Curtain rises on Cal Expo meet Saturday night

Harness racing under the Watch and Wager LLC banner returns to Cal Expo Saturday night with a 12-race program headed by the opening leg of the Bill Conlin Series.

First post will be 6:10 p.m. and beginning next week there will be Friday and Saturday action each week.

The wagering menu includes the return of the low 16% takeout Pick-4 and Pick-5 wagers. Last season’s Pick-4 pool averaged over $46,000 nightly. In addition to the Pick-4, fans will able to wager on the Pick-5 this season in 20-cent denominations.

The Bill Conlin will go as the fourth race on the program with a field of seven set to face the starter and a solid case can made for each of the pacers.

California Rock has been facing tougher company at Hoosier Park this summer and had a solid tune-up in a qualifier last week with Luke Plano at the controls. The son of Rockin Image is owned by Billie Schwartz, Jim Wilkinson and Ivan Axelrod with Wilkinson the conditioner.

Red N Hotallover has the cozy rail post for owner Edmund Martin Knapp and driver/trainer Nick Roland and this 4-year-old mare looms a major player. Completing the cast are Custards Dungeon, Fox Valley B Gump, Brooklyn Moonshine, Nightgirl and Lakota Law.

On track fans will be treated to a special Family Value night on Saturday. Hot Dogs, Beer, Wine, and Soda are each $2 from 6 to 9. As always, parking and admission are free after 4:30.

Rebuliding process for Robin Clements

Robin Clements sent four performers to Running Aces this summer, eventually selling two and retiring the other pair, and now starts off this meet with a new quartet under her direction.

“I claimed Crusin For You for $10,000 in Minnesota because he’s a hard-knocking little horse who seems to do well both at Running Aces and Cal Expo,” Clements related.

A familiar name in the barn is Shock N Awe, who has been with trainer Bruce Clarke for many years back east. “I just happened to call him and say I was looking for a mare to race at Cal Expo and he had her for sale. She was a barn favorite of Bruce’s wife Megan, so they were a little fussy about her going to someone they knew would take good care of her.”

Using an on-line auction site called On Gait, Robin was able to find a mare named Plain Old Jane who she felt would be a good addition to the barn. “I went into her past history and noticed she seemed to like the bigger track, having taken her 1:53 1/5 mark at The Meadowlands as a 3-year-old.”

Looking for a gelding to round out the shedrow proved to be a more difficult task for Clements. “I didn’t really see anything worth claiming until I found Marced Magic,” she noted.

“He had been racing at Yonkers. I reached out to a friend of mine who owns a full brother and he loved the horse and told me to check out the history. Being an Iowa-bred, he fits into the DHA program and I was able to buy him because they were dissolving a partnership.”

Robin added she was pleased with the way each pacer qualified last weekend and is looking forward to finding out more about her new proteges on the opening night program