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Stablemates Diamonds Are Trump and Flash Me Baby, both impressive winners last weekend, head the cast in Saturday night's $10,200 Gary Budahn Final for pacing fillies and mares. First post for the 11-race harness racing card at Cal Expo is 6:10 p.m. The feature is named for Dr. Gary Budahn, a mainstay of California harness racing for more than 30 years, who passed away in 2009. Dr. Budahn served on the Board of Directors of the California Harness Horsemen's Association for more than 12 years, including three terms as CHHA President. He was a strong voice for California harness racing and was always there for the horsemen, helping them any way he could. Diamonds Are Trump posted a super win in the first of two Budahn elimination heats last week, brushing to command at the half for Luke Plano and taking complete control from that point in a lifetime-best 1:54 2/5 tour. The 4-year-old mare carries the banner of Set The Pace Racing LLC and is one of five Nick Roland trainees in the cast. She will be gunning for her fourth straight snapshot. Flash Me Baby finished strongly to account for the other division last week with James Kennedy at the control and gives the barn another strong look at the outcome Rick Hoffman and Larry Mather are the owners. Completing the field are the Roland-trained trio of Bertha Vanation, Red N Hotallover and Lakota Law; the Richard Schneider-trained Thats How It Goes; Tabbat McRey from the Rene Goulet shedrow; the George Reider-conditioned Brooklyn Moonshine; and Rue Hanover for Chip Lackey. Marced Magic, Magee teaming up nicely While he had to settle for a dead-heat for fourth in last week's Open Pace, go back a race and there is a very game conditioned score by Marced Magic. Considering the fact that Marced Magic and pilot Dave Magee did their work from the outside post in the field of nine that night, were used for early position and then had to come first-over to get the job done, that was a very impressive victory. The 6-year-old pacer is owned and trained by Robin Clements and returned 6-1 to those who had faith that the son of Marced Card could record his first win of the year while leaving from the marooned post in a contentious line-up. If you want to see a textbook definition of "grinding out a win", just watch a replay of that February 7 contest and see this guy refuse to lose while battling an equally-game favorite in Coz And Effect. "This is a very easy horse to drive, and what I really like about him is that he gives his all," said Magee. "When you think he's done, he digs in even more, and that's all heart. This is one tough horse." The victory was the 27th from 108 lifetime trips to the post for Marced Magic, who established a new lifetime standard of 1:53 1/5 with this tally and pushed his career bank account over the $162,000 mark in the process. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

A pair of $7,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacers and a $10,220 carryover in the 10-cent Single 6 are the highlights on Friday night's harness racing program at Cal Expo Harness, There will be 10 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:40 p.m. In addition to the Single 6 carryover, a reminder that there are two wagers offered each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 on the first five races and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 comes with a $40,000 guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guaranteed pool on Fridays. Friday's Sire Stakes will go as the first and fifth races on the evening and there will also be a pair of $4,800 pacing events going as the co-features and occupying the second and eighth race slots. The opener is for colts and geldings and will find the Gordie Graham barn represented by Its Pointless and Itsonlymakebelieve,, while Bob Johnson will send out White Knuckle Ride and Junior Wilkinson has Good To Be Glad in the line-up. The fifth race features the distaff set and Graham also has two in that contest with Debit Or Credit and Winhavetime in the cast. Robin Clements conditions Prom Queen; Bob Johnson trains Le Montrachet and Edwin Hernandez will send out Akanay.  Drivers prove age is just a number Part Time and Fly Away were bookend winners on last Saturday's program for trainer Steve Wiseman, with Scott Ehrlich owning Part Time while Fly Away races for Ehrlich and Kathie Plested. What makes it so interesting is the fact that Part Time was guided to victory by 74-year-old Gerry Longo in the opener, while 19-year-old Jacob Cutting did the honors behind Fly Away in the finale. Part Time is a 9-year-old Illinois-bred who has an Open victory to his credit at this meet and has proven to be an excellent claim by Ehrlich, has been trained to the minute by Wiseman and Plested and has had a perfect pilot in Longo. "I sure appreciate Steve and Scott putting me up on Part Time because he's a good horse who comes home good," Longo related. "He's my kind of horse, one that can be right there when he gets the trip, and he got there for us on Saturday." As far as still doing his thing at 74, Longo said, "As long as I'm competitive and doing well, this old guy is happy to stay driving." Meanwhile, Fly Away took care of business to the tune $21 in the Saturday nitecap and this 11-year-old showed once again that he loves to sit back and blast home as he made his second trip to the winner's circle from his last three appearances. "He's a solid horse who had plenty of go with a trip like that," winning pilot Cutting stated. "I couldn't ask for any better drives from either guy," Ehrlich added. "What cracks me up is that Cutting is 8 years older than Fly Away, and Gerry is 65 years older than Part Time." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Pridecrest will look to make it a hat trick as he heads the cast in Saturday night's featured $7,400 Open Trot at Cal Expo Harness. The main event will be the third on an 11-race card presented by Watch and Wager LLC and things will get underway at 6:10 p.m. Pridecrest is a 6-year-old son of Angus Hall who is owned by Heather Mathews, takes his lessons from Steve Wiseman and has Mooney Svendsen giving directions. He comes into this assignment with 37 wins from his 148 starts with a 1:53 2/5 mark and $313,000 in his account. The dark-hued sidewheeler is coming off back-to-back wire jobs at the top level. Pridecrest took them all the way with Wiseman at the controls on January 24, then came back two weeks later to win comfortably as the 3-5 choice with Svendsen in the bike.   Mandeville competes for owner/driver/trainer Gerry Longo, and has recorded a win and a second from his two appearances. He's looking for his 24th lifetime score with $221,000 in earnings. Mandeville started 2020 with a powerful win at this Open level going a mile and a half, then missed a start before having to settle for second behind Pridecrest after that one jogged on the front end last week. He figures to be tighter for this assignment. Pridecrest and Mandeville have the outside two posts in the field and will be challenged by Majestic Lady Jo, Dougs Hobby Horse, Windsun Galaxie and Banker's For All. One Gorgeous Gal proves wild ride To say last week's debut victory by the 3-year-old pacing filly One Gorgeous Gal was eventful would be a major understatement. Owned by Billie Schwartz and Junior Wilkinson and trained by Wilkinson, the dark-hued miss was sent off at 19-1, no doubt some of that lack of support coming from her pre-race antics. "I had never been behind her before," related Roberts. "Luke Plano had qualified her and was supposed to drive, but he had a horse of his own in the race. "Junior told me she was nice filly, but she could be a touch on the lazy side. It was also going to be her first time under the lights." Roberts explained that about five steps after she set foot on the track, One Gorgeous Gal started kicking and became uncontrollable, including shying when the outrider tried to lend some assistance. "She settled down by the time the gate rolled," her pilot noted. The Schwartz/Wilkinson homebred left cleanly, was out and moving before the half while racing second over, swung out for the drive and was up by a half-length for the $41 upset. "It's good that we came out, because a horse made a break and scattered the field," Roberts said. "All things considered, it was a pretty amazing performance and Junior was ecstatic." Taking note of what went on before and during the race, track announcer Gary Siebel proclaimed as they hit the finish line, "From the ridiculous to the sublime!" One Gorgeous Gal was scheduled to make her second start on Friday night's program. One Gorgeous Gal was one of three wins over the weekend for Roberts, who also guided He Grins Again and Getter Queen Flush to victory for trainer George Reider. Roberts has landed in the charmed enclosure following 16 of his 101 trips to the post at this meeting, and it's unlikely any of those performances was quite an interesting as the one turned in by One Gorgeous Gal. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

They say cancer has no friends, but in the case of Steve Wiseman that is not the case. Longtime California horseman Steve Wiseman has just been diagnosed with cancer. To say that the Cal Expo horsemen were devastated to hear this news is an understatement. With the horse community being as tight as it is, the news spread across the country and into Canada in one day with horsemen rallying to support Steve and his wife of 20 years, Kathie Plested. Steve, Kathie and their daughter Tyler run the largest stable in California during the winter and at Running Aces in Minnesota during the summer. Stevie as he is known to many has touched the hearts of horsemen wherever he goes. He is one of the "Good Guys". Whether to help a family ship a groom home who just passed away, to a shipper, away from home offering a Christmas dinner. Or rallying to help support a trainer who lost everything to a barn fire to a driver who was in a bad accident. Stevie has opened his heart to many. One of the top drivers and respected horsemen in California and Minnesota for many years, will now be racing one of the toughest races of his life. But with family and the hundreds of friends behind him with the love and support he can win this race. The California horsemen at Cal Expo this weekend will be sporting the Wiseman colors of Blue, yellow and white to show support and stand behind their beloved horseman and friend. We at Cal Expo ask the horsemen and fans to stand with us to show support by wearing his colors this weekend. Megan Beauchamp has graciously offered to sell T shirts via Facebook with the motto Wiseman Strong, Whatever It Takes logo with all proceeds going to the Wiseman family to help with the medical costs. Wrist bands are also being sold on Facebook in order to help the family as well. A Go fund me account has also been set up and anyone wanting to donate can go to: By Robin Clements        

