Indiana sired Helens Girl rallied from off the pace to kick off the final racing program of 2023 at Cal Expo Saturday, Dec. 30. The Indiana sired mare coasted under the wire for Jacob Cutting for the win in the $4,000 claiming event.
Helen’s Girl started from post six and eased over to the inside near the back of the pack as Outlawburntpopcorn and Jessie Pacheco made their mark early followed closely by Brooklyn Moonshine and Luke Plano, who took over just after the quarter in :28.1. By the time the half had arrived, two horses were forming an outer flow of traffic led by Doubleontherocks and James Kennedy. This prompted Helen’s Girl to also pull to the outside in third over fashion through the half in :58.3. Around the final turn, track announcer Gary Seibel noted four in four out as they prepared for the stretch drive.
In the stretch, Helen’s Girl tipped to the outside and unleashed a big final quarter of :27.4, the fastest of the group, to swing by all opponents and draw off for the win in 1:57.4. Doubleontherocks finished four and one-half lengths back in second followed by Brooklyn Moonshine for third.
Helen’s Girl paid $9.20 for the win. The seven-year-old daughter of Straight Shooting is owned by Maria Ramirez and trained by Jose Castillo. John Barnard bred the mare, who is out of his race mare Helen’s Place Girl, an Illinois bred mare with a mark of 1:51.4 and more than $136,000 during her racing career.
It was the third win on the season for Helen’s Girl and her 19th overall. Her career best time of 1:53.3 was taken at Hawthorne as a four-year-old before she shipped to the West Coast. Overall, she has more than $87,000 on her card. It was the first of two on the card for the Cutting-Castillo partnership as they won the second race as well with Bekkums Fancy Star, who is out of a Shadyshark Hanover mare named Z Star. Cutting went on to win the third and fourth races as well behind Wits Beach and Halleysbigcomet, respectively.
Later in the card, Lemoyne Svendsen was a winner with Indiana sired Gorgeous for Real. The nine-year-old gelding by He’s Gorgeous was shuffled first over at the three-quarter pole and grinded his way home in :28.4 for the win in 1:55.2. Bunkerhill Bill and Luke Plano finished second over Lord Willoughby A and James Kennedy for third.
Gorgeous for Real is trained by James Wilkinson, who sometimes spends his summers at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The veteran pacer is owned by Billie Schwartz, Wilkinson, Ivan Axelrod, and Robert O’Neill all of California. Alvin Schwartz bred the old timer, who has more than $134,000 on his card with a mark of 1:50.2 taken at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.