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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cal Expo Satirday Barn Notes

Race honors memory of Robert Gordon

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Saturday night will find two elimination heats for the Robert Gordon Pace, which is named for the noted driver/trainer and track executive who passed away at the age of 65 in 2006.

Bob Gordon started his 40-year career in Ohio and learned his lessons under the outstanding horseman Bob Farrington. He eventually settled in California and was a mainstay at the top of the trainer standings from the late 70s through the early 90s, conditioning such stars as Stand By N, Theora Hanover and Pack Leader.

Stand By N raced under the banner of Bob and Loretta Staats stable and she was his all-time favorite. The Down Under import had a 1:52 career standard and banked $255,000 in a brilliant career on the racetrack, then went on to be an equally outstanding broodmare. She was inducted in the California Hall of Fame in 2010.

Bob Gordon was a past president of the Western Harness Standardbred Association and the California Harness Horse Breeders Association, while in the early 90s he served as a director of the USTA. He was president of Premier Harness Racing, which raced at Los Alamitos, and was instrumental in keeping the sport alive in California in the mid 90s at a time when harness racing was definitely on the ropes.

Bob Gordon was also director of backstretch operations for the Sacramento Harness Association and helped in starting the not-for-profit corporation, which was operating at Cal Expo at the time of his death.

Steve and Vickie Desomer have fond memories of their many years side-by-side with Gordon. “When Steve broke his leg in a racing accident, we turned the horses over to Bob,” she recalled. “It was the most fun we have had in the business with no stress and great results.

“By the way, in addition to being an excellent horseman, Bob was always extremely good to his help. He always looked out for them and helped in any way he could.”

Gordon Pace, trio of Opens in spotlight

Three Open I events headed by El Azteca, Young American and BB’s Harley, respectively, and two elimination heats for the Robert Gordon Pace share the top billing at Cal Expo Saturday evening.

A 13-race program is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a first post of 6:15 p.m. The action will continue on Sunday with 12 races and a 5:05 scheduled first post.

El Azteca is a 6-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. Luke Plano will once again be at the controls and they will leave from the assigned No. 10 post position in the field of seven.

The hard-hitting performer comes into this assignment having won 21 of his last 45 appearances, with $188,000 in the bank and a 1:54 3/5 mark that was established last season at Hoosier Park.

El Azteca has accounted for both of his outings at this meet, overcoming the tough No. 10 post position on both occasions. In his most recent trip to the post, the Rios performer was parked to the lead at the half, took control of things from that point and showed the way home by a length and a quarter over Jessejo.

The latter is an 8-year-old son of Jailhouse Jesse who carries the banner of Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and has Chip Lackey once again handling the lines. He has rattled off back-to-back wins over the last two weeks while El Azteca has been staying in the barn.

Completing the field are Truth In Action for Karen Isbell; Quantum Uptown Boy with Frank Petrelli; Big Baller, David Siegel; It’s Not Over with Mooney Svendsen; and Flameon, who will have the services of Pat Galbraith.