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Columbus, MN - The Tuesday evening harness racing program at Running Aces was highlighted by a track record performance in the two year old fillies trot and a return to the winner's circle for one of the top pacing mares at the meet. The program got underway in style when Susie's Sister, a Claudius Augustus filly posted a dominating gate-to-wire win in the $13,800 Minnesota-Sired two year old "Class A" trot in 1:59.4 to equal the track record set by SB Madam Secretary on August 20. Driver Don Harmon sent Susie's Sister quickly off the gate from post five to take the early lead, after an early skirmish with SB Madam Secretary (Darrell Wright) who had to settle for the pocket. Susie's Sister was the heavy favorite and dominated the entire affair and was never in doubt, posting fractions of :30.1, 1:01.1 and 1:30.1 and leaving plenty left in the tank to trot home strong and draw away by 2-1/4 lengths and post the record mile over co record-holder and second favorite SB Madam Secretary. Longshot Go Margeaux was home in third at 88-1 to spice up the ($229.80) trifecta. Susie's Sister ($2.80) now has 8 wins in eleven career trips to the gate, and has bankrolled $34,718. The winning owners are Lynchris, LLC and the winning trainer is Don Harmon. Juslikeaqueen (Dean Magee) also posted a dominating effort in the $14,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace, to record her tenth win of the season with a ¾-length score in 1:53.4 over Amasa Arion (Rick Magee) and Dancingonthesand (Steve Wiseman). Juslikeaqueen ($5.60) sprinted from the gate from post six and always looked like the winner despite heavy first-over pressure from PV Miracle Mary (Darrell Wright). Amasa Arion saved ground throughout and was clearly second best, while Dancingonthesand (Steve Wiseman) also saved ground and was a game third. Juslikeaqueen now shows 27 career wins and has just eclipsed the $300,000 mark in career earnings with this week's winning performance. The winning owner is Antonia Storer, and the winning trainer is Tim Maier. The other two year old winners on the program were: Huftalookatdatfany (Dean Magee) in 2:04 in the $5,750 MN 2 YO Fillies "B" Pace, Scarlett Ruby ($6.40, Dean Magee) in the $8,625 MN 2 YO Fillies "A" Pace in 1:59.2, Double My Decker ($3.60, Rick Magee) in the $9,200 MN 2 YO "B" Trot in 2:02.1, and Bunkerhill Phil ($3.00, Don Harmon) in the $8,625 MN 2 YO colts & geldings Pace in 1:56.3. Dean Magee led the Tuesday program with 3 winners, while Rick Magee, Nick Roland, and Don Harmon all picked up driving doubles. Live Racing returns to Running Aces on Saturday (September 7) with local post time at 6:00 pm, and features two Carryovers: $5,013.70 in the 20 cent Pick-5 Jackpot, and $3,054.48 in the 50 cent Hi-5. By Darin Gagne, for Running Aces

Columbus, MN - The Saturday night (July 21) Harness Racing program at Running Aces featured two big races for Minnesota Sired or Owned horses. he $25,000 Trot event was dominated by Doug's Hobby Horse, a 6 year old mare by Claudius Augustus who is owned by Rick Bertrand and Doug Flores. Driver Lemoyne Svendsen wasted little time with Doug's Hobby Horse, firing quickly from post six in the nine horse affair, to engage in an early battle with French Eclipse (James Kennedy) for the lead, but Doug's Hobby horse had the most speed and cleared for the front, with outsider Majestic Lady Jo (Steve Wiseman) getting away sharply to drop into the pocket spot. Doug's Hobby Horse ($8.20) was never in doubt, as she maintained a solid lead throughout and coasted home a two length winner in 1:56.4 with a 29.1 final stanza. The winner now shows 6 wins in 23 starts and earnings of $35,718 for the season. Al Mar Bon Bon (Brian Detgen) closed well for second, and Al Mar Reba Babe (Gerald Longo) was a solid third. The $25,000 MN Preferred Pace event went to heavily favored Stuckey Dote, a 5 year old gelding by Voracious Hanover who made a pilgrimage back to Running Aces for this event after spending the last two seasons racing primarily in Ohio. Stuckey Dote was Champion 3 year old pacer here in 2016, and is no stranger to the local winner's circle. From post three in the nine horse contest, Driver Nick Roland floated his charge away in third position, and got rolling just past the fast 26.4 quarter pole clocking. Stuckey Dote swept right to the front and controlled things from there, well in command of the field as they completed the half in 55.3 and the three-quarters in 1:24.2. In the lane, a late challenge came from Swagasaurusrex (Gerald Longo) but Stuckey Dote ($3.00) was able to fend off that rival by a neck in 1:52.2 for his sixth win of the season for owner Merlin Van Oterloo and trainer Brett Ballinger. Early race leader Make It Big (Steve Wiseman) was a game third, and Whatchyastarinat (James Kennedy) closed sharply for fourth money. Sunday (July 22) at Running Aces features the $50,000 Dan Patch Free-For-All Final, sponsored by Watch and Wager. Post time for the 10 race program is 6:00 pm CDT and also offers a $10,000 Guaranteed Late Pick-4 wager, which kicks off in the featured event in race 7. by Darin Gagne', for Running Aces 