Pridecrest, a coast-to-coast harness racing victor in his most recent appearance at the head of the class, gets the marquee treatment in Saturday evening's $7,400 Open Trot at Cal Expo Harness.. Going as the third event, the Open Trot highlights a 12-race Watch and Wager LLC program that gets underway at 6:10 p.m. Pridecrest is an 8-year-old son of Angus Hall who carries the banner of Heather Matthews with Kathie Plested the conditioner and Steve Wiseman once again doing the honors. Pridecrest will leave from the outside post in the field of six and figures to get plenty of respect at the windows off that sparkling victory two weeks ago. A lifetime earner of over $310,000 with a 1:53 2/5 career standard that was set over this track three years ago, Pridecrest made every pole a winner the last time this group met for Wiseman and has shown he can get the job done from the front, a tracking spot or with a closing kick. Mandeville has gone some strong miles here for owner/trainer/driver Gerry Longo, including an Open score on January 3, and will be gunning for his 24th lifetime victory while adding to his $220,000 lifetime bankroll. Taking on this pair are Majestic Lady Jo with Luke Plano; Windsun Galaxie, Dean Magee; Dougs Hobby Horse for Mooney Svendsen; and Bankers For All who leaves from the rail with James Kennedy guiding. Low takeout wagers spark huge payoffs There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 and 20-cent Pick 4 - and you need only go back to last week to find the value added. On Friday, the anchor leg of the Pick 4 was captured by longshot Mystic Wonder and as a result returned a whooping $3,950 for each correct ducket. The Pick 5 on Saturday returned $814 for each correct ticket, despite the fact that none of the five winners went off at higher than 9-2 odds, with two of the victorious performers sent off at 5-2 on the board. Later on in that program, the Pick 4 paid a juicy $1,105 for each 20-cent investment with 9-5 favorite Royal Mistress being surrounded by Lookslikewemadeit ($25), Bobby Dazzler ($16) and Joltin Joe ($13) completing the sequence. Using the regular takeout, rate the Pick 4 on Friday would have come back $3,530 a difference of $420 on each winning combination. On Saturday, the Pick 5 would have returned $726 instead of $814, a difference of $88 per ticket, while the Pick 4 payout would have been $986 instead of $1,105, meaning $119 extra went to each winner. Getting back to Bobby Dazzler, who accounted for last Saturday's main event, hats off to trainer Kathie Plested who did a great job getting George McChrystal's 7-year-old ready for a big mile with Mooney Svendsen giving directions in his first appearance since mid-December. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

After facing some tough company in the Open ranks, Royal Mistress got some class relief last week and responded with a solid harness racing victory for James Kennedy. She's back with the Open group on Friday night at Cal Expo Harness. The 6-year-old Canadian import is owned by Kevin Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and was winning for the third time in the five appearances since she joined forces with Kennedy. "She's got a big heart and a real good finish," James related when asked about the mare. "I really appreciate Gordie giving me so many live drives." The first two teamings with Royal Mistress resulted in victories in conditioned company, then she stepped up to the Open ranks for her next two starts and had to settle for minor awards behind divisional leaders Alwaysalittlemore and Virgin Eyes. "Those are a couple of real nice mares and she did have some poor cover the first time she raced at that level," her pilot noted. Returning to conditioned competition for last week's assignment, Royal Mistress was dispatched as the 9-5 choice and left little doubt, coming first over on the backside and going on to a clear-cut decision. "It really wasn't the plan to come out that soon, but the leader really backed up the pace and I didn't have much choice," Kennedy said. "She was awfully strong that night and just kept going." Alwaysalittlemore, Virgin Eyes do battle Alwaysalittlemore, who is seeking her third straight victory; and Virgin Eyes, who has been her most immediate victim in those last two outings, head the cast for Friday night's featured $5,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There will also be a trio of California Sire Stakes for 4-year-olds to be decided as non-betting races prior to the regular card. Alwaysalittlemore is a 6-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin who races for Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith, takes her lessons from Edward Hernandez and will once again have Luke Plano at the helm. The bay mare went a lifetime-best 1:52 3/5 mile when taking the measure of an Open II field on January 18, then came back last week and every pole a winning one in the Open, holding safe by a half-length over Virgin Eyes. The latter is a dark-hued 5-year-old mare who carries the banner of Aleksandra Karl with Jacob Fox doing the driving and training. She has been runner-up in her last three appearances, completing the exacta behind Alwaysalittlemore in the last pair. Completing the cast are Brighten Your Life with James Marshall IV; Dancingonthesand, Mooney Svendsen; Shock N Awe with Nick Roland; Royal Mistress, James Kennedy; and Brian's Magic Girl, who leave from the cozy rail slot with Gerry Longo. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Edwin Quevedo experienced something earlier this year that had never happened before - he found himself at the top of the trainer standings here at Cal Expo Harness. "It felt good, it felt really good," said the conditioner. Quevedo has been sending out a steady stream of winners since the meet begin in November, none more impressive than the 4-year-old pacer Heza Real Diamond, who has been trading blows with the classy Allmyx'sliventexas at the head of the class. The son of Allamerican Native carries the banner of Orlando Nevarez and been steadily climbing the ranks here, culminating with a win in the January 17 Open over Allymx'sliventexas before just missing to that rival in their most recent clash at the top rung. "It's been very satisfying to what the way he's developed," related his mentor. "He's gone some big races lately." Edwin also has also been making his share of winner's circle appearances with performers like Western Devil and Giggle Monster, who have been turning in some strong miles of their own. And what about when this meet ends in April? "I plan to go back to Minnesota and Running Aces again," Quevedo said. "After that, I just might try my luck back East, something I've never done before." Bettor In The Bank eyes a curtain call Bettor In The Bank, fresh from a solid victory as the odds-on choice last week, looks to keep the momentum going in Saturday night's $5,000 pacing headliner. The main event is scheduled as the 10th contest on the Watch and Wager LLC program with things getting under way at 6:10 p.m. A 10-year-old son of Bettor Tuwin, Bettor In The Bank carries the banner of Debra McCarthy and hails from the Gordie Graham barn. He comes into this assignment with 48 wins from his 192 starts with $244,000 in his account and sports a 1:51 3/5 mark that was set her two years ago. Sent off the 3-5 choice in last week's outing with James Kennedy handling the lines, the McCarthy representative sat a tracking trip to the lane, ignited when the question was asked and won going away by two lengths without being asked for his best. Sire Mammo is looking to make amends after being well beaten as the 4-5 favorite in a mile and a half get-together last week. La Bella Vita Stables owns the 8-year-old gelding and John Roberts does the driving and training. Completing the field are Swagasaurusrex, Buzz Light, Mister Hat, Coz And Effect, Dontdoubtthelakers, Bobby Dazzler and Blue Star Maverick. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

Allmyx'sliventexas and Heza Real Diamond, who have been putting on some great battles at the head of the class, get another chance to settle the score in Friday night's featured $6,700 Open Pace at Cal Expo Harness.. A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The headliner goes as the fourth contest on the evening with Allmyx'sliventexas leaving from the No. 9 slot and Heza Real Diamond from the 10 post in the field of six. Allmyx'sliventexas is a 7-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheel's who is owned and was bred by Wayne and Rod Knittel, takes his lessons from Bob Johnson and once again has Mooney Svendsen giving directions. The hard-hitting bay performer comes into this assignment with 36 wins from his 116 trips to the post with over $210,000 in his bank account and a 1:50 flat career standard that was established two years ago at Hoosier Park. Allmyx'sliventexas has posed for pictures following three of the last four top dances for the division, including last week when he sat the pocket behind Heza Real Diamond and was up by a nostril in a 1:50 2/5 tour. Heza Real Diamond is having a great meet with three snapshots from the last half-dozen starts for owner Orlando Nevarez and trainer Edwin Quevedo and Nick Roland will have a return assignment in the sulky. The Nevarez colorbearer has traded decisions with Allmyx'sliventexas in his last two starts, and on both occasions the horse who sat the two-hole behind the pacesetter has surged to get the victory in the final strides. Mr. Varsity, Part Time, King Of The Crop and Fox Valley Hoss complete the field. Key Word sparks low takeout wager There are two wagers here offered each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 and 20-cent Pick 4 - and taking a look at last Saturday's Pick 5 is a good example of the value added. Despite the sequence featuring winners that were 6-5, 7-5 and a pair of 2-1 shots, you toss in an 11-1 shot to kick off the proceedings and there is a nice $134 payoff for each correct 20-cent investment. Key Word was the catalyst in the evening's opener for veteran owner/driver/trainer Gerry Longo, as the 9-year-old pacer did the perfect track-and-attack from a cozy rail draw to pick up his first snapshot of the season. In the night's third race it was Allmyx'sliventexas for the Knittel/Johnson/Svendsen team returning to his winning ways in the Open Pace, hanging a nose decision on arch-rival Heza Real Diamond after being collared by that rival in their previous meeting. That was followed by another dynamite performance by Alwaysalittle more in the Filly and Mare Open as this gal seems to have really found her stride for owners Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith, trainer Edwin Hernandez and pilot Luke Plano. The Pick 5 was rounded out by Bunkerhill Bill's virtual coast-to-coast tally in the Shelly Goudreau Final. The 9-year-old Michigan-bred goes about his business for the Haness Family and co-owner/trainer George Reider and has found a great partner in driver Dean Magee. By the way, the Pick 4 comes with a $40,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 pool on Fridays. Jump right in, the water's fine. by Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness      

