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Wednesday, December 18th, 2012 By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

This week’s schedule finds special daytime racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo with a 2:35 p.m. first post. Friday’s program is highlighted by a conditioned Trot featuring Chevie Balboa and The Goose and a trio of $10,000 California Sire Stakes.

A field of eight will face the starter in the day’s opener and Chevie Balboa figures to attract his share of wagering attention after turning in three solid efforts since relocating to California from Indiana for owner Ed Actkinson, trainer Bob Johnson and pilot Mooney Svendsen.

The 3-year-old son of Rocky Balboa was a dominating winner over a sloppy track in his local debut on November 30 and then finished a distant runner-up to Stars and Glides under Friday’s conditions a week later. In his most recent outing, the Actkinson colorbearer once again completed the exacta behind even-money Stars and Glides in the second lge of the Dr. Gary Budahn series.

The Goose is likewise coming off a second-place finish while competing at this level and has to be respected. The 8-year-old Egocentric homebred carries the banner of John Walker with Nick Casale the conditioner and Luke Plano doing the honors from the outside post in the field of eight.

Rounding out the field are Connie’s Lady from the rail with James Kennedy guiding; Hillcrest Romeo, Bruce Clarke; Nowerland Collins for Mike Eaton; Tangram, who gives the Johnson barn a second look at the outcome; AJ’s Little One for George Luster; and Tokyo Oklahoma, to be handled by trainer Rocky Stidham.

The three Sire Stakes will go as non-betting events. It’s Not Over appears to hold the aces from the rail in the 2-year-old combined filly and colt Trot; Loose Cannon eyes an encore in the 3-year-old colt Trot; and Silverlode looks to add another trophy to the mantle in the 3-year-old filly Trot.

Next week will find a special Wednesday (Dec. 26) card that gets underway at 5 p.m., followed by Friday and Saturday racing (Dec. 28-29) with a scheduled first post of 5:55 p.m.


If Saturday night’s Sire Stakes clash for the 2-year-old pacing fillies is anything like the first round of big-money action for this group three weeks ago, we’re in for quite a race.

Strings prevailed that evening by a nose over Show Runner, with Ranchera Linda another nose back in third. Trainer Gordie Graham is hoping the latter filly can turn in a similar effort this weekend as she makes her third trip to the post with Rich Wojcio handling the lines.

Ranchera Linda is one of nine performers that Graham conditions for longtime owner/breeder Frank Nevarez and the dark-hued daughter of Wicked Island has certainly displayed promise in her young career.
“To be honest, I thought she overachieved a little in that first stakes, considering what she had showed us up to that point in the qualifiers,” Graham related. “The hope is that she’ll get better with racing. She has a tendency to get hot and Rich told me she was even more aggressive in her second start, so that’s something we’ll have to work on.

“Steve Wiseman spent a lot of time with the dam’s sire, Broadway Express, when he was with Joe Anderson, and he told me they tend to be hot. The good thing is, if there is anybody here who can get a horse to relax, it’s Rich. He’s great at keeping them quiet.”

Graham is quick to point out proof of Wojcio’s expertise in calming a horse with his multiple stakes-winning trotter Calzone. “There is no way Calzone would have been anywhere near as productive without Rich in the sulky.” Gordie is hoping that their teaming can have the same results with Ranchera Linda, who has plenty of Sire Stakes opportunities coming her way.