Sacramento, CA --- With March Madness well in the rear view mirror, the eyes of the harness world will be on Sacramento, Calif., for the two-day, East vs West Amateur Driving Challenge.
The 2013 edition of Team East features returning veteran amateurs Dein Spriggs, who sports more than 350 wins (Florida), and Michelle Ruvola (Illinois), along with first time visitors Bob Krivelin (New York) and George Bonomo (Illinois). The team will be trying to avenge 2012’s defeat and get the eight-year series tally a little closer (the series now stands at 5-2 in favor of Team West).
On the flip side, Team West features a gender-balanced squad with Karen Isbell and Sue Boyce, and amateur vets Dave Siegel and Rick Bertrand. Siegel and Bertrand recently engaged in a Pro-Am battle at Pompano Park with Cal-Expo pros Luke Plano and Steve Wiseman.
Bertrand is looking forward to competing against some of the best amateurs in the east.
“I have driven in a number of the East-West Challenges and they are always very competitive and a lot of fun. While we have a certain style of driving and flow to our races, when these folks come out, you can throw all of that out the window. The “Wild West” is a very appropriate term as these races are truly special, very exciting and a great variation to our program.”
California Amateur Driving Club President Dave Siegel reflected upon the history of this event.
|California Amateur Driving Club President Dave Siegel will be part of Team West.|
“I wish I could take credit for this concept as it is a winning one. Dave Goldschmidt, former race secretary in California, came up with this and it is an event that generally brings with it greater handle and more interest. I know our professional drivers get a kick out of watching a totally different flow of the race when you get 50 percent of the drivers coming in from points east.
“The public has indicated they like it as they have traditionally wagered a little more on these randomly drawn races (drivers are assigned to horses at random).
“The purses are a little higher, the fields a little shorter, and the minimum drive fee is waived, so the horsemen get a little bonus for entrusting their horses to the hands of amateurs.
“Most of all, it shakes up the program, and when you run the same horses with the same drivers during the meet, well, it is understandable why the public appreciates an event like this which changes things up a bit. I am glad our horsemen ‘get it’ and support the event.
“I sure hope that this tradition can continue. Watch and Wager has done a great job building handle this year, but we are still not out of the woods in California and we all hope that racing continues and thrives in the largest state in the Union. I live close to Stanford which exists only because of harness racing (originally a Standardbred breeding farm), so we have so much history here. Management has been quite supportive of this event and I would expect that to continue. But right now, my focus is on this weekend, and showing our visitors our great California hospitality for all but about 16 minutes or so of their time here, during which time I will have no mercy on them!”
The races will be contested Friday night and Saturday night. Free programs and TrackMaster Greg selections for the Challenge races and all other races on the Cal Expo cards on both nights can be accessed at www.trackmaster.com/calx.
For information about the California Amateur Driving Club, the Challenge or amateur driving in general, visit www.thecadc.com.