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Aston Boko Gets His Groove Back At Cal Expo
Friday, January 6, 2012 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

After starting off last month at Cal Expo with a pair of costly miscues, Aston Boko closed out 2011 with a mistake-free mile for owner/trainer Marco Rios and regular pilot Rich Wojcio while proving a punctual favorite.
 
The newly-turned 5-year-old trotter, who has often done his best work from off the pace, took matters into his own hands last weekend and took his rivals coast-to-coast, holding a three and a half-length advantage when they hit the finish line.
 
“Aston Boko is a very talented trotter,” Wojcio related after the victory.  “But like many horses, he has to overcome conformation issues, which in turn creates lameness issues.  He gives 1000 percent every week and if he was built a little differently, we probably never would have seen him here.”
 
Rich points out that Rios has done a great job with the son of Windsong’s Legacy.
 
“And don’t forget what he’s done with El Azteca,” he added.  The latter made a clean sweep of the California Sire Stakes for the 2-year-old trotting colts this fall with Rios not only owning and training, but also doing the driving.
 
One of the most difficult tasks a driver can be handed is getting a troubled trotter around the track without breaking, and Wojcio was asked about his process.
 
“Driving tricky trotters is about having a lot more patience and some luck.  Sometimes you have to concede some ground during a race or give up a position until your trotter finds a gait or comfort zone.
 
“That can be difficult because there are times this can cost you a win, but on the other hand it may help the horse gain confidence for future weeks.”
 
 
Race Honors Memory of Alan Anderson
 
Luke PlanoSaturday night’s feature (January 7) at Cal Expo is the Alan Anderson Memorial, named for the trainer who passed away last week after a battle with cancer.  Haggin Oaks, who parlayed a pocket trip into a victory at this top rung at most recent asking; and Cycle Power and Marlin Hanover, who followed her home in that affair, head the $4,500 event.
 
A 6-year-old daughter of Hi Ho Silverheels and the Incredible Finale mare Ladyladybemylady, Haggin Oaks races for the partnership of Shari Burns, Ferris Funk and Gerald Cimini with James Kennedy doing the driving and training.  She is approaching the $90,000 earnings plateau with a 1:53.2 career standard.
 
In the most recent clash for the top pacers on the grounds, Kennedy was able to leave into the two-hole behind pace-setting favorite Marlin Hanover and tracked that one to the drive.  When the question was asked, Haggin Oaks responded with a :27.2 final quarter to prevail by a length over the fast-finishing Cycle Power, with Marlin Hanover another half-length back after doing the heavy lifting.
 
Cycle Power is a son of Cambest who has rattled off four straight big efforts for the team of owner/trainer Nathalie Tremblay and pilot Steve Wiseman.  Two of those outings have resulted in wins, as he took a class dip to prove a punctual favorite on December 1 and then ignited late to get the job done with this group at 5-1 on December 16.
 
The Tremblay performer found himself with a little bit too much work to do in that last clash at the head of the class, but came a sharp :27 final stanza to be up for the exacta completion as he finished up 2011 with another sharp performance.
 
Marlin Hanover closed out the year with three wins from his last five trips to the post and carved out all the fractions last time before weakening to third behind the aforementioned pair.  Richard Morita and David Yamada own the Bettor’s Delight offspring with Liberio Pacheco the conditioner and Luke Plano is his usual spot in the sulky.
 
Rounding out the field are Myra’s Hiho, who will have Lemoyne Svendsen in the sulky; Amigo De Garcia with Steve Wiseman giving directions; and Tequila On Ice, who has the cozy inside slot and has Jim Lackey at the controls.  There are 15 races on tap Saturday night and the feature goes as the second on the evening.
 
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (January 6) & Saturday (January 7) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On Friday, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.   Also on Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour between 6:00-8:30 p.m., where $2 Beer, $2 Wine & $2 Buffalo Wings an order is offered.  

Cal Expo now offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Thursday/Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee).  In addition, all Late Pick 4’s will come with a $10,000-guaranteed pool.  On Saturday night, there will be a 0% takeout on successful Late Pick 4 tickets made at Cal Expo or at Twinspires.com.