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Building Up To A Good Season At Cal Expo
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

After winning just twice from his first 38 trips to the post last year, Jeff The Builder finished up 2010 at Cal Expo in style with back-to-back wins for owners Rich and Marlene Thomas, trainer George Reider and regular driver James Kennedy.
The now 8-year-old son of Mark Jonathan has put his versatility on display while winning those last two $4,000 sellers, racing close-up and personal in the December 18 score in the slop and then coming from next-to-last to get the job done by a nose in last week’s tour while rewarding his backers with a cool $51 payoff.
“Jeff is finally coming around,” Reider related when asked about the pacer.  “He’s not an easy horse to train, because he’s high strung, but his groom Hanne Banter works real hard with him.”
George also points out that his trainee has found a perfect pilot in Kennedy.
“It seems like James really gets along with him.  I’m also glad this horse is finally paying off for the Thomas’s, because they’re really good people and deserve it for all the time and effort they put into the industry.”
Jeff The Builder also deserves a tip of the hat for pretty much dancing all the dances last year when you factor in the summer break, as last week’s once-around was his 40th appearance on season.  He’ll attempt to complete the hat trick from the cozy one-hole in Friday night’s (January 7) 11th race.
Among those standing in his way are Bob Lee and Stanza, who were second and third behind him in that blanket finish last week.  Both were finishing with plenty of pace that night, but Jeff The Builder got the jump on them.
Peter Lobell Series Gets Top Billing At Cal Expo
The first leg of the Peter Lobell series for the pacing set; an interesting conditioned claimer featuring Thedeadliestcatch and an opening race that finds the trotting mare Cherry Tree Nicole eyeing her eighth straight win are the highlights on Friday’s (January 7) program at Cal Expo.
There are a number of possibilities in the Peter Lobell, with Vic The Brick likely to have his share of backers despite the fact that he has the outside post in the field of eight.  The Elleon Hyman color-bearer is trained and driven by Steve Hyman and rattled off three straight wins between December 2 and 16 before seeing the streak come to an end last week.
In each of those victories, Hyman was unhurried early with the son of Hi Ho Silverheels, picked up momentum on the final turn and then swooped the leaders to prevail on each occasion, including 9-1 and 14-1 upsets.  He was fifth last week behind Hi Ho Steverino and fits nicely in Friday’s cast.
Taking him on from the rail out are Fakeutu Bluegrass for Tim Maier; Power Of Key Largo with James Kennedy; Desired Result for Ralph Silvestri III; Art Of Arts with Tony Succarotte; C’Mon Sweet Mariah, Rocky Stidham; WD Cowboy Justice for Quentin Schneider; and Heartland Express with Scott Cisco.
The co-featured pace is a conditioner seller that finds Thedeadliestcatch getting the slight nod for the owner/trainer Mark Anderson and pilot Lemoyne Svendsen.  The 5-year-old son of Cams Catch should be able to sit a good trip from his inside slot and only missed by a nose two back.
In the first race on the card, Cherry Tree Nicole moves back up the class ladder after rattling off seven straight tallies, including a sweep of the Turkey Trot.  The water gets deeper now for the Tim Maier protégé, who loves to sit back early, then really turns things on when she hits the stretch.
Alpine Hawk is coming off a strong victory at this level last week for Rich Wojcio, while Jess Or No is looking for some revenge after being the beaten favorite at odds-on in that contest.  A 14-race program is on tap, while the action continues Saturday night (January 8) with a 15-race card.
The feature on that evening brings out Cycle Power, beaten a nose by Living It up at this level last week; the hard-knocking mare Red Star Ruffles and an always-dangerous Nittany Linebacker and they will be meeting in a $4,500 affair.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (January 6) and continues through Saturday (January 8).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-Time on Friday (January 7) & 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.