River Lassena Heads Williams Memorial

Published: January 8, 2022 02:33 pm EST

River Lassena, who has posed for pictures following half of her 22 trips to the post, looks to add to that impressive resume in Sunday night’s $12,500 Jack Williams Memorial for pacing fillies and mares at Cal Expo.

The main event tops a 10-race card presented by Watch and Wager LLC with first post set for 4:55 p.m. The co-feature is a $6,500 Open Pace for fillies and mares headed by Life Isa Shortwalk and Shesureissomething.

River Lassena is a five-year-old daughter of Riverboat King who is owned by Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will once again have the services of James Kennedy while leaving from the inside post.

In last week’s Williams prep, the bay miss dropped into an early stalking position, attacked first over on the final turn and came home determinedly to hang a half-length decision on favoured Senga Nightmare.

The latter will be looking for some revenge after also turning in a big mile last week and just falling short. The Vertical Horizon mare captured the Funicello/Holt Final two weeks ago for her owner/driver/trainer Ryan Grundy.

In last week’s tour, she was unhurried early as is her custom. She began to pick up momentum to the final turn while following River Lassena, took aim in the stretch and could not quite get the job done.

Taking on this pair are Tartan Patch, May Day Maggie, Mapua Magic Ten, Hurry Home, Uniquerock, A Little Rusty and Senga Nightmare.

Race Honours Memory Of Jack Williams

Sunday night’s Jack Williams Pace is named for the longtime driver, trainer and steward who passed away last June at the age of 81.

He started in the Standardbred industry in 1947, grooming horses for his father, famed Michigan horsemen John (Jack) Williams Sr. and drove in his first race two years later. He scored his first victory in 1950 at Wolvernine Raceway.

Before opening his own public stable, Williams furthered the racetrack education he received from his father by serving several seasons as second trainer for the storied Joe O’Brien.

In 1963 he won the very first “Battle of Brandywine” with Adoras Dream, while one of his first major drives was in the 1958 in what became known as the American Pacing Classic when Williams was only 28 years old. He joined the 1,000-win club in 1973.

He had three world-class trotters — Pershing; South Bend and McArthur, who all went on to compete overseas. Top horses he drove included Diamond Hal, Czar Volo, Easy Prom, Adoras Dream, Thor Hanover, Steady Star, Baby Tears and Battling Beau. In 1971, subbing for Gene Riegle, Jack set a world record of 1:58.2 with the three-year-old gelding pacer Big Kahuna.

Williams not only drove on the California circuit but also attended tracks back east such as Sportsmans Park, Hawthorne Park, Hazel Park, The Meadows, The Meadowlands and was entered as a threatening challenge in The Little Brown Jug and was a regular on the Grand Circuit.

After retiring as a trainer/driver, Williams became a well-respected Steward in California for thoroughbred, quarter horse and harness racing.

(Cal Expo)