a game winner of the Gary Budahn here on March 6, coming first over with Plano and wearing down pace-setting Silverhill Volo for a length victory. Sent off the 8-5 choice in the Open two weeks ago, he did an encore to get the job done by a neck. Pridecrest is the track record holder here at Cal Expo with his 1:53 2/5 mark and is gunning for his 43rd lifetime victory with nearly $350,000 in earnings. He is owned by Chris Schick, takes his lessons from Kathie Plested and will once again have Mooney Svendsen giving directions. Pridecrest's most recent score came in the February 20 Open, ending up on the right end of a nose photo with Silverhill Volo in that contest. The latter is going to be a major player for his owner/trainer/driver Chip Lackey. The 10-year-old Muscle Hill gelding registered his biggest win at the meet when he captured the Joe Lighthill in December. Completing the field are Major Al-Mar for trainer Rick Bertrand and driver Cordarius Stewart and the Gordie Graham-trained Flameon with Jake Cutting at the controls. Cal Expo remembers Bill Vallandingham There will be a memorial Saturday night for Bill Vallandingham, who passed away last Sunday at age 74 due to complications from a lung transplant done seven years ago. Billy V, as he was affectionately known, was a member of the California Harness Horsemen's Association, along with his brother Gene. He was the starter here at Cal Expo for 20 years before health issues forced him to leave the job in 2014, but he did return to limited duties in 2018. He wore many hats around the racetrack before becoming the starter in 1994, including groom, paddock judge, horse identifier and horse tattooer. Ken Fowler worked those two decades at the wheel while Bill was in the back of the car sending the fields on their way. "Billy and I were pretty much joined at the hip for 20 years," Fowler said. "I owe everything to him. He was like a father to me, helping me through my personal problems and all the time teaching me about the starting car and everything that's involved." Current Cal Expo paddock judge and former driver/trainer Walter Petersen had a very special connection to Bill, as they served in the same Army unit in Vietnam in 1968. "We became friends right away as we both had families involved in harness racing," Petersen related. "He's was always a gentle person, and I don't think I ever saw him lose his temper. He was just a super fellow to be around, one of a kind and irreplaceable." Said trainer George Reider, "Bill and Gene have been my best friends for the last 45 years and I couldn't have picked better. Bill is the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back, and he will be sorely missed." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

California harness racing Hall-of-Famer Bill Vallandingham passed away Sunday due to complications from a lung transplant he had seven years ago. He was 74. Billy V, as he was affectionately known, was the starter at Cal Expo for 20 years before health issues forced him to leave the job in 2014, but he did return to limited duties at the Sacramento track in 2018. He wore many hats around the racetrack, including groom, paddock judge, horse identifier and horse tattooer before assuming his stint as the starter in 1994. Mr. Vallandingham was a veteran of the Army and served in Vietnam. Cal Expo plans a memorial this coming Saturday, April 10. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Doubleontherocks and Its Pointless, leaders in their respective harness racing divisions, look to add to their impressive resumes in a pair of California Sire Stakes that headline the Sunday night menu at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and the program will get underway at 4:55 p.m. The Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old colts and geldings will be decided as a non-betting race prior to the regular card. Doubleontherocks has accounted for two of three Sire Stakes held for the sophomore pacing fillies with Rockin The Dragon prevailing in the other. The former is a Lettherockbegin homebred who carries the banner of Nikki Hudson with husband Luke Plano reining and training, while Rock The Dragon is owned and was bred by Mark Anderson with Gordie Graham training and will once again have Jake Cutting doing the honors. Doubleontherocks has been able to work out pocket journeys in her February 20 and March 20 stakes scores, on both occasions coming away at the end from Rockin The Dragon. In the March 6 stakes gathering, it was Rockin The Dragon and Cutting who got the two-hole trip, and she streaked away in the late stages to prevail over her arch-rival by four lengths that night. Rounding out the cast are a pair of Bob Johnson trainees in Cookiesncream and Shewentthataway and the Marcos Rios-conditioned Witch Hunter. Meanwhile, Its Pointless has been untouchable when doing his work versus his 4-year-old peers in the two big-money get-togethers for that group. The Kent's On Nuke homebred races for Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will again have Tony Kerwood giving directions. Taking him on are White Knuckle Ride, Good To Be Glad and Itsonlymakebelieve. Surprisingly Sweet, Part Time on to new pastures Owner Scott Ehrlich has given us an update on two of his popular performers, as Surprisingly Sweet is about to have her first baby and Part Time has retired to Minnesota to live out his days in comfort. Surprisingly Sweet, who captured some big races over this layout, is due to drop a filly or colt by Wind Me Up any day now, and Scott has names for either scenario. "If it's a filly, I have already had her name approved by the USTA and it would be Secreharriet, named after my mom. "If it turns out to be a boy, he'll be named Farrington after my harness hero and mentor Bob Farrington." As for Part Time, who is best remembered around these parts for capturing an Open Pace over current kingpin Allmyx'sliventexas, he had a 2020 that would make for a great soap opera storyline. "It started last July at Running Aces when