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The Cal Expo harness racing meet concludes Saturday evening with Hi Ho's Little Rev and Ragin's Flight among the major players in the featured Connie Matlock Memorial Pace. The headliner will go as the third on a nine-race program presented by Watch and Wager LLC and first post will be 6:40 p.m. This being closing night, there will be mandatory payouts in all wagers. Hi H's Little Rev is looking to close out the stand with a hat trick for owners Vanessa Gilliam and Audrey Clifton, trainer Bob Johnson and pilot Mooney Svendsen. The 6-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheel's set a new lifetime mark of 1:52 25/ when he got the job done two weeks ago in a game performance, then made every pole a winning in his last tour in coast-to-coast fashion as the 3-2 favorite last Friday evening. Ragin's Flight should hit hard with this caliber after tackling tougher company of late. He was a 1:52 1/5 victor as the 2-5 choice back on March 30 and competes for Scott Ehrlich, George McCrystal and Kathie Plested with Plested the conditioner and Steve Wiseman in the sulky. Completing the field are Fire On The Water from the Steve Nichols barn; Fly Away, who gives the Plested shedrow two looks at the outcome; the Robin Clements-trained Lincoln; and He Grins Again, who takes his lessons from George Reider. The trotters and pacers are scheduled to return to Cal Expo in the fall and the CCHA and Watch and Wager have agreed to an 8 percent purse increase and an enhanced horse incentive program. Race pays tribute to Connie Matlock Saturday night's third race is named in honor of Connie Matlock, a longtime fixture with the California Harness Horse Breeders Association and CHHA who passed away on April 16 at the age of 85. Connie began working as secretary for the CHHBA in 1994 and was a staunch supporter of the Breeders and Sires Stakes. She then went to work for the CHHA in the early 90s, again as secretary. In 2005, Connie was awarded the Presidents Award by the CHHA for her meritorious service to the horsemen and the Sire Stakes program. "She was loved by many horsemen, who considered here a second mother," said Robin Clements. "She was warm, caring and a great lady." Said Vickie Desomer, "Connie was always there for the horsemen, all of them. Her kindness was boundless. Connie was beautiful inside and out. She has been greatly missed since her illness took her from us." Connie and Donald Matlock had five children and she is survived by son Charlie and daughters Kim and Cindy and 10 grandchildren. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

To The Limit pulled off a $73 harness racing upset in last weekend's Lloyd Arnold Pace at Cal Expo, and as result turned what would have been a modest Pick 4 into a $1,289 return for each 20-cent investment. The Pick 4 is one of two wagers offered here each night featuring a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, the other being the 50-cent Pick 5 that covers the first five races on the card. The Pick 4 comes with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool on Fridays and a $50,000 guarantee on Saturdays. Using the regular takeout for that aforementioned $1,289 Pick 4 payout, the return would have been $1,150, a difference of $139 for each winning ticket. Getting back to To The Limit, he put in a spectacular final quarter to win the Arnold going away in a lifetime-best 1:50 3/5 mile for owner Alan Cooper, trainer Kathie Plested and pilot Tim Brown. Plested did a tremendous job getting him ready in his first evening appearance since late January, putting a couple of very strong qualifiers into the pacer that obviously set him up perfectly for the demanding assignment. The weekend's other feature was the Stan Bergstein Trot and track record-holder Pridecrest did not disappoint his many backers as he posted a coast-to-coast length and a half victory for owner Heather Matthews and driver/trainer Luke Plano. Veteran Blue Note takes on solid cast A strong case can be made for several of the pacing fillies and mares in Saturday night's $3,400 main event, with Blue Note, Getter Queen Flush and Moonshinenmonkeys among the major players. The feature will go as the opener on a 10-race card presented by Watch and Wager LLC and things will get underway at 6:40 p.m. Blue Note is a 13-year-old daughter of Little Steven out of the Denali mare Romantic Music who comes into this assignment with $141,000 in her bank account and a 1:54 1/5 mark that was established here last season. In last week's outing at this level, the bay miss carved out all the fractions with Luke Plano giving directions, showed the way to deep stretch but was unable to hold off the closing charge of heavily-favored Bettor Lady, who was scheduled to compete in Friday night's Kirk Breed Pace. Getter Queen Flush and Moonshinenmonkeys are both exiting the Open II captured last week by Shark Festival and should be very much at home under Saturday's conditions. Getter Queen Flush proved a punctual favorite the last time she started in a conditioned event on March 24. She carries the banner of Reider, Haness, Haness and Thomas with George Reider the conditioner and is looking for her fifth win on the year from 16 appearances. Moonshinenmonkeys looms large with her best mile and she is owned by Rick Bertrand and Doug Flores with Bertrand doing the training and James Kennedy guiding. The field is rounded out by Magnifique, Surprisingly Sweet and Totally Racy. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Fillies and mares will be in the harness racing spotlight Friday night at Cal Expo in the $10,000 Kirk Breed Pace with Delightfully Wild heading the cast. There will be 10 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:40 p.m. Delightfully Wild comes into the headliner having posed for pictures following four of her last six trips to the post for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada, trainer Lino Pacheco and pilot James Kennedy. All four of those victories have come at the Filly and Mare Open level, including her March 16 tally where she prevailed by a length and a quarter while establishing a new lifetime standard with the 1:53 2/5 clocking. The 5-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight added another on March 31 in facile, coast-to-coast fashion, then had to settle for a close third after carving out the fractions as the even-money choice at most recent asking while doing her work from the demanding No. 10 post. Shark Festival packs a powerful finish and is coming off a nice win in which she came home in :26 4/5 to secure the half-length decision. The 7-year-old daughter of Shadow Play races for Medinah Racing and Scott Ehrlich with Kathie Plested training and Steve Wiseman at the controls. Completing the cast are La Diva De Rosa, Kiss On The Lips, Bettor Lady and Shesamysterytome. Race pays tribute to Kirk Breed Friday night's Kirk Breed Pace is named for the man