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Rockin With Lou, fresh from her upset win in last week’s Kirk Breed Pace, looks to close out the harness racing meet in style in Sunday’s featured $7,200 Filly and Mare Open Pace on closing night of the Cal Expo Harness season. The main event will go as the fifth on a nine-race card with first post at 5:25 p.m. The program will bring the Watch and Wager LLC meeting to an end with mandatory payouts for all wagers. Rockin With Lou is a 4-year-old daughter of Sweet Lou and the Rocknroll Hanover mare Ram Rocker who is owned, trained and driven by Gerry Longo. She is gunning for her 10th win from 28 lifetime trips to the post. Sent off at 9-1 in last week’s Kirk Breed, Longo sat back early with his charge, rallied off cover to the lane and ignited late to prevail by a half-length over favored Velocity McSweets while earning a new career standard with the 1:52 3/5 clocking. Velocity McSweets put in her usual solid late close in that affair but had to settle for the runner-up prize. Jen Sabot owns and trains the 6-year-old daughter of McArdle and Cordarius Stewart will once again be the pilot from the outside post in the field of seven. Velocity McSweets is looking for her 25th snapshot from 94 appearances and established her career mark of 1:52 two years ago at Tioga Downs. Her most recent score came here on March 28 in the Distaff Open. Completing the cast are Kiss On The Lips with Jake Cutting; Marys Pretty Girl, Tony Kerwood; Roaring Home, who will have Nick Roland in the sulky; Delightfully Wild, Mooney Svendsen and Alwaysalittlemore with Luke Plano guiding. Im A Magic Man puts it all together After having to settle for minor awards in his initial stakes appearances, it was Im A Magic Man’s chance to shine in last week’s final big-money clash for the sophomore males at this session. Sent off the 3-1 second choice with Tony Kerwood at the controls, Im A Magic Man left into a stalking spot, attacked pace-setting Lodi Phillip in the lane and posted a three-quarter length trophy earner while posting an excellent 1:53 3/5 clocking. The Mystician homebred carries the banner of Richard Schneider, is put through his paces by Ariel Alvarez and is now two-for-two since joining forces with Kerwood. “You can really see the difference in his last few starts,” said Alvarez after the Sire Stakes score. “It was just a matter of getting his head and his legs to click, and then the improvement came. “He was beating an easier field the week before, but it was strong, and I think quite a few people were surprised when he was able to beat Lodi Phillip in the stakes. He’s got a lot of talent and now he’s putting it all together.” While Im A Magic Man has returned to his native Alberta and a reunion with Schneider, following closing week here Alvarez will be packing his bags and heading to what he hopes will be a successful spring and summer at Running Aces. This being closing night, there will be mandatory payouts in all wagers. A reminder that there are three bets 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. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness

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

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

Columbus, MN -One of the featured events on the Saturday evening (6/1) Harness Racing card at Running Aces was the $23,000 Minnesota-Sired 3 Year old Pace, with 7 starters in the $11,500 colts division and 6 starters in the $11,500 fillies division. Burning Blaze (Steve Wiseman) was the public choice at even money in the colt division, coming off a strong third last out and a strong win on seasons debut before that. SB Bodacious (Rick Magee) took alot of pari-mutuel support as well and was sent off at 8-5 while looking to extend a perfect 2-for-2 sophomore record. Stay Humble N Kind (Gerald Longo) also garnered plenty of support at 4-1 after just missing by a nose to SB Bodacious last out. Those top three public choices dominated the proceedings, with Stay Humble N Kind putting forth his career best mile to date, blasting the gate with plenty of speed and seating SB Bodacious in the pocket and Burning Blaze in third. The early fractions were moderate (:28.4, :58.3) and by securing that second quarter breather