The Saturday evening harness racing program at Running Aces was highlighted by another stellar performance from trotter CW Raisinette, who posted her 4th straight win in front running style from post 8 in a $6,400 conditioned event. Driver Steve Wiseman sent her confidently from the outside of the gate and they were never in doubt, opening up around the final turn and widening in the stretch to post a 6 length romp in a career best time of 1:56.4. CW Raisinette ($6.60) is a 4 year old mare by Claudius Augustus and is onwed by A Piece Of The Action LLC., and trained by Kathie Plested-Wiseman.   Whatitdo Babyboo ($3.80) was also razor sharp tonight, sweeping from last to first yet again for her third straight triumph in the $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 year old pace. Steve Wiseman has been in the sulky for all 3 in the current win streak for the very talented filly by Voracious Hanover, who stopped the clock in 1:54.2 tonight for win number five in nine starts this season, it was also her 12th lifetime tally in just 18 career starts for Van Oterloo Stables and new trainer Brett Ballinger.   Bestinthebusiness ($3.60) posted a dominating win in a $4,000 conditioned pace with driver James (J.D.) Yoder in the bike for trainer Gene Miller and Owner Brett Boyd Racing, Inc. The classy 9 year old pacer by Another Mile floated away in third from post two in a 7 horse affair, then swept first-over to the lead just past the halfway point. Once the field turned for home Yoder and Bestinthebusiness turned on the afterburners to draw away from the rest by 5 1/2 lengths in a dazzling 1:51.1 mile. Tonight's eye-opening performance was the 36th lifetime victory for the winner of $359,420.   Drivers Dean Magee and Steve Wiseman both turned in driving doubles on the Saturday program, and the Leading Driver race has become very exciting over the past week, with Nick Roland and Steve Wiseman tied once again at 63 wins each with just over 1 month to go in the 2017 season.   The .20 cent Pick 5 Jackpot wager continues to grow rapidly, and now stands at $31,428.03 for the Sunday (August 13) program. There is also a carryover of $1,833.42 in the Hi-5 wager for race 10 on Sunday, with first post at 6:00 pm CDT.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

With her victory in last week's Sire Stakes, Kissed The Boys now has the distinction of being a harness racing stakes winner on both the trot and the pace. Kissed The Boys is a 4-year-old Desomer Stables homebred daughter of Claudius Augustus, who passed away last month, out of the multiple stakes-winner and outstanding producer Charlotte's Web. A Sire Stakes winner last season while doing her work as a trotter, the bay miss has switched over the pacing for her current campaign and got the job done in the first stakes dance for that group with veteran Steve Desomer in the sulky. "We've had trotters that were bred to pace and pacers that were bred to trot," Vickie explained, "but this is the first time we've had a horse win stakes races on both gaits. "Steve has always been enthusiastic about Kissed The Boys. She has the same staying power as her siblings, but has had some issues behind the gate. He felt that if she could get away safely the other night, she would be competitive." Kissed The Boys just did that and was able to get the job and earn another trophy in a race that did see her rivals get in some trouble behind her at the head of the stretch. Vickie noted that this was the first pacer for Charlotte's Web, who has been represented by stakes-winning trotters Silverlode, Cadet and Placer. "Sadly, Charlotte failed to get in foal to Claudius Augustus last year and she was bred to Ice Machine," she added. Open Trot, Sophomore Sire Stakes on tap A $6,000 Open Trot featuring Silverlode and the first California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacers headline Saturday evening's program at Cal Expo. There will be 13 races with a first post of 6:15 p.m. The Open Trot is scheduled as the third on the card and the two California Sire Stakes will be non-betting contests prior to the regular program. Silverlode is an 8-year-old homebred daughter of British Sterling who races for Team Desomer and will have Luke Plano at the controls. She has captured three of the six Open