who was the Executive Director of the California Horse Racing Board and previously served as a board member and general manager of the State Fair here at Cal Expo. Kirk Breed passed away in 2013 at the age of 73 after a battle with cancer. During Gov. Jerry Brown's first term in 1979, Mr. Breed was appointed general manager at Cal Expo and was credited with turning around the event's financial fortunes during lean times. He later became a lobbyist on behalf of the racing industry and also served eight years on the Cal Expo board of directors. Mr. Breed served as executive director of the California Horse Racing Board from 2008 until his death. During those five-plus years, he oversaw the regulatory agency's day-to-day business. He was involved in such high-profile issues as the restriction of the use of steroids; the reduction of permissible levels of bute; and the transformation of the Santa Anita main track from a troubled synthetic to a dirt surface. "In his years as executive director, Kirk Breed provided invaluable guidance and counsel to everyone who served on the board," said former racing board chairman David Israel. "No one was more dedicated to assuring the welfare of the horse, the well-being of the participants and the integrity of the sport than Kirk." The Oklahoma native attended Oklahoma State on a football scholarship in the 1950s, while as the same time helping his father, who trained a stable of quarter horses. After graduating with a degree in zoology, Mr. Breed volunteered for the Peace Corps, spending time in Chile and Columbia and working at the State Department in Washington, D.C. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Saturday night's $10,000 Lloyd Arnold Pace at Cal Expo has lured a solid cast of nine, with Allymx'sliventexas, Bettor's Promise and I'm An Athlete among the major harness racing players. The Arnold will go as the 7th event on an 11-race Watch and Wager LLC program that is set to get underway at 6:40 p.m. The co-feature is a $6,500 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing fillies which occupies the 2nd-race slot. Allymx'sliventexas is having a strong meet for his owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and regular pilot Mooney Svendsen and will likely be favored in the main event. The son of Hi Ho Silverheel's has five wins from his 12 starts on the year, including a lifetime-best 1:50 4/5 performance on March 9, and recently went over the $100,000 earnings mark. In last week's Open, Allymx'sliventexas proved a very game winner as he was first-over into the pace-setting favorite Bettor's Promise at the half, engaged that one in the stretch and prevailed by a nose while coming a :26 4/5 final quarter. Bettor's Promise is very sharp right now and will be gunning for some revenge after doing all the heavy lifting last week and ending up on the wrong end of that photo. He established his 1:50 3/5 mark in his previous outing at the Open II level and goes about his business for owners Richard Morita and David Yamda with Lino Pacheco conditioning and Steve Wiseman guiding. Completing the field are Julerica, Pancella, Almost Cut My Hair, To The Limit, Eastender, I'm An Athlete and Lil Orphan Elmer. Pacing fillies battle in co-featured Sire Stakes In addition to the Lloyd Arnold Pace, Saturday's card will find the sophomore pacing fillies in action in a $6,500 California Sire Stakes. The added-money events for the 3-year-old pacing fillies have seen three different winners, with Brigitte Bordeaux taking the initial clash, followed by back-to-back trophy earners for Goturnumber and then Glad to Meet Ya taking bows after the most recent gathering two weeks ago. Goturnumber will not be in the starting line-up, leaving Glad to Meet Ya as the probable favorite in the cast of five after her big win where she earned her initial stakes tally with a six and a half-length romp. Brigitte Bordeaux will look to pull off an Arnold/Sire Stakes parlay for owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, trainer Bob Johnson and driver Mooney Svendsen, while Glad to Meet Ya is owned and was bred by Billie Schwartz and Junior Wilkinson with Wilkinson training and Luke Plano once again at the controls. Looking for an upset this weekend are Lucky Seven Oflodi, who has the cozy rail post with Tony Succarotte; Holy O'Neill, to be guided by Tim Brown; and Rhythm, who will have William Hernandez giving directions. There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 50-cent Pick 5, which is decided on the first five races on the evening, and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 comes with a $50,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guarantee on Fridays. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Track record holder Pridecrest, who has won eight of his nine starts at the meet, looks to put an exclamation mark on his California invasion in Friday night's harness racing featured $10,000 Stan Bergstein Trot at Cal Expo. A 10-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:40 p.m. The co-feature is the $6,000 finale of the Watch and Wager Loyalty Pace and there will also be two California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds decided as a non-betting events prior to the regular program. Pridecrest is a 6-year-old son of Angus Hall who races for Heather Matthews with Luke Plano driving and training. He made an immediate impact in his first start coming in from the Midwest on November 3, making every pole a winning one while setting a new course standard with his 1:53 2/5 clocking. The Matthews colorbearer followed that impressive mile with five more straight scores, the last four being registered from the demanding No. 10 post position. Pridecrest tasted defeat locally for the first time on March 3 when he was beaten a neck by Talkin Tootsie, but has returned to his winning ways in his last two appearances. Plano romped home with the sidewheeler on March 16 while leaving from the No. 5 slot, then had that 10 hole assignment last week and it proved to be no obstacle as he went wire-to-wire with a length and three-quarters to spare at the wire. Talkin Tootsie is the only trotter to have finished ahead of Pridecrest at this meet, hanging that neck decision on him in early March, and completed the exacta last week. The Cantab Hall mare is owned by Martin Garey and Henry Wieseneck with Bob Johnson training and Mooney Svendsen in his usual spot in the sulky. Completing the Bergstein field are Windsun Galaxe, Silverlode, Franky Provolone, Dougs Hobby Horse and Franks Best. Races honor memory of Bergstein, Arnold Lloyd Arnold and Stan Bergstein, two legendary figures in harness racing, have races named in their honor this weekend at Cal Expo. The Lloyd Arnold Pace will be decided on Saturday night, while the Stan Bergstein Trot headlines Friday's program. Lloyd Arnold was an owner and track operator of the highest caliber. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 83. Originally the owner of Arnold Cattle Co. in Iowa, Mr. Arnold raced hundreds of horses in Illinois and across the Midwest throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. During that era, Mr. Arnold raced horses like Warm Breeze, who earned more than $250,000 in two seasons of racing in the mid-1970s, and Dancing David, who earned more than $200,000 in the 1960s. Warm Breeze took Mr. Arnold to racing's pinnacle for the first time when he set the all-age world record over this track, then known as Golden Bear Raceway. His top horses in later years included the pacing mare Sanabelle Island, who earned $1.6 million lifetime and won 57 of 110 starts. Also of note was Bagel Beach Boy, who won the 2001 Messenger and Matron stakes. In August 2003, Mr. Arnold bought Chevie Duramax, who then went on to set world records for 2-year-old pacing geldings on both mile and half-mile tracks. The fastest 3-year-old pacer in North America in 2004 belonged to Mr. Arnold as Quik Pulse Mindale won in 1:48 at Balmoral. In addition to being a prominent Standardbred owner, Mr. Arnold operated this track during those Golden Bear Raceway years and also bought Los Alamitos in the late 1980s, eventually selling the track to his partner, Ed Allred. Mr. Arnold was inducted into the California Harness Hall of Fame in April of 2008. He also enjoyed personal honors in 2001 when he was feted by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters at their annual awards dinner and received the Owner of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers' Association. Chris Bardis said, "Harness racing was one of Lloyd's great passions. He accomplished so much for the sport not only in California, but nationwide. He was 'Mr. Harness Racing.' "He conducted race meetings at Cal Expo, Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields, Del Mar, Pomona, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. I know of no one else who has had a greater impact on the harness world." Friday's Stan Bergstein Trot is named for the legendary figure in harness racing who passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. Mr. Bergstein was a harness racing titan who advocated for cooperation between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries to solve the sports' common problems. He stepped down in 2011 after many years as the executive vice president of Harness Tracks of America, the Standardbred industry's trade association. He was immediately appointed as the organization's first executive emeritus, and continued to advise the association and write guest columns for the Daily Racing Form until the weeks before his death. The only person to ever be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and its Communicators Hall of Fame, Mr. Bergstein worked in a wide variety of roles at racetracks, auction houses, announcer's booths, and racing publications, and he maintained extensive collections of harness-racing books and artwork. He was widely respected not only in the harness industry, but also in the Thoroughbred industry, and he served as a mentor to generations of young racing professionals through a close association with the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, located in Tucson, for the past 40 years. Mr. Bergstein was a forceful proponent of forging closer ties between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries, most notably in tackling medication abuse and problems with drug testing. In dozens of commentaries, Mr. Bergstein maintained that the Standardbred industry's problems were, or would be, those of the Thoroughbred industry, and that neglect of a problem in one sport would damage the other. Mr. Bergstein borrowed from the Thoroughbred industry early in his career, incorporating claiming races as a racing secretary while working at the Chicago tracks in the 1950s. At the time, the harness racing industry did not run claiming races, and they are now as commonplace in Standardbred racing as they are in Thoroughbred racing. Mr. Bergstein also spearheaded the creation of Standardbred Investigative Services, a security agency modeled after the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. A native of Illinois, Mr. Bergstein attended harness races as a young man and received a journalism degree from Northwestern University. He was the former executive editor of Hoof Beats magazine, and the former vice president of publicity and public relations for the United States Trotting Association. Cal Expo trackman/program director Marty Bridges credits Stan Bergstein with bringing him into harness racing as a profession. "After college and two years in the Army, I was employed by the small business association. At night, after work, I was a regular patron at Sportsman's Park and Maywood in Chicago. "My supervisor, a former sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News, knew of my interest and called Stan to set up a meeting. Surprisingly, I was to meet him at Du Quoin on Hambletonian Day. Watching Stan call the races from a slightly elevated booth on the infield adjacent to the finish line was thrilling and between races we talked about racing, horses, drivers and trainers. "His knowledge of the sport was amazing and I had never met anyone like him, and still haven't. He introduced me to John Tinsley, the program director for all the Chicago tracks and John hired me on the spot. It's been a great ride, doing something I love." Gene Vallandingham first met Stan Bergstein in 1959 when he was working for the legendary Joe O'Brien. "Stan came to Joe's farm every spring for the annual Camptown racing weekend, when all of Shafter would be there for a day of racing. Stan was the true voice of harness racing, he was liked by all and I miss him." Chris Schick said, "Stan was foremost a kind and compassionate person. He was a true visionary in the harness racing industry. In 1979, well before simulcasting, he so rightly stated the future of the industry was in how well we brought the product to the public. He was also very vocal of the industry for being reluctant to embrace change. Our industry lost a giant when he passed." By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

