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Friday, February 12, 2016

Cal Expo Sunday Barn Notes

Sire Stakes, Jim Grundy Trot in spotlight
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

A $15,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-old trotters featuring Lodi Bank Robber and the $7,600 Jim Grundy Trot headed by Sandy’s Song are the main events on the Sunday program at Cal Expo.

There will be 11 races with a first post time of 5 p.m., with the Jim Grundy set as the third event and the Sire Stakes occupying the sixth-race slot on the card.

Lodi Bank Robber is a homebred son of New Age Hanover out of the Armbro Rotary mare Bankers Babe who races for Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, is trained by Girard and will have Luke Plano giving directions from the cozy rail slot.

Runner-up in both legs of the Alan Kirschenbaum Series last month, Lodi Bank Robber picked up the first victory of his career last weekend when he accounted for a conditioned contest. Sent off the even-money choice, he set the early fractions, tracked midway and then rallied nicely in the stretch to reward the chalkplayers.

Taking him on two other members of the Girard barn in Sixstringsandapick, who will have his trainer in the sulky, and Delta Breezeoflodi with William Hernandez; My Little Susie, Chip Lackey; and CW Raisinette, who will have the services of Steve Wiseman.

Looking at the Jim Grundy, Sandy’s Song is a multiple stakes winning daughter of Claudius Augustus out of the Sacramento mare Ahhh Saundra who is owned by Bob Johnson and Hank Wieseneck and takes her lessons from Johnson. She was second as the heavy favorite in last week’s first Sire Stakes event of the year for the 4-year-old trotters.

Completing the cast are Zoeys Delight, who will give trainer Johnson two strong looks at the outcome; a pair from the Richard Bertrand shedrow in Majestic Lady Jo and Dougs Hobby Horse; and the Marco Rios-trained Bellini Martini.

Jim Grundy remembered with trotting event

Sunday’s Jim Grundy Trot is named for the driver/trainer who was a California mainstay for four decades. He died in 2009 at the age of 74.
Jim Grundy made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with more than $10.3 million in earnings and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007.

Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Grundy to hang up his skates and stick in 1958. Going into the family business of harness racing, he found his second niche in life as a driver/trainer.

Grundy apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodgins and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s. He was the leading driver at Monticello for three straight years beginning in 1971 before heading west with his wife Deborah, a former school teacher and bookkeeper for the stable.

It was here that Grundy blossomed into one of the state’s top harness horsemen. Teaming with owners like Chris Bardis, Lloyd Arnold and Ron Zumbrun, he won countless stakes races with the likes of Googie, Hug A Bear, Steam and Easel. He was especially noted as an outstanding trainer of young trotters.

Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and have high praise for his skills.
“Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses,” Desomer said. “He was an exceptional horseman and that resulted in a long and successful career.”

Vallandingham related, “I knew Jim from the time he came to California. He was a nice guy and a great horseman and I always enjoyed his company.”

Kuebler also did battle with Jim on many occasions at Cal Expo, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. “I’d have to say he was the most accomplished trainer of young trotters we’ve ever had in the state.

“Even after his retirement, horsemen would seek him out to get advice in shoeing and balancing a trotter. It was all about his expertise and passion and he is missed.”