With no winning tickets last Saturday night, there will be a carryover of $6,146 in Friday night's harness racing 20-cent Hi-Five with a $20,000-guaranteed gross pool. In addition, a reminder that both the 20-cent Pick 4 and 20-cent Pick 5 come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate each night. On Saturdays there is a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool, with a $40,000 guarantee on Fridays. There are 12 races on tap Friday night under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event is the $8,100 Open Trot headed by Mandeville and Its a Horse. Mandeville is an 8-year-old son of Majestic Son who is owned, trained and driven by Gerry Longo. He comes into this assignment with 23 wins from his 120 lifetime appearances with $219,000 in the bank and a 1:54 2/5 standard. After encountering tough journeys in his previous three outings, including the Joe Lighthill Trot, Mandeville had smoother sailing in the most recent mile and one-half clash at the top rung as he prevailed by a length over favored Its A Horse, who was doing his work from the demanding No. 10 slot. Its A Horse is having an outstanding meet for owner Ray Alan Miller, trainer Marco Rios and pilot Dean Magee. He recorded a three-bagger between November 23 and December 13, including a convincing victory in the Lighthill and is always reliable for a strong finish. Horsemen remember Shelly Goudreau Saturday evening's Shelly Goudreau Pace is named for one of the most talented drivers to ever ply the trade. He passed away in a racing accident at Hollywood Park in 1982 at the age of 34. Steve Desomer drove with Goudreau during the six years that he raced in California and was competing with him in that fateful race at Hollywood Park. "I had the utmost respect for Shelly as both a great driver and a kind and personable man," Desomer said. "His brilliant career was cut way too short." Trainer George Reider will send out likely favorite Bunkerhill Bill in Saturday's headliner and recalls being impressed with Shelly Goudreau. "I was just a groom back then, but Shelly was a true gentleman and treated me as an equal. "He drove one horse I was taking care of by the name of Dalmead who was trained by Chip Lackey, and he beat the best horses on the grounds by open lengths." George also has another story to tell that still brings tears to his eyes all these years later. "The night before that terrible race, I had a horse racing named Kiwi Jane and I borrowed a piece of equipment from Joe Anderson called a jawbreaker, which goes through the bridle to help control the horse. "After the race, I gave it back to Joe. It turns out (trainer) Frank Ferrante borrowed the same bit the next night and used it for Reagan's Lad, which is the horse Shelly was driving. It broke and he fell off the back of the cart. It was so sad for everybody." By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness  

When the Open Trotters last got together a couple of weeks ago for a mile and one-half tour, it was Mandeville and veteran Gerry Longo who got the cheese at 9-1 that evening at Cal Expo Harness.. It was the first local score for the 8-year-old Mandeville after making some menacing noises at the head of the class, including a tough trip in the Joe Lighthill Trot in his previous outing. "I bought him in Kentucky late last year after he won back-to-back Opens at that new track," Longo related. "When I first got him, his feet were in pretty bad shape and he was racing with glue-on shoes. Between myself, the blacksmith Louie and my groom Oscar, we did lots of work on him and his foot finally grew out." In that last Open here on January 3, Mandeville made a brush to the lead midway and was then covered up by favored Its A Horse. Longo tracked that rival to the drive and then got the response he wanted when Mandeville motored by for the length decision. "As far as the mile and a half goes, everybody is in the same boat so that wasn't really a factor," Gerry said. "This horse is coming around now and it looks like we might have some fun with him." Saturday night's third race is named for longtime horseman and former racing official Jack Williams. Happy 90th birthday, Jack! Contentious distaff Pace has the spotlight A wide-open $6,200 Filly and Mare Open II Pace heads the Saturday night program with a full field of 10 set to face the starter. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with the action getting underway at 6:10 p.m. There are several ways to go in the main event, with trainer Kathie Plested appearing to hold a strong hand with Dancingonthesand and Capitol Hill representing the shedrow. The former is a long-fused daughter of A Rocknroll Dance who is owned by Alan Cooper and will have Mooney Svendsen doing the honors, while Capitol Hill is owned by the trainer and George McChrystal and has Steve Wiseman giving directions. Dancingonthesand comes into this assignment with 14 wins from her 57 appearances and established her 1:53 mark over this track last season. She should be coming strong at the end and will appreciate getting away from Brighten Your Life, who has won three straight at the head of the distaff pacing class. Capitol Hill has over $136,000 in her bank account and a 1:53 2/5 standard as she eyes the 25th snapshot of her career. She should be able to drop into a good stalking position this weekend and is always dangerous with her best mile. Taking on the Plested duo are Shock N Awe, Virgin Eyes, Royal Mistress, Exsqueezeme, Brian's Magic Girl, Marilyn, Hi Fidelity and Alwaysalittlemore. