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Oke Enjoying View From The Stand At Cal Expo
Thursday, May 5, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Wayne Oke, one of the three stewards at Cal Expo along with Grant Baker and Will Meyers, recalls getting his first taste of harness racing at the age of 8 in his hometown of Port Perry, Ontario.
 
“The town was, and still is, a hotbed for harness,” he related.  “As with all youngsters growing up in small communities in Canada, though, my attention turned to hockey and was the focus of my young life.”
 
That dream ended for Wayne at the age of 18, when he blew out his knee while playing for the Boston Bruins farm system, thus ending those aspirations.  He turned back to harness racing and is happy he did.
 
“I actually worked in the business world for 12 years before I got into harness racing on a full-time basis,” Oke explained.  “Over the last 30-plus years I’ve probably worked at every major racetrack in North America.  When I settled in Kentucky, I met and become friends with Marc Guilfoil, who was then the presiding judge at all tracks in the state.”
 
It was at Guilfoil’s suggestion that Wayne took the judge’s exam and began working with Marc in various capacities.  In addition to working as a steward (or judge as they are referred to in the Blue Grass State), he has also been a racing secretary and a starter.  It was after attending an accreditation course at Los Alamitos that he was approached concerning an opening for state steward by the CHRB and took up residence in the stand at Cal Expo.
 
“The difficulties of converting from a long-time participant in racing to an official can be many,” Oke said.  “I’ve found that as long as you treat everyone with respect and are consistent and use common sense in your application of the rules, everything will work out fine.”
 
Of course, being a steward for harness racing and holding the same job with thoroughbreds can be very different.
 
“We have to be conscious of the horse’s gait, their position relative to the pylons, as well as obvious concerns over interference and the drivers adherence to the rules.
 
“The function of the stewards in harness racing also varies greatly relative to the interaction with the racing office and other racing officials.  The staffs tend to be smaller, requiring a more hands-on approach from the stewards.”
 
 
Sire Stakes, Contentious Trot On Tap On Saturday At Cal Expo
 
A pair of $15,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colts headed by Shamderock and Im So Sulky and an interesting Trot that finds Foxy Lady De Vie gunning for her third win from her last four starts, are among the highlights at Cal Expo on Saturday evening (May 7). 
 
Shamderock is a 3-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheels who carries the banner of D&E Racing Inc with Rick Plano doing the driving and training.  He has swept the six stakes races for the division and has left little doubt in any of those contests.
 
After capturing the first big-money event of the season by 14 lengths on April 9, he came back the next week to click in a conditioned affair. In the most recent stakes gathering two weeks ago, Shamderock romped by eight lengths, then returned last weekend to take another conditioned race while lowering his lifetime standard to 1:54.3 in the process.
 
Taking him on are stable-mate Live A Little and the Vickie Desomer-trained quartet of Millions, Spoons, Achy Breaky Art and No Strings.  Both stakes will go as non-betting events.
 
Im So Sulky, Lodi Nickolus and Final Chapter are all stakes victors among the trotting colts.  Im So Sulky, who competes for owner/trainer Alan Anderson and driver Steve Wiseman, accounted for the last added-money gathering with a perfect track-and-attack performance, earning his fourth trophy. Haveadrinkonme rounds out the field.
 
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (May 5) and continues through Saturday (May 7).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PDT).  Post-time on Friday (May 6) & Saturday is 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 Thursday nights through the end of the winter-spring meet, Cal Expo offers the Late Pick-4 with a $10,000 guaranteed pool.  The wager will be conducted on races six through nine. Further, the takeout for the Late Pick-4 will be lowered to 15 percent, as it will also be on the Early Pick-4.
On Saturdays, Cal Expo offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on both the Early & Late Pick-4 with the Late Pick-4 now having a $15,000 gross guaranteed pool.  Additionally, for winning wagers made on the Late Pick-4 online at TwinSpires.com or on track at Cal Expo, a bonus payout of 17.65 percent of the gross Late Pick 4 mutuel payoff will be paid.