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Thursday, March 7th, 2013 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Last week saw over $1 million in business on both Friday and Saturday evening at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo, with the daily average now sitting at $845,421, which is an increase of 26.5 percent over last year. The average field size is also a very healthy nine trotters and pacers per race.
"The bettors are speaking loud and clear, full and competitive fields drive handle," said General Manager Chris Schick.


Britney Dillon is having a great meet here in partnership with trainer Gretchen Smith, with the likes of the classy 13-year-old Jovial Joker, Yuma and Medoland Sapphire carrying her banner into the winner’s circle.

“I originally got involved with Standardbreds here in Michigan through the Gardner family,” Dillon related. “I’ve always had show horses, and still do, but I started going to track with them and got hooked. Now I divide my time between those two areas of the horse world.”

Britney has trained her own trotters and pacers for the past few years, but is currently working on getting her Master’s degree and decided she needed a break to concentrate on that goal.

“I met Gretchen through a mutual friend a couple of years ago and we hit it off famously. I admire her as both a trainer and as a person, so when I decided to send my horses to someone else, it was an easy decision to send them to California with Gretchen.”

Jovial Joker and Yuma finished one-two in last week’s opening leg of the Jim Dennis Series, with the latter coming back this week while Jovial Joker will skip this go-around and return for next week’s series finale.

“What can I say about Jovial Joker? He’s the best there is. I’ve owned a lot of horses, but he’s the one that I always know will give 110 percent no matter what. He may be 13, but he doesn’t know it when he wakes up in the morning. He loves to race and I’ll never own another one like him.”

Yuma closed with a rush to be second behind his stablemate last weekend and gets the barn spotlight this week. “I recently purchased him with Gretchen. I had been watching him every week and really liked the looks of him. He has a really nice way of going and a like his racing style.”

Medoland Sapphire has been a pleasant surprise since coming to Cal Expo. “Ronnie Wrenn Jr. and I bought her out of the November Delaware sale hoping that should be a good 4 claimer and she has met and passed our expectations may times over. She’s a quirky horse, but if you just relax and let her think she’s making the decisions, everything goes great.”


The second leg of the Jim Dennis Pacing Series and a $6,000 Open Pace are the main events on Saturday evening’s Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. A 15-race card is on tap, with the Dennis set as the third event and the Open Pace occupying the eleventh-race slot.
Last week’s opening Dennis leg winner Jovial Joker is sitting out the race this time around and will be back in action in next week’s final, but trainer Gretchen Smith is still well represented with Yuma and Bookie Farout suiting up for this go-around.
Yuma is a 6-year-old son of Western Hanover who is owned by the partnership of Dillon, Scott and Smith with Tim Maier handling the reins. He sports a 1:53 3/5 career standard that was established three years ago.

Sent off at 9-1 in last week’s first leg, Yuma came a sparkling :27 flat final quarter but fell a length short of catching his favored stablemate Jovial Joker that evening in the 1:54 3/5 tour. He will no doubt appreciate not having to take on that classy veteran in this spot, although the latter is definitely waiting for him next week.

Completing the field are Phantom Dan for James Kennedy; Memphis Mobster with Steve Wiseman in the sulky; Bookie Farout and Scoot Cisco; Red Star Popeye, to be handled by Chip Lackey; and Mister T-Rex, who goes from the outside for Bruce Clarke.