Trots decided at this meet, finishing second behind Flameon in the other three top dances. Taking her on this weekend are barnmate Cadet, My Little Susie, Lodi Dorian Blues, Windsun Galaxe and Franky Provolone. Looking at the Sire Stakes for pacing colts, Army of One is a homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel's out of the Artsplace mare Aftermath who carries the banner and Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen in the sulky. After getting a good tightener in his January 14 unveiling here, the bay performer has come back with two huge efforts. He earned his graduation papers on January 27 when he sat a pocket trip for Svendsen and proved strongest in the stretch for a length and a quarter score with a 1:57 3/5 clocking. Wheeled back last weekend, Army Of One hooked up with a sharp Indiana invader in Gorgeous For Real and turned in another giant mile, missing by only a half-length to that 2-5 favorite in a sharp 1:54 3/5 tour of the Cal Expo oval. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Claudius Augustus, t,5 ,1:53.3m, $305,889 out of the Speedy Claude mare, Claudes Last Lady succumbed to colic this past week. Bred and raised by the late Dr.Gary Budahn and his wife Debra, Claudius made his mark not only on the harness racing track but also in the breeding shed in California and Minnesota. Whether racing from behind or on the front end, Claudius showed his grit and speed appearing in the winner’s circle 28 times out of 74 lifetime starts. Along with his laid back temperament, Claudius passed on his traits to his offspring, making him a favorite in California while standing stud. With outstanding Sires stakes champions, My Little Susie t,3 1:56.4f $75,363 and Cadet t,4 1:56.4m $38,796, Sandy’s Song t,4 1:57.4 $58,956.  Keeping him in the family, Claudius was shipped to Nancy and Larry Jenson of Iowa to stand in the now rising Minnesota sires stakes. Nancy is the sister to the late Dr. Gary Budahn. Ironically, Cal Expo in Sacramento, California is hosting the Gary Budahn series this week with the final racing this friday in memory of the veterinarian who not only had many outstanding horses racing in California but was a top track vet for over 35 years along with being a CHHA president for many years. Robin Clements CHHA director

One of the featured events on the Wednesday night harness racing card at Running Aces was the $11,000 Fillies & Mares Open Trot, and it would be the 3 year old filly My Little Susie (by Claudius Augustus) who would re-write the record books in the contest tonight, with her 1:56.4 victory over older mares. Heavily favored in the wagering, My Little Susie was away unhurried early in the mile as several others vied for the early positions, Trainer/Driver Steve Wiseman was content to steer his filly over to the pylons in fifth early, and let the race set up, they waited patiently through the fractions of 28.4 and 59.3 before making a sweeping move to the lead at the three-quarter pole in 1:28.2, from there she stormed home in 28.2 and was never in doubt. Flashy lady (Tim Maier) was second in the mile and Trot Fudge Sundae (another Aces record-holder) was third with Rick Magee in the bike. My Little Susie is Owned by A Piece of The Action, LLC. She paid $2.40 at the windows. The other featured event was the $15,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 year old Trot, and it was another filly Silent Dreams (2:04.2) who recorded another impressive win over the boys with Dean Magee in the sulky, in fact the two fillies in the field dominated the proceedings for the second consecutive week, with ImaPixieAtMidnight (Nick Roland) setting the fractions and Silent Dreams trotting by in the stretch to win by 2 lengths, which is exactly what happened last week as well. This was the 4th win in just 5 lifetime starts for Silent dreams, owned by Glen & Jody Wilson. She has now earned $31,400, and she paid just $2.10 as the heavy favorite in the field. Another impressive performance among many this night was MJ's Last Dance ($7.60), an 8 year old mare by Electric Yankee who posted her 24th lifetime win with Trainer/Driver Luke Plano in the sulky, establishing a new lifetime mark of 1:53.1 in the process. This talented mare was sharp off the gate from the rail position in the 6 horse field, and dominated the proceedings with fractions of 28.3, 57.1 and 125.0 before sprinting home in 28.1 and leaving her rivals behind. She was never in doubt and cruised to the wire with a 1¼ length tally. She now sports $186,782 in career purse earnings for Owners Christopher Schick and Mary Ann Plano. She was named as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson by her breeder, Virginia Schick. Driver Steve Wiseman had another big night, posting a Hat-Trick on The card. The Running Aces product continues to build, and we posted a new record for Wednesday Live Racing this evening. Thank you to all of our loyal Aces fans, and all of our newest fans as well. The next card of Live Harness Racing action will go to post on Saturday, August 6 at 6:00 pm CDT. By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer  