After playing a supporting role in the first three stakes dances at Cal Expo for the sophomore pacing fillies, including breaks in the first pair, Glad to Meet Ya was the star of last Saturday night's harness racing get-together with a six and a half-length romp with Luke Plano. Sent off the 4-1 second choice behind the 1-5 Goturnumber, who had crushed her rivals in the previous two Sire Stakes, Glad to Meet Ya is a Disco Devil homebred who goes about her business Billie Schwartz and co-owner/trainer Junior Wilkinson. This group will get another chance to settle the score in a couple of weeks, with the four big clashes having seen three different winners, with Brigitte Bordeaux having accounted for the first one back on March 10. Last Saturday night was also a big one for owners Richard Morita and David Yamada and trainer Lino Pacheco as they made three trips to the winner's circle. They started off the hat trick with Bettor's Promise in the co-featured Open II Pace to kick off the program, then added victories with another Bettor's Delight offspring in Bettor Lady in the seventh stanza and also had Lincoln posing for snapshots following the evening's penultimate 10th affair. Speaking of landing in the charmed enclosure, the trotter Manley Stanley made it five wins from the last six appearances for owner/trainer Lisa Capioso and pilot Rene Goulet with a facile tally. Manley Stanley, who has been known to accompany Lisa to her day job as teacher, was on his best behavior for this go-around after making a rare early miscue in his previous start and missing by a nose. Trio of Opens get the marquee treatment Three Open races are featured on Saturday night's program at Cal Expo with Pridecrest, I'm An Athlete and Delightfully Wild heading the Open Trot, Open Pace and Distaff Open, respectively. There will be 10 races decided under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:40 p.m. Pridecrest is a 6-year-old son of Angus Hall who races for Heather Matthews with Luke Plano reining and training. He has won seven of his eight starts at this meet, with four of them coming from the demanding No. 10 post position. Pridecrest established a new track record in his first start at the meet on November 3, going coast-to-coast while posting a 1:53 2/5 clocking. He followed that with five more straight scores, the last four from the 10 slot. The Matthews colorbearer tasted defeat for the first time here on March 3, when he was beaten a neck by Talkin Tootsie, then got his revenge at most recent asking as he waltzed home by almost six lengths while making every pole a winning one from the outside slot in a field of five. He has the 10 post this weekend. I'm An Athlete, who has rattled off back-to-back victories at the head of the class, including a life-time best 1:51 mile at most recent asking, looks to keep the momentum going in the Open Pace. An 8-year-old son of Art Major out of the Cam's Card Shark mare Female Champs, I'm An Athlete carries the banner of Ronald Rettig-Zucchi with Jessie Pacheco doing the training and James Kennedy in his usual spot in the sulky. The hard-hitting veteran has posed for pictures following five of his 10 starts on the year after capturing 7 of his 30 trips to the post last season. He will do his work from the outside post in the field of seven. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

The pacing mares Cenalta Call Girl and Delightfully Wild come into this week's action at Cal Expo with significant winning streaks in tow. Cenalta Call Girl has put together four straight wins for driver/trainer Rene Goulet in the conditioned ranks, while Delightfully Wild has posted back-to-back victories in the Distaff Open for trainer Lino Pacheco and regular pilot James Kennedy. Cenalta Call Girl is co-owned by Goulet with Myrna Empey and has been saving her best for last in her four scores. She cut it a little too close for comfort in last week's mile, as she was shuffled during the middle stages of the race but was able to shake loose in deep stretch and was up by a head in a lifetime-best 1:53 1/5 mile. Meanwhile, Delightfully Wild has established herself as the top pacing mare on the grounds with four wins from the last five Filly and Mare Opens for Pacheco, Kennedy and co-owners Richard Morita and David Yamada. In her March 16 victory that was contested over a good track, she got the job done by a length and a quarter and lowered her mark to 1:53 2/5 in the process. "We bought Delightfully a little over a year ago at the Delaware sale and Gretchen Smith picked her out for us," said Morita. "It was on the final day of the sale and sometimes the 'best buys' are the ones you don't get, and we were lucky to get her after missing out on some of our earlier bids. "Lino has kept her sharp and has been impressed with how strong she has become. She's matured and can now better use her speed." Shark Festival has top billing in headliner Shark Festival, who has a powerful finish and gets some class relief; looms the one to beat in Friday night's featured Filly and Mare Open II Pace. There will be 11 races under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There will also be two California Sire Stakes decided as a non-betting events prior to the regular action. Shark Festival is a 7-year-old daughter of Shadow Play out of the Cam's Card Shark mare Shark Fest who competes for Medinah Racing and Scott Ehrlich with Kathie Plested training and Mooney Svendsen at the controls. The long-fused distaffer has made two trips to the winner's circle from 12 starts on the season, the most recent coming in a conditioned affair on March 9 where she ignited when it counted for Steve Wiseman and was up by a neck as the 9-5 choice. In last week's outing at the Open level, bay miss put in her usual generous finish, coming home in :26 4/5 to complete the exacta behind current division queenpin Delightfully Wild while once again coming that final quarter in :26 and change. One of her strongest challenges could come from stablemate Boozer Bruiser, who recorded back-to-back wins here earlier in the meet for owner/trainer Plested with Wiseman at the helm. She was sixth in last week's Open after finding herself well back turning for home. Completing the field are Kiss On The Lips from the Gerry Longo shedrow; the George Reider-conditioned Getter Queen Flush; and Moonshinemonkeys, who hails from the Rick Bertrand barn and will leave from the rail slot. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Getter Queen Flush is coming off back-to-back solid efforts while joining forces with harness racing pilot Steve Wiseman for the first time, the most recent resulting in a head victory last weekend. The 6-year-old pacing daughter of Jk Royal Flush is owned by Geoge Reider, Dave and Rob Haness and Richard Thomas with Reider doing the training. She set her lifetime mark of 1:53 1/5 here in February with Mooney Svendsen in the bike. Two starts back, Getter Queen Flush ended up in a tough spot at the back of the pack early and found herself with too much to do in the lane while eventually finishing second, then had clear sailing in last week's tour and prevailed as the 3-5 favorite. "I was driving her for the first time two weeks ago and I outthought myself and got her locked in," Wiseman related. "This last mile we got a good trip and she dug in after that horse got past her nearing the wire." As for Reider, he's became a real fan of this hard-knocking performer. "There isn't anything I don't like about this mare," he noted. "She's a pleasure to be around and she tries hard every time." George also noted that Getter Queen Flush didn't know what a carrot or an apple was when she came to his barn, "But now she's a carrot and apple eating