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Recognizing California stars

September 29, 2010
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This month will see a series named at Cal-Expo for Gee Gee Digger and another honoring Desmond, two of the most popular pacers to ply their trade in California over the last few decades.  Track record holder Gee Gee Digger was conditioned by Rudy Sialana, while Steve Desomer trained and drove Desmond.

“If you were to just judge him by today’s fast times, Desmond may seem a bit unremarkable,” Steve related when asked about the hard-knocking performer.  “You may remember, though, he was known as ‘The King of the Cal-breds’ until Courageous Red came along and dethroned him.

“This is a horse who made his $500,000 the hard way, with no stakes races to add to his bankroll like a lot of other California-breds.”  That was definitely an accomplishment at the time.

Vickie Desomer thinks back to a pacer who wasn’t exactly cut out to be a beast, but proved to be one on the racetrack.

“He really had a complete lack of pedigree, but he did everything asked of him,” she said.  “He was also among the soundest horses we’ve ever raced.”

Looking at Gee Gee Digger, there are only two track records at Cal-Expo that pre-date the new millennium, with this guy setting the 2-year-old gelding pacing standard of 1:54.2 back in 1995, while Ms Avondale is the swiftest 3-year-old pacing filly with a 1:52.1 spin in 1999.  Gee Gee Digger also held the world record for a mile and an eighth at one time.

Speaking of Ms Avondale, she is a daughter of Beach Towel and the New Zealand mare Kiwi River who retired with 28 victories from her 92 starts, $191,348 in earnings and that 1:52.1 career standard that was established here for trainer Junior Wilkinson.

In addition to being a track record holder, Ms Avondale is also the dam of a performer with their name in the record books.  Her son California Dream, who was also from the Wilkinson barn, is the fastest sophomore in the history of Cal-Expo by virtue of his 1:51.4 mile with Rick Kuebler just a little over two years ago.

“What I remember most about the night Ms Avondale set her record is that is was very cold,” Wilkinson related.  “She had a long winning streak at 2 and won a series final by 15 lengths, then as a 3-year-old we tried to change her style from the front end to sitting a little.  The night she set the new mark, Eddie (Hensley) ducked her early and then made a move to the lead down the backside.
She was an awfully nice filly, but I have to admit I was surprised she broke the track record that night considering the conditions.”

Live racing resumes at Cal-Expo on Thursday (September 30) and continues through Saturday (October 2).  Post-time on Thursday is at 6:25 p.m. (PDT).  Approximate first-race post-time on Friday (October 1) & Saturday is 5:45 p.m.  On Thursday and every live card, Cal-Expo offers free admission, as well as free preferred & general parking after 4:30 p.m.  Also on Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Cal-Expo offers a complete Lasagna dinner, which includes salad and bread, for just $3.00.  Additionally on Thursday, beer & wine can be purchased for $3.00 each as well.

Now on Saturdays, Cal-Expo will offer a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on both the Early & Late Pick-4 wagers with BOTH Pick-4’s now having a $10,000 gross guaranteed pool. (Cal-Expo)
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