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Harness racing returns to Cal Expo on Saturday night

Harness driver Tyler Smith, riding No. 5 Emery Vern, moves past David Siegel, riding Hoosier Bogo, on Jan. 17, 2014, at Cal Expo in Sacramento, Calif. Harness racing returns to Cal Expo on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.
Harness driver Tyler Smith, riding No. 5 Emery Vern, moves past David Siegel, riding Hoosier Bogo, on Jan. 17, 2014, at Cal Expo in Sacramento, Calif. Harness racing returns to Cal Expo on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. Sacramento Bee file

Harness racing returns to Cal Expo on Saturday night as the trotters and pacers kick off another Sacramento season. Opening night features a 13-race program and starts at 6:10 p.m.

This marks the fifth season of Sacramento harness racing under Watch and Wager LLC management. Helped by e-wagering and a nationwide simulcast audience, Cal Expo comes off a solid 2015-16 meet that totaled more than $61 million in wagering for 55 nights of racing.

“Our average (wagering) per race was up 19 percent, which was pretty incredible, quite frankly,” said Chris Schick, the meet’s general manager. “Our horse population looks really good for this meet. We have stall applications for 443 horses; that’s a 100 (horse) increase from last year.”

For the first three weeks, racing will be held only Saturday nights as horses arrive from Minnesota, Illinois and Kentucky. Starting Nov. 11, the meet will add Friday nights to its weekly schedule. The harness meet continues through May 6.

Cal Expo will offer free admission and parking to harness racing fans who enter the gates after 4:30 p.m.

– Debbie Arrington

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