My Little Susie, who accounted for the first two harness racing stakes dances for the division; and Kissed The Boys, who upset her in the most recent big-money clash two weeks ago, get another chance to settle the score in Saturday night's $15,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters. An 11-race card will be presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with the action starting at 6:15 p.m.. The Sire Stakes will go as second event on the evening. My Little Susie is by Claudius Augustus out of the S J's Photo mare Sue's Photo and she goes about her business for A Piece Of the Action LLC with Gene Vallandingham training and Chip Lackey in the sulky. The bay miss left little doubt in the first two stakes for this group in February, on both occasions sitting a tracking trip to the lane and then igniting when it counted to win going away. The most recent Sire Stakes was decided over a sloppy track two weeks ago and this time it was Kissed The Boys prevailing for Team Desomer, while My Little Susie had to settle for the place money as the 3-5 favorite. Kissed The Boys is a homebred who is also by Claudius Augustus who has won three of her seven starts, with each of those decisions coming over an off track with veteran Steve Desomer at the controls. Rounding out the field are Lodi Bank Robber, Delta Breezeoflodi, Sixtringsandapick and CW Raisinette. ******* There will be no live racing Easter Sunday, with next week returning to the regular Saturday and Sunday night schedule. By Mark Ratzky  

Kissed The Boys picked up her first trophy Sunday night at Cal Expo for Steve and Vicki Desomer, splashing home by a length and three-quarters over heavily-favored My Little Susie in the third round of Sire Stakes action for the harness racing 3-year-old trotters. The Claudius Augustus homebred kicked off her career with two sharp victories in January, but had pretty much been her own worst enemy in the ensuing four appearances before relocating the charmed enclosure last weekend and earning a red blanket in the process. "I was happy she was able to get away from the gate well," Steve related. "She needs a lot of schooling, but her timing was good. Once she comes away from there she's pretty reliable. She has a lot of tenacity, especially on an off track." As far as the name goes, Vickie explained that her mother used to like to recite the little ditty about Georgie Porgy, and it's a play on the part about him "Kissing the girls and making them cry". For the record, Kissed The Boy's win last Sunday saw her making three fillies cry along with one colt. She is now three-for-three when the track is something other than fast. There was another interestingly-named performers who had his picture on Sunday, as Flameon prevailed in the Stan Bergstein Trot, taking full advantage of a break by 1-2 favorite Northern Stormont. Fans of the Marvel Comics superhero The Human Torch will recall that when Johnny Storm is ready to turn into the Torch, he shouts "Flame On!" That's exactly what the equine version did in the slop last weekend with Chip Lackey taking him coast-to-coast. Hi Ho Houdini, Full Moon Rising clash Hi Ho Houdini, who has rattled off four straight victories, including two Sire Stakes and the Marvin Shapiro Pace, takes on last week's winner at this level Full Moon Rising in Sunday evening's feature. There will be 12 races presented and the action starts at 5:05 p.m. The $3,800 headliner goes as the fifth event with a field of eight set to face starter Kenny Fowler. Hi Ho Houdini is a 4-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheel's from the Park Place mare Holls Park who races for Lujuanna Lopez, takes his lessons from Gordie Graham and will once again have the driving services of Luke Plano. A winner of seven of his eight lifetime appearances, Hi Ho Houdini was last seen two weeks ago proving a punctual 2-5 favorite in Sire Stakes company. Racing over a sloppy track, He did the track-and-attack to perfection for Plano and prevailed by two and three-quarters lengths over Uringoodhands that night. Full Moon Rising looms the main rival for owners Rick and Marlene Thomas, trainer George Reider and pilot David Siegel. The 5-year-old son of Little Steven has posed for pictures following three of his last four trips to the post, including a solid score under these conditions last weekend over an off track. A reminder there are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which features a 25 percent minor pool payout; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $40,000-guaranteed pool on Saturdays and a $25,000 guarantee on Sundays. Next week will find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20, with no live racing on Easter Sunday, March 21. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness  

