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Vallandingham holding the aces in Staats Series
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

With After Alimony and R Journey Together among his stable representatives in Friday night’s second leg of the Bob Staats Pacing series, there is no question Gene Vallandingahm is holding a strong hand looking ahead to next week’s final.
 
The same can be said of the Vallandingham barn in general, which has benefited by an influx of new performers from the East, many of them racing under the A Piece of the Action LLC banner. At the moment, Gene has 36 horses here at Cal Expo and another half-dozen in action at Pocono Downs.
 
“You have to go back to Hollywood Park in the 70s for a time that I had this many horses,” Vallandingham noted. “You can say I’m just like Jack Benny, because I feel 39 again.”
 
For those who are sticklers about details, Gene officially turned 73 in September. He has made nearly 20,000 trips to the post in his career and has had his picture taken 2,965 times as of Friday evening’s program.
 
Getting back to the Staats, After Alimony and R Journey Together both reported home on top in their divisions of the opening leg with Gene in the sulky while being dispatched as the public choice. After Alimony went coast-to-coast in the faster mile of the pair, while R Journey Together spent some time in the pocket behind modest fractions before asserting her authority in the stretch.
 
“These are two real nice fillies and they had three or four weeks to get ready for the meet after they shipped in. Of the two, I would say After Alimony has probably benefited the most by moving from a five-eights track to a mile.”
 
Vallandinghan noted there are a couple of very nice older pacers who could be headed this way to compete at the head of the class, while he is on the lookout for an Invitational trotter back East who could make the trip to Sacramento and help bolster the stable in that area.
Bob Staats, Joe Lighthill Series headline program
 
The second leg of the Bob Staats Series for pacing fillies and mares, headed by After Alimony and R Journey Together; the beginning of the Joe Lighthill Trotting Series featuring Silverlode; and an Open Distaff Pace with Haggin Oaks in the spotlight are the main events on Friday night’s card at Cal Expo.
 
A 12-race card is on tap with first post set at 5:55 p.m. The Staats will go as the eighth on the program, the Lighthill goes in divisions and occupies the second and fifth-race slots and the Distaff Open is the third race on the evening.
 
After Alimony and R Journey Together proved punctual favorites in the last week’s divisions of the Staats for the combination of A Piece of the Action LLC and driver/trainer Gene Vallandingham. With just a single heat this time around, Gene will handle After Alimony while Steve Wiseman takes over the lines for R Journey Together.
 
After Alimony is a 3-year-old daughter of Lis Mara who was second in her local debut on October 19 and has come back to post two sharp wins with Vallandingham at the helm. She made what proved to be the winning move at the quarter in the first of those scores, then went coast-to-coast as the even-money choice in her division of the Staats opening leg in a 1:58 flat tour.
 
R Journey Together accounted for the other section that evening while also going off at even-money. She was used early, tracked to the lane and then proved clearly best as she drew off by three and three-quarter lengths for her second straight decision over this layout.
 
The Joe Lighthill Series is for the trotting set and Silverlode figures to get plenty of attention over the next three weeks. A 7-year-old by British Sterling, this one carries the banner of the Desomer Stable with Steve Desomer at the controls. A winner of eight of 23 trips to the posts, Silverlode will be looking to add to a $70,000 bank account.
 
Racing is now conducted on Friday and Saturday nights. Looking ahead to the Saturday card, there will be an Open Trot headed by Franks Best and an Open Pace that finds Phantom Dan facing a solid cast.