Owner/Driver Gerald Longo had reserved plenty of pace for the final half. Burning Blaze took a crack at them and was bearing down as they passed the ¾ marker in 1:26.3, but Longo had plenty in the tank. Stay Humble N Kind ($10.00) went on to score a milestone victory on two counts - first lifetime win for the 3 year old Fancy Schmancy gelding, and career win number 2,900 for 74 year old veteran driver Gerald Longo. The final time of 1:55 established a lifetime mark for the ¾ length winner. SB Bodacious rallied past Burning Blaze in the lane for second. The $11,500 fillies pace was a repeat dominating performance for Windmeupnwatchmego (Dean Magee) who was unhurried in the early stages while away in fourth, before launching her attack around the second turn. Once the field of sophomore distaffers straightened down the backside, it was game-on. Trinitysfancyfilly (Brian Detgen) was on the lead and fought hard against the (1-9) favorite, but was unable to fend off the champion filly. Windmeupnwatchmego ($2.10) drew away from her rivals to score a 5 length romp in 1:56.3 and remain a perfect 2-for-2 on the season. A Little Rusty (Gerald Longo) was late on the scene to just knab second money over Trinitysfancyfilly. Windmeupnwatchmego is trained by Gordon Graham for owner Richard Davelaar. The $15,000 Open Handicap Pace event went to Annihilator (Dean Magee) who made an impressive rally from well off the pace and a 3-wide move around the far turn to come after front-running favorite Stuckey Dote (Rick Magee) and get up right at the wire for a neck victory. Annihilator ($29.80) scored his 2nd win of the year with the 1:53.1 tally. The winner is trained by Edwin Quevedo for A Piece Of The Action, LLC.   By Darin Gagne for Running Aces

The $10,000 Alan Kirshenbaum Pace for fillies and mares; a $6,500 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old pacing males and a $5,500 Open II Trot are the featured attractions on Friday night's Cal Expo harness racing program. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with a first post of 6:10 p.m., and there will also be two other California Sire Stakes decided as non-betting events prior to the regular card. Blue Note figures to have her share of backers in the Kirschenbaum, as she exits Open and Open II company in her last three trips to the post for owner/trainer Rick Cisco. A 14-year-old daughter of Little Steven, a top performer and sire for Kirschenbaum, Blue Note recorded her most recent victory in a conditioned event on February 23 and has been mixing it up with the likes of Capitol Hill and Bettor Lady in her last few trips appearances. Taking her on this weekend are Wizzel Stix and La Madawna De Rosa from the Richard Bertrand barn; the Nate Sobey-trained Burn My Villa; The Richard Schneider-trained pair of Lookslikewemadeit and Nightraintovegas; the Kathie Plested-conditioned Fancy Little Girl; and Getter Queen Flush, who takes her lessons from George Reider. Looking at the Open II Trot, Its A Horse gets the call as he escapes the long shadow of the streaking Silverlode in this contest for owner Ray Alan Miller, trainer Marco Rios and regular pilot Gerry Longo. The 6-year-old son of Full Count has three victories to his credit this year at the Open level, including a lifetime-best 1:56 15/ score on January 18 while doing his work from the demanding No. 10 post position that night. Low takeout wagers; Single 6 carryover There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 50-cent Pick 5 on the first five races of the evening and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 comes with a $30,000-guaratnteed gross pool on Fridays and a $40,000 guarantee on Saturdays. Coming into Friday, there is also a $13,467 carryover in the 10-cent Single 6, so there is plenty of value to be had on the card,   By Mark Ratzky, Cal Expo Harness