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Harness racing pacer Allmyx'sliventexas, who returned to his winning ways last week, heads the cast in Friday night's featured $7,200 Open Pace at Cal Expo Harness. A 12-race card is on tap under the Wager and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event goes as the ninth race of the evening. Allmyx'sliventexas is a 7-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel's who is owned by Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson conditioning and Mooney Svendsen in his usual position in the sulky. They depart from the outside slot in the field of eight. The hard-hitting California-bred comes into this assignment with 35 wins from his 114 appearances, $206,000 in his bank account and a 1:50 mark that was established two years ago at Hoosier Park. Allmyx'sliventexas started the meet with a string of impressive victories, but was then upset as the heavy favorite in the December 14 Dave Goldschmidt and suffered two more setbacks before returning to his winning ways in last week's clash at the top level. Sent off the 9-5 second choice in that affair, the Knittel colorbearer left from his outside post into a stalking position, attacked on the final bend and went on to a two-length score in a 1:52 1/5 tour. Taking him on Friday are Part Time with Gerry Longo; King Of The Crop, Steve Wiseman; Almost Cut My Hair, Chip Lackey; Senga Nitro for Braxten Boyd; Merced Magic, Dave Magee; Mr. Varsity with Luke Plano; and Heza Real Diamond, who leave from the rail with Nick Roland at the helm. Low Takeout wagers Offer true value There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 on the first five events and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 now comes with a $40,000 guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guarantee on Fridays. To see the true value these bets offer, you need go to only to last Friday night's Pick 5 that kicked off proceedings and that $1,504 return for every correct 20-cent investment. The middle three winners were 6-5 Cenalta Gory, 9-5 Brighten Your Life and 8-5 Hagginatthebeach, with the sequence being completed by Fire Dance, who returned $12 to her backers. The catalyst, of course, was the first race victory by Lodi Eat My Dust, who posted a $66 surprise while giving owner/trainer/driver Pierre Girard his initial victory of the meeting. The 4-year-old homebred, co-owned by Mary Harris, had been failing to menace over off tracks, but got fast footing for this assignment and rode a second-over trip to the length decision. Be sure to take a long look at both the Pick 4 and Pick 5 each night, with that added bonus of the reduced 16 percent takeout and the chance to make a nice score by stringing together the winning sequence. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Braxten Boyd is one of the new names on the Cal Expo harness racing program, as the 19-year-old Michigan native is getting his first taste of California racing. "I grew up around the horses on my father's farm, and I knew I wanted to be in racing from about the time I was in Kindergarten," Braxten related. Boyd recorded his first victory as a 17-year-old on the Michigan fairs, with his initial pari-mutuel score coming this past summer at Running Aces behind his father Brett's top performer Bestinthebusiness After getting his initial racing education from his dad, Braxten apprenticed under Gene Miller in Minnesota. Ed and Willie Hernandez were two of the most encouraging people when it came to his decision to give California a try. "They said this track was a great place to learn," Braxten related. "On a mile track, you have the chance to wait for the last quarter, which isn't usually the case on a half-mile or five-eighths track." Boyd is currently working here with the Nick Roland shedrow and looking to pick up as many catch drives as he can. So far he's made a half-dozen trips to the Cal Expo winner's circle and is looking forward to more. (use as a reverse box with no headline) There are two wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 comes with a $30,000 guaranteed gross pool on Fridays and a $40,000 guarantee on Saturdays. Open Pace brings out contentious cast The last four clashes at the head of the pacing class have seen four different winners, with last week's upsetter Almost Cut My Hair looking to do an encore in Saturday's $7,200 Open Pace. The headliner goes as the fourth event on a 12-race card that is presented under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC and things get underway at 6:10 p.m. Almost Cut My Hair is a 6-year-old son of Barber Pole who is owned by Hank Wieseneck, Martin Garey and Bob Johnson with Johnson the conditioner and Chip Lackey back at the controls. He rattled off a hat trick versus softer company in November, had to settle for minor awards in the next two appearances, then pulled off the 33-1 surprise in last week's top dance for the pacing set. Leaving from the cozy rail in that large cast, Almost Cut My Hair tracked to the lane, then ignited when the question was asked by Lackey to be up by a neck over fellow longshot Senga Nitro. With Senga Nitro going off at 42-1 and 16-1 Marced Magic rounding out the Trifecta, it returned a whopping $1,669 for each correct 20-cent ticket. Senga Nitro and Marced Magic will once again be in the line-up along with Buzz Light, Timetoplaythegame and To The Limit, while Allmyx'liventexas has the outside post as that classy performer looks to get back on the winning track. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

