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Ralph Silvestri III Making His Mark At Cal Expo
Thursday, February 24, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Ralph Silvestri III has become a major force in the owner/driver/trainer ranks at Cal Expo at the ripe age of 21, and his biggest fans are his father Ralph, Jr., and prominent owner KC Carvalho, who has 14 horses in his care.
“I’ve been in the sport for over a decade now,” said Ralph, Jr.  “I’ve owned or managed over 500 horses during that time, and it was on the half-mile track on my farm in New York that my son learned to drive harness horses.
“Ralph used to come with me to Yonkers and he would see how young Yannick Gingras was doing on my horses, and that’s where he got the idea that he could do it.  I told him it took more than just saying it; it was long days and long nights.  It can be up to 20 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I told him if the love for the horses isn’t in your heart, that he should find something else to do, because you don’t become a harness person without it.  After this last year, I can honestly say Ralph has it in his heart, and if you talk to him, you would never know that he’s just 21 years old.”
Ralph III recorded his first victory 11 months ago with My Trying Ryan and now has 63 wins, 60 places and 60 show finishes from his 533 drives, with 146 tallies from 890 starts as a trainer.
“I’ve tried to teach him several things, including not believing in blame or excuses, just to work harder,” Ralph Jr. explained.  “I can honestly say that my dreams have come true having him in harness racing and I am very proud.  He’s come a long way and hopes to improve in all areas.”
Among his ever-growing stable are 14 horses carrying the banner of owner and part-time announcer KC Carvalho.
“I first met Big Ralph after he claimed two of my horses last year and we talked horses for about an hour,” Carvalho related.
“He told me he was at Cal Expo for his son to gain experience and asked if I would put Ralph III on any of my horses.  Big Ralph was persistent and I finally let him drive Phipps, a trotter who had made breaks in his previous three races.  In April, Ralph drove him to victory and then came right back and won the following week.  If harness racing is going to survive, I think we have to give younger drivers, trainers and owners the opportunity.”
Ivegotwhatuneed Holds The Aces On Saturday At Cal Expo
Ivegotwhatuneed and Cycle Power, who have been trading blows at the head of the class here at Cal Expo, go at it once again in Saturday night’s (February 26) $4,500 main event.
An 8-year-old son of Givemewhatineed out of the Big Towner mare Maudlin Hanover, Ivegotwhatuneed carries the banner of Marty Garey and Bob Johnson, with Johnson the conditioner and Lemoyne Svendsen in his usual position in the sulky.  He comes into this assignment with $260,000 in his account and a 1:52 mark.
The dark-hued veteran has clicked in three of his seven trips to the post this season.  He rode live cover to be up in time on January 22, then proved an impressive winner over a sloppy track the following week after making a powerful move off the final bend for Svendsen.
Ivegotwhatuneed had to settle for runner-up finishes behind Haggin Oaks and Cycle Power in his next two tries, then returned to his winning ways at most recent asking.  Sent off the 3-2 choice in that affair, he parlayed a pocket trip behind pace-setting Haggin Oaks into a length and a half victory in a 1:53.4 tour.
Cycle Power is a Cambest offspring who is owned and trained by Nathalie Tremblay and Steve Wiseman has the return call.  This one has two pictures to his credit this year, smashing his rivals in coast-to-coast fashion on January 15 and proving a game, first-over victor two back.  He completed the exacta behind Ivegotwhatuneed in that last meeting.
Haggin Oaks is a hard-knocking mare that always has to be respected. Shari Burns, Ferris Funk and Gerald Cimini are the owners with James Kennedy doing the driving and training and she did upset these at 7-1 two weeks ago, then carved out the fractions and checked in third in the last try.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (February 24) and continues through Saturday (February 26).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PST).  Post-Time on Friday (February 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 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.