It wasn't as easy as the 2-5 odds might lead one to believe, but the 3-year-old harness racing pacer Just B Talking got the job done last week in a blanket finish for his owner/trainer/driver Gerry Longo. Just B Talking was a beaten favorite in his Cal Expo debut on opening night when settling for an exacta completion, then did his work in first-over fashion at most recent asking and was on the right end of the photo finish. "I bought him last month in Indiana," Longo informed. "I thought he had some good races and he had conditions, so it figured he would do well out here. "I blame myself for his losing that first start, because I sat in too long with him and we got locked in, but he was coming real strong at the end. "To be honest, I didn't think he was as good in this last mile, but he got the win anyway. There's a series coming up for him in a few weeks and that's what we're pointing for right now." The 74-year-old has 13 performers under his care at Cal Expo and comes into this week's action with 2,875 driving victories and over $12 million in earnings. "My goal is to get to 3,000 wins," he said. "I still love to come out every morning and work with the horses, and as long as I can go out on the track at night and do a good job, I'll keep on driving." Pair of Opens, Funicello Prep atop bill The Annette Funicello Prep, a Distaff Open Pace and an Open Trot share the spotlight Friday night at Cal Expo. There are 11 races on the Watch and Watch and Wager LLC program with the action getting underway at 6:15p.m. Dancer's Fancy looms large in the Annette Funicello Prep after scoring a nice victory on opening night. The 4-year-old mare carries the banner of Vikki Pheilsticker with Rick Bertrand training and James Kennedy in the sulky. Glad to Meet Ya figures to have a strong say in the outcome despite having to do her work from the outside post in the field of eight. The 3-year-old Disco Devil homebred races for Billie Schwartz and Junior Wilkinson, with Wilkinson training and Luke Plano handling the lines. Completing the field are Lookslikewemadeit, Sing N Sandi, Lickcreek Speedway, Thats How It Goes, Rosebud's First and Hot Dandy. Looking at the Filly and Mare Open, Fancy Little Girl should appreciate getting away from Capitol Hill after chasing that stablemate home in the first two top dances for the division. The dark-hued mare is owned by Benvenga Racing LLC, Taylor and Plested, hails from the Kathie Plested shedrow and has Steve Wiseman guiding. There are two wagers offered here nightly with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which begins on the first race; and 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $20,000-guaranteed pool on Fridays and $30,000 on Saturdays. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Columbus, MN – Another track mark was recorded on the Tuesday night Harness Racing card at Running Aces, when 6 year old trotting mare Al Mar Reba Babe turned in a career best performance in 1:55.1 circling the field and drawing away to win by 11 ¾  lengths to equal the brand new track record that was set on Saturday night, June 2 by Silverlode. Gerald Longo was the winning pilot for tonight’s record mile, for owner/trainer Richard Davis. Al Mar Reba Babe ($6.80) has now won 9 races and $76,667. The $12.000 Mares Open Handicap Pace featured a very talented field of seven distaffers, and turned out to be a familiar matchup between two top pacing mares from the local 2017 season, as Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder) and Kiss On The Lips (Nick Roland) found themselves trading blows throughout the contest. Kiss On The Lips was the early leader, with Gold Star Mysti surging past just before the quarter pole, things remained that way until the top of the lane, where Kiss On The Lips and Roland immediately pounced from the pocket, making for a thrilling stretch-drive with the latter prevailing by a half-length at the wire in 1:53.4. Kiss On The Lips ($4.60) is owned by Peg Hoffman, and trained by Gerald Longo, she has now won 4 of 21 starts this year, and now has 33 lifetime wins and $195,648 in the bank. Driver Steve Wiseman remained white-hot on Tuesday, following up his 5-win performance on Sunday with another Grand Slam of Four on the night, followed by Nick Roland who completed a Hat-Trick, and James (J.D.) Yoder who turned in a driving double. The 20 cent Jackpot Pick 5 wager now has a carryover of $3,817.32 for this coming Saturday, June 9. Live Racing is conducted 3 nights a week on Tuesday, Saturday and Sundays. By Darin Gagne’, for Running Aces  