Last weekend saw some pretty wild weather here at Cal Expo and David Siegel was one of the drivers right in the middle of it, making winner's circle appearances on Saturday with Moon Is on Fire and Outlawdangruswatrs. "This past weekend's conditions were perhaps the most challenging I have faced in my short career," said Siegel, whose day job is as President of TrackMaster. "For openers, what can make things really dicey is the physical condition of the track. The drivers agreed that the track crew did an outstanding job with the surface both nights. Given those conditions, we did not see how the track could be better prepared. "During the race, the most challenging aspect of driving is visibility and hearing. The winds on Saturday made hearing difficult. Every driver has his own methods for dealing with visibility. I happen to use special moto-cross goggles which look really funny, but they allow me to see pretty well which helps me feel safely confident." Siegel also pointed out that preparation is a key when driving any race, especially one where the weather and track conditions add to the variables. "A sharp driver will look at a horse's lines or ask the trainer about how the horse is on an off-track as some really like it, and some perform predictably poorly. In addition, how the wind is blowing also plays a major role in strategy. It is logical that into a head wind you would prefer to draft and certainly not be in front. "On the flip side, if you are not near the lead in a fierce stretch head wind like we had on Saturday, you have little chance to gain much ground. So while that matters for the last quarter, it affects how you think about position throughout the race." Stan Bergstein Trot, Sire Stakes head marquee The $10,000 Stan Bergstein Trot, which finds Northern Stormont seeking his sixth straight victory, and a $15,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters featuring My Little Susie are center stage Sunday at Cal Expo. First post is 5:05 p.m. Northern Stormont is razor sharp right now and strictly the one to beat in the Stan Bergstein. A 5-year-old son of Earl Of Stormont, he races for George McCrystal, Mark Kremen and Scott Ehrlich with Steve Wiseman reining and training. Northern Stormont has used his powerful late kick to make five straight trips to the charmed enclosure, with the last three seeing the Wiseman charge overcoming the assigned No. 10 post position. He lands the rail for Sunday's assignment. Looking at the Sire Stakes, My Little Susie is a daughter of Claudius Augustus from the S J's Photo mare Sue's Photo, My Little Susie carries the banner of A Piece Of The Action LLC with Gene Vallandingham the conditioner and Chip Lackey is his usual spot in the sulky. After a couple of needed efforts to start the year, the bay miss has been perfect in her last three trips to the post and has been putting her versatility on display in the course of those victories. My Little Susie started her streak by going coast-to-coast in the finale of the Alan Kirschenbaum series, then accounted for the first stakes dance of the season for this group on February 14 with a come-from-behind score. Sent off the 3-5 choice for the most recent stakes get-together two weeks ago, she did not disappoint her many backers as she sat the pocket trip to the stretch for Lackey and then drew off by four lengths while lowering her career standard to 1:57 2/5 in the process. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

If you're keeping track, when Cantoria proved a punctual favorite last week it was the seventh time at this harness racing meeting that the trotting mare has put in a winner's circle appearance. A 4-year-old daughter of Mr Cantab, Cantoria goes about her business for the partnership of Mark Benvenga, Larry Barker, Steve Wiseman and Kathy Plested with Wiseman doing the reining and training. The bay miss has shown a preference for sitting back and playing the role of stalker and doing her best work in the stretch, which was the case in last week's two and a quarter length decision in a lifetime best 1:58 clocking. Nobody is happier about the development of the sidewheeler than co-owner Benvenga. "It's been awesome to see her grow up since we purchased her last summer in Minnesota," he said. "She's filled