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The $10,000 Stan Bergstein Trot headlines the Friday night Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo, with I Love New York, K D Amazin Spirit and El Azteca looming the major players.
I Love New York comes into this assignment in razor-sharp form driver/trainer Bruce Clarke, who co-owns the 5-year-old with Jack Coffey and Patricia Waldeck. The Broadway Hall homebred is riding a three-race winning streak, having accounted for the second leg and finale of the Jim Grundy Series and an Open Trot last weekend.

I Love New York made every pole a winning one at 3-5 in the March 15 Grundy final, showing the way home by a length while lowering his career standard to 1:54 4/5 in the process. He came back last week to once again prove a punctual favorite in the Open, going coast-to-coast and holding safe over the pocket-sitting El Azteca by a length and three-quarters with K D Amazin Spirit checking in third.

The latter is a 7-year-old son of Thadrow who is owned, bred and trained by Keith Willey and will have Luke Plano in the sulky. He has captured seven of his nine starts this season, including a lifetime-best 1:56 3/5 tour, and was compromised last weekend trying to come from last after doing his work from the outside post.

K D Amazin Spirit rattled off a hat trick between March 8 and 22 with Scott Cisco in the sulky and put his versatility on display in the process. He captured one of those on the front end, one from a stalking position and the other from last with a powerful late charge.
El Azteca is a multiple stakes winner who is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and has gone a series of big miles over this layout.

He started off 2013 with a series of Sire Stakes decisions and won the opening leg of the Jim Grundy, losing his chance in the finale of that event when making a break in the stretch. Scott Cisco will be handling the lines.

Completing the field are Giles L S Hanover (Mooney Svendsen), Stars and Glides and Shelby County (Rocky Stidham). A 15-race card is on tap and the headliner goes as the tenth event on the evening. The action will continue Saturday night with the $10,000 Lloyd Arnold Pace holding the spotlight.

Friday’s third race is named for the late Bob Wiley. Bob was born in Maine on May 24, 1947 and served in Vietnam as a marine, earning the purple heart. Bob and Walter Bickford were lifelong partners in the horse business and bred, broke and raced many homebreds, including the top trotting mare Indeedido.


Friday night’s Stan Bergstein Trot is named for the legendary figure in harness racing who passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. Bergstein was a writer, innovator, broadcaster, race announcer, hall of famer, master of ceremonies, editor, racing secretary, mentor, collector, spokesperson, horse owner, pedigree reader, consultant, auctioneer, ambassador, dean, humorist and sage.

In an amazing career, he was best known as the Executive Vice-President of the Harness Tracks of America, a position he held for 50 years. He was the host of countless television shows, wrote volumes on the sport, called 17 consecutive Hambletonians, turned Hoof Beats into a full-cover, feature magazine and led the charge to promote and improve harness racing at every turn.

Various figures involved in California harness racing offered their thoughts on Mr. Bergstein. “Stan Bergstein was Mr. Harness Racing,” said Cal Expo racing secretary Fred Kuebler. “Not only was he a true gentleman, but the biggest proponent of the sport that has ever been.
“Lloyd Arnold introduced me to Stan back in the late 70’s, and after one night ofconversation I felt like he was lifelong friend. Back in those days, when Lloyd and I started the Shelly Goudreau Memorial, Stan would come out every year to honor his friend and help support the game. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”

Cal Expo trackman/program director Marty Bridges credits Stan Bergstein with bringing him into harness racing as a profession. “After college and two years in the Army, I was employed by the small business association.

At night, after work, I was a regular patron at Sportsman’s Park and Maywood in Chicago. “My supervisor, a former sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News, knew of my interest and called Stan to set up a meeting. Surprisingly, I was to meet him at Du Quoin on Hambletonian Day.

Marty Bridges continued, “Watching Stan call the races from a slightly elevated booth on the infield adjacent to the finish line was thrilling and between races we talked about racing, horses, drivers and trainers.

“His knowledge of the sport was amazing and I had never met anyone like him, and still haven’t. He introduced me to John Tinsley, the program director for all the Chicago tracks and John hired me on the spot. It’s been a great ride, doing something I love.”

Although they never met Stan Bergstein, Steve and Vickie Desomer were both saddened by the news of his death. “We both recognized him as a huge influence in the harness industry,” Vickie said.

Gene Vallandingham first met Stan Bergstein in 1959 when he was working for the legendary Joe O’Brien. “Stan came to Joe’s farm every spring for the annual Camptown racing weekend, when all ofShafter would be there for a day of racing. Stan was the true voice of harness racing, he was liked by all and I miss him.”

Cal Expo General Manager Chris Schick said, "Stan was foremost a kind and compassionate person. He was a true visionary in the harness racing industry. In 1979, well before simulcasting, he so rightly stated the future of the industry was in how well we brought the product to the public. He was also very vocal of the industry for being reluctant to embrace change. Our industry lost a giant".