Gerry Longo put on a show at Cal Expo last Friday night as he sent out four winners on the harness racing card, guiding three of them himself. The 71-year-old Longo kicked off his four-bagger when Sparkin Your Fire accounted for the Filly and Mare Open with Mooney Svendsen in the sulky, making it two straight scores at the head of the class. Longo came right back and captured the next race with HairwayTo Heaven to the delight of the chalkpayers and added victories with Place at the Beach and Gene Eugene before the 12-race program was concluded. Once a fixture at or near the top of the standings at this track, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos, Gerry was away from California for three decades when he came out for this meet in 2014 and has been returning on a regular basis for the local action. "I can tell you that the weather is nice, the people are great and I'm impressed with the way they've upgraded the facility," Longo has said. When asked about his exit from the Golden State in the mid-1980s, Longo explained that he made the move to Chicago at a time when it looked like harness racing was about to go down for the count in California. "I did some racing back there in '78, '79 and '80, then I bought a place and started racing in Chicago full time," he said. "I like to travel, so I've also been racing at tracks in Virginia and Minnesota." Last Friday evening, he was traveling quite a bit to the winner's circle and it was great to see those green, black and gold colors getting photographed. Sparkin Your Fire, Capitol Hill clash Friday night's Cal Expo program is headed by a $6,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace that finds Sparkin Your Fire and Capitol Hill getting another chance to settle the score. A 13-race program is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. and the main event is scheduled as the 4th contest on the evening. Sparking Your Fire is a 5-year-old mare who carries the banner of Peg Hoffman with Gerry Longo the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen doing the honors. She is coming off back-to-back decisions in the Distaff Open, storming home late for Svendsen on both occasions to get the job done. While the first of those tallies was going away by three lengths, the most recent saw her late heroics handing a neck decision on Capitol Hill. The latter will leave from the No. 6 post just inside her main rival for owners George McChrystal and Kathie Plested with Plested the conditioner and Steve Wiseman giving directions. She captured three of her first four outings at this meet between November 4 and November 25 at this Open level. There are two wagers that are offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races on the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, on the penultimate four races. The Pick 4 comes with a guaranteed gross pool that has been raised to $30,000. *** There will be no live racing here next week, with the trotters and pacers back in action on December 26 with a special Tuesday evening card that will begin at 5 p.m. There will also be racing that week on Friday and Saturday, December 29 and 30. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The $12,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace was the featured event on the Tuesday night harness racing program at Running Aces and it would produce a record result, as the 6 year old mare Magnifique (by Tell All) turned in a stellar performance in 1:52.4 to get up at the wire and return a record $232.20 for every $2.00 win wager. Owner/Trainer Gerald Longo was in the sulky behind Magnifique, and guided her away from the gate in seventh from post two in the 9 horse contest, he then picked up second-over cover and followed that to be fourth by just over a length turning for home, Longo then sent his mare charging between horses to get up at the wire and post a head victory and record the record mutuel payoff. Race favorite Gold Star Mysti (James Yoder) completed a $747.60 exacta, with 16-1 longshot Hare to Eternity (Steve Wiseman) rounding out a trifecta worth $6,246.60.   The $13,000 Minnesota-Sired 2 year old Trotting event went to SB Fine And Dandy ($8.80) a gelding by Claudius Augustus, for Owners Susan Holm-Johansen and Deborah Hofsaess. Driver James Yoder sent his charge away in the pocket position and made a swift move just past the ¾ marker to take command and open up a two length lead, he then was able to hold off a fast closing charge from favorite Bragginade (Nick Roland) to post his first lifetime win in 2:02.2 by a neck at the wire. He is Trained by Ulf Holm-Johansen.   