out nicely, but still has a ways to go and is learning to be a real nice horse." As mentioned earlier, Cantoria hails from the Steve Wiseman shedrow, with that barn currently atop the standings at this meet. "Steve and Kathy have done a wonderful job with her, just as they have with all the horses," Benvenga noted. Cantoria gets a pretty stern test in Sunday's fourth race, as she moves up to the Open III level and is taking on some tough customers in Big Baller, Franks Best, Commandergalleon and Winsome Kelly. ******* A reminder there are two wagers here that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which features a 25 percent minor pool payout; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $40,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and $25,000 on Sundays. Trotting Sire Stakes lures My Little Susie A $15,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old trotters is the main attraction at Cal Expo Sunday night with My Little Susie looking to pick up another trophy. The Sire Stakes will go as the fifth event on a 12-race card under the banner of Watch and Wager LLC. The action is set to get underway at 5:05 p.m. . My Little Susie is a 3-year-old daughter of Claudius Augustus who competes forA Piece Of The Action LLC, takes her lessons from Gene Vallandingham and will once again be guided by Chip Lackey from the cozy rail slot. The promising performer won three of her 10 starts last year, with a 1:59 mark over the Red Mile in Lexington. She made her seasonal debut finishing third here in the Alan Kirschenbaum, had a tough trip at next asking and then accounted for the first Sire Stakes for this group two weeks ago. Sent off the 9-5 second choice in that affair, My Little Susie sat a tracking trip to the stretch, ignited when Lackey asked the question and won going away by two lengths while lowering her lifetime standard to 1:58 1/5 in the process. Kissed the Boys was runner-up that evening after making breaks in her previous two outings. She accounted for the Alan Kirschenbaum Trot at 33-1 in an eye-catching debut back on January 17 for her owner/breeders Team Desomer and Steve Desomer will as usual be in the sulky. Lodi Bank Robber is looking to make amends after settling for third in the February 14 stakes after carving out all the fractions. Mary Harris and Pierre Girard own and bred the New Age Hanover gelding, with Girard training and Luke Plano handling the lines. Completing the field are Sixstringsandapick, Delta Breezeoflodi and CW Raisinette. By Mark Ratzky

Two veteran harness racing horsemen and a talented 3-year-old trotting filly joined forces last weekend at Cal Expo, as the Gene Vallandingham-trained, Chip Lackey-driven My Little Susie captured the first Sire Stakes of the season for the division. A daughter of Claudius Augustus, My Little Susie carries the banner of A Piece Of The Action LLC and was winning for the fifth time in 14 lifetime appearances. Last year saw the bay miss scoring in 1:59 at Lexington, and she lowered her mark to 1:58 1/5 with last week's stakes score. In that latter decision, Lackey sat a stalking trip to the stretch, unleashed the filly once straightened for home and she came a sharp :27 3/5 final quarter to seal the deal by two lengths over Kissed The Boys and favored Lodi Bank Robber. "She's a small filly, but has a big motor and quick speed," praised trainer Vallandingham following the win. "I'm only going to race her in stakes races here at Cal Expo." My Little Susie actually used front-end tactics to capture the Alan Kirshenbaum finale in her previous start, but her versatility on display with the come-from-behind score in the Sire Stakes at most recent asking. "I told Lackey before the race that if she was within three of four lengths of the leader at the top of the stretch, she would smoke them down the lane," Vallandingham said. "She has a big turn of foot and Lackey did a good job." Both Gene and Chip have been mainstays in California for the last five decades, with Vallandingham electing to concentrate on the training things these days, while Lackey continues to guide home his share of winners, including My Little Susie for his longtime friend. Open Trot brings out Northern Stormont A $6,600 Open Trot that finds Northern Stormont seeking his fourth straight victory is the highlight on Sunday evening's program at Cal Expo. An 11-race card is on tap and first post for the Sunday action is 5:05 p.m. The headliner is the fourth event on the program and Northern Stormont will be asked to do his work from the demanding No. 10 post position for the second straight time. Northern Stormont is a 5-year-old son of Earl Of Stormont who carries the banner of George McCrystal, Mark Kremen and Scott Ehrlich