machine." She's also turned into quite a machine over the Cal Expo layout, posing for snapshots following four of her 12 races on the year. Will she add to that total in the coming weeks? Stay tuned. Eastender has top billing in featured Pace Eastender, who has been knocking heads with the top pacers on the grounds, gets some class relief and heads the field for Friday night's main event. Watch and Wager LLC will present 12 races with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There will also be a trio of California Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old pacers and trotters decided as non-betting events prior to the regular card. A 7-year-old son of Cheyenne Rei out of the Abercrombie mare Eastside Becky, Eastender is owned by Maryann Plano and Nikki Hudson and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. Eastender will be looking for his first win on the year in his seventh trip to the post, but has been doing the majority of his work at the Open level while taking on the likes of division leaders Allymx'sliventexas and I'm An Athlete. He made nine trips to the winner's circle last season, including a lifetime-best 1:52 2/5 score over this layout and should hit very hard in Friday's softer spot. He will do his work from the No. 6 post in the field of seven. Gordie Graham will send out a solid pair in Bettor in the Bank and Prodigal and they will both have a serious say in the outcome with their top miles. Rounding out the cast are Dontdoubthelakers, who takes his lessons from Lester Smith; the Lino Pacheco-conditioned Pancetta; Julerica from the Richard Remillard shedrow; and the Rene Goulet trained-and-driven Blue Star Maverick. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

After spending several years under the tutelage of his father Lino, 25-year-old Jessie Pacheco is making a name for himself here at Cal Expo, including a four-bagger on last Saturday night's harness racing program. Among the performers in Jessie's barn is the hard-hitting 8-year-old I'm An Athlete, who races for Ronald Rettig-Zucchi and has several wins in the Open Pace to his credit at this meeting, with last week's top dance among his triumphs. Jessie was born in California, but after an accident at age 1, he went to Mexico to live with his mother. While visiting his father at age 9, he was exposed to harness racing and upon his return to the States at 18 he set out to make it his life's work. "In Mexico I rode quarter horses, but I knew I wanted to come back here and work with my dad and the harness horses," he explained. It was two years ago that Pacheco took out his trainer's license and he has been making a steady stream of visits to the winner's circle at this meeting. "Everything I know about this sport I learned from my dad. I also want to thank the owners who have been very supportive." In addition to training, Jessie is slowly segueing into driving with a few evening ventures to his credit at this meeting. "I definitely need to get more experience with the driving," he noted. "Right now, I'm concentrating on the training." Talkin Tootsie, Silverlode headline main event Talkin Tootsie, who has won three of her last five starts including an upset over division leader Pridecrest two weeks ago; and the hard-hitting Silverlode loom the top combatants in Friday night's $5,500 Open II Trot. There will be 12 races on the Watch and Wager LLC program with the headliner going as the fourth event on the evening. A pair of $6,500 California Sire Stakes will be decided as non-betting events prior to the regular card. Talkin Tootsie is a 5-year-old daughter of Cantab Hall from the Westgate Crown mare Minnesota Carol who carries the banner of Martin Garey and Henry Wieseneck, takes her lessons from Bob Johnson and will once again have Mooney Svendsen giving directions. Two weeks ago in the Open Trot, Talkin Tootsie was patient early, began to pick up momentum turning for home and hung a neck decision on the 1-5 Pridecrest in a 1:57 2/5 performance. In last week's clash at the head of the trotting class, Pridecrest returning to his winning ways with a coast-to-coast score, while Talkin Tootsie sat the pocket and had to settle for third that evening. Silverlode was up to nail her for the place money in that affair and like Talkin Tootsie will appreciate getting away from Pridecrest. She is a 9-year-old British Sterling homebred who races for the Desomer Stables with Vickie Desomer conditioning and Steve Wiseman in the sulky. Completing the field are Silverhill Volo, The Evictor, Franks Best, Windsun Galaxie and Dougs Hobby Horse. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

There are two harness racing bets offered here at Cal Expo each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate, those being the 50-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 5 is offered on the first five races each night, while the Pick 4 is held on the final four races on the card. In addition, on Saturday nights there is a $50,000-guaranteed pool for the Pick 4, with a $40,000 guarantee on Fridays. To give you some idea how this low takeout translates into real money, last Friday evening's Pick 4 contested over a sloppy track saw favorites struggling and resulted in a $4,408.96 payoff for each correct 20-cent ticket. Using the regular takeout rate, the payoff would have been $3,936, a difference of a cool $472 per winning ducket. The tone for last Friday's sequence was set by Rockinaroundheaven, who appeared to have his work cut out from the No. 8 post, but Chip Lackey let his charge fall well back early and then made a steady first-over move to the lead in the stretch while obviously loving the off going. Directing Traffic likewise came from well back to capture the featured Filly and Mare Open for trainer Junior Wilkinson and pilot Luke Plano, while Laissemoipicoler used late heroics to post an $18 upset in the penultimate leg. That set the table for Cordees Fantasy in the nitecap at 12-1 for the Richard Remillard/Gary Clark combination. Like the other winners in the sequence, she left from an outside post and took her time through the early stages, then rolled late through the slop to get the job done. Sire Stakes, Distaff Open atop the marquee The first $6,500 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing fillies and a $5,500 Filly and Mare Open Pace get the spotlight treatment Saturday night at Cal Expo. Things get underway at 6:10 p.m. under the Watch and Wager LLC banner, with the Sire Stakes going as the second on the 11-race card, while the Distaff Open occupies the 10th-race slot. The field for the Sire Stakes will line up this way: Glad to Meet Ya from the Junior Wilkinson barn with Luke Plano guiding; the Robin Clements-trained Pep Rally with Steve Wiseman; James Kennedy will guide Goturnumber for Gordie Graham; the Pierre Girard reined-and-trained Lucky Seven Oflodi; and Brigitte Bordeaux for trainer Bob Johnson with Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. Directing Traffic, who last week added her name to the distaffers who have captured a Filly and Mare Open Pace at this meet, looks to do an encore in the co-featured Open. Directing Traffic is a 6-year-old daughter of Real Desire from the Park Place mare Park It Ashley who is owned by Junior Wilkinson and Billie Schwartz, takes her lessons from Wilkinson and will once again have Luke Plano giving directions. In last week's clash at the head of the class over a sloppy racetrack, the bay mare was reserved early and sat double digits off the leader in the opening stages. She began to pick up some momentum from the outside on the final bend, then stormed home in the stretch to win going away by two and a half lengths. Shesamysterytome will be looking to make amends after checking in third as the 6-5 favorite in last week's Distaff Open. She was hard used on the front end on an off track that favored closers as the night progressed and looms large for owners Ashlee Sluggett and Trevor Williams and driver/trainer Ryan Grundy. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Pridecrest, who has rattled off five straight dominating victories at the top rung since arriving from the Midwest, looks to extend that harness racing streak Saturday night in the $6,600 Open Trot at Cal Expo. An 11-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event is scheduled as the third contest of the evening. Pridecrest put his name in the record books here on November 11 when he toured the Sacramento oval in coast-to-coast fashion in 1:53 2/5 to establish a new track record. For the fourth straight time, Pridecrest will be asked to start from the assigned No. 10 post position this weekend with trainer Luke Plano at the controls behind the Mark Hinshaw colorbearer. The 6-year-old son of Angus Hall has been ultra impressive in his five scores here, the most recent coming in the January 13 Open. As mentioned earlier, the last three have been recorded from this demanding 10 post, including his November 25 decision that came after he made a break before the start. The dark-hued sidewheeler registered one of those victories on the front end, three have come from a stalking position and his most recent saw him making a power brush to the lead at the half that led to a three and three-quarters lengths victory as the 1-5 favorite. Looking for an upset this weekend are Silverlode, Silverhill Volo, Talkin Tootsie, Wisom Kelly, Windsun Galaxie and The Evictor. Clements eyes special victory in Grundy Trot Robin Clements will send out Franky Provolone in next Friday night's Jim Grundy Final, and would love to win not only for her beloved trotter but because of the person for whom this race is named. "I was fortunate to know Jim when he and his wife Debbie had a big stable and he was at the top of his game," Robin related. "Jim was a heck of a horseman, especially with the young horses, and he was always dominant in the stakes races. "He could be kind of a gruff guy at times, but he had a big heart for the animals, especially for the dogs." Clements recalled a specific incident with the mare Taxi Dancer that involved Grundy. "When I first got Taxi Dancer, I was out training her and as I was coming back, I passed Jim who was standing by the rail. "He yelled to me to 'drop that mare's head', meaning to lower her overcheck. I told him this is Taxi Dancer and she can pull, but he yelled back that he knew who she was and I should drop the head! "I went back to the barn and lowered her overcheck, and she won her next start and even set a new lifetime mark. After that race I saw Jim and he said he could see that mare wanted her head between her knees and started to laugh." By the way, Taxi Dancer won 36 races for Robin with that "low head". By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness  

Harness racing trainer Jessie Pacheco had a night to remember at Cal Expo last Saturday, as he sent out the winners of the Lonnie Beck Final and the Open Pace, with those horses returning $55 and $28, respectively. Cantholdmebackmack got the ball rolling in the Beck Final with William Hernandez at the controls. He looped the field to be up by a half-length in a 1:53 1/5 tour of the Cal Expo oval. A couple of hours later, the Pacheco-trained I'm An Athlete was posing for pictures after his upset score in the Open Pace with James Kennedy at the helm, igniting when it counted to win going away by a length and a half in a 1:52 3/5 mile. Cantholdmebackmack is owned and trained by Pacheco and was returning to the sharp form that saw him capturing an opening leg of the Shelly Goudreau earlier in the meet, while I'm An Athlete has been a major player around these parts for several years while carrying the banner of Ronald Rettig-Zucchi. Hernandez, by the way, added another lighting up of the toteboard a bit later in the evening when he posted a $52 score with Lucky Jewel in a conditioned affair for trainer Junior Wilkinson. That kind of thing will definitely make you the delight of the longshot players. *** The guaranteed gross pool for the 20-cent Pick 4 has now been raised to $40,000. Both the Pick 4 and the 50-cent Pick 5 here at Cal Expo offer a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. I'm An Athlete seeks Open Pace encore I'm An Athlete, fresh from an upset at the head of the class, looks for a repeat mile in Saturday night's featured $6,000 Open Pace. A 12-race program is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The main event will go as the third event on the evening. I'm An Athlete is an 8-year-old son of Art Major out of the Cam's Card Shark mare Female Champs who races for Ronand Rettig-Zucchi, is conditioned by Jessie Pacheco and will be handled by James Kennedy. In last week's top dance while leaving from the demanding outside post in the field of nine, the veteran left into a mid-pack spot, tracked the swift fractions to the stretch and came home smartly to seal the deal by a length and a half in a 1:52 3/5 performance. Completing the exacta in that affair behind the 13-1 I'm An Athlete was the 15-1 Almost Cut My Hair. This 4-year-old goes about his business for owner Hank Wieseneck, trainer Bob Johnson and driver Nick Roland and has posed for snapshots following two of his last five outings. Last of the nine in the early stages of last week's top dance which saw blazing fractions of :26, 55 1/5 and 1:24, Almost Cut My Hair put in a strong late move to be up the place spot. Rounding out the cast are Ragin's Flight with Steve Wiseman; Cantholdbackthemack with William Hernandez; Eastender for Luke Plano; and Jazzmanian Devil, who will have the services of Mooney Svendsen. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Trainer Bob Johnson will attempt to capture Saturday night's Lonnie Beck Pace with Allmyxsliventexas for owner/breeders Wayne and Rod Knittel, and a harness racing victory at Cal Expo would be fitting as Johnson conditioned several outstanding performers who raced under the Beck banner. Lonnie Beck passed away in 2002 at the age of 68. "Lonnie was very important as both an owner and a breeder in California, especially during the time we needed it most," Johnson said. "I remember one year we went back to the Harrisburg sale and he bought 12 horses to bring back here to race. He made a big difference." Beck was certainly one of the most important owner/breeders of the last several decades while campaigning some of the top performers on the West Coast, including Givemewhatineed, his son Ivegotwhatuneed and Mel's Best, just to name a few. *** 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 is decided on the first five races of the evening; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool. Last Saturday night's Pick 5 featured winners that paid $3.80, $11.40, $11.80, $12.40 and $12.80, respectively, returning a healthy $7,137 for each 50-cent ticket. Using the regular takeout rate, each winning combination would have been worth $6,372, a difference of $765. Now that's value. Lonnie Beck Pace brings out solid cast The $8,300 Lonnie Back Pace has the top billing Saturday night at Cal Expo, with last week's Prep winner FF Bigshow among the major players. There will be 11 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The co-feature is a $6,600 Open Pace that finds Gorgeous For Real eyeing his third straight victory at the head of the class. To give you some idea how contentious the Lonnie Beck figures to be, last week's Prep for this event saw the first four horses separated by the grand total of a neck, with FF Bigshow prevailing in a 1:54 mile that evening. A 7-year-old son of Relentless Yankee, FF Bigshow is owned by George Reider, Greg Robinson and David Siegel, is conditioned by Reider and will have Luke Plano giving directions. In last week's outing, the pacer was shuffled to next-to-last at the half, found room late in the drive and ignited when it counted for Plano to get the nod over Allmyxsliventexas, who in turn narrowly got the place over Senga Nitro and Beacon Of Hope. Allmyxsliventexas is 5-year-old Hi Ho Silverheel's homebred who competes for Wayne and Rod Knittel with Bob Johnson handling the training duties and Nick Roland in the sulky. He was a 1:51 4/5 winner at Running Aces last summer and will be tough no matter how things shake out early. Rounding out the cast are the aforementioned pair of Senga Nitro and Beacon Of Hope along with I'm Blue Too and Cantholdmebackmack. The feature goes as the third race on the card. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Harness racing driver James Kennedy was able to work out a perfect trip from the rail with Walker Meister in last weekend's Shelly Goudreau Final at Cal Expo, rewarding his backers to the tune of $27 while lowering his lifetime mark to 1:52 3/5 in the process. Walker Meister goes about his business for George Reider and Rob, Kim and Dave Haness with Reider doing the conditioning, and it was a very special win for all involved. "I knew Shelly Goudreau and he drove a few horses that I paddocked back in the early 80s," Reider noted after Walker Meister's score. "I'll never forget when he won on a horse for me named Dalmead. "He was bigger than life to me as a kid back then, and I used to say that he had more talent in his baby finger than most people have in their whole body." George was paddocking a horse named Tajamon the night that Shelly Goudreau lost his life in a tragic accident in a race at Hollywood Park on August 27, 1982. "That was one of the saddest nights of my life," Reider recalled. "Shelly Goudreau was a great man and a great driver." As for Walker Meister, Reider said, "He's a tough horse with a bad wheel, and a lot of the credit has to go to his groom Jose Castillo, who we call Chicky, because he has to work very hard to keep that leg together." Open Trot, Pace getting marquee treatment A $6,000 Open Trot headed by the streaking Pridecrest and a $6,600 Open Pace that has enticed a contentious cast of 10 are the highlights on Saturday night's program at Cal Expo. There will be 11 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The Open Trot goes as the second event while the Open Pace occupies the 9th-race slot on the card. Pridecrest comes into the Open Trot having captured all four of his starts at this meet in impressive fashion since coming in from the Midwest. The 5-year-old son of Angus Hall is owned by Mark Hinshaw and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. Pridecrest established a track record when he won his local debut on November 3 in 1:53 2/5 and he has added three more victories, including the last pair while doing his work from the demanding No. 10 post, from which he will once again leave this weekend. Taking him on from the rail out are Majestic Lady Jo, Windsun Galaxie, The Evictor, Silverhill Volo and Talkin Tootsie. The Open Pace looms a wide-open affair with a full field set to face the starter. Eastender took the most recent clash at the head of the class on December 26 and will depart from the outside slot in the co-feature. A 6-year-old son of Cheyenne Rei, Eastender is owned by Maryann Plano and Nikki Hudson and will attempt to give driver/trainer Luke Plano a sweep of the featured events on Saturday's program. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness  

The $10,200 Robert Gordon final headed by Mystery Dragon and Major Jesse and the $9,000 Shelly Goudreau final featuring Lucky Ivan and Cantholdmeback highlight Saturday night's harness racing action at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races on the evening under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. Mystery Dragon and Major Jessie captured last weekend's Gordon eliminations with identical 1:54 2/5 clocking with James Kennedy in the sulky for both scores. Mystery Dragon went off at 4-1 in his heat, while Major Jessie returned $27 to his backers. Mystery Dragon is a newly turned 4-year-old son of Mystery Chase who is owned and trained by Richard Schneider. He has accounted for four of his seven appearances at this meeting and did the stalk-and-pounce to perfection in last Saturday's score that saw him prevailing by a length and a half. Major Jesse is by Art Major out of the Bettor's Delight mare Hannah Isabel who goes about his business for Ronald Rettig-Zucchi with Jessie Pacheco the conditioner. He was able to work out a perfect pocket trip in last week's decision with the 1:54 2/5 tour being a new lifetime standard. Looking at the Goudreau final, Lucky Ivan and Cantholdmeback were victorious in their elimination races and Luke Plano was at the helm for those scores.. Both pacers went off favored in their respective contests. Lucky Ivan is owned and trained by Rick Bertrand and equaled his career mark with the 1:54 2/5 decision, while Cantholdmeback is owned and trained by Jessie Pacheco and will be gunning for his fourth victory from his last six trips to the post. Races