he overheated badly during a race," Ehrlich recalled. "And he was pulled up near the wire while wanting to fall down. Thanks to the combined heroics of outrider Tyler Wiseman, his driver Mooney Svendsen, the starter John Betts and his wife Sandy, they were able to get him safely to the paddock." It was just 10 days later that Part Time was unable to swallow his feed and was having trouble breathing, which sent him to the clinic and an emergency tracheotomy. Part Time was eventually returned to California to prepare for this Cal Expo meet, but was unable to recreate his previous success here. "After talking to his trainer Kathie Plested, as well as his drivers Gerry Longo and Mooney Svendsen who both said he had no kick and East Coast vet John Kokinos," Ehrich explained. "I made the decision to retire him to his forever home in Minnesota." Part Time was claimed for $4,000 at Pompano Park and banked nearly $45,000 for Ehrlich while going through his paces for Plested and the late Steve Wiseman. "He deserves the retirement," Scott added. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Lodi Phillip and Winihavetime, both coming off back-to-back harness racing stakes scores, get the marquee treatment in the two California Sire Stakes at Cal Expo Harness Saturday evening for the 3-year-old males and the 4-year-old distaffers, respectively. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with first post set for 5:20 p.m. Lodi Phillip, a powerful winner of the last two clashes for the sophomore male division, looks to continue his dominance. He is a homebred son of Another Mile out of the Live Or Die mare Tawney Reserve N who races for Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, hails from the Greig Watson barn and will have Luke Plano back at the controls. After having a troubled trip and losing his chance in the first stakes clash back on February 21, Lodi Phillip has had no such issues in the last two big-money forays while posting decisive decisions on both occasions. Sent off at 70 cents on the dollar in the most recent stakes gathering two weeks ago, he made a power brush to command past the quarter and took complete control of things from that point, reporting to the wire with three and a half lengths to spare. Taking him on are Chase The Gold, Im A Magic Man, SD Watch Me Now, Allthundadownunda, Believe In Dragons and Arnie's Army. Winihavethetime is a homebred daughter of Kent's On Nuke who is owned by Mark Anderson, comes from the Gordie Graham shedrow and will once again have Mooney Svendsen at the controls. In the first two stakes clashes at the meet for this group she has sat a stalking trip to the stretch and come home strongly to win going away. Her 1:56 1/5 victory in the most recent added-money contest established a new career standard for the Anderson charge. Set to challenge her are Prom Queen, Debit Or Credit, Akanay, Le Montrachet and Sierra Mystic. Johnny Ringo racking up the wins Johnny Ringo is on quite a roll for Nathalie Tremblay and Gretchen Smith, rattling off four wins from his last six starts with Jake Cutting at the controls while missing by just a nose after tough trips. The 4-year-old son of Rockin Image had to go wide around stalled cover turning for home in hist most recent foray, but made a huge move into the drive and prevailed by a length over favored Its Pointless. "We bought the horse off the website Ongait.com back in July," trainer Tremblay related after last weekend's score. "He was a young horse with lots of conditions who was showing pace at Hoosier." Nathalie and Gretchen got Johnny Ringo ready at Smith's ranch and he's enjoying an excellent 2021 at Cal Expo, with his most recent 1:53 4/5 mile shaving a tick off his lifetime standard. "He's got lots of talent, but he's still green and learning what it's all about," Tremblay noted. "When he comes off the track, he doesn't even seem tired. "Another good thing is that he can stay in that class because he hasn't earned that much money." Once this meet is over, plans call for Johnny Ringo to ship to Chicago for the Hawthorne meet. "He seems to do best over a bigger track, so that's the plan for the summer," his mentor explained. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Delightfully Wild, fresh from a coast-to-coast upset at the head of the class, attempts an encore harness racing performance Sunday night at Cal Expo in the featured $6,200 Filly and Mare Open. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. and the headliner is set as the fourth contest of the night. Delightfully Wild is an 8-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight who goes about her business for Richard Morita and David Yamada, takes her lessons from Jessie Pacheco and will be handled by Mooney Svendsen. She will be looking for her 40th trip to the winner's circle from 153 appearances, sports a 1:51 1/5 mark that was set three years ago at Pocono and has over $213,000 in the bank. Sent off at 7-1 in last week's Distaff Open, Delightfully Wild was parked to the lead by the quarter, carved out all the fractions from that point and had enough left to hold safe by a head over Steady Breeze. The latter mare will be seeking some revenge for owner Terry Kaufman and driver/trainer Nick Roland after just missing in last week's clash at the top rung. Steady Breeze was coming home in a hurry in that assignment. The Camuystic mare has captured four of her nine trips to the post this season, including a start-to-finish score in the Alan Kirschenbaum two weeks ago. No matter how things shake out early, the Kaufman colorbearer should be a major player here. Rounding out the field are the Gerry Longo trained-and-driven Rockin With Lou; Velocity McSweets for trainer Jen Sabot and pilot Cordarius Stewart and the Luke Plano reined-and-trained Alwaysalittlemore. Low takeout sparks 11K Pick 5 payoff There was a lone winning ticket in last Sunday night's late Pick 5, with a combination of some long-priced winners and a reduced 16 percent takeout rate resulting in an $11,747 return