with Steve Wiseman doing the driving and training. He set his 1:54 4/5 mark last year at Hoosier Park. The long-fused sidewheeler is perfect in 2016, starting the streak with an Open III score on January 3 in which he was adding Lasix. He was unhurried early that night as is his custom, ignited when the question was asked and prevailed by a length with Luke Plano at the controls. Off as the even-money favorite in his next try three weeks later, he came with cover to the stretch and flew by the leaders to get the job done by two lengths with Wiseman handling the lines. Leaving from the assigned No. 10 post at most recent asking two weeks ago with his trainer in the sulky, Northern Stormont once again used his powerful late kick to reward the chalkplayers at 1-5 with a two and three-quarter lengths tally. Taking him on this weekend are Bankers For All with Mark Kennedy; Big Baller, David Siegel; Franks Best, Mooney Svendsen; Commandergalleon for James Kennedy; Winsom Kelly, Luke Plano; and It's Not Over with Chip Lackey at the helm. By Mark Ratzky

A $15,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters featuring Lodi Bank Robber and the $7,600 Jim Grundy Trot headed by Sandy’s Song are the main events on the Sunday harness racing program at Cal Expo. There will be 11 races with a first post time of 5 p.m., with the Jim Grundy set as the third event and the Sire Stakes occupying the sixth-race slot on the card. Lodi Bank Robber is a homebred son of New Age Hanover out of the Armbro Rotary mare Bankers Babe who races for Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, is trained by Girard and will have Luke Plano giving directions from the cozy rail slot. Runner-up in both legs of the Alan Kirschenbaum Series last month, Lodi Bank Robber picked up the first victory of his career last weekend when he accounted for a conditioned contest. Sent off the even-money choice, he set the early fractions, tracked midway and then rallied nicely in the stretch to reward the chalkplayers. Taking him on two other members of the Girard barn in Sixstringsandapick, who will have his trainer in the sulky, and Delta Breezeoflodi with William Hernandez; My Little Susie, Chip Lackey; and CW Raisinette, who will have the services of Steve Wiseman. Looking at the Jim Grundy, Sandy’s Song is a multiple stakes winning daughter of Claudius Augustus out of the Sacramento mare Ahhh Saundra who is owned by Bob Johnson and Hank Wieseneck and takes her lessons from Johnson. She was second as the heavy favorite in last week’s first Sire Stakes event of the year for the 4-year-old trotters. Completing the cast are Zoeys Delight, who will give trainer Johnson two strong looks at the outcome; a pair from the Richard Bertrand shedrow in Majestic Lady Jo and Dougs Hobby Horse; and the Marco Rios-trained Bellini Martini. Jim Grundy remembered with trotting event Sunday’s Jim Grundy Trot is named for the driver/trainer who was a California mainstay for four decades. He died in 2009 at the age of 74. Jim Grundy made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with more than $10.3 million in earnings and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007. Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Grundy to hang up his skates and stick in 1958. Going into the family business of harness racing, he found his second niche in life as a driver/trainer. Grundy apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodgins and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s. He was the leading driver at Monticello for three straight years beginning in 1971 before heading west with his wife Deborah, a former school teacher and bookkeeper for the stable. It was here that Grundy blossomed into one of the state’s top harness horsemen. Teaming with owners like Chris Bardis, Lloyd Arnold and Ron Zumbrun, he won countless stakes races with the likes of Googie, Hug A Bear, Steam and Easel. He was especially noted as an outstanding trainer of young trotters. Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and have high praise for his skills. “Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses,” Desomer said. “He was an exceptional horseman and that resulted in a long and successful career.” Vallandingham related, “I knew Jim from the time he came to California. He was a nice guy and a great horseman and I always enjoyed his company.” Kuebler also did battle with Jim on many occasions at Cal Expo, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. “I’d have to say he was the most accomplished trainer of young trotters we’ve ever had in the state. “Even after his retirement, horsemen would seek him out to get advice in shoeing and balancing a trotter. It was all about his expertise and passion and he is missed.” By Mark Ratzky

