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Cal Expo Series Pays Tribute To Peter Lobell
Thursday, January 6, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

This weekend at Cal Expo kicks off the Peter Lobell series, named for the outstanding pacer who is one of the greatest sires to ever stand in California.
“We bought Peter Lobell as a syndicate in 1976,” recalled longtime California owner and breeder Neil Kelly.  “There were several of us, including Gene Vallandingham and Bobby Gordon.
“He raced once for us at Sacramento and I believe he set a new mark that night, and then we retired him to my farm here in Hollister.  He was here until he passed away in the early 90s, and you couldn’t have asked for a better natured horse.  He was something special.”
Peter Lobell dominated the sire ranks during his 14 years at Kelly’s farm, producing several of the major California stakes stars during that period, many of which carried Kelly’s Monterey Farm banner.
Neil first got into harness racing in 1964 back in Chicago, and actually came up with the Monterey Farm moniker at that time.
“We always knew we were going to come to California, and Monterey was a beautiful place.  It seemed like the perfect name.”
Kelly hooked up with Vallandingham in 1968, and they combined over the years to win enough races to fill a good-sized home with winner’s circle pictures piled one on top of another.
“One of those years in Illinois, we won 119 races, which was a record,” Kelly recalled.  “We also won a lot of races and had quite a few great memories in California, and Peter Lobell was a big part of it.”
Cal Expo Pacing Feature Brings Out Cycle Power
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 head the cast for Saturday night’s (January 8) $4,500 main event at Cal Expo.
Cycle Power is a 5-year-old son of Cambest who is owned and trained by Nathalie Tremblay and has Steve Wiseman in the sulky.  He closed out last year with six wins from his 26 appearances, then started off 2011 with that narrow defeat last weekend.
Sent off at 5-1 in that affair, the Tremblay performer was last of the five turning for home, but came up with a powerful finish for Wiseman over the sloppy going and lost a tough one.  He figures to be motoring again at the end and could reach this time around.
Red Star Ruffles is a Canadian-bred mare that is owned and trained by Robley Johnson and Sue Boyce has the return assignment.  She finished up last season in sharp style, including some victories at the Open level and a 1:54 career standard over the Cal Expo layout.
In last week’s race won by Living It Up, she was first-over from last at the half, kept to her task the entire drive and only missed by a length in the slop.  She is another who prefers to do her best pacing at the end and has to be given a long look in this line-up while leaving from the No. 5 post.
Nittany Linebacker is making his third start since missing a little time and helps make things interesting.  Jim Wilkinson Jr. trains the son of Real Desire and also co-owns with Billie Schwartz and Ads Up Racing Stable and this pacer was a 1:53.2 victor here last season while winning six of his 20 starts.  Rich Wojcio will guide.
Nittany Linebacker had pace-setting duties as the 5-2 second choice with this group last week, showed the way until late in the stretch and then weakened to finish fourth, beaten just over four lengths.  He should be nice and tight now and could pose an elusive target with Wojcio.
The field is completed by the solid mare Haggin Oaks with trainer James Kennedy at the controls; another classy mare in Biggest Big Bertha for conditioner Rick Plano; and Ivegotwhatuneed, who is back up in class after a victory for Bob Johnson and pilot Lemoyne Svendsen.  A 15-race card is on tap.
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.