for the 20-cent ticket. Using the regular takeout rate, the payoff would have been $10,768, a difference of a cool $979 to the winning ticketholder. There was a little bit of everything in that Pick 5, including Mandeville reporting home as the favorite in the Open Trot; a disqualification of a 2-5 shot and a $48 winner to conclude the sequence. The latter victory belonged to California Rock, trained by veteran Junior Wilkinson and guided perfectly to victory by 69-year-old Chip Lackey. That's Jim Wilkinson and Jim Lackey to those on a more formal basis with the trainer and driver. California Rock, who goes about his business for Wilkinson, Schwartz, Axelrod and O'Neill, hadn't seen evening action since February 20 with a scratch in between, no doubt driving the players to look elsewhere for the winner of this conditioned pace. Lackey sat chilly with the 5-year-old son of Rockin Image in the early stages, caught the cover train at the half and stormed home to seal the deal by three-quarters of a length while making one Pick 5 player very happy. Getting back to Mandeville, he was parlaying his victory in the Gary Budahn to last weekend's Open score with Luke Plano at the controls for both tallies. The 9-year-old was winning for the 33rd time from 147 starts and takes his lesson from 75-year-old Gerry Longo, who is also still capturing his share of races from the sulky around these parts. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Allmyx'sliventexas, a winner of 10 of his 11 starts at this meet, looms the overwhelming favorite in Saturday night's featured $10,000 Donald Arnstine Pace at Cal Expo Harness. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races beginning at 5:20 and the main event will go as the eighth event of the evening. The Arnstine is limited to performers who are Diamond Horse Alliance eligible. Allmyx'sliventexas is an 8-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel's and the Distinguishedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun who carries the banner of Wayne and Rod Knittel, takes his lesson from Bob Johnson and will have have Nick Roland guiding from the rail slot. He comes into this assignment with 49 wins from his 144 lifetime trips to the post and sports a 1:50 career standard that was established three years ago at Hoosier Park. Allmyx'sliventexas is eyeing his sixth straight victory in the Arnstine, with the last pair coming from the demanding No. 10 position. He was parked a long way to the lead in the most recent excursion from the stranded slot and prevailed by a measured head at the 3-5 favorite. Taking him on this weekend are Hi Ho Julio, Frewil Dakota Sven, Contemporay Legend, Its Pointless and Mystery Dragon. Race honors memory of Donald Arnstine Saturday's feature is named for longtime owner and industry activist Donald Arnstine, who passed away last September at age 85. He and his wife Barbara were involved in harness racing for five decades, claiming their first horse, Big Time, in 1973 with the Desomer Stable. Over the next several years they campaigned many stars from that barn, including Quaker Byrd. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Donald Arnstine was active in the Western Standardbred Association, now known as the California Harness Horsemen's Association. He served as president of the organization in 1978, overseeing the legislation that created the state's sire stakes program, and he also helped negotiate horsemen's agreements with Los Alamitos, Hollywood Park, Bay Meadows and Cal Expo. After a hiatus, the Arnstines joined the Gilbert Herrera stable in a highly successful partnership that eventually expanded to the East Coast and included such top performers as Little Walter, Giveittomestraight, Fortunista and Yonkers track record holder Theartofconfusion A. After Herrera relocated, the Arnstines joined the Steve Wiseman/Kathie Plested stable and raced the likes of Party Hangover Two, Nutmegs Desire and state champion King of The Crop. Barbara Arnstine continues to campaign performers with the Plested barn. While Donald Arnstine had a full and successful life in academia, including a long and accomplished university teaching career and author, his passion was always his wife of 56 years, his children, his grandchildren and harness racing. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

A $15,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old harness racing pacing males and a $7,400 Open Trot featuring Mandeville, Pridecrest and Silverhill Volo will be front and center at Cal Expo Sunday evening. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. Lodi Phillip looms large in the stakes clash. He is a homebred son of Another Mile who goes about his business for Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, is conditioned by Greig Watson and has Luke Plano at the controls from the middle of the seven-horse cast. Sent off the even-money choice in the first stakes gathering for this group on February 21, he had serious traffic trouble along the rail through the stretch and lost his chance. With Plano guiding in the most recent big-money event two weeks ago, he went right to the front and made every pole a winner with a length and a half to spare at the wire. Believe In Dragons had to be happy with a second-place finish that night after prevailing the first Sire Stakes with a game performance. He is a is a son of Custard The Dragon who races for Lorne Duffield and Rodney Hennessey, takes his lessons from Quentin Schneider and will once again have the services of Cordarius Stewart. After getting a nice prep in a qualifier on February 14, Believe In Dragons made his seasonal debut a week later in the first stakes clash of the year for this group. He was dispatched as the 8-5 second choice while doing his work from the rail slot. Stewart sat a chilly third with Believe In Dragons through the early stages, then came first-over to press the issue and dug in gamely through the drive to prevail by a head over a fast-closing Im A Magic Man. The latter is