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Cal expo: Jim Grundy Trot Honors outstanding horseman
Jim Grundy Trot Honors outstanding horseman

Friday night’s feature at Cal Expo is named for Jim Grundy, a fixture in California harness racing for over 30 years who passed away in 2009 at the age of 74.

Jim Grundy’s nephew, Glenn, will be in the winner’s circle to present the trophy to the winning connections.
“I worked for Uncle Jim in California and New York and always respected and appreciated what I could learn from him,” Glenn related. “We had a good working relationship and I’d train horses for Jim in western Canada.

“One of the highlights is when he gave me the opportunity to train the great Hug A Bear for three weeks in Alberta.
“Even though he was my uncle, he was more like a big brother. I never received any more praises than any of  his other employees, however, if I didn’t meet his standards, I’d be in twice as much trouble as anyone else!

“Jim also always made sure that no kids at the track ever went hungry. A big thank-you to everyone for taking the time to show their respect for my uncle.”

Jim Grundy’s 36-year-old great nephew Ryan Grundy is competing at this meet, adding to the family legacy
Jim Grundy made 2,617 trips to the charmed enclosure as a driver, with more than $10.3 million in earnings and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007.

Originally a hockey player in his native Canada, a knee injury forced Grundy to hang up his skates and stick in 1958. Going into the family business of harness racing, he found his second niche in life as a top trainer/driver.

Grundy apprenticed under famed horsemen Eddie Cobb, Clint Hodges and Frank Popfinger before going out on his own in the early 1960s. He was the leading driver at Monticello Raceway for three straight years between 1971 and 1973 before heading west with his wife, Deborah, a former schoolteacher and bookkeeper for the stable.

It was at Cal Expo where Grundy blossomed into one of the state’s top harness horsemen. Teaming with owners like Chris Bardis, Lloyd Arnold and Ron Zumbrun, he won countless stakes with the likes of Googie, Hugabear, Steam and Easel. He was especially noted as an outstanding conditioner of young trotters.

Steve Desomer, Gene Vallandingham and Rick Kuebler competed against Grundy for many years and had high praise for his skills. “Jim was not only our friend, but partners with us on many memorable horses,” said Desomer. “He was an exceptional horseman and this resulted in a long and successful career.”

“I knew Jim from the time he came to California in the early '70s,” stated Vallandingham. “He was a nice guy and a great horseman, and I always enjoyed his company.”

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