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Bertrand, Mancino Ready For Challenge At Cal Expo
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Rick Bertrand and Bennie Mancino have never been to New Zealand, but New Zealand is coming to them this weekend at Cal Expo as they are on the home team in the Friendship Amateur Driver Challenge.
 
“I’m really looking forward to driving against them,” said Bertrand, who was one of the four pilots who represented California in the recent East-West Challenge.  “I think this series will be a little different than that one, because the drivers from New Zealand figure to be a bit more aggressive.
 
“This will be a good thing, because I don’t think there will be a lot of sit and wait for the stretch, and we should have plenty of early action.  Of course, we’ll have to see.  I just hope they don’t win the first five races like the East did,” he added with a laugh.
 
Mancino will also do his best to represent Cal Expo, and is really looking forward to participating in this unique event.
 
“I’ve never been to New Zealand or Australia, but it’s always been a desire of mine.  I admire the appeal the sport still has in those two countries.  Even in the face of competition from other forms of gaming, they’ve been able to keep their audience.  I consider it an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to compete against our New Zealand guests.”
 
California-New Zealand Friendship Challenge Gets Underway At Cal Expo
 
Friday (April 29) & Saturday (April 30) night at Cal Expo will find the California-New Zealand Friendship Challenge, with four amateur drivers from Down Under, including a married couple, taking on the locals in a six-race event.
 
The Challenge will cover three races on Friday and three on Saturday. Steve and Karen Hollander, Derek Moore and Danny Blakemore make up the New Zealand squad, while eight of our amateurs will compete in these contests.
 
Steve and Karen Hollander, parents of twin 11-year-old boys Robbie and Jack, live on a 40-acre sheep farm north of Auckland which has it’s own track for training horses.  Steve has been driving in the amateur events since they started nine years ago.  In addition to racing, his hobbies include rugby, hockey, golf, cricket, tennis, basketball and scrabble.
 
Karen Hollander has been driving for some seven years.  In 2005, she won the New Zealand Amateur Champs and represented her country in the World Cup in Austria.  Last year, Karen won the North Island Champs and was named Driver of the Year.  She holds a training license and her other interests include golf, fishing, fitness and many outdoor pursuits.
 
Derek Moore was raised on a farm and rode competitively in horse shows and FEI jumping events for many years.  He is now living near Auckland and breeds and races both standardbreds and thoroughbreds, with those performers racing successfully in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, England and the United States.  He joined the amateur movement in his country in 2002.
 
Danny Blakemore has been involved in harness racing since 1984, has been driving since 1998 and has held a trainer’s license for six years.  He won the North Island Drivers Championship for the 2010-11 season and is a committee member (director) of the Kumeu Trotting Club.  His is involved in the video industry and his hobbies include playing soccer and watching harness races.
 
CALIFORNIA-NEW ZEALAND
FRIENDSHIP CHALLENGE STATISTICS
                 (Starts-1-2-3)
Rick Bertrand    (977-36-82-100)
Danny Blakemore  (93-25-14-6)
Susan Boyce      (576-47-61-76)
Jeff Cimini      (46-5-2-1)
Chris Hernandez  (1020-92-109-85)
Karen Hollander  (106-15-20-19)
Steve Hollander  (135-15-16-20)
Karen Isbell     (103-3-7-14)
Bennie Mancino   (117-7-6-5)
Derek Moore      (63-6-6-6)
David Siegel     (1255-160-169-152)
Robert Stepien   (209-23-25-31)     
 
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Thursday (April 28) and continues through Saturday (April 30).  Post-time on Thursday is 5:30 p.m. (PDT).  Post-time on Friday (April 29) & Saturday is 6:00 p.m.  This Thursday night and the following Thursday, Cal Expo offers the Late Pick-4 with a $10,000 guaranteed pool.  The wager will be conducted on races six through nine. Further, the takeout for the Late Pick-4 will be lowered to 15 percent, as it will also be on the Early Pick-4.  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 with the Late Pick-4 now having a $15,000 gross guaranteed pool.  Additionally, for winning wagers made on the Late Pick-4 online at TwinSpires.com or on track at Cal Expo, a bonus payout of 17.65 percent of the gross Late Pick 4 mutuel payoff will be paid.