a Mystician homebred who carries the banner of Richard Schneider, hails from the Ariel Alvarez barn and has Jake Cutting back in the sulky. He got going late from the middle of the track to just miss in his debut. Rounding out the field are Chase The Gold, Arnie's Army, Allthundadownunda and SD Watch Me Now. Pancetta on the verge of a milestone With his victory last weekend, the 12-year-old pacer Pancetta is just shy of reaching the $500,000 plateau, earned by winning 39 of his 175 starts with a 1:51 1/5 mark that was established at Pocono Downs. "He's like the little engine that could," related Richard Morita, who co-owns Pancetta with longtime racing partner David Yamada. The veteran is conditioned by Jessie Pacheco and was guided by Luke Plano. "If you look at him, he's so small you would never think he'd be the warrior racehorse he's been," Morita continued. "Dave and I bought him late in his 3-year-old year, hoping to have a nice horse and he's far exceeded our expectations." Among Pancetta's accomplishments are a victory in the Sagamore Series at Yonkers as well as multiple Open victories over that half-mile New York oval. "He's always been best on a small track because he can pace around the turns as fast as on the straights," David noted. "The tough racing has taken a bit of a toll on him physically, but he has such a big heart. He keeps bouncing back because he loves the racing and we've really enjoyed the ride." Yamada did note, however, that Pancetta's racing days may be coming to an end, with a new career on the horizon. "We hope to be able to stand him as a stud in California, producing future Pancetta's to thrill the crowd. His sire No Pan Intended is a half-brother to Bettor's Delight, so we think he has a future in the breeding shed." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

A $15,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing fillies and a $6,200 Open Pace headed by Allmyx'sliventexas are the main attractions on Saturday night's Cal Expo harness racing program. Watch and Wager LLC will present 13 races with things getting underway at 4:50 p.m. Rockin the Dragon is one of the major players in the Sire Stakes. She by Custard The Dragon out of the Rocknroll Hanover mare Shes Just Rockin, is owned by Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham shedrow and will again have Jacob Cutting in the sulky. Sent off at 7-1 in the most recent stakes clash two weeks ago, Rockin The Dragon left into a pocket trip, brushed to command into the stretch and went on to a four-length decision over odds-on choice Doubleontherocks. The latter is a homebred daughter of Lettherockbegin out of the Camystic mare Double L Fab who is owned and was bred by Nikki Hudson and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. In the first stakes clash for this division on February 20 while being sent off the 7-5 second choice, Doubleontherocks left into a pocket trip behind Cookiesncream, was up to that that one away at midstretch and went on to a two and a quarter lengths score. Cookiesncream has had to settle for a show finish in the first two Sire Stakes at this meet. She was a sharp winner here on February 5 for her owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, conditioner Bob Johnson and pilot Nick Roland and has the rail for this assignment. Completing the field are Witch Hunter for trainer Marco Rios with Cordarius Stewart in the bike; and Shewentthataway, who gives trainer Johnson a second look with Mooney Svendsen at the controls. Sophomores continue to sort themselves out The 3-year-old pacers will get another chance at some big money this weekend with a pair of $15,000 California Sire Stakes up for grabs. There have been two big-money dances each for both the boys and the girls, resulting in four different winners, and it will be interesting to see how they shake out this weekend as the divisions are in search of a clear-cut leader. As things have worked out, both winners of the filly stakes have prevailed from the pocket, as Doubleontherocks got the job done from the two-hole in the first one and then had pace-setting duties in the last clash and was overhauled by the stalking Rockin The Dragon that evening. Doubleontherocks is a homebred daughter of Lettherockbegin who is owned and was bred by Nikki Hudson and is reined and trained by husband Luke Plano. "I claimed her dam and it turned out she had some issues," Luke related. "I thought she would make a good broodmare and we bred her to a Minnesota sire. "We got her ready last year in Indiana and Minnesota and she had one start at Running Aces, then we backed off and pointed for these races." So far, so good on that front with one trophy and a runner-up finish in the first two Sire Stakes, and it's time for take three this weekend. Meanwhile, it's been Believe In Dragons and Lodi Phillip in the two stakes gatherings for the colts and geldings. The former was a game first-over victor in the initial battle on February 21, while Lodi Phillip avenged a troubled trip in that affair to post a coast-to-coast decision in the most recent divisional get-together two weeks ago. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Longtime California horseman Steve Wiseman passed away Saturday afternoon at age 53 after a year-long battle with cancer. Wiseman was a third-generation harness horseman, as his grandfather drove the starting gate in British Columbia and his father Raleigh was a respected horseman in both Canada and the United States. Steve came to California as a teenager and not long after that went to work with Tim and Denise Maier, followed by a stint with the Jim Perez stable. He eventually went to Chicago where he was second trainer to Joe Anderson, who eventually encouraged him to strike out of his own. It was at this point that Wiseman returned to California to start his stable. Soon after he met his wife of 21 years, Kathie Plested, and they have a daughter Tyler, now 20, who is currently the outrider here at Cal Expo. Steve and Kathie had made Sacramento their