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Canadian Horseman Heading To Cali

Published: November 12, 2015 2:59 pm ET

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“It just got to the point where I couldn’t take the cold and snow anymore. My farm is for sale.”

After an absence of some 14 years, Ron Malette has returned to California from his native Canada and there is no need to ask him if he enjoys the warmer temperatures.

“It just got to the point where I couldn’t take the cold and snow anymore,” said Malette, who will celebrate his 70th birthday next month. “My farm is for sale up there and I plan to stay here for the meet and then maybe go to Minnesota for the summer.”

Malette originally came to California in 1981, first as a harness driver and trainer and then as a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse conditioner before returning to Standardbreds, which was his first love.

“The thing I didn’t like about ‘Quarters’ and Thoroughbreds was the fact that I couldn’t ride in my races, so I came back to the harness,” he explained. “In 2001 I decided to go back to Canada and had Ontario Sires Stakes horses at tracks like Windsor and London.”

Malette was exposed to harness racing at an early age, as his father raced trotters and pacers at the Canadian fairs on the weekends, and by age nine Ron was getting hands on experience that eventually led him to rodeo riding in his early 20s before diving full-time into the sulky.

“My first horse was named Captain Kent and he would be one of my favourites, along with a mare named Marie Lobell who was second in a stakes at the Meadowlands and set a track record at Fairmount Park.”

Malette, who earlier this year competed at Batavia, Buffalo and Vernon Downs before coming to Cal Expo last month, currently has only one horse in the barn, an eight-year-old Camluck pacer that answers to Toughest Of All.

“Once I sell the farm, I plan to get some more,” he related. “In the meantime, I’m going to be helping some people with shoeing, which I’ve been doing for about 50 years. It’s really important to have the right balance when it comes to the shoes with these horses.”


An Open I Handicap Trot headed by El Azteca and an Open II Pace featuring the streaking Endeavors King share the spotlight on Saturday evening’s program at Cal Expo.

Racing is now being conducted on Saturday and Sunday nights under the Wager and Wager LLC banner, and a 12-race card is on tap Saturday with a first post of 6:10 p.m. There are 10 races on Sunday with first post at 5:10 p.m.

El Azteca, who has raced several huge miles over Cal Expo for breeder/owner/trainer Marco Rios, has been assigned the No. 10 post for the Open Trot, with his half-dozen rivals starting from the inside six slots.

In the pacing co-feature, Endeavors King will be looking for his third straight victory at the current Cal Expo meet for A Piece of the Action LLC and trainer Gene Vallandingham. Chip Lackey will handle the lines.

Dave Siegel was at the helm when Endeavors King prevailed in a conditioned affair on opening night, then the five-year-old gelding worked out a garden trip two weeks ago with Lackey driving and recorded a head decision over Natives Revenge in 1:54.1.

The latter is a son of Allamerican Native who carries the banner of Ed Acktinson with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen in the sulky. Natives Revenge has been the runner-up in the Open in both appearances this stand and lost a heartbreaker last time after having carved carving all the fractions.

Cowboy Cold looms large in this affair for owner KC C. Carvalho and driver/trainer Luke Plano. The eight-year-old made every pole a winning one in the opening night feature, then had to settle for third last time as the even-money favourite after a tough trip from the outside post. Completing the field are Endeavors King’s stablemate BBs Harley and Quality Sport.

(Cal Expo)

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