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EVENTS HONOR CALIFORNIA HARNESS GREATS
Thursday, November 29th, 2012 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

This weekend at Cal Expo will see the opening legs of the Bob Staats and Bob Gordon Pacing series and the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series, named for three individuals who were extremely influential in California harness racing.

Upcoming events will honor the memory of owners Marvin Shapiro, Lonnie Beck, Richard Staley, Bill Conlin and Lloyd Arnold, while driver/trainers Joe O’Brien, Joe Lighthill, James Grundy, Shelly Goudreau and Jim Dennis will have series bearing their names. There is also an event named for longtime California steward Michael Corley and storied harness writer and historian Stan Bergstein.

The Bob Staats Pacing series, which gets underway Friday evening, is named for the prominent owner/breeder who passed away last year at the age of 69. Along with his wife Loretta, Mr. Staats was active in the sport beginning in the early 1970s, with Bob Gordon handling the trainer duties. Upon his passing Rick Plano and Bob Johnson conditioned most of his performers.

Among those outstanding Staats colorbearers were Stand By N, the brilliant New Zealand-bred racemare and producer; her son Moxie, a 1:49 3/5 pacer with more than $400,000 in earnings; Nemisis, a 1:48 victor; the popular mare Reno Rose; Bells To Be Rung and the stakes-winning BG’s Prodigy, who was named after trainer Gordon.

Stand By was the horse that put the Staats stable on the map and was his all-time favorite. The New Zealand import had a 1:52 career standard and banked $250,000 in a brilliant career on the racetrack, then went on to be an equally outstanding broodmare. She was inducted into the California Harness Hall of Fame in 2010.

“Bob Staats was one of the top owners and breeders we’ve had in the sport, and was very important to California harness racing,” said racing secretary Fred Kuebler. “He was one of the first owners to bring horses over from New Zealand and Stand By was a wonderful racemare and producer. He had a great partnership with Bob Gordon that produced some outstanding racehorses over the years.”

Speaking of Gordon, he will be honored with the Bob Gordon Pacing series that is set to begin on Saturday. That program will also feature the first leg of the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series, named for the veterinarian/owner/breeder/driver who like Mr. Gordon and Mr. Staats was so important to California harness racing on the racetrack and behind the scenes.

A reminder that Sunday, December 23, has been added to the live racing calendar here at Cal Expo and there will be a special first post of 2:35 p.m. for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday programs that week (December 21-23).

BOB STAATS SERIES, SIRES STAKES HEAD CARD

The opening leg of the Bob Staats Pacing series for fillies and mares and the initial round of $10,000 Sire Stakes contests for the 2-year-olds get the marquee treatment at Cal Expo Friday night.

The Bob Staats will go as the third race on the 16-race program that kicks off at 5:30 p.m. There will be two Sire Stakes decided as non-betting races prior to the regular program, with one for filly pacers and the others combining filly and colt trotters.

A field of seven distaffers will do battle in the first leg of the Staats and trainer Bob Johnson sends out three solid contenders in Don’t Hurry Love, who will have the services of Mooney Svendsen; Twentyone Guns with Scott Cisco at the controls and Delightful Shark, who leaves from the outside slot with Bruce Clarke guiding.

The Tim Maier barn will be represented by Little Anna Mae with her conditioner in the sulky and Rd Iou for Steve Wiseman. Completing the cast are the Dario Solares-trained Drawing Dead with Williams Hernandez and La Madawna De Rosa, who takes her lessons from Robert Bell and has Luke Plano giving directions.

Johnson should also have a strong say in the Sire Stakes for the trotting set with recent winner It’s Not Over and Svendsen joining forces once again, while Stiletosilverheels should be among the major players in the big-money clash for the pacing fillies for owner/breeder Dawn Evango, trainer Kennedy Lindsey and pilot Chip Lackey.