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Race Honors Memory Of Jim Grundy At Cal Expo
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Friday night’s (March 26) feature at Cal Expo is named for Jim Grundy, a fixture in California harness racing for over 30 years who passed away in 2009 at the age of 74.  Jim made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with over $10.3 million in earnings and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007.
Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Grundy to hang up his skates and stick in 1958.  Going into the family business of harness racing, he found his second niche in life as a top driver/trainer.
Jim apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodges and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s.  Jim was the leading driver at Monticello for three straight years between 1971 and 1973 before heading west with his wife Deborah, a former schoolteacher and bookkeeper for the stable.
It was here where Jim blossomed into one of the state’s top harness horsemen.  Teaming with owners like Chris Bardis, Lloyd Arnold and Ron Zumbrun, he won countless stakes with the likes of Googie, Hugabear and Steam and Easel.  He was especially noted as an outstanding conditioner of young trotters. 
Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and had high praise for his skills.
“Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses,” said Desomer.  “He was an exceptional horseman and this resulted in a long and successful career.”
“I knew Jim from the time he came to California in the early 70s,” stated Vallandingham. “He was a nice guy and a great horseman, and I always enjoyed his company.”
Kuebler also did battle with Grundy on many occasions at Cal Expo, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos.
“I’d have to say that he was the most accomplished trainer of young trotters we’ve ever had in the state.  When the California Sire Stakes started, it seemed he dominating the trotting races.
“Even after his retirement, horsemen would seek him out to get his advice in shoeing and balancing a trotter. It was all about his expertise and passion and he is missed.”
Alpine Hawk Heads Jim Grundy Trot On Friday At Cal Expo
Alpine Hawk, who is off to a great start this year with five snapshots from his seven trips to the post; and Franks Best, who scored last week in his absence, square off at Cal Expo in Friday evening’s $4,500 Jim Grundy Hall of Fame Remembrance Trot.
A 10-year-old New York-bred son of Movie Mogul, Alpine Hawk is owned by Jim Winske, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and has Rich Wojcio at the controls. He is closing in on the $150,000 earnings plateau with a 1:56.4 career standard that was established three years ago.
Alpine Hawk’s last two victories have been nearly a carbon copy of each other.  On both occasions he has sat third to the quarter, made a power brush to the lead at the half, withstood a strong challenge into the stretch and has then put his gameness on display while prevailing by a length in both those scores.
Three weeks ago it was Big Baller who ranged out dangerously outside the veteran, but had to settle for second, while last time it was the long-fused Franks Best who came out of last to make a bold bid and was then unable to match strides when push came to shove while a clear runner-up.
Franks Best is a son of Armbro Scribe who is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson and has Jim Lackey giving directions.  A multiple stakes winner with over $90,000 in the bank, he won six of 17 appearances last year and has two victories to his credit this year.  He romped over softer in January and then dug in when it counted last week to get the job done. 
Big Baller is a hard-hitting Desomer Stable homebred who always has to be respected.  The Panama Hanover offspring has three tallies to his credit on the year, the most recent coming on February 3 in handy fashion.  Rounding out the field are the George Reider trained Jam And Jelly; Claudius Augustus with Lemoyne Svendsen; and Meringue from the Kennedy Lindsey barn.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (March 24) and continues through Saturday (March 26).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PDT).  Post-time on Friday (March 25) & 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 Saturday, Cal Expo offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on both the Early & Late Pick-4 wagers with the Late Pick-4 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.