The $9,600 Minnesota-Sired 2 year old Pacing event went to the filly Ellamennopee ($17.20) in 1:56.3, for her first lifetime win. She is by Voracious Hanover and is owned by Merlin Van Oterloo and conditioned by Brett Ballinger. Driver Steve Wiseman was aggressive with the filly and sent her to the lead from post seven in the 9 horse field, she then yielded the lead to the race favorite Giggle Monster (Dean Magee) who had mad an early miscue, Wiseman tipped the filly out of the pocket turning for home and she sprinted away to score the win by 7 open lengths with a final quarter of 28.2.   The $10,000 Open Handicap Trot went to Banker Volo (Luke Plano) who was as good as ever this evening, posting a gate-to wire romp by 5¼ lengths in 1:54.4 for his third in a row, and his fifth win in 7 starts this season for Trainer Jenni King and Owner Daniel Roland, the All age Track Record holder was heavily favored at the windows, returning $2.80.   Driver James (J.D.) Yoder added a Grand Slam to his impressive seasonal accomplishments at Running Aces tonight, when he guided four winners on the program. Steve Wiseman posted his second consecutive Triple tonight as well, and Luke Plano picked up a double on the card.   The .20 cent Jackpot Pick 5 carryover now sits at $13,321.19 and will highlight the wagering menu for Saturday Night, July 22 with first post at 6:00 PM CT.   By Darin Gagne, Running Aces Track Announcer

COLUMBUS, MN. - There's no point telling 70-year-old Gerry Longo to slow down. Since his days as a track and football star on his high school teams in southern California, Longo has been running on all cylinders...and with no intention of slowing down! Of course that includes his long and storied harness racing career, now almost a half-century old, in which he has won 2718 races as a driver and 628 since they started keeping trainers statistics in 1991. Longo scored a hat trick on the Wednesday (September 9) program to bring his 2015 win total to 52 in 52 nights at Running Aces this season, moving him into fourth place in the local dash derby. All three winners were from his own ten-horse training stable bringing that total to 31 triumphs in the last three months in Minnesota-good for $115,000 in earnings. Kiss On The Lips, a five-year-old Dontgetinmyway daughter owned by Longo, captured the featured $9600 Fillies and Mares Open Pace with a narrow 1:54.3 score over Part Time Lady (Steve Wiseman) and Dream Roll (Nick Roland). Using a perfect pocket trip to full advantage, Longo zoomed his winning charge up the passing lane for her fourth seasonal victory and second at the top distaff level. Longo also captured a $6600 conditioned pace with Place At The Beach, a recent private purchase of his who has now reeled off five consecutive wins and stamped herself as one of the favorites for the $11,000 Minnesota State Championship race for older state-bred mares on Saturday (September 12). The five-year-old daughter of Place To Be topped Captiva Bounty (Brian Detgen) and High Bet Hanover (Tim Maier). Midnight Destroyer, a bottom claimer, was Longo's other winner topping Frankthebank (Tim Maier) and Yankee Flyer (Luke Plano). The seven-year-old gelding is approaching $100,000 in lifetime earnings for owner Peg Hoffman. Over $200,000 in purses will be awarded on the closing night program at Running Aces on Saturday, featuring eight $21,000 championship races for juveniles and a trio of $11,000 races for the best older Minnesota-breds at the meet. Gregg Keidel

