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Karen Isbell Brings Home A Nice Winner At Cal Expo
Friday, March 9, 2012 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

 Karen IsbellAfter a few starts at Cal Expo to get acquainted with Wrangler Reward, Karen Isbell guided the hard-knocking 7-year-old to a coast-to-coast score in impressive fashion last weekend.
Isbell claimed Wrangler Reward for $3,500 back on January 13 for herself, her husband Allen Aldrich and thoroughbred trainer Jeff Bonde, and was rewarded with a victory as owner/driver/trainer in her fourth teaming with the pacer.
The start before the trio red-tagged Wrangler Reward from trainer Tim Brown, Isbell had finished second to that pacer with Grandpa Stevie. The next week, Grandpa Stevie was in the fourth race and Wrangler Reward was in a bit later on the program.
“Trainer Tim Brown claimed Grandpa Stevie, and when my husband and Jeff found out, they called me from Oaklawn Park and told me to claim Wrangler Reward,” Karen explained.  “That’s just the way it works sometimes.
“I had actually driven Wrangler Reward in a series, but I’m still an amateur driver and amateur trainer, so it took a little time to get know him.  The plan for the last start was to go to the front and be more aggressive than I have with him, and it was a solid mile because he had a challenge at the half and was competitive the entire way. It was a real big race for him.”
Isbell was originally a jockey, then became interested in the standardbreds many years later and drove her first harness race a year and a half ago.  She decided to add trainer to her resume in the fall and currently has four performers in the shedrow.
Bonde, who in recent years has moved into the elite ranks among thoroughbred trainers, is partners on three of the Isbell pupils while husband Aldrich has a couple that take their lessons from Bonde.
“He’s supporting us and it makes the whole thing a lot of fun,” Karen noted.  “When I first started getting into harness racing, the plan was just to drive, but the more I got involved the more I wanted to be hands-on and it’s very fulfilling when you’re both the driver and trainer of a winner.”
Haggin Oaks Set Sights On Six Figures At Cal Expo
Haggin Oaks, the classy mare who has taken the measure of the boys in three of the last four top dances, looks to go over the $100,000 earnings mark in Saturday evening’s (March 10) featured $4,500 Winners-Over Pace at Cal Expo.
A 6-year-old daughter of Hi Ho Silverheels out of the Incredible Finale mare Ladybemybaby, Haggin Oaks races for the partnership of Shari Burns, Ferris Funk and Gerald Cimini, with James Kennedy doing the driving and training.
A multiple stakes victress, Haggin Oaks has made 23 trips to the charmed enclosure in her career.  Her next paycheck will propel her to the six-figure mark in earnings and she sports a 1:53.1 mark that was set here last season.
In her most recent tour, Haggin Oaks was sent off at 5-2 and made two moves to the lead past the quarter.  She showed the way to the stretch with a clear advantage, turned in a :27.4 final quarter and prevailed by a neck over Marlin Hanover in that affair.  In addition to facing Marlin Hanover again, her rivals will be One And Only, Amigo De Garcia and Western Tower.
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 9) & Saturday (March 10) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.  On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.
Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s.  Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.