home while operating one of the largest stables at Cal Expo in the fall and winter and Running Aces in Minnesota in the spring and summer with a number of driving and training titles to show for those efforts. Steve was on the board of directors of the CHHA, a member of the California Hall of Fame committee and the drivers track committee. Steve's favorite performers included Magna Kay, Cashimir Dow Jones, Rhianna Seelster and Silverlode, the latter breaking the North American record for a trotter at mile and a half with a 2:57 2/5 victory here at Cal Expo in the Joe Lighthill Memorial. In addition to his wife and daughter, Wiseman is survived by his older brother Ken and sister-in-law Heather Wiseman. His parentsleigh and Myrna preceded him in death. "Steve Wiseman was the consummate horseman," said Steve and Vickie Desomer. "Professional and friendly whether training or driving or working around the barn. When we raced coupled entries, it was always our hope and good fortune when Stevie consented to drive for us. He will be sorely missed as he remained one of the horsemen that gave our industry a good name. Rest in peace Stevie." From Tim and Denise Maier: "We have always considered Steve part of our family. It was a pleasure to see the amazing man he became. The paddock at Running Aces will not be the same without him. I hope God appreciates his humor." "Horse owners will tell you about the money they are making or losing, but after 50 years, this small owner will admit, it's about the joy of harness racing," said Barbara Arnstine. "In creating that joy, Steve Wiseman was rightly named the Magician. I've had my worst mare and one of my best in his barn over the years, and thanks to his magic, they were both wonderful experiences." Cal Expo will have a memorial ceremony prior to Saturday night's first race. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Giggle Monster, victorious in seven of his nine trips to the post this harness racing season, will attempt to overcome the daunting No. 10 post as he heads the cast for Sunday night's pacing main event at Cal Expo Harness. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. Giggle Monster is a 6-year-old son of Wind Me Up who races for Set The Pace Racing LLC and is reined and trained by Nick Roland. He is 26-for-90 in his career and his most recent score two weeks ago lowered his lifetime mark to 1:52 3/5. Sent off the 9-5 choice in that February 28 contest, Giggle Monster was unhurried early, made a huge move off the final turn to sweep to command in the drive and went on to three-quarter lengths decision over Sin Machqueen, who will again be among his rivals on Sunday.   The latter is also having a strong year with four trips to the winner's circle from his eight appearances. Jacob Cutting drives and trains the 10-year-old Mach Three gelding, who is owned by Darryl Mason. His most recent trip to the charmed enclosure came on February 21, when he looped the field to pull off a 7-1 upset with Cutting. He established his 1:53 2/5 career standard over this strip earlier in the session. A reminder there are three wagers offered each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, with the latter featuring a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. Queenace Blue Chip Is Jack to his family Queenace Blue Chip made a game return to the races two weeks ago in his first start of the year, ending up on the right end of a photo to kick off 2021 in style with Mooney Svendsen. The 5-year-old is by Art Major out of the Cam's Card Shark mare Blackjack Princess, is co-owned by Barbara Arnstine, Steve Chambers and trainer Kathie Plested and sports a 1:52 1/5 mark that was set last season at Running Aces in Minnesota. "Our friend and trainer, Gilbert Herrera, sent Queenace Blue Chip to us because he simply wasn't ready for the stress of Yonkers and Pocono as a 3-year-old," Arnstine related. "Over the last year he's matured into a good horse for the Plested/Wiseman barn and that first race here showed his talent." Barbara revealed there is also another contribution she believes made his growth possible, one that is not so obvious. "He got a much better name," she explained. "His barn name is Blackjack, or Jack for short, and it's obvious he's enjoying this much more than Queen. For this owner, his success is a joy, but also why owning a race horse is a very humbling experience. "Much as you would like to be cool and smart when you arrive at the shedrow with carrots and congratulations, finding your horse without help can be difficult. That's because many of those horses have barn names, and since these come with care and affection, they are usually what they respond to, instead of the names they race under. "The horses in the Plested barn also move around a lot of take advantage of the sun and shade and horse friendships, and most of them are brown. So an owner finds themselves looking at a lot of brown horses in different locations with names that aren't in the program." Arnstine sums it up this way. "It's a lesson in humility, and a reminder that success rests on the work of others. He may be Queenace Blue Chip in the program, but he wins because his family calls him Jack." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