COLUMBUS, MN. - Al-Mar Skip Bo and Texakota scored harness racing upsets in their respective $8000 divisions for Minnesota-sired sophomore trotters at Running Aces on Sunday night. Driver Rick Magee rushed Al-Mar Skip Bo directly to the lead in the colts split and never looked back, besting favored Go See Lo Go (Nick Roland) and Drakensberg (Luke Plano) in 2:01.4. The same bunch will be joined by a few others when they chase a $21,000 purse on Minnesota State Championships Night next Saturday (September 12), which is closing night on the 2015 Running Aces summer meet. Magee also owns and trains the winning son of Abra who was notching his fourth career victory and pushed his lifetime earnings to just over $30,000. Texakota (Lemoyne Svendsen) notched her first-ever pari-mutuel win in 2:01.3 over a sloppy track in the fillies division for owners Cynthia Ivey and Ryan Lems. The daughter of Abra collared Al-Mar Reba Babe (Gerry Longo) in the final stride with Marisa's Lady (Tim Maier) third in the seven-horse field. Bob Lems trains Texakota, who has shown speed all season but had problems staying on stride until this final tuneup for Championship Night. Heavily favored Becky Badger Baby made an uncharacteristic break when driver Nick Roland's sulky wheel tube popped and resulted in racing with a flat tire for more than the final half mile. El Azteca (Gerry Longo) won the meet's final $9600 Open Trot by two lengths over Thekeptman (Luke Plano) and Jimmy Shin (Steve Wiseman). It was the 34th lifetime score in just 74 career starts for the six-year-old stud owned by Marco Rios and trained in Minnesota by Bob Johnson. Both Rick Magee and Gerry Longo scored driving doubles on the ten-race program. Leading drivers Nick Roland and Steve Wiseman each had one win, giving them 71 and 69 tallies respectively with three nights remaining to determine the local dash title for this season. Gregg Keidel

El Azteca (Gerry Longo), a consistent money-making trotter since arriving at Running Aces almost two months ago, broke through with his first open class triumph at the harness racing meeting on Sunday night, besting Jailer (Tim Maier) and Silence Son (Nick Roland) in 1:56.4. After sitting third through an opening :28.2 quarter, the six-year-old son of Panama Hanover moved to the front before the :58 halfway station. From there he cruised home an open lengths winner for owner Marco Rios and trainer Bob Johnson. It was the eighth seasonal win for El Azteca and boosted his 2015 earnings to $38,172. A race later, Rev Me Up (Tim Maier) captured a $5500 conditioned event over a classy six-horse field of mares with career earnings of $1,275,201. The Mark P'Pool trainee topped Bad Feeling (Dean Magee) and Call Me Up (Travis Bowman) for her eighth win this year and 40th in her lifetime. The eight-year-old daughter of Park Place increased her career earnings to $594,528 with the 1:55.2 score. Drivers Steve Wiseman, Luke Plano and Gerry Longo all notched doubles on the program. Gregg Keidel  

COLUMBUS, MN. - Veteran harness racing horseman Gerry Longo seems to be getting better with age. Now 70 years old, but still going strong with a string of ten horses in his stable, driver Longo swept to victory in the last three races on the Saturday night card at Running Aces. With the triple, Longo leaped back into fourth place in the current driver's standings sporting 30 wins in the first 29 nights of the 53-night meet. He also ranks fourth in the local trainer's standings with 20 wins from 70 starts. Longo won both feature races on the Saturday program guiding his own Kiss On The Lips to a 1:54.3 half-length score in the $8000 Fillies and Mares Open; and steering trainer Gene Miller's It's Getting Hairy to a 1:54.2 tally in the $6500 Open II for males. Longo concluded his "turkey" by capturing the $3000 condition race nightcap with longshot Barbosa, a four-year-old gelding which he also owns. Kiss On The Lips came first-up before the quarter and cleared to the front well before the half, then held off favored Party Hanover Two (Steve Wiseman), Keep The Dream (Travis Bowman) and De Valeria (Tim Maier) in a driving finish that resulted in all four mares being lapped-on to one another at the wire. The win was the 16th in 59 career tries for Kiss On The Lips, a five-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway who inched closer to the $100,000 earnings plateau-currently at $97,264. It's Getting Hairy is owned by Wolfswinkel Pacers Inc. and now sports 22 victories and a bankroll of $109,003. The Minnesota-sired six-year-old son of Relentless Yankee topped stablemate Bunkerhill Bill (Tony Succarotte), the runnerup who was uncoupled in the wagering, Major Hottie (Kim Pluta) and Greybeard (Brian Detgen). Barbosa kicked back $22.40 to his $2 supporters, upsetting fellow longshot Kablooie (Kim Pluta) and favorite Goody