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Thursday, April 18th, 2013 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

El Azteca and I Love New York, the one-two finishers in the Stan Bergstein Trot two weeks ago, head the cast for Saturday night’s $6,000 Open Trot. They have been assigned the No. 9 and 10 posts, respectively, under the handicap conditions.

El Azteca is a 4-year-old son of Panama Hanover out of the Jonathan Lobell mare Jonathan’s Girl who is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and will once again have Scott Cisco at the controls. He is looking for his seventh win on the year from 11 appearances, sports a 1:56 standard and has $83,000 in his bank account.

The Rios colorbearer is a multiple Sire Stakes winner and captured the opening leg of the Jim Grundy Series, losing his chance in the finale of that event when he made a break in the stretch. Sent off the 5-1 third choice in the Stan Bergstein on April 5, he sat last to the half, put in a huge move to contention on the final bend, took aim on the 1-2 favorite I Love New York and hung a neck decision on that rival while equaling his lifetime mark.

I Love New York is a 5-year-old Broadway Hall homebred who races for Jack Coffey, Patricia Waldeck and his driver/trainer Bruce Clarke. He rattled off a hat trick between March 8 and March 29, including victories in the Jim Grundy Series final and an Open Trot.

Odds-on for the Bergstein, he carved out all the solid fractions, had a length and three-quarters advantage at midstretch, but could not contain the late rally from El Azteca and had to settle for second, some six lengths ahead of the rest of the field. He will be looking to add to a $182,000 bankroll with a 1:54 4/5 mark that was established in the Grundy finale. Taking them on are KD Amazin Spirit (Luke Plano), Franks Best (Steve Wiseman) and Inside Broadway (Mooney Svendsen).


Robin Clements is well represented at the head of the pacing and trotting ranks here at Cal Expo with Terror Time and Franky Provolone carrying her banner.

Terror Time is a 6-year-old son of Western Hanover who had a rough trip in the Lloyd Arnold Pace two back, then just missed to Split Ticket in a game, first-over try in the Open 3 last weekend. Franky Provolone has proven to be an outstanding claim by Clements and was rewarded for last year’s solid record by being named Horse of the Year by the California Harness Horsemen’s Association.

“I claimed Terror back in November and didn’t have a lot of luck with him and he was claimed back by the previous owner, but there was something about this horse I really liked,” Clements related. “So after a couple of starts I claimed him back. I had looked at about 20 horses and just kept coming back to him.

“I finally figured him out as he had some issues and quirks. For one, you have to be on your toes with him jogging or training as he has a tendency to see ghosts! He's been a great horse for me and has a heart as large as the sun. Tee (nickname) also has a huge kick at the end of the mile that just amazes me. He’s by far the fastest pacer I have ever owned. He races off the Desomer farm and hangs out with Franky Provolone during the day in their own grass paddock and seems to thrive on it.”

Robin noted that Franky Provolone has been given some time off and is now back jogging. He will head to Minnesota at the conclusion of the meet next month and will be under the direction of Steve Wiseman, while Terror Time will join him on that road trip under Tim Maier’s watchful eye.

“Franky Provolone is the best horse I have ever owned and I love watching him race,” Clements explained. “He won 15 races last year, making him the seventh winningest trotter in the country. I knew he would be up for Horse of the Year, but he had some stiff competition.
“When Alan Horowitz called Franky’s name I was actually surprised and started getting teary eyed. All I could say was 30 years of hard work does pay off. I’m very lucky to have Franky and Tee, because they both race very hard and yet they’re a pleasure to work with.”