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From Mar 20, 1963 Harness Horse - Santa Anita Park


Getting up in the last stride, Running Springs Ranch's Conejo Chief nipped heavily favored Pride Woollen to capture the opening day featured Arcadia Pace this afternoon before a crowd of 7,938.

The co‑featured event—The Girl of the Golden West—saw Meadow Russ score a length victory in 2:03 over Straight A., with Meadow Skipper, going as a Del Miller‑trained entry with the winner, getting up for third. Del Miller failed to show up for the opening day program, being snow‑bound in Chicago, so Joe O'Brien replaced him and registered the win behind Meadow Russ.

Pride Woollen, also driven by Joe O'Brien, led all the way to the wire but Russell Valles Key shot Conejo Chief up on the inside to win by a nose. Dugo was another half‑length back for third in the mile event, which was paced in a creditable 2:024/5.

Jim Dennis, the leading driver at the last three Western Harness meetings, started off on the right foot by scoring a double. He hit with Sceptre in the fifth and Counselor in the sixth. However, Jimmy Cruise, who tied with Dennis for the driver title last fall at Hollywood Park, trained the first three winners on the card, although he drove only one of them. His assistants, Donald Norman and Jimmy Schue, scored behind Sir Gallon in the first and Newport Buell in the second for both ends of the daily double, which returned $38.60. Cruise won with Worthy Willow in the third.

Marshall J. (Jimmy) Schue, 26‑year‑old son of prominent horseman Benny Schue, was successful in his Western Harness driving debut opening day behind Jimmy Cruise's Newport Buell, one of the biggest horses on the grounds. Jimmy, recently married, is now one of Cruise's chief assistants, replacing former jockey Euclid LeBlanc. Jimmy won 15 races last year racing on the Chicago circuit.

California Lad, a starter opening day, has won more Western Harness events than any other active horse. . . . The 13‑year‑old gelding has registered 15 victories under the Western Harness banner.... Two retired sidewheelers, Ozark Chief and Power Chief, are tied for the all‑time lead with is successes.

Grabbing the lead promptly after the start of the race, Fitment maintained his advantage all the way to the wire to capture the featured San Gabriel Pace before a crowd of 6,870 fans. The New Zealand‑bred gelding driven by Jacques Grenier, held off the stretch challenge of the 8‑5 choice, Indian Fog, to win by a length and a half, while Miss Sea Tac was the same distance behind Indian Fog for third. Winning time of the mile event was 2:032/5. Grenier registered a double as he also connected with Worthy Mon in the ninth race.

An oddity popped up in the third race when Countess Adios, which had won over $300,000 in four years of competition as a pacer, made her debut as a trotter and won easily in the time of 2:064/5. Countess Adios, considered a maiden in the trotting ranks despite her huge bankroll as a pacer, was driven by Del Miller, who arrived yesterday.

Countess Adios was one of five straight favorites which scored from the second race lthrough the sixth.

Surging to the front at the top of the stretch, Joey Montgomery went on to capture the featured Spring Maturity Preview Trot before a crowd of 6,640 spectators. Major S., going as an entry with the winner, led the field all the way to the head of the stretch and then gave way to his stablemate, winding up fifth. Joey Montgomery finished a half‑length in front of Blaze Eden, that was another half‑length ahead of the third place horse, Natchez. The 5‑2 choice, Sophia Hanover, was fourth.
Owned by New Yorkers Saul Finkelstein and his driver Jimmy Cruise, the winner was clocked in 2:034/5.

As a result of the victory, Joey Montgomery figures as the horse to beat in the Spring Maturity Trot on Saturday, March 23. This will be the first of four $20,000 events which Western Harness will stage at Santa Anita this spring.

An accident at the top of the far turn marred the second race as Pamper C., with Jack Williams, Jr. in the sulky, got caught in close quarters and fell, and Rapid Goose, trailing the field at the time, jammed into the fallen horse and also went down. Neither of the two horses or their drivers—Williams and William Bailey—were injured.

George Wampetich, former assistant trainer to Joe O'Brien but now training horses on his own, made his Santa Anita debut a successful one, connecting on two winners in three starts. Wampetich, a Hungarian refugee, escaped from Budapest in 1956.

