Bergstein Trot In Sacramento Spotlight

Published: April 9, 2021 12:22 pm EDT

Mandeville, coming off back-to-back victories at the top rung, looks to keep the momentum going in Saturday night’s (April 10) featured $10,000 Stan Bergstein Free-For-All Trot at Cal-Expo.

There will be 10 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 5:50 p.m. PT.

Mandeville is a nine-year-old son of Majestic Son who is owned and trained by Gerry Longo with Luke Plano at the controls. He comes into this assignment with 33 wins from his 147 trips to the post, $281,000 in his account, and a 1:54 standard.

The Longo colour bearer was a game winner of the Gary Budahn on March 6, coming first-over with Plano and wearing down pace-setting Silverhill Volo for a one-length victory.

Sent off the 8-5 choice in the Open two weeks ago, he did an encore to get the job done by a neck.

Pridecrest, the track record holder at Cal-Expo with his 1:53.2 mark, is gunning for his 43rd lifetime victory with nearly $350,000 in earnings. He is owned by Chris Schick, takes his lessons from Kathie Plested, and will once again have Mooney Svendsen giving directions.

Pridecrest’s most recent score came in the Feb. 20 Open, ending up on the right end of a nose photo with Silverhill Volo in that contest. The latter is going to be a major player for owner, trainer and driver Chip Lackey. The 10-year-old Muscle Hill gelding registered his biggest win at the meet when he captured the Joe Lighthill in December.

Completing the field are Major Al Mar for trainer Rick Bertrand and driver Cordarius Stewart, and the Gordie Graham-trained Flameon with Jake Cutting at the controls.

Cal Expo remembers Bill Vallandingham

There will be a memorial Saturday night for Bill Vallandingham, who passed away last Sunday (April 4) at age 74 due to complications from a lung transplant done seven years ago.

"Billy V.," as he was affectionately known, was a member of the California Harness Horsemen’s Association, along with his brother, Gene. He was the starter at Cal-Expo for 20 years before health issues forced him to leave the job in 2014, but he did return to limited duties in 2018.

He wore many hats around the racetrack before becoming the starter in 1994, including groom, paddock judge, horse identifier and horse tattooer.

Ken Fowler worked those two decades at the wheel while Bill was in the back of the car sending the fields on their way.

“Billy and I were pretty much joined at the hip for 20 years,” Fowler said. “I owe everything to him. He was like a father to me, helping me through my personal problems and all the time teaching me about the starting car and everything that’s involved.”

Current Cal-Expo paddock judge and former driver-trainer Walter Petersen had a very special connection to Bill, as they served in the same Army unit in Vietnam in 1968:

“We became friends right away as we both had families involved in harness racing,” Petersen related. “He’s was always a gentle person, and I don’t think I ever saw him lose his temper. He was just a super fellow to be around, one of a kind and irreplaceable.”

Said trainer George Reider, “Bill and Gene have been my best friends for the last 45 years and I couldn’t have picked better. Bill is the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back, and he will be sorely missed.”