Two Socks (Rick Magee) in a very tight three-way photo finish. Unraced at two, it was Barbosa's ninth win over the last two seasons. If Longo can maintain his present 30% win percentage with starters from his current hard-hitting stable, this will be his finest and most productive season at Running Aces. One of just a handful of trainers who have called Running Aces their summer home since the track's inception eight years ago, Gerry shows no signs of letting up any time soon. "I've been training horses my whole life," Longo exclaims, "and I want to race as long as I'm able and competitive." There seems to be no reason to start planning a retirement party anytime soon! Gregg Keidel Director of Racing  

COLUMBUS, MN. - Sons of Minnesota sire Relentless Yankee dominated the $8000 Open Pace at Running Aces for the second straight week on Saturday (June 27). First to cross the finish line was Chewy Baca (Gerry Longo), followed by Headsup Yankee (Nick Roland), It's Getting Hairy (Dean Magee) and Goody Two Socks (Tim Maier). The top three are all harness racing six-year-olds from the same 2009 crop, while the fourth place finisher is a year older. Chewy Baca extended his win streak to five with the impressive 1:52.3 victory, the last four at Running Aces, for 70-year-old owner-trainer-driver Gerry Longo. The winner got away fifth in the compact field of six, came first-over at the half then swung three-wide around the final turn before pinning the two length triumph on his fellow state-bred blood relatives. Longo is enjoying one of the finest statistical meets of his lengthy career. The green, gold and black clad veteran is currently second in both the drivers and trainers standings at Running Aces with 16 trips to the winner's circle including a dozen with horses from his stable in the first ten nights of the 53-night stand. His UDRS average is well over .400 and his UTRS well over .500 in the month of June. Leading driver-trainer Nick Roland also had an exceptional Saturday night scoring a triple with horses he also conditions. The 32-year-old Iowa native won both $5500 splits of the Minnesota-sired sophomore paces. Queen Of Denial captured the filly division in 1:55.4, besting Moonshinenmonkeys (Tim Maier) and Smokin Hot Coco (Travis Bowman). Gotalilcaptaininme beat Willystay-R-Willgo (Longo) and Toatsmygoats (Rick Magee) in 1:57.4 in the tandem male event. Roland also guided I'm So Blue to a 1:55.1 score in a $4000 conditioned pace. The triple gives him 20 driving wins in the first ten nights. A $7000 Open II Pace was also won by a Minnesota-bred son of Relentless Yankee as eight-year-old Restless Yankee triumphed for the 47th time in an illustrious career which as produced $283,319 in earnings. Former Running Aces driving champion Dean Magee, back in Minnesota for the summer after a couple years absence, guided the ageless wonderhorse to the 1:53.3 tally over Ideal Smile (Steve Wiseman) and Stonebridge Lyric (Bowman). Racing resumes Sunday (June 28) with a 6 p.m. (CST) post time. Gregg Keidel

COLUMBUS, MN. - Minnesota-sired horses finished one-two in the weekly $8000 Open I pace at Running Aces on Saturday night, only to be outdone by their Gopher State brethern who swept the top three payoff positions in the $7000 harness racing Open II pace.   It's Getting Hairy (driver Gerry Longo), the longest shot in the race, captured the Open I in 1:53.1 for the owner Wolfswinkel Pacers Inc. and trainer Gene Miller. Both the winner and runnerup Headsup Yankee (Nick Roland) are six-year-old sons of Relentless Yankee and were standouts earlier in their careers in the Minnesota-sired juvenile program. Winonefordoug (Tim Maier) raced gamely to finish third in the six-horse field.   It's Getting Hairy, who surpassed the $100,000 earnings plateau with the victory, paid $31.60 to win and keyed $82.60 exacta and $382.40 trifecta returns.   A couple races earlier Longo guided his own Chewy Baca to a nose 1:54 triumph over fellow Minn-breds Goody Two Socks (Maier) and Restless Yankee (Dean Magee) in the Open II. All three of the top finishers that produced a very tight photo finish to determine the winner are also sons of Relentless Yankee. Chewy Baca won for the 29th time in his career and increased his career bounty to $132,181 as the betting favorite. He paid $4.60 and topped $11.40 and $33.80 exacta and trifecta ticket payoffs.   