He may have been the oldest horse in the race by three years, but that didn't stop the 11 year-old Alpine Hawk from repeating.
Seven trotters, six in on a condition, one to be claimed, were featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (February 17) for a purse of $3,800, on which Alpine Hawk, the only horse in for a tag, scored.
Coming away in third position from post one in the field of seven, driver Rich Wojcio wasted no time when he moved his trotter to the outside an eighth of a mile past the start.
"I moved at the point I did because I thought if I didn't that Mooney (Lemoyne Svendsen) would move at that point with Franks Best - - which meant I'd either have to sit in or go first-over," stated Wojcio.
Obtaining the lead just after 5-16ths of a mile off a :30 second opening quarter, did Wojcio use his charge?
"I used him a little to clear, but it didn't concern me because we had a long way to go."
Controlling the tempo once on the lead and reaching the half-mile juncture, timed in 1:00.1, Wojcio was optimistic.
"I thought I had as good a chance as any at that point."
Showing his gelding the whip with 7-16ths of a mile to go, Wojcio had good reason.
"I just wanted to have him prepared in case Franks Best came because Franks Best has that strong brush. When I showed him the whip, I thought my horse picked up the pace a bit. Then I popped the earplugs past the five-eighths mile marker to keep him prepared."
Still being rated while reaching the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:30, Wojcio showed respect for his competition.
"I thought I could possibly win from there, but I had Giles L S Hanover (Steve Wiseman) on my back and he always fights in the stretch, plus Franks Best and Meringue (Luke Plano) were going to come eventually."
Drawing clear with 3-16ths of a mile to go, Alpine Hawk "looked" pretty good with an eighth of a mile to trot.
"At that point I felt pretty confident, but then with a sixteenth of a mile to go I thought there was a possibility I'd get beat as Giles L S Hanover was gaining. The wire, however, came up actually just in time for my horse and that made him a winner."
Owned by Jim Winske and trained by Gordie Graham, Alpine Hawk won ($7.40) under late urging by a long neck, in 1:58.3, thus recording his 44th triumph. Giles L S Hanover was a close second, and Franks Best finished one-length farther back, in third.
"He always gives his best and always tries hard and I thought he put in an excellent effort. Once again, without my girlfriend Meredith’s care, and his tenacity, he not only probably wouldn't be winning - - he probably wouldn't be racing. Meredith is the key to this horse and makes my job easy as he’s a very nice horse to drive," finished Wojcio.
On the 14-race card, leading driver Luke Plano won half the races, giving him 12 wins over the last two programs (28 races).
Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (February 18) at 6:00 p.m. (PST). On Saturday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while Hotdogs, Fries & Sodas are offered at $2 apiece.
Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s (Thursday/Friday nights in partnership with the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee). On Saturday night, the Late Pick 4 will come with a $10,000-guaranteed pool. Additionally, there will be a 0% takeout on successful Late Pick 4 tickets made at Cal Expo or at Twinspires.com.
In addition to both Pick 4’s at Cal Expo continuing to offer a reduced 15 percent takeout rate, beginning February 24, the Late Pick 4’s on Friday and Saturday will come with an increased $15,000-guaranteed gross pool.
Also starting that weekend, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at Twinspires.com, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.