For Opinion, click here for View from the Racetrack Grandstand

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cal Expo Saturday Advance

Gordon Empey enjoying his Southern excursion
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

One of the new faces here at Cal Expo is Gordon Empey, who has come down from the Great White North to enjoy the warmer climes of Sacramento and race a few standardbreds.

A 70-year-old native of Alberta, Gordon only came to harness racing about 15 years ago and has now developed a love of the sport on all fronts.

“I’d been to the races with my uncle when I was in my 20’s, but just as a fan,” he explained. “I guess I was about 55 when I was re-introduced to the game by some friends, then that led to buying some broodmares and going on from there.”

At first, Empey continued to do farming while breeding harness performers on the side, but it really got into his blood. “It was about seven or eight years ago that we started racing more and more of them, and then last July I took out my trainer’s license.”

Thanks to prodding from fellow trainers Steve Crump and Quentin Schneider, Empey decided to give Cal Expo a try and is happy he took the journey. “I brought down a couple of yearlings, an unraced 2-year-old and three racehorses and so far it’s been a great experience.

“When you look at the weather report and see the freezing temperatures back home, you really appreciate being here. Also, everyone has been very nice.

“We have to be return home by mid-March, whish is when the mares start foaling, but I’d love to come back again next year.” And we’d love to have you, Gordon.

Sire Stakes for Pacers headline program

A pair of $6,500 California Sire Stakes for 4-year-old pacers are in the spotlight at Cal Expo Saturday evening, with Allmyx’sliventexas and Midnight Adventure heading the male division, while Plain Awesome and Little Emma get top billing in the distaff contest.

There will be a 13-race card under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a first post of 6:15 p.m. The stakes males will battle in the third race on the evening, while the distaff stakes will be decided as a non-betting affair prior to the regular program.

Allymyx’sliventexas is a 4-year-old son of Hi Ho Silverheels out of the Distinguishedbaron mare Annie Get Your Gun who is owned and was bred by Wayne and Rodney Knittel. Bob Johnson is the trainer and Mooney Svendsen will be in his usual spot in the sulky from the cozy rail slot.

The Knittel representative won eight of his 17 starts last season while earning several stakes trophies and established a 1:54 3/5 standard over this track. He should appreciate getting back to peers-only competition this weekend.

Midnight Adventure was a romping winner in the most recent stakes clash for this group last May and looms large. Bred and owned by Mark Anderson and Debra McCarthy, the son of Kent’s On Nuke hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will have James Kennedy giving directions.

Mathachusets gives the Knittel/Johnson team another solid look at the outcome. The Crisis Situation homebred is coming off a solid runner-up finish last week and his best is dangerous here.The field is completed by West For Gold and Rock Of Ages.

The cast for the distaff stakes will line up this way: Plain Awesome leaving from the rail with James Kennedy handling the lines; Kissed The Boys with Steve Desomer guiding; Little Emma with Mooney Svendsen; and Be My Lucky Lady, who will have the services of Steve Wiseman.