Longo also won an earlier $5000 conditioned race with Peg Hoffman's Flukie Flight to give the 70-year-old reinsman a driving triple for the second straight program at Running Aces.   After seven nights of the 53-night 2015 meet, the elder statesman of the local driving colony is leading the dash standings with a dozen victories.   He is followed by Nick Roland with 11 wins, Steve Wiseman with 10, and Luke Plano--who also fashioned his second straight driving triple--with 9.   Plano's scores came behind Kablooie (1:54.1), Real Attitude (1:53.4) and Mattox's Spencer (1:52.3)   Moonshinenmonkeys (Tim Maier) upset a field of state-bred three-year-old fillies in a $5500 event. Heavily-favored Queen Of Denial (Roland) crossed the line second but was placed third for interference, while Dancin Debby (Mooney Svendsen) was elevated to the place position. Mark King owns and trains the winner who lowered her record to 1:55.4.   In the tandem $5500 split for sophomore male Minn-breds, Gotalilcaptaininme (Steve Wiseman) topped Imgoodatwhatido (Travis Bowman) and Willystay-R-Willgo in 1:56.3 for owner Jessica Johnson.   Racing resumes Sunday at 6 p.m. (CST) with an 11-race program.   Gregg Keidel  

(NEW KENT, VA --- 9/14/14) ---- Colonial Downs' 17th annual harness racing season will kick off this Wednesday September 17th at the home of the "one turn mile" with a ten race card beginning at 1:00 PM. Draws for both the Wednesday & Thursday programs took place this weekend. Featured races are a pair of late closer series that boast two divisions each. The Horace Martin Memorial Pacing Series' first leg will be contested at a 7/8ths mile distance and has nine horse fields in each division. Herman Hagerman's McBlack, based on five straight "in the money" finishes at The Red Mile, is favored in race four while Stacey McLenaghan's Hale Street is top early choice in the seventh race. The second "Martin" leg, scheduled for September 24th, will be at a one mile distance while the third and final legs will be contested at 1 1/4 miles. The VHHA Pacing Series has a pair of six horse fields that will vie in the fifth and sixth race. George Antrhop's Daggy is top pick early while McLenaghan's Wishingonadragon is favored late. The future VHHA legs will all be at the mile distance. Corey Braden and Frank Milby, last year's second and third leading reinsmen at the New Kent meet, return to Virginia and have nine and seven drives respectively on Wednesday. Jeff Nisonger, fifth in the '13 standings has six drives in the opener as does Chuck Perry. Trainer George Anthrop populates Wednesday's card in grand fashion with nine horses in to go while returnees Gerry Longo and Herman Hagerman, along with newcomer David Lake, have five in each. The Colonial meet will continue thru October 26th with racing slated every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 PM. General admission is $3 and kids 12 and under are free. The 4th floor Turf Club Dining Room will be open on weekends. Opening weekend features two unique promotions --- one participatory while the other, not quite so. On Saturday, September 20th, the VHHA (Virginia Harness Horsemen's Association) will select the name of eight fans in attendance to become one day "horse owners". Those fans will return the following day as "owners" and get to keep the amount of purse money their respective horse earns in a $3,000 race. They will also tour the barn area, meet their trainer and driver, and enjoy a lunch for 2 in the VHHA Sky Suite. This promotion will continue every Saturday thru October 18th. The Sunday September 21st card will feature popular ostrich and camel races, which had become a Father's Day tradition at Colonial Downs in the 2012 and 2013 summer thoroughbred meets. In keeping with a standardbred theme, ostriches will also have a sulky of sorts attached to them for the event. The camel race will be after the 5th harness race and the ostrich race will be after 8th harness race. Kids will be invited to run in a 100 yard dash on the track after the races and will actually line up behind the starter's car. by Darrell Wood, for Colonial Downs

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