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Longshot Proves He's Still Got It At Cal Expo
Friday, May 25, 2012 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Gene Vallandingham

Gene Vallandingham

Gene Vallandingham spiced up the Late Pick 4 last weekend at Cal Expo when he guided Asgoodasioncewas to a $136 shocker, giving the 7-year-old pacer a perfect track-and-attack journey from the cozy one-hole.
 
Asgoodasioncewas is certainly well bred, being a son of Jenna’s Beach Boy out of an Abercrombie mare, while currently doing his work with the more blue-collar workers on the grounds.
 
“I got this horse as a Christmas gift from Lou Pena and Jennifer Sabot, and they even paid for the shipping,” said Vallandingham, who does triple duty as owner, trainer and driver for the performer.  It was their second trip to the winner’s circle on the season.
 
For the 71-year-old Vallandingham, this was victory No. 2,927 with over $13 million in the bank.  As far as the 67-1 winner, Gene does recall engineering at least one bigger explosion of the tote-board in his career.
 
“I don’t remember the name of the horse, but it was at Hollywood Park back in the late 70s or early 80s and it paid $180,” he related.
 
 
Race Honors Memory Of Dan Sawicki; Colt Sire Stakes At Cal Expo On Saturday
 
The Dan Sawicki Memorial Pace and a pair of $12,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing males headed by Ra Ra Steven and Rite After Disbeer will be featured at Cal Expo on Saturday evening (May 26)
 
The Dan Sawicki is named for the longtime owner, trainer, driver and blacksmith who passed away earlier this month at the age of 72.  A native of Chicago, Mr. Sawicki spent most of his life in the Windy City, but fell in love with Sacramento when he made the trip 10 years ago and had been here ever since.
 
For the past five years, Dan has been closely associated with the Gretchen Smith barn, most recently campaigning the pacer Stand Up And Shout.  A die-hard Cubs fan, he was rarely seen without the jacket of his beloved baseball team.
 
Gretchen Smith said, “I want to really thank the horsemen for their generosity in contributing to the fund for his cremation. The racetrack was his family and it was heartwarming to see the way everyone wanted to help.”
 
The Sawicki Memorial carries a purse of $3,300 and will bring together a field of eight, including a Smith trainee in No Storm Damage. Taking that one are Jen’s Delight, Moody Miss, Dream U Fool, Dreamsofgrandeur, Sweet Temperance, Litttlest Mermaid and Mo Fancy.
 
Both Sire Stakes will go as non-betting events prior to the regular program.  In the contest for the pacers, Ra Ra Steven is a homebred son of Little Steven who carries the banner of Billie Schwartz, David Rachford and trainer Jim Wilkinson Jr., with Rich Wojcio in his usual spot in the sulky.  He captured three stakes events last season and is coming off a powerful victory in the most recent big-money contest for this group.
 
The Wilkinson trainee has actually crossed the wire first in the last pair of Sire Stakes events, but was disqualified from his victory in the April 28 affair when he drifted out and caused interference.  There were no such troubles in that last gathering two weeks ago, however.
 
Sent off the 8-5 second choice that evening, Wojcio buzzed Ra Ra Steven right to the front.  He carved out the fractions without challenge, opened a large lead into the stretch and came home with three and half-lengths to spare while shaving a second and a tick off his lifetime mark with the 1:56.1 final clocking.
 
That Space is definitely the main threat after making up a lot of ground to finish second in that contest as the 7-5 favorite after coming down from Canada.  This son of Power Of Art from the Bo Knows Jate mare Bos Gal races for J J J Stables, takes his lessons from Gordie Graham and has Luke Plano at the controls.  He has accounted for six of his 11 appearances on the season with a 1:56.1 career standard. Completing the field are Artability, Ridgerson and Looks Don’t Count.
 
In the trotting stakes, Rite After Disbeer is seeking to make a clean sweep of the four big-money races at this meeting for the team of owner/breeder Mary Harris, trainer Kennedy Lindsey and driver Luke Plano.  Taking him on are Lee’s Persuader, High Dollar, Loose Cannon, El Azteca and Light Red.
 
Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (May 25) & Saturday (May 26) 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 Twinspires.com, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.