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Marra Looks Forward To Representing The East At Cal Expo
Thursday, April 14, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Jamie Marra is one of four Billings drivers at Cal Expo this weekend to take on the Cal Expo local pilots in the East-West Amateur Driver Challenge.

“I basically grew up around the racetrack,” said Marra, whose grandfather Jimmy owned Batavia Downs in New York.  “When my grandfather passed away in 1982, my father John and my grandmother Marie ran the track for a few years until they were bought out.

“Being around the track and the horsemen was a lifestyle, because there were race night and then there were other nights, and I absolutely loved it.  Guys like Jack Bailey and Buddy Gilmour were like uncles to me.”

Jamie’s “day job” is in public service as a career law enforcement official and he and wife Paula have two girls age 4 and 5.  Based at Pompano Park, he was recently elected president of the Florida Amateur Driving Club and is secretary of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association.

Marra is proud that in his first year in the Billings, he won the 2010 Eastern Divisional Championship. “The Billings series has taken me to 19 different racetracks in the United States and Canada, and I’m really excited to come out to Cal Expo and have the chance to drive over that track.”

While he has won many big races as an owner and has campaigned a 2-year-old pacing filly of the year, Marra’s most satisfying victory in the sulky came with a trotter named Banker Ablaze, who has 65 victories on his card.

“It was a tight photo at Pompano Park and what made is so special was the fact is was the first time that my entire family was at the track to see me drive.”

Jamie also pointed out that his red, green and white colors hold a special significance.
“My father was a driver beginning in 1952, and when he passed away in 1995, I went to Joyce’s Racing Silks and took his colors. It means a lot to me to be able to wear them.”

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On Saturday nights, the guaranteed gross pool for the Late Pick 4 has been increased to $15,000.  Both the Early and Late Pick 4's on Saturdays have a reduced 15 percent takeout, with a bonus payout of 17.65 percent for winning Late Pick 4 tickets played on track at Cal Expo or at TwinSpires.com.
 
Claudius Augustus, Pacinello In Action; East-West Amateur Driver Challenge Continues At Cal Expo
A $4,500 trot headed by Claudius Augustus; a $4,500 pace that marks the return to California and seasonal debut by Pacinello; and the second leg of the TVG East-West Amateur Driver Challenge share the Saturday night (April 16) spotlight at Cal Expo.

The Amateur Challenge will see four match-ups on Friday (April 15) and will feature another four on the Saturday card.  The local team consists of Chris Hernandez, Rick Bertrand, David Siegel and Robert Stepien, while the Eastern quartet finds Laura Mac Namara, Steve Oldford, Simeon Hunsdon and Jamie Marra.

Looking at the featured trot, Claudius Augustus is perfect in two appearances this season, including a victory in the Jim Grundy Trot, and he will square off against Alpine Hawk, his most immediate victim in those outings.

A 7-year-old son of Angus Hall out of the Speedy Claude mare Claude’s Last Lady, Claudius Augustus carries the banner of Debra Budahn with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Lemoyne Svendsen handling the lines.  He has $268,000 in his account and a 1:53.3 mark that was established two years ago.

The classy campaigner made his 2011 debut in the March 25 Grundy Trot over a sloppy track and was sent off the mild 9-5 choice that evening.  Despite an early break that cost him many lengths, he was able to engage for the lead turning for home, came home gamely and prevailed by three-quarters of a length.

In his last outing two weeks ago, Claudius Augustus was a much stronger choice at 1-5 and did not disappoint his many backers.  Svendsen went right to the lead this time around, set the fractions without challenge and showed the way to the wire by a length and a half in a sharp 1:57.1 tour.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (April 14) and continues through Saturday (April 16).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PDT).  Post-time on Friday (April 15) & 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.

Starting this Thursday night (April 14), Cal Expo offers the Late Pick-4 with a $10,000 guaranteed pool.  The wager will be conducted on races six through nine and will be offered for four weeks.  Further, the takeout for the Late Pick-4 will be lowered to 15 percent, as it will also be on the Early Pick-4.