La Diva De Rosa finished up the 2019 harness racing season in style at Cal Expo Harness, as the mare did the track-and-attack to perfection on December 27 to record her 22nd lifetime victory for owner/breeder Cindy Tupper, trainer Richard Bertrand and pilot Jacob Cutting. The newly-turned 9-year-old distaffer has over $90,000 in earnings and sports a 1:53 career standard. She starts from post seven in the first on Saturday. "She's turned out to be my lucky number three," said Cindy when asked about the bay homebred. "She's the third foal out of Keystone Rosedale, who we call Rosie, by Little Steven. "She was born on June 3, 2011 and has been performing very well. She set her lifetime mark here on April 2, 2018, with Ryan Grundy driving." La Diva De Rosa prefers to save her best for last, which was the case in that victory two starts back over a good track. "Jacob said she's a pleasure to drive, doesn't do anything wrong and gives her all," said a proud Tupper. "She's a small mare, but she's mighty when she races!" There are two wagers offered here each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 comes with a $30,000 guaranteed gross pool on Fridays and a $40,000 guarantee on Saturdays. Brighten Your Life eyes a hat trick Brighten Your Life, fresh from back-to-back scores, looks to keep the momentum going in Friday night's featured $6,700 Filly and Mare Open. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with first post at 6:10 p.m. The main event goes as the third contest on the evening. Brighten Your Life is a 7-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture who is owned by Tyler Gunderson and Jenna Cornelison with Cornelison training and James Marshall IV once again doing the honors. In last week's assignment, Marshall shot right to the front with the dark-hued mare and the issue was never in doubt as she came to the wire with three lengths to score as the 7-2 third choice. Brighten Your Life did her work from the No. 5 slot in a seven-horse field that night and is now asked to depart from the outside post in a field of six.' Danciningthesound put in her usual strong finish in last week's clash at this level, but had to settle for the place money for the second straight time. The Alan Cooper colorbearer is conditioned by Kathie Plested and will once again have Mooney Svendsen guiding. Completing the line-up are Virgin Eyes with Jacob Fox; Capitol Hill, Steve Wiseman; Shock N Awe, who will have the services of Nick Roland; and Brian's Magic Girl, who leaves from the cozy rail with Gerry Longo giving directions. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

Jacob Cutting is one of the new faces at Cal Expo Harness, hailing from Alberta, Canada and he is also one of the youngest at just 18 years old. Jacob has ventured down with seven horses, including a couple of babies, and his first two Cal Expo victories have come with his 3-year-old pacing mare Paloma Ruiz. She was 50-1 when she dead-heated for the score on December 6, then was a much more reasonable price when she came right back with a score as a 5-2 shot. Paloma Ruiz returned last weekend to post a solid runner-up finish and Jacob added another snapshot to his resume last weekend when he guided La Diva De Rosa to a $14 victory for owner/breeder Cynthia Tupper and trainer Richard Bertrand. "A lot of my family, including my dad, is involved in harness racing," related Cutter, who recorded his first trip to the winner's circle this past August up in the Great White North. "I've always been into sports, and I pretty much knew from an early age that I wanted to be in harness racing." And the main reason Jacob came down to Cal Expo? "The warm weather," he said without missing a beat. "Right now, it's 20 below back home." As far as his impressions of the Sacramento track, Cutting has nothing but nice things to say. "The people have been very welcoming, the track is great and so is the backside." Right back at you, Jacob. King Of The Crop gets class relief King Of The Crop, who captured the Dave Goldschmidt Pace on December 14, drops into a cozy conditioned spot and heads the cast for Saturday night's $5,000 pacing feature. There will be 12 races presented by Watch and Wager LLC and things get underway at 6:10 p.m. King Of The Crop is a now 9-year-old son of Little Steven who campaigns for Don and Barbara Arnstine, Steve Chambers and Kathie Plested, is conditioned by Plested and will once again have the services of Steve Wiseman. The hard-hitting performer comes into this assignment with 28 wins from his 159 trips to the post, he has banked $206,000 and he established his lifetime mark of 1:50 4/5 two years ago at Pompano Park. Sent off at 8-1 in the Goldschmidt three weeks ago over a track labelled "good", King Of The Crop was ultra-game as he came first over and wore down heavily-favored Allmyx'sliventexas that evening to prevail by a half-length. Lining up against him this weekend, from the rail out: Some Playa, Blue Star Maverick, Bestinthebusiness, Mystic Ruler, Pancetta, Contemporary Legend, Dependlebury A, Vicious Aloicious and Mister Hat. There are two wagers offered each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 will now feature a $40,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guarantee on Fridays. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

