Stewards Baker, Meyers honored by Cal Expo
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
Stewards Grant Baker and Will Meyers, who will both be leaving for thoroughbred assignments beginning next week, will be honored Sunday night by Cal Expo for their fine work in the judge’s stand.
Baker will be headed to Southern California to be in the booth at Santa Anita, while Meyers will relocate to the Bay Area as one of the three Golden Gate stewards. They will be replaced at Cal Expo by Rene Sheward and Jim Arlt.
There will be a change to the announced January racing schedule here, with racing remaining on a two-night-a-week basis with the trotters and pacers in action on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Cal Expo had hoped to add Fridays to the January schedule, but will be unable to run three nights a week due to a horse shortage.
“Our original plan was to add Friday’s and race three days per week in January,” said Cal Expo General Manager Chris Schick. “The reality is that we just don’t have an adequate horse population for three days a week.
“We feel fairly confident that our two-day winter weeks will offer reasonably strong wagering cards.”
Beginning with the Saturday, December 26 program, purses here at Cal Expo will be raised 10 percent across the board.
Open Trot brings out classy El Azteca
El Azteca, unbeaten in three starts at this meet, will once again leave from the assigned No. 10 post position in Sunday night’s featured $5,000 Open I Handicap Trot.
There will be 12 races on tap Sunday under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 4:45 p.m. The main event will be the ninth race with Flameon, Jessesjo, Its Not Over and Northern Starmont challenging the favorite.
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 handle the lines as they leave from the demanding outside slot.
El Azteca comes into this assignment having posed for pictures following 22 of his 36 trips to the post over the last two seasons. He will be looking to add to a $190,000 bank account and sports a 1:54 3/5 mark that was established last year at Hoosier Park.
The hard-hitting sidewheeler, who has a slew of Sire Stakes trophies on his mantle, hasn’t been stopped by the marooned 10 post in his three outings at the meeting, showing his class and versatile racing style in the process.
In his first start on November 14, El Azteca alternated on the lead before asserting his superiority in the stretch, while his next start saw him parked to the front at the half and he took complete control of things from that point. He came from last to get the job done last week in another terrific performance.