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Toucam Sam’s return a thrill for Minnellas
Thursday, December 11th, 2014 - Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

The Toucam Sam story got even better last week as the veteran pacer captured the Alan Kirchenbaum Series consolation in impressive fashion for Michael and Patricia Minnella with Luke Plano doing the honors.
An 11-year-old son of Cam’s Card Shark out of the Western Hanover mare Arizona Yankee, Toucam Sam has just shy of $600,000 in his bank account and sports a sparkling 1:49 2/5 mark that was established six years ago.
“We purchased him in August of 2013 after we found him on the website,” Michael Minnella said. “ We felt if we could not get him back to the races and compete at a high level, we would register him as a stallion in California.
“Training down we were very optimistic. We got down to miles in 2:20 and Toucam was having major breathing problems. We consulted with Dr. Audrey Clifton and she suggested we have UC Davis come out and do a dynascope on him while training. We then gave the video of the dynascope to Dr. Mueller and Dr. Yarborough of Los Caballos Equine.
“We consulted with the doctors and let them know that Toucam still wanted to compete. Dr. Muller felt he could help, so Dr. Yarborough did the tie back surgery on Toucam in the spring of last year. We gave him the time off he needed and started him back at Keith Willey’s Farm in July.”
Minnella noted that Emilio Cisneros takes care of Toucam Sam’s day-to-day needs and has been a vital part of his return to the races, while Luke Plano has been very helpful with training and equipment adjustments.
“The beginning of this meet has been a dream come true to my wife and I,” Michael noted. “Toucam gives us all that he has every race. He leaves nothing in the tank.”
 County Jewel gets top billing in Distaff Pace
An Open II Distaff Pace headed by Country Jewel and Lady’s Art and an Open II Trot featuring Hillcrest Romeo and Franks Best headline the Saturday night program at Cal Expo.
A 13-race card is set with first post at 6:15 p.m. The featured trot is going as the fifth event on the evening, while the featured pace occupies the eighth-race slot on the program.
Racing is now being conducted on Saturdays and Sundays, expanding to three nights a week at the end of the month with Friday racing being added to the mix beginning December 26.
Country Jewel is a 6-year-old daughter of Pacific Missile out of the Towner’s Big Guy mare Country Fences who races for Brev Creech, David Siegel, Gregg Robinson and Bob Thronson, is conditioned by George Reider and will be guided by co-owner Siegel from the outside slot in the field of seven.
The bay mare comes into this assignment with eight wins and 11 seconds on the year from 34 trips to the post, sports a 1:53 mark that was established this season at Running Aces and is looking to add to a $116,000 bank account.
After facing the boys in her previous starts at the meet, Country Jewel surfaced with fillies and mares for last week’s assignment and proved a punctual 4-5 choice with Siegel at the controls. She made what proved to be the winning move past the half, opening up on her rivals turning for home and coming to the wire with four and three-quarters lengths to spare in a 1:54 tour of the “good” track.
Taking her on Saturday, from the rail out: Starry Skys for Gerry Longo; Stable Eyes, who will be guided by Tim Clevenger; Free Girl, Luke Plano; Internal Check, Daniel Maier; Love Live Laugh, Tim Maier; and Lady’s Art with Chip Lackey in the bike.