California Rock, a winner of five of his seven starts at the harness racing meet, looms the overwhelming favorite in Friday night's featured $9,700 Robert Gordon Pace at Cal Expo Harness. The main event is named for the noted driver/trainer and track executive who passed away at the age of 65 in 2006. A 13-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 5:50 p.m. There will also be an Open Pace featuring a full field and a mile and one-half Open Trot headed by Its a Horse. California Rock is a now 4-year-old son of Rockin Image who competes for Schwartz, Wilkinson, Axelrod and O'Neill with Junior Wilkinson the conditioner and Luke Plano at the controls. In last week's Robert Gordon Prep, he proved a punctual 4-5 favorite over the track labelled "good" as he was used to the lead past the quarter and took control of things from that point, reporting to the wire with four lengths to spare. Taking him on Friday are Rue Hanover with Chip Lackey; Lickcreek Speedway, James Kennedy; Cenalta Dragster, Mooney Svendsen; Explainotcomplain with Nick Roland; and Platinum Time, who leaves from the outside slot with Steve Wiseman at the helm. There are two wagers offered each night with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 will now feature a $40,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guarantee on Fridays. Part Time turns into overtime Part Time came from left field both literally and figuratively when he flew home with veteran Gerry Longo to post a $45 upset in last week's Open Pace. He goes about his business for owner Scott Ehrlich and trainer Kathie Plested. "Back in 2015, I would always watch the races from one of my old stomping grounds, Balmoral Park, and every week, Part Time would be closing fastest of all," Ehrlich noted. "So, I put him in my virtual stable so I could follow him, which included Hawthorne, where he would also close well. Since I love to own closers, I wanted to have him for myself, but he was never in a claiming race. "When I did check into purchasing him privately, I was told the owner, who was also the breeder, wouldn't sell. As a result, the horse would be forced to move up in class, which resulted in his being overmatched a good amount of the time." Fast forward to early January of 2019, where Part Time shows up in a $4,000 claimer at Pompano. "Okay, why, after all these years, is he in the lowest claimer he can be?" Scott mused. "He finished third, and the next week he's in for a $5,000 tag, so we didn't claim him. The following week, he's back in for $4,000, and we did." In May the decision was made to send him from Hoosier Park to Running Aces, into the Kathie Plested/Steve Wiseman stable. After a well-deserved rest and a change of scenery, he became the closer that had caught Ehrlich's eye a few years earlier, included three wins where he dramatically came from last over that five-eighths mile oval with a stretch that isn't that long "With Cal Expo on the horizon, Steve suggested I not race him the last three weeks of Running Aces, for two reasons," Scott explained. "First, we heard he was going to get claimed and second, Steve wanted me to not only see this horse on the mile track where we all knew he'd excel, but he also wanted me to get to know him, as Part Time is a very sweet animal. "And now, I'm lucky enough have a horse who has won the Open. I can't be thankful enough to Kathie, Steve, and their solid crew of dedicated hard workers." By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

If you're keeping track, that's three straight wins at the head of the class for Its a Horse, including the Joe Lighthill Trot two weeks ago at Cal Expo Harness.  Ray Alan Miller's colorbearer, who takes his lessons from Marco Rios and has been guided in each of those scores by Dean Magee, had no trouble with the sloppy going in the Lighthill and reported home with two and three-quarter lengths to spare that evening. "The owner bought this horse last year and turned him out for sixth months, then I got him," Rios related when asked about the soon-to-be 7-year-old Ohio-bred. With his last tally, he is closing in on the $100,000 earnings plateau. Its a Horse likes to relax early and save his best for last, although in his last two wins he made his moves earlier than usual and actually had the lead by the time they hit the stretch on both occasions. "If you look at the races going back to when he was at Northfield Park, he was racing on the lead, but we were able to teach him a different style and it's worked very well," Marco noted. "As far as the sloppy track last time, I was a little concerned, but he had trained so well all week I still had a lot of confidence." Rios acknowledged that having veteran Magee at the controls is a major plus. "He knows all about the flow of the race, and if he feels he has to move early, he does it. The horse is very sharp right now and it's been very satisfying." Virgin Eyes seeking encore in main event Virgin Eyes, fresh from a game win over a sloppy track two weeks ago, attempts a curtain call in Saturday night's $6,200 Filly and Mare Open II Pace. The headliner will go as the eighth of 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post at 6:10 p.m. A 4-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin, Virgin Eyes has turned in two big efforts since arriving from the East for owner Aleksandra Karl and Jacob Fox. In a needed local debut on November 29 she rallied smartly for the place spot despite suffering poor cover. In her most recent assignment over the wet going, Virgin Eyes brushed to the lead for Fox past the quarter, withstood a strong challenge on the final turn and prevailed by a length as the 5-2 choice. Marilyn was a strong runner-up that evening after posting nice tallies versus softer competition in her previous two appearances. Mark Anderson owns, Gordie Graham trains and James Kennedy has the return assignment. Dancingonthesand is a long-fused mare who will certainly have her share of backers off her two solid victories with this group last month. The Alan Cooper-owned, Kathie Plested-trained disaffer has Mooney Svendsen guiding from the No. 7 slot in the field of nine. Completing the cast are Shock N Awe, Capitol Hill, Magnifique, Brighten Your Life, Morgangetsherway and Cenalta Glory. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness        

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