Steve and Vicki Desomer sent out three winners on last Sunday nights Cal Expo harness racing card, with all three being trotters out of the champion Website mare Charlottes Web. The 3-year-old Claudius Augustus filly Kissed The Boys kicked things off by springing a $68 upset in the first leg of the Alan Kirschenbaum Series in the second race on the program with Steve at the controls. It was the 7-year-old British Sterling mare Silverlode accounting for the next event as the 6-5 favorite under the 79-year-old Desomers direction, while Kissed The Boys 4-year-old full brother Cadet capped off the barn/driver/broodmare hat trick two races later while returning $9.60 to his backers. It was a fun night, to be sure, Vickie related after posing for pictures. Steve said that the Charlottes Webs go the same on an off track as they do on a fast track strong but not very fast. Vickie related she had a little talk with her husband after he guided Cadet to his victory for his third trip to the charmed enclosure on the program. I suggested this might be a good time to retire. You can guess his answer. Kissed The Boys was the only member of the cast making her debut in last weeks Kirschenbaum opener and was pretty game getting the job done over a sloppy track. We named her in honor of my mother, who passed away last year, Vickie explained. She used to like to recite that ditty about Georgie Porgie, who Kissed the girls and made them cry. The Desomers also have a 2-year-old full brother to Kissed The Boys and Cadet named Gold Run that could make some noise by the end of the this season. Hes Minnesota stakes eligible and Steve likes him, Vickie noted. There is also a yearling colt by Claudius Augustus and she is back in foal to that sire. Our favorite track historian Robin Clements gives us the backstory on Charlottes Web. Charlottes Web herself was the 2 yr old trotting filly champion. The week before her first 3-year-old stakes race she raced in a race on a very sloppy track. Before the sixteenth pole Charlotte made a break and spotted the field about 15 lengths before she got back on the trot. At about the three-eighths pole she made another break spotting the field about 20 lengths before she again got back on the trot, going into the final turn. She was behind by about eight lengths when she started pacing and Steve had to knock her off stride to get her back trotting again. Again she is about 12 lengths off the leaders by the time she got trotting again and she not only caught the field, but won the race. I recall there was a bridge jumper who had bet $18,000 to show on her that night. I took care of Charlotte when she raced that night and I remember right after the race the other grooms and I were talking in awe of what she had just done. Charlotte went sore before the 3-year-old stakes races and was retired and sent to the breeding shed. The rest, as they say, is history. Contentious field set for featured Open Pace Bettors Promise, One And Only and Jazzmanian Devil, who all chased home the razor-sharp mare Stable Eyes at most recent asking, get away from that rival and head the cast for Saturday nights $6,000 Open I Pace. There will be 13 races contested under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:15 p.m. and the main event goes as the third event on the evening. The trotters and pacers will also be in action on Sunday evening. Bettors Promise and One And Only are both owned by Richard Morita and David Yamada and take their lessons from Lino Pacheco. The former is a 5-year-old son of Bettors Delight who leaves from the outside post in the field of six and has Gerry Longo in the sulky. Bettors Promise accounted for the Open I Pace on December 12 off a pocket journey for Tony Succarotte in a lifetime-best 1:53 clocking. He has two seconds and a fourth-place finish in the interim, including an exacta completion behind the aforementioned Stable Eyes when last seen two weeks ago. One And Only is an 8-year-old who is also by Bettor's Delight and he comes into this assignment on the verge of going over the $200,000 earnings mark with a 1:51 2/5 standard that was established two years ago. He scored back-to-back victories here to close out his 2015 campaign. He missed by head to Jazzmanian Devil after a game, first-over trip on January 2, then carved out the pace and had to settle for third behind Stable Eyes and barnmate Bettors Promise in his last trip to the post. Completing the field are Jazzmanian Devil from the Steve Wiseman barn; the Luke Plano-conditioned Cowboy Cold; Endeavors King from the Gene Vallandingham shedrow and Im An Athlete from the rail for James Kennedy. By Mark Ratzky

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