The $10,000 Alan Kirschenbaum Pace featuring Bertha Vanation and River Lassena and a pair of $7,000 California Sire Stakes for 4-year-old harness racing pacers are the highlights on Saturday night's Cal Expo program. Watch and Wager LLC will present 13 races and things get underway at 4:50 p.m. The Kirschenbaum is for pacing fillies and mares and Bertha Vanation has been facing the best distaffers on the grounds and should appreciate getting away from some of the big guns, while River Lassena has won five of her last six starts and obviously looms large again. Bertha Vanation is a 6-year-old daughter of Voracious Hanover who is owned by Cathy Dessert and is reined and trained by Nick Roland. She has captured 20 of her 83 starts with $146,000 in her account and a 1:53 2/5 mark that was set here in January. The bay miss began the year with back-to-back scores in the Open, sitting stalking trips on both occasions and pouncing in the stretch to get the job done. She shaved two ticks off her lifetime standard with the second of those tallies. River Lassena has been on a tear here of late for owner Mark Anderson, trainer Gordie Graham and pilot Tony Kerwood, handling softer company in dominating fashion as the prohibitive favorite. It will be interesting to see how she fares in this spot. Taking on this pair are Royal Mistress, Brooklyn Moonshine, Relentless Dancer, Steady Breeze, Roaring Home, Paloma Ruiz and Exsqueezeme. Meanwhile, the two Sire Stakes are headed by Winihavetime and Prom Queen in the filly section and Its Pointless among the colts and geldings. Turnabout is fair play for Lodi Phillip He had to wait two weeks, but Lodi Phillip got his opportunity to shine in last Sunday's California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing males. In the first big-money faceoff of the season for this group on March 21, Lodi Phillip was locked in along the rail and never had a chance, finishing fifth behind Believe In Dragons that evening. There were no such issues last weekend, however, as Luke Plano guided the Another Mile homebred right to the front, took complete control of things from that point and reported home with a length and a half to spare while earning his first trophy. Lodi Phillip carries the banner of Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, takes his lessons from Greig Watson and is proof once again that revenge is a dish best served cold. *** Saturday night's Alan Kirschenbaum Pace is named for the longtime owner and breeder and past president of the California Harness Horsemen's Association who passed away in 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. For several years, he even waived his stallion fees to help horsemen in the Golden State breed their mares to help the horse population survive. He was also a huge supporter of the California Sire Stakes and amateur races. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                  

A $10,000 California Sire Stakes featuring Believe In Dragons and an Open Pace that finds Allmyx'sliventexas in search of yet another victory are the highlights on Sunday night's Cal Expo card. The Sire Stakes goes as the fourth event and the Open Pace is the eighth contest on the 12-race Watch and Wager LLC card. First post is 4:50 p.m. Believe In Dragons is a son of Custard The Dragon who races for Lorne Duffield and Rodney Hennessey, takes his lessons from Quentin Schneider and will once again have the services of Cordarius Stewart. After getting a nice prep in a qualifier on February 14, Believe In Dragons made his seasonal debut a week later in the first stakes clash of the year for this group. He was dispatched as the 8-5 second choice while doing his work from the rail slot. Stewart sat a chilly third with Believe In Dragons through the early stages, then came first-over to press the issue and dug in gamely through the drive to prevail by a head over a fast-closing Im A Magic Man. The latter is a Mystician homebred who carries the banner of Richard Schneider, hails from the Ariel Alvarez barn and has Jake Cutting back in the sulky. He got going late from the middle of the track to just miss in his debut. Taking them on Sunday are Arnie's Army, So Watch Me Now, Lodi Phillip and Chase The Gold. Meanwhile, Allmyx'sliventexas is strictly the one to beat once again in the co-featured Open Pace as he leaves from the assigned No. 10 post position in the field of six for his owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and driver Nick Roland. Fear Factor gets Wendi's heart racing When Fear Factor got the job done in last Sunday's second race, Wendi Wiener admits it was like getting a jump start on her love of racing. The 6-year-old son of Always A Virgin, who is co-owned by Wendi and trainer Nathalie Tremblay, was making his first appearance on the year with Nick Roland guiding him to the two and a quarter-length score. "Since my husband Stu passed, I've just been racing our homebreds, and after Lilbitofmama retired I really though I was done," Wendi related. "It just didn't feel the same anymore. We know racing is in our blood and we just can't quit, but I felt I would." Weiner then fast forwards to just about a year ago, when she got a call from Tremblay. "Nat called and said she found a horse she thinks she can improve on. We've been partners on many horses, but at that time it felt different and I still wasn't sure." Wendi eventually gave Tremblay the green light and Fear Factor, or Joe as the pacer has been nicknamed, became part of the barn. "Nat did a hell of a job figuring him out, and that win the other night woke up my heart. I was screaming and yelling and there were tears of happiness at the wire. I honestly didn't know if I would ever get that feeling back. "I want to thank the horse, Nat, Stretchie and Nick Roland for getting me excited about racing again." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Allmyx'sliventexas, victorious in seven of his eight starts at this harness racing meet, is once again the horse to beat in Sunday night's $7,200 Open Pace at Cal Expo Harness. The headliner will go as the eighth on a 12-race card presented by Watch and Wager LLC and things get under way at 4:50 p.m. Allmyx'sliventexas is an 8-year-old Hi Ho Silverheel's homebred who races for Wayne and Rod Knittel, hails from the Bob Johnson shedrow and will be guided by Nick Roland from the outside post in the field of seven. The Knittel charge has accounted for 46 of his 141 lifetime appearances, he's looking to add to a $260,000 bankroll and set his 1:50 career mark at Hoosier Park three years ago. Allmyx'sliventexas kicked off this meeting with five straight trips to the charmed enclosure, with the richest of those scores coming in the December 11 Dave Goldschmidt Pace. He suffered his only setback at the stand when he was hung the