honor memory of Gordon, Goudreau Saturday night's Robert Gordon and Shelly Goudreau finals are named for two legendary figures in California harness racing. Robert Gordon passed away in 2006 at the age of 65, while Shelly Goudreau died as the result of a racing accident at Hollywood Park in 1982 at the age of 34. Gordon started his 40-year career in Ohio and learned his lessons under the outstanding horseman Bob Farrington. He eventually settled in California and was a mainstay at the top of the trainer standings from the late 70s through the early 90s, conditioning such stars as Stand By N, Theora Hanover and Pack Leader. Stand By N raced under the banner of Bob and Loretta Staats stable and she was his all-time favorite. The Down Under import had a 1:52 career standard and banked $255,000 in a brilliant career on the racetrack, then went on to be an equally outstanding broodmare. She was inducted in the California Hall of Fame in 2010. Robert Gordon was a past president of the Western Harness Standardbred Association and the California Harness Horse Breeders Association, while in the early 90s he served as a director of the USTA. He was president of Premier Harness Racing, which raced at Los Alamitos, and was instrumental in keeping the sport alive in California in the mid 90s at a time when harness racing was definitely on the ropes. Gordon was also director of backstretch operations for the Sacramento Harness Association and helped in starting the not-for-profit corporation, which was operating at Cal Expo at the time of his death. Steve and Vickie Desomer have fond memories of their many years side-by-side with Gordon. "When Steve broke his leg in a racing accident, we turned the horses over to Bob, she recalled. It was the most fun we have had in the business no stress and great results. By the way, in addition to be an excellent horseman, Bob was always extremely good to his help. He always looked out for them and helped in any way he could." Shelly Goudreau passed away from injuries sustained in a racing accident at Hollywood Park on August 27, 1982 and suffered severe injuries. Six days later, on September 2, Goudreau, who was just 34 at the time, passed away. Goudreau first got his driving license in 1966 at the age of 18 and soon led all reinsmen at Windsor Raceway for two consecutive years. It wasn't long before he ventured to the United States to compete at several Michigan tracks. Goudreau made the trek to California in 1977 and immediately went to the top of the driving colony. While competing at Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos, he won the most races and earned the most purse monies on that circuit for two consecutive years. He came back east to compete at Roosevelt Raceway and Yonkers Raceway and won many major stakes in New York, including the $200,000 George Morton Levy Pace in 1979 in track-record time at Roosevelt. Goudreau drove at the Meadowlands Racetrack and was once again successful. He competed at the 'Big M' against another up-and-coming driver at the time named John Campbell, as well as a familiar face from home in Ray Remmen. The 1981 season proved to be Goudreau's best year. He competed in both the Hambletonian (with Santa Ana) and the Little Brown Jug (with Freedom Fella). He won 170 races and earned $2.3 million in purses that year - gaudy numbers for the then-33-year-old. During his career, Goudreau was responsible for the success of such horses as Genghis Khan (p, 1:51.4 $983,467), Try Scotch (p, 1:54.3 $956,770), Tijuana Taxi (p, 1:54.3 $784,306), Apollos Way (p, 1:56 $502,536), Freedom Fella (p, 1:54.4 $491,790), Tender Loving Care (p, 1:52.4 $327,822) and Superman (1:58.1 $140,794). In his short career he amassed 2,291 wins and $12,942,265 in purse money. At the time of his death he was eighth in the North American driver standings. He was inducted into the Canadian Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1983. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness        

Smash has been a solid performer for harness racing owner/breeders Junior Wilkinson and Billie Schwartz, with some Sire Stakes trophies on her mantle and a 1:53 /5 mark that was established this summer at Hoosier Park under Wilkinson's direction. The dark-hued daughter of Little Steven has posed for pictures twice at this meeting in conditioned company and is coming off a good runner-up finish behind Shesamysterytome in last week's Filly and Mare Open at Cal Expo. "We bred her and we bred her mother I Need A Miracle and we're proud of both of them," Wilkinson related. "She's a full sister to A Real Miracle and she's been good to us. "She's had too much for them when we've been able to drop her into conditioned spots, and her last start in the Open was very good because she got a little unlucky and then was flying at the end." Smash is set to make her next start Friday night as she once again takes on a solid group of fillies and mares, including last week's victress Shesamysterytome, in the featured Open. She was among four in the field who were assigned to draw for outside posts and unfortunately got the short straw in this case and will have to do her work from the from the No. 8 slot for this go-around. Distaff Open brings out well-matched field An evenly-matched field of eight pacing fillies and mares will do battle in Friday night's featured $6,600 Open, with Shesamystertome seeking a repeat score at the head of the class. The main event will go as the 7th contest on an 11-race card under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. Shesamysterytome is a 3-year-old daughter of Mystery Chase who carries the banner of Ashley Sluggett and Trevor Williams and is trained and driven by Ryan Grundy. She has prevailed in three of her four starts at this session since coming in from Canada. After capturing a pair of conditioned events in her first two outings at this meet, she finished second behind Capitol Hill in her next try. Suiting up from the rail in last week's top clash for this group, Shesamystertome made what proved to be the winning brush to the lead past the quarter and went on to a length and a quarter score while rewarding her backers to the tune of $20.40. Capitol Hill had to settle for a fourth as the mild favorite in that affair, but has several Open scores at this stand. George McChrystal and Kathie Plested own, Plested trains and Steve Wiseman will once again be at the controls. Sparkin Your Fire accounted for back-to-back top dances earlier this month and figures right in the thick of things. Gerry Longo trains for Peg Hoffman with Mooney Svendsen in the bike and this mare set a lifetime mark of 1:54 with her December 1 decision here. Rounding out the field are Smash, Windsong Lindsey, Delightfully Wild, Rush And A Brush and If You Say So. *** 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 of $30,000. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

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