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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cal Expo Saturday Barn Notes

Cal Expo to honor Bill Vallandingham

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Bill Vallandingham, who was the starter here from 1994 until health issues forced him to leave the job in 2014, will be honored Saturday evening by Cal Expo.

“I had a lung transplant on January 7 at Stanford,” Vallandingham explained. “I was able to leave the hospital a week later, but I had to stay in the area for a month to make sure everything was fine.”

Bill related that he is right on schedule with his recovery. “It’s getting better and better every day. I’m playing golf two to three times a week, and the only difference is, now I’m using a cart.”

Bill was inducted in the California Harness Horsemen’s Association Hall of Fame last year along with his brother Gene and Alan Horowitz, and estimates he has sent somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 fields on their way as the starter.

He has worn many hats around the racetrack, including groom, paddock judge, horse identifier and horse tattooer before eventually assuming his 20-year stint as the Cal Expo starter.

A horsemen’s friend and a big supporter of California racing, Vallandingham would often on his own time make sure he had the gate on the track so the young horses could get gate time, or if a farm needed their foals tattooed, Bill was there when asked.

Ken Fowler worked those two decades at the wheel while Bill was in the back of the car sending the fields on their way, and he took over the starting duties last year. :”Billy and I were pretty much joined at the hip for 20 years.

“I owe everything to him,” Fowler said. “I miss him being here so much. He’s been like a father to me, helping me through my personal problems and all the time teaching me about the starting car and everything that’s involved.”

Bill Vallandingham has always stood up for California harness racing, and Saturday night, Cal Expo is proud to stand up for him.

Shelly Goudreau Pace headlines card

The Shelly Goudreau Pace brings out a field of nine Saturday night at Cal Expo with last week’s Prep winner Real Attitude getting the top billing.
There will be 13 races Saturday evening with a first post of  6:15 p.m., and the action continues Sunday night under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a 12-race program that gets underway at 4:55 p.m.
                                                                                                                                                                        Real Attitude is a 13-year-old son of Real Artist who carries the banner of Kc C Carvalho and is reined and trained by Luke Plano. Last season saw the veteran posing for pictures following 12 of his 41 appearances and he pushed his career earnings to $434,000 with a 1:51 1/5 mark.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Real Attitude won an Open III contest here in late November, then had to settle for minor awards in his next three outings before returning the charmed enclosure in last week’s Shelly Goudreau Prep.

 Sent off the 6-5 choice in that affair, Real Attitude sat next-to-last for the first three-quarters of the race. Swung to the extreme outside by Plano for the stretch, he exploded late and prevailed by a length and a half.

Frankthebank was a fast-closing runner-up to complete the exacta at 32-1 while leaving from that outside post that evening. The now 14-year-old Sportsmaster gelding races for Richard and Marlene Thomas, takes his lessons from George Reider and will be guided by James Kennedy. He is looking to add to a $455,000 bank account with a 1:51 career standard.

 Completing the field, from the rail out: Midnight Destroyer for Gerry Longo; KFG Cody, Williams Hernandez; Wrangler Potogold, Steve Wiseman; Rascal Flatter, Frank Petrelli; Sheer Desire, David Siegel; Ray’s Rayzer, Tonny Succarotte; and Lucky Land, Tim Clevenger.