mile on January 31 and tired. He has returned to prove best in his last two trips to the post, including the most recent when he withstood a strong challenge turning for home and then came home in smart fashion to secure the length and a quarter decision in a powerful 1:51 1/5 tour. Taking him on, from the rail out: Bngs Express with Tony Kerwood; Contemporary Legend, Mooney Svendsen; Super Pac Hanover for Cordarius Stewart; Hoo Nien, Gerry Longo; Buddy's Hope with Jake Cutting and Ponda's Prospect for Luke Plano. Second time around for Corbin in California Robert Corbin is enjoying his second winter at Cal Expo while sending his share of performers to the winner's circle. "The weather is great and we had such a good time last year we decided to come back," explained the 61-year-old Chicago native. While Robert got his first taste of the sport in his teens through his parents, it wasn't until six years ago that he really got involved in the game. "My mother passed away and we wanted to have something for my father to look forward to, so we ended up buying a broodmare and eventually purchased some race horses as well." At this time, Corbin owned a trucking company and was just a casual player, but what started out as something to help occupy Robert Sr's time ended up being a real passion for his son, who continued to build the stable following his father's passing two and a half years ago. "I worked with a trainer for about a year and then took out my license in 2017," Corbin explained. By the way, that first broodmare he purchased with his dad was an Artsplace mare named Symphony Bay, and her first foal was Marys Pretty Girl, who has been a regular in the Filly and Mare Open Pace here. When this session ended in April, the Corbin shedrow will return to points East to compete at Hawthorne and Hoosier Park. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness              

A pair of $14,000 California Sire Stakes for the 4-year-olds and a $6,700 Filly and Mare Open Pace are the featured harness racing attractions on Saturday night's Cal Expo program. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m., with one of the Sire Stakes events going as a non-betting contest prior to the regular program. The distaff Sire Stakes goes as the fourth race and Prom Queen is coming off a victory in a dead-heat last weekend and should be well backed for owners Desomer Stables, trainer Quentin Schneider and driver Nick Roland. Taking her on are Debit or Credit, Winhavetime, Akanay and Le Montrachet. Looking at the co-featured Filly and Mare Open Pace, Alwaysalittlemore and Velocity McSweets get a rematch after putting on quite a show in last week's clash at the head of the division. Alwaysalittlemore is a 7-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin out of the Cole Muffler mare Whatiftheresmore who is owned by Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. Sent off at 9-2 in last week's Distaff Open while leaving from the rail slot, Alwaysalittlemore was able to work out a pocket trip, moved to the lead at midstretch and then had enough to hold safe over the fast-closing favorite Velocity McSweets. The latter accounted for the Joe Alto Pace in December and has a pair of Open scores to her credit this season. Jennifer Sabot owns and trains the 6-year-old McArdle mare and Cordarius Stewart has the return assignment. Completing the field are Delightfully Wild with Doug Chappell; Bertha Vanation, Nick Roland; Paloma Ruiz for Jacob Cutting and Marys Pretty Girl, who leaves from the rail with Tony Kerwood. Plano guides talented distaffers  Last Saturday night was a good one for Luke Plano as he piloted four performers into the winner's circle, including Doubletherocks in the first Sire Stakes of the year for the sophomores and Alwaysalittlemore in the Filly and Mare Open Pace. Doubletherocks is a homebred daughter of Lettherockbegin who carries the banner of Nikki Hudson and is reined and trained by husband Luke. She sat the pocket behind heavily-favored Cookiesncream and streaked home for the easy decision. "I actually claimed the mare and it turned out she had some issues, but I thought she would make a good broodmare and we bred her to a Minnesota sire," Luke related. "We got her ready in Indiana and Minnesota, and she had the one start at Running Aces, but she had a heath issue and we backed off and pointed for these races. I've been very happy with her two wins here." Alwaysalittlemore is a Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith colorbearer who was picking up her first Open score at this session while ending up on the right end of a head photo with even-money favorite Velocity McSweets. "This is a real nice mare with a great mind," her mentor noted. "She wasn't having any luck at the Meadowlands at the end of last year, so they decided to bring her back here. "We gave her some time, so she was a little bit behind these other mares, but she's come around really well and it didn't hurt to get a nice trip the other night." It will be interesting to watch both of these talented distaffers going forward, with the next round of stakes action for the 3-year-olds coming up next week. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

