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Thursday, December 27th, 2012 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Mike Eaton has been making his share of winner’s circle appearances since arriving from the East Coast last month and the 49-year-old Massachusetts native plans on continuing the trend here at Cal Expo.
“I actually got into harness racing because my parents played the races at Foxboro,” Eaton explained. “I fell in love with the sport as a kid and wanted to be just like those drivers.”

It was a chance encounter at the racetrack that gave Mike the pass he needed to get to the backstretch and pursue his dream. “I got to be friends with Bruce Aldrich while playing video games, and his family was heavily involved in racing. When I was 18, I went to the backstretch with him and started learning everything from the ground up.”

Eaton eventually started working with Bruce’s uncle, Basil, then struck out on his own at Foxboro. When that track closed, he plied his trade at The Meadows, Saratoga and most recently back home in Massachusetts at Plainridge. “When Plainridge closes for the five-month break, I would normally go to Monticello, but this year we’re trying California. I like Monticello, but it’s hard to get in and then there’s the winter weather.”
By the way, the other Eaton showing up recently on the program here at Cal Expo is Mike’s son, Mark. The amateur driver is getting some experience in the sulky while also working his way through college.
For the most part, the elder Eaton has gone about his business on half-mile and five-eighths layouts. Now that he’s competing over the mile oval at Cal Expo, he related, “A lot more patience is needed.”
As far as all-time favorite horses, a soon-to-be 8-year-old Florida-bred trotting son of Famously holds that honor. Famous Image, who is one of the performers who has made the trip out West with Eaton, is closing in on the $100,000 earnings plateau. “When I bought him, he was pretty lame, and my wife didn’t want me to do it. I saw something in this horse and I took it as a challenge.”

Famous Image won 10 races the first two years under the Eaton banner and has prevailed in eight of his 30 starts this season. Challenge met.


There are any number of ways to go in Saturday evening’s $12,300 final of the Bob Gordon Pacing series, with Rd Donethat among the major players in the Watch and Wager LLC at Cal Expo headliner.

A 5-year-old son of Ambro Khaki, Rd Donethat goes about his business for Tim and Denise Maier with Luke Plano at the controls. He didn’t compete in the first leg of the Gordon, but certainly made himself known in the second leg two weeks as he proved a punctual even-money favorite in that affair.

The dark-hued performer left to the lead, was covered up before the half and sat second to the stretch, then ignited when the question was asked to post a two-length decision while covering the mile in 1:58 flat over a sloppy racetrack. A repeat will obviously put him right in the thick of things.

Lady’s Art captured the other division of that second Gordon leg in a desperate finish over Big Better Best, who accounted for the a division of the opening leg. Lady’s Art is a 3-year-old daughter of Art Major who races for Kenneth Seastron and James Kouretas with Junior Wilkinson conditioner and Chip Lackey handling the lines.

Taking them on are Whicadidja with David Siegel; Young American from the Frank Petrelli barn; Gold Deuce, Steve Wiseman; Good Tiger Falls for trainer Mike Magri; Flash’s Camilla with James Kennedy; Big Better Best, to be guided by Bruce Clarke; Bloom N Doom with Mooney Svendsen; and Loco For Cocoa, who leaves from the outside slot.
Next week’s schedule will find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (January 4-6).