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Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Off To The Winner's Circle He Goes At Cal Expo

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

You are advised not to get too close to the 6-year-old pacer Hi Ho Hi Ho, because you might burn yourself.  The son of Hi Ho Silverheels is one of the hottest performers on the Cal Expo grounds with five wins in his last six starts.

Bob Johnson conditions Hi Ho Hi Ho and co-owns with Lisa Ehrlich, while Lemoyne Svendsen has the driving duties.  He comes into Saturday’s (November 12) action riding a three-race winning skein while reporting at home on top at 3-5, even-money and 6-5 odds to the delight of the chalk players.

Johnson had Hi Ho Hi Ho last year when he was doing some fine work, then took him to Indiana Downs and raced him a few times before losing him for $20,000 via the claim box.

“Since then, roughly over the last year, I’ve been keeping an eye on him and for the most part he wasn’t racing that good, including a $5,000 claimer at Scioto Downs this summer,” Johnson related.

"The next thing I saw was that he was in the Delaware, Ohio sale and I asked Scott and Lisa Ehrlich if they would like to go partners on him and they said they would.  By luck, Drew Anderson was in Delaware at the sale and I asked him to look at the horse.  He said he looked sound, but needed to put on a couple of hundred pounds.  We put a limit of $3,000 on him and wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly where the bidding stopped.”

As you might guess by his recent record, Hi Ho Hi Ho is happy to be back in the Golden State.

"They say there are horses for courses,” Johnson continued.  “Well, I think Hi Ho not only likes Cal Expo, but he has certainly always liked California.  As soon as he got here, he really seemed to be happy.  He definitely needed to put a lot of weight back on and we got a lot back on him.  That combined with me training the way I used to, plus a few races that made him brave, have resulted in him being real good.”

Pilot Svendsen has seen quite a change in the pacer since he returned to the Johnson barn.

“When he first got back here, he was so skinny you could hang lines on his hip because they were so pointy.  Bob has done a great job getting this horse fit and happy.  Hi Ho can be real lazy when he races, which keeps me on guard, but he knows what to do and when to do it.”

One thing that makes a trainer click with an owner is when the conditioner looks out for the owner with a genuine nice thought.

"The Ehrlich's have always owned nice horses, but this was a chance to own a real nice horse,” Johnson said.  “Either of us could have owned Hi Ho by himself, but we went partners and it worked out well for both of us.  It really has worked out well for Lisa and her sons Steven and Kevin, as Scott made the decision to let them have all the profits -- and boy do they remind him of it," chuckled Johnson.