The first California Sire Stakes of the season for the 3-year-old colt and gelding harness racing pacers is set for Sunday evening at Cal Expo Harness, with Lodi Phillip and Arnie's Army figuring to get plenty of attention in the $7,500 contest. Watch and Wager LLC will present a 12-race card and things get underway at 4:50 p.m. The Sire Stakes is scheduled as the fourth contest on the evening. Lodi Phillip is a homebred son of Another Mile who races for Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, is conditioned by Girard and will have the services of Mooney Svendsen this weekend. The dark-hued performer rattled off back-to-back scores on January 30 and February, recording a lifetime-best 1:56 clocking in the latter score. He will do his work from the middle of the five-horse cast. Arnie's Army races for his breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel with the Bob Johnson the conditioner and Luke Plano at the helm. The son of Hi Ho Silverheel's should be a nice fit with this group. Taking on this pair are the Quentin Schneider-trained pair of Believe in Dragons with Cordarius Stewart and Chase the Gold with Nick Roland, while the Ariel Alvarez-trained Im A Magic Man completes the line-up with Jacob Cutting in the sulky. A reminder there are three wagers offered each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The latter features a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. Ashlee Sluggett enjoying the ride Relentless Dancer has made a trio of appearances in the charmed enclosure for owner/trainer Ashlee Sluggett at this meet, showing an affinity for the oval. "Having your horse go out there and do well makes all the hard work worth it," Sluggett related recently. The 31-year-old native of Alberta, Canada, has been around horses most of her life, but it wasn't until she was 19 that she got involved with the trotters and pacers. "I heard they were building a new racetrack near where I lived and I went to check it out," she explained. "It turned out to be Alberta Downs. That's when I met Jamie Grey and went to work with him, learning about harness racing from the ground up." Ashlee then spent nine years with Ryan Grundy, including a couple of stints here at Cal Expo. She also worked with Kim and Quentin Schneider last season before venturing to New York to be part of the Blake MacIntosh barn. "That's when I decided it was time to take out my license and I came back to California with six horses," she related. "The plan has always been to go back to New York after this meet ends and rejoin Blake's barn." A reminder there are three wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent early and late Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, with the latter sporting a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness                

An Open Trot headed by Silverhill Volo; a Distaff Open Pace featuring Velocity McSweets and Delightfully Wild and a California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old harness racing pacing fillies are the main attractions on Saturday night's Cal Expo program. There will be 13 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:50 p.m. Silverhill Volo is a 10-year-old son of Muscle Hill who is owned, trained and driven by Chip Lackey. He comes into this assignment with 29 wins from his 141 starts, $174,000 in his bank account and a 1:55 1/5 lifetime standard. The veteran sidewheeler rattled off five straight victories to begin this meet, including the December 12 Joe Lighthill, then suffered his first defeat at this stand when he was parked the mile and had to settle for second behind Pridecrest on January 24. Silverhill Volo got his in his last start, however, as Lackey motored him right to the front from the outside slot in the field of six and guided him to a three-quarter length victory over his arch-rival. Pridecrest goes about his business for Chris Schick, with Kathie Plested the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen is back at the controls. He has over $342,000 in earnings and his 1:53 2/5 mark is the course standard here at Cal Expo. He overcame a layoff to upset Silverhill Volo two back, then left into the eventual pocket last time around and could not quite get to the Lackey protégé. Looking at the Filly and Mare Open Pace, Delightfully Wild is an 8-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight out of the Western Ideal mare Will Ride Hanover who carries the banner of Richard Morita and David Yamada, takes her lessons from Jessie Pacheco and will have Doug Chappell in the sulky. With Chappell taking over the driving two weeks ago, Delightfully Wild lived up to her name off the gate to rocket to the front, opened up a long lead at the half and then held safe by a length and three-quarters for the $36 upset in a sizzling 1:52 2/5 tour Major Al-mar takes command No doubt enjoying the fact that the streaking Silverhill Volo and course record-holder Pridescrest were absent from the line-up, Major Al-mar went out last week and posted a coast-to-coast victory with Cordarius Stewart at the helm. The 5-year-old trotting son of Money Talks goes about his business for Amy Fichtner and Vikki Pfeilsticker, is conditioned by Rick Bertrand and shaved two ticks off his lifetime standard with the 1:56 final clocking. While he has found the Open ranks a bit challenging, he was right at home last Sunday evening and Stewart motored right to the front, carved out the fractions without pressure and Major Al-mar was able to hold off the pocket-sitting Teachmehowtotry and favored Flameon for the one-length score. Five races later, it was once again the Bertrand barn taking bows as Catchmeinadream posted a $41 surprise with Luke Plano in the sulky. The 4-year-old mare, who is also owned by Bertrand, looked more like a 1-9 shot than a 19-1 chance as she romped home by six and a quarter lengths in a sparkling 1:54 4/5 mile. The odds were inflated due to the fact that River Lassena was 50 cents on the dollar in that affair on the strength of having won four of her last five outings coming into this affair. As things turned out, the long-fused distaffer was just too far back while doing her work from the outside post in the field of nine and had to settle for third. Considering the mile Catchmeinadream turned in, she wasn't going to lose this race no matter how well placed the favorite was in the early stages. Catchmeinadream's tally sparked a $2,153 payoff in the 20-cent Pick 5, once again pointing out how the reduced 16 percent takeout rate consistently results in sweet overlays. In addition to the 20-cent early and late Pick 5, the 16 percent takeout rate also applies to the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed gross pool. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

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