Race honors memory of Jim Grundy
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo HarnessFriday night’s feature at Cal Expo is named for Jim Grundy, a fixture in California harness racing for over 30 years who passed away in 2009 at the age of 74.
Jim Grundy’s nephew Glenn will be in the winner’s circle to present the trophy to the winning connections.
“I worked for Uncle Jim in California and New York and always respected and appreciated what I could learn from him,” Glenn related. “We had a good working relationship and I’d train horses for Jim in Western Canada.
“One of the highlights is when he gave me the opportunity to train the great Hug A Bear for three weeks in Alberta.
“Even though he was my uncle, he was more like a big brother. I never received any more praises than any of the his other employees, however, if I didn’t meet his standards, I’d be in twice as much trouble as anyone else!
“Jim also always made sure that no kids at the track ever went hungry. A big thank you to everyone for taking the time to show their respect for my Uncle.”
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 top driver/trainer.
Grundy apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodges and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s. He was the leading driver at Monticello for three straight years between 1971 and 1973 before heading west with his wife Deborah, a former schoolteacher and bookkeeper for the stable.
It was here where 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 with the likes of Googie, Hugabear, Steam and Easel. He was especially noted as an outstanding conditioner of young trotters.
Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and had high praise for his skills. “Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses,” said Desomer. “He was an exceptional horseman and this resulted in a long and successful career.”
“I knew Jim from the time he came to California in the early 70s,” stated Vallandingham. “He was a nice guy and a great horseman, and I always enjoyed his company.”
Jim Grundy Final matches sharp trotters
Delta Breezeoflodi, a sharp winner of the prep two weeks ago, heads the cast for Friday night’s featured Jim Grundy Trot.
The Watch and Wager LLC program will get underway at 5:55 p.m.
Delta Breezeoflodi is a 4-year-old daughter of Little Steven and the Spicy Charlie mare Magna Kay who is owned by Mary Harris and Pierre Girard, takes her lessons from Girard and will once again have Luke Plano in the sulky.
The bay miss captured the Gary Budahn Prep on January 20 racing over a “good’ track, finished second in the finale to Talkin Tootsie and then came back to capture the Grundy Prep two weeks ago over a sloppy track.
Hammered down to 2-5 for the latter assignment, Delta Breezeoflodi sat a tracking trip for a half-mile and then attacked the leader on the final bend. The mare took a clear advantage once straightened for home and then had enough to hold safe by a half-length over Hatfield and McCoy.
The latter is a 4-year-old son of American Native who races for Richard Bertrand and Amy Grunwald, is conditioned by Bertrand and has James Kennedy giving directions. He is coming off a romping conditioned win last weekend and is razor sharp at the moment.