David Gulley's Avalon Bomber, driven by Joe O'Brien, upset the applecart for an $18 payoff in winning the featured $10,000 Elks Trot. A crowd of 18,068 fans, including 5,196 members of various Elks lodges in Southern California, braved the cold and rainy weather to attend the first Saturday program of the season.

Avalon Bomber took the lead coming around the far turn and staved off the challenge of Carolina Rodney to win by a length in 2:063/5 over a track listed as sloppy. Regal Pick was third.

Although Avalon Bomber is trained by Jim Dennis, he went uncoupled from the entry of Carolina Rodney and Camas B., both owned by Victor and Morris Zeinfeld. Joe O'Brien drove the winner while Dennis handled Carolina Rodney and his brother Ted Dennis was behind Camas B.

Saul Finkelstein's Mr. Budlong tuned up for the bigger races during the meeting by taking the co‑featured $7,500 Long Beach Elks Pace, staving off Star Gem by a half‑length at the wire. Shadydale Monitor, the 8‑5 second choice, was third, another two and a quarter lengths behind the second horse.

Mr. Budlong took over the lead from Shadydale Monitor on the backstretch, while Star Gem remained in fourth place. The latter made his move coming around the turn, pulling even with Mr. Budlong at the seven‑eighths pole. However, Mr. Budlong slowly pulled away to win it in 2:023/5 for Jimmy Cruise.

The good‑looking stallion Lumber Dream p, 3, 1:582/5, that Bill Lachenmaier bought from Ed Schafer to replace his Freeman Hanover, has been shipped back to the farm. The Knight Dream horse, that has been such a problem in spite of his great speed, was bred to four mares this winter, then trained down to 2:05 in expectation of qualifying him for action during the meet. His name has been changed back to Tilly's Boy, a monicker he held before Shafer bought him as a coming three‑year‑old ... Conejo Chief, winner of the opening day feature, nicked a tendon in that race, but appears to be sound ... Proceeds from the Elks admission on Saturday went to that groups Cerebral Palsy program . . . Hi Sammy got fifth money in the ninth race last Wednesday even though only four horses finished. USTA rules state that in such cases the unoffending horse or horses be awarded the purse money in question. The judges ruled Shafter Broke was at fault, so Hi Sammy got the loot ... Jimmy Cruise's stable had three wins, three seconds and one third in seven tries on opening day to pick up a tidy $4,817 . . . Don Millar, executive vicepresident of the USTA arrived after being snowbound. He also plans to attend the National Assn. of State Racing Commissions in Phoenix ... There are four listed women trainers on the grounds, Sara Kent, Ruth McGonagle, Helen Morrissey, and Jeane Ray ... John Hewitt, celebrated his 93rd birthday Saturday by presenting the Elks trophy. He, along with the late Nye Williams of the WHRA staff, fathered the Elks Day program back in 1955 ... 22­year‑old Donnie McKirgan made his debut behind Vamp Hanover, and the Ohioian is expected to see plenty of action for Del Miller. He joined the stable in December at Del Mar . . . The morning workouts, along with the Continental breakfasts, are proving most popular with 100 fans on hand some mornings . . . Dick Buxton flew in for one race, then went back to Ohio. He's expected next week along with wife for an extended visit ... Jimmy Cruise and Jim Dennis each got four wins in as many days. Seven other reinsmen hit the winner's circle twice to trail the leaders to date.

Eddie Wheeler reins Emory Hanover home handily in 2:013/5, fastest time of the meeting. The mountains that the camera brings so close certainly make quite a background. The Countess makes her official trotting debut a successful one with a 2:064/5 victory for Del Miller. Jimmy Cruise was second with Bar Lady. Countess Adios had won over $300,000 pacing, so now she's the top earning double‑gaited performer.

Joe O'Brien subbing for a snowbound Del Miller, sends the sophomore Meadow Russ over the Santa Anita mile in 2:03 to beat his stablemate Meadow Skipper (2‑E. Wheeler) and Straight A., (6‑J. Williams, Jr.) in the $3,000 Girl of the Golden West, a feature of WHRA's opener.

Gus Rieffel (second from the left) of the District Attorney's office in Philadelphia, Penna., visits the winners' circle to congratulate Vic Zeinfeld and his wife Rita after their fast Scottish Pence pacer Counselor scored in 2:024/5 for Jim Dennis on the meeting's opening day card.