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Long Live Challenge The King
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Challenge The King, one of the most popular performers at Cal Expo over the last several years, has been retired and has arrived in Ohio to begin the next chapter in his colorful career.
The 9-year-old trotting son of Star Challenge made 63 starts, recording 25 victories and six seconds, and his many comebacks from serious injuries have been well documented in this corner while competing under the Lisa Ehrlich banner for trainer Bob Johnson.
Challenge The King is actually returning to Middlefield, Ohio, where he spent a year and a half as a buggy horse under the watchful eye of Steven Miller, who is thrilled to have the veteran back in the Buckeye State.
“It was late in his 3-year-old year when I got him and I believe he’d only raced twice,” Miller related. “He’d spent some time with a couple of Amish folks, but they had their hands full with him.  So did I when I first got him, because he was very aggressive.  I tried a lot of bits, and eventually just gave up trying to fight him.  Fortunately, he stopped fighting me and it worked out nicely.
“I would jog him every day, and every Sunday we would take a trip that would be about eight and a half miles each way.  I also bred him twice, and his son actually won his first race two months ago at Northfield Park.”
Midway through his 4-year-old year, Miller sold Challenge The King to James Carder, who campaigned the trotter at Hoosier Park before he became an important part of the Scott and Lisa Ehrlich family and began taking his lessons from Johnson.
“I followed his career right along,” Steven explained.  “I told Scott that when his racing days were over, I’d love to bring him back to Middlefield and get a real chance to breed him to some mares and see what he can do.”
For the Ehrlich's, parting with this guy was truly hard to do.
“Challenge The King was the example of the true champion,” Scott said.  “He took what was given to him and used it to the very best of his ability.  To follow his lead, regardless of the chosen path, there’s no telling how far one could get.  There’s also no telling how far he could have gotten had he been blessed with better/sounder legs, but we know one thing - - he was blessed with a huge heart, not to mention a lovable goofball nature.
“My family and I said our so longs for now to King last week with lots of carrots and tear-filled eyes.  But one thing we know, King will do great and make us proud in the next chapter of his life in Ohio, fathering Kings and Queens, while working well with the wonderful Miller family.”
Biggest Big Bertha Gets The Nod At Cal Expo
Biggest Big Bertha, who recently passed the $350,000 earnings plateau, returns to a more comfortable spot and gets the top billing at Cal Expo in Friday evening’s (February 18) $3,400 feature for pacing fillies and mares.
The 10-year-old daughter of Little Steven had her work cut out last week as she took on the likes of Cycle Power and Ivegotwhatuneed and faded after showing the way to the stretch, but is back with distaff-only competition for this assignment.  You need only go back to her February 4 wire job to see her posing for pictures Friday.
Biggest Big Bertha is owned by Marilee Keene and trainer Rick Plano will be in the sulky.  Whenever this classy veteran shows up at this level, she is the one to catch and beat.
Don’t Tempt Me and She Is So Glad will give trainer Jim Wilkinson two strong looks at the outcome as they leave from the one-hole and the outside slot, respectively, in the field of six.  Don’t Tempt Me upset Biggest Big Bertha on January 27 and just missed to that rival at next asking.
Completing the field are Scooter Babe, who is always dangerous with her best effort for driver/trainer Steve Wiseman; Blue Note from the Rick Cisco barn; and Bewareofthisaffair for conditioner Nathalie Tremblay and pilot James Kennedy.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (February 17) and continues through Saturday (February 19).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-time on Friday (February 18) & 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.