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From Ho-Hum To High Octane At Cal Expo
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Lily’s Hi Ho is one of the best developments in recent memory at Cal Expo, going from a modest pacer a few months ago to putting together a six-race winning streak.  His most recent tally came in last week’s first leg of the Denali series, and he’ll suit up again Friday night (February 4) as that event continues.
The 4-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheels goes through his paces for the team of owner/trainer Bob Johnson and driver Lemoyne Svendsen, and on paper he and archrival Hi Ho Steverino stand out in this group.
Lily’s Hi Ho established his mark of 1:54.2 three weeks ago while going coast-to-coast that evening, then put his versatility on display last time when he came from far back after leaving from the No. 9 slot.  He won going away by two lengths as the second choice to odds-on Hi Ho Steverino and kept his streak alive. 
“Bob definitely found the key with this horse and he’s much better-gaited than he used to be,” Svendsen related.  “Because he started going better, I was able to be more aggressive with him, and it all came together.”
While Lily’s Hi Ho came into last week’s first leg with his win skein of five, including victories in the December 11 Sire Stakes Championship and the Courageous Red finale in the slop, Svendsen figured it was going to be far from an easy assignment.
“From where we started out there, and with Hi Ho Steverino drawn to our inside, I wasn’t sure how things were going to shake out.  I asked Bob what I should do, and he just left it up to me.
“When we left out of there and I saw them five and six-deep for the lead, I knew I didn’t want any part of that and I just took him back.  It’s nice when you have a horse who is as handy as he is, and still get a real nice kick in the stretch.”
Denali Series Second Leg Heads Friday Cal Expo Card
Lily’ Hi Ho, who has rattled off six straight victories, including last week’s opening leg of the Denali series; and Hi Ho Steverino, who had his winning skein snapped at four as the odds-on favorite in that affair, head the cast for Friday night’s (February 4) second leg of the Denali.
A 4-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheels out of the Dignitarian mare E G’s Lucky Lily, Lily’s Hi Ho is going in razor-sharp form at the moment for owner/trainer Bob Johnson and regular pilot Lemoyne Svendsen.
He finished up 2010 in super style, capturing the December 11 Sire Stakes Championship with his peers by a two and three-quarter lengths, then accounted for the finale of the Courageous Red series over a sloppy track one week later in equally-dominating fashion.
He is unbeaten in four starts on the new year, including last week’s Denali opener where he was actually sent off the 2-1 second choice behind Hi Ho Steverino.  Doing his work from a tough No. 9 post that night, the Johnson color-bearer came from well off the pace to post a two-length decision over the favorite with his 1:54.4 final clocking being two ticks off his lifetime mark.
Hi Ho Steverino is gunning for some revenge here after being hard-used up front last week and settling for the runner-up honors at seventy cents on the dollar.  Another Hi Ho Silverwheels offspring, he is owned and was bred by Rod Knittel with Rick Plano training and Luke Plano handling the lines.
Like his archrival, Hi Ho Steverino came into last week’s battle with a win streak, having recorded four in a row in front-end fashion.  He was used early and again past the half last time, held the advantage in the stretch but was no match when Lily’s Hi Ho came calling and completed the exacta.  He’s a multiple stakes winner of $68,000 with a 1:53.1 that was established two weeks ago.
Rounding out the field are Amigo De Garcia for Tim Maier; Dancing Barry, who gives Rick Plano two looks at the outcome with his trainer in the bike; Charlie Beans; Stylish Hanover for James Kennedy; and Marlin Hanover.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (February 3) and continues through Saturday (February 5).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-time on Friday (February 4) & Saturday is at 6:00 p.m.  On Thursday and every live card, Cal Expo offers free admission, as well as free preferred & general parking after 4:30 p.m.  Also on Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Cal Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00.  Additionally on Thursday, beer & wine can be purchased for $3.00 each as well. 
On Saturdays, Cal Expo offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on both the Early & Late Pick-4 wagers with both Pick-4’s having a $10,000 gross guaranteed pool.  Additionally, on Saturdays, for winning wagers made on the Late Pick 4 online at or on track at Cal Expo, a bonus payout of 17.65 percent of the gross Late Pick 4 mutuel payoff will be paid.