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Cal Expo This Week

A new weekly column about California harness racing!

Cal Expo This Week, by Leighton Worthey (br)


Hello and welcome! (br)


Welcome to Cal Expo This Week, our new weekly column centered in the goings-on within Cal Expo's harness racing program. The goal is news, information, a bit of opinion, a variety of conversations with people around the races, with perhaps a look or three offered on the industry at large from time to time. (br)


About me: Horse racing in essentially every format offered has been an interest of mine, going back to when I was a teenager in the 1980s discovering replay shows that used to be aired on UHF channels late at night from all the Southern California tracks. The memory of Joe Alto's opening line "starter summons the field" as a white Cadillac entered the top of the stretch with horses behind is etched in my mind as part of the soundtrack of my youth. When living in Long Beach about a dozen years ago, I began seriously following harness racing. As digital cable entered my home, so too did the horse racing channels and I watched tracks from far away I only previously heard about. Since then, I've lived numerous lives within this sport. I've enjoyed handicapping for years. I announce at a harness fair every year in Maryland, I'm the voice you hear some Saturday afternoons at Cal Expo calling qualifiers. Many nights, I'm also the guy responsible for putting together photo finish at our track. (br)


Every Friday, just as we start our racing weekend, we'll have something new here for your consideration. I won't sugarcoat this: These are challenging times for racing overall, and it is so important to focus on what's good and useful. There are unsung heroes around the track both human and animal and many great stories that deserve telling. Most importantly, we know our fans are loyal and we are thankful for this. This cannot happen without you. (br)


We have a lot to like in the weeks coming up. Our weather will warm up and as such, on-track attendance will increase. Traditionally, that increase is up to five-fold over winter numbers. Larger on-track attendance always puts a happy buzz on the grounds and increases critical numbers. Racing being extended to late May means we'll all get to take a little more advantage of that. (br)


I hope a reader might be able to help with this. We are seeking any kind of video or film of California harness racing from before approximately the year 2000. This has proven very limited and difficult to find and it would be incredibly helpful to get replays or footage of the stars from our past. When we offer memorial series racing, we would like air clips of races or other related footage to honor the people being celebrated or the horses we are remembering. If you can help us, feel free to contact our main office by phone at 916 800 1395 and leave a message for me. (br)


In the weeks ahead, we'll have conversations with folks around the races and all kinds of good human and equine interest stories. Check back on Friday mornings. (br)


Good luck out there and enjoy your weekend of racing with us!