10/20/2016 1:16PM

Cal Expo: Harness racing returns Saturday

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The trotters and pacers are back in action at Cal Expo Saturday night with an Open III event for trotters and an Open III contest for pacing fillies and mares sharing the spotlight.

This will be the fifth year that harness racing is presented at Cal Expo under the Watch and Wager LLC banner. A 13-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:10 p.m. P.S.T.

There will be racing on Saturdays for the first three weeks of the meet, with Friday and Saturday programs beginning on November 11. First post for both nights will be 6:10 p.m.

Both the Open III trot and distaff pace loom as wide-open betting affairs. The trot features six performers who last saw action at Running Aces in Minnesota, two who last raced at The Red Mile in Lexington and one who has been on the sidelines since racing here in May.

In the filly and mare pace, five members of the field last saw a starting gate at Running Aces, while two have been competing at Hawthorne and two have rested since last seeing pari-mutuel action here in the spring.

MJ’s Dance looks best of the Minnesota invaders in the pacing contest for driver/trainer Luke Plano, while the Chip Lackey reined-and-trained Lady’s Art has been facing some solid company in Illinois and figures to have her share of backers. They will line up against Fox Valley Salsa, Blue Gem, Rag Doll, Gram Rules, Cheryls Surprise, Iced Out and If You Say So.

Saturday’s menu also includes a simulcast of all 14 Breeders Crown elimination events from The Meadowlands, while next Saturday will find a simulcast of all the Breeders Crown finals.

Team Desomer poised for another solid meet

As usual, Steve and Vickie Desomer will have a major presence here at Cal Expo, including Tour Guide representing them in Saturday night’s co-featured Open III Trot with Mooney Svendsen handling the lines.

“Our horses had a good turning out this summer with plenty of exercise and green grass,” Vickie noted when asked about the stable coming into this stand. “There are lots of new horses arriving, so we’re all hoping for a successful meeting.”

Steve Desomer, who turned 80 years young in July, has 2,645 driving victories on his resume for over $11 million in earnings and has been a mainstay in the California driving and training ranks for five decades. 

“Steve limits his driving now to trotters,” Vickie explained. “He’s looking forward to racing Silverlode, who is his favorite, and he’s also looking forward to driving Kissed the Boys, who is always a challenge.”

Tour Guide goes postward in the seventh event on the 13-race card and is the only member of the cast without recent racing, having been on the bench since a May 7 start here. Her eight rivals are invading from either Running Aces or The Red Mile.

In hopes of having her ready for the return to the wars, the Desomers gave the 6-year-old daughter of Panama Hanover a sharp qualifier last weekend, as she sat the pocket for Svendsen and then came home smartly to win going away while not being asked for her best.

We’ll find out Saturday night if it was enough, as she does her work from the No. 8 post in the nine-horse field. Starter calls for the trotters. 

--edited release (Mark Ratzky for Cal Expo)