Day At The Track
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Alabar weanling inspection day on Sunday

Alabar NZ are once again this year selling a highly impressive consignment of harness racing foals in the Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale at Karaka. Alabar are holding their popular Inspection Day for the draft of 52 weanlings at their farm at Seagrove Road, Waiau Pa this Sunday (7 May) between 1 and 3pm. All are welcome. The 2017 sale is being held on Sunday the 21st of May, commencing 12 noon. Buyers this year will also have an extra opportunity to few the weanlings. PGG Wrightson are holding an Open Day for all sale entries at the Karaka Sale Centre between 1 and 4pm on the Saturday prior to the sale. All the Alabar weanlings will also be available for inspection on this day. The 2017 Alabar draft features weanlings by: - the proven leading sires Art Major, Mach Three and Majestic Son, - Shadow Play who is Australia’s leading sire of individual two-year-old winners this season, - the up-and-coming sires A Rocknroll Dance, Auckland Reactor, Betterthancheddar, Big Jim and Peak, - and, excitingly the first weanlings by He’s Watching and Sunshine Beach. He’s Watching was an absolute superstar on the racetrack – he was the unbeaten US 2yo Pacer of the Year, the winner of the Meadowlands Pace and retired as the fastest horse in the world. Sunshine Beach is a world champion son of Somebeachsomewhere and was the first horse to defeat Captaintreacherous, doing so in the $500,000 Battle Of Brandywine. Three of the feature yearlings in a very strong 2017 Alabar weanling draft are an Art Major filly who is a full sister to the dual NZYSS Final winner Isaiah, a He’s Watching half-sister to the brilliant Arms Of An Angel (1:49.5, 3rd Miracle Mile) and a Sunshine Beach half-brother to the top WA filly Maczaffair (2017 Dainty’s Daughter Classic). Further information is available from Alabar NZ (09 232 1800) or PGG Wrightson (03 372 0967). Click here for the catalogue World Record by He’s Watching in Meadowlands Pace  

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Bonnie Joan stunning in oaks final

Any doubts about speedy filly Bonnie Joan handling the longer distance of the Southland Oaks were well and truly kicked for touch today when she lead all the way and held on to win in a new New Zealand, Southland, race and track record time. “Even when she qualified on the grass at Balfour she seemed to be stronger. She’s got a great cruising speed and looks relaxed. The other feature she’s got is gait speed, and she doesn’t have to grind to get to the front. She seems to be able to do it and then they leave her alone which is great,” said Fr Dan Cummings who shares in the ownership with sister Julie Davie and brother Peter. “She’s the best filly we've raced in our own name," he added. In today's Group Two feature she was taken straight to the front by driver Dexter Dunn. Quality Southland filly Seaswift Joy sat parked beside her and her main danger, Delightful Memphis was hot on her tail in the trailing position. But it didn't matter with Bonnie Joan proving too good for those main rivals which ran second (Delightful Memphis) and third (Seaswift Joy).   Bonnie Joan and Dexter Dunn beating Delightful Memphis on the inside        Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time of 3-17.1 bettered Nek Time's race record of  3-19.1, surpassed the all-comers record of 3-18.2 held by The Big Boss, broke the track and Southland record for the distance and became a new New Zealand record for three year old fillies. Piccadilly Princess's old record for the 2700 metre mobile for fillies was 3-17.9. Trained by Cran Dalgety, Bonnie Joan is fast becoming a new stable star for the Canterbury trainer. “He (Dalgety) said at one stage when Christen Me wasn’t firing that people were starting to ask him about her (Bonnie Joan).” Bonnie Joan is by Somebeachsomewhere out of the eight win Live Or Die mare Wave Runner and is named after Dan, Julie and Peter's mum Bonnie Joan Cummings. “Mum was completely responsible for Tuapeka Lodge. It’s a great delight for us that this filly is named after her. It’s been over forty years since mum died and to have her name on it – whether it’s a fluke or what?” The horse that’s putting up the performance has got her name and it's very delightful.” The win caps off a sensational few days for Tuapeka Lodge. Bonnie Joan’s half  sister Break Dance won the North Island Breeders Stakes in Auckland on Friday night and last night at Menangle Tuapeka Glory (Art Major – Lillian) won the Menangle Country Series pacing the 1609 metres in 1-52.1. Galactic Star also won in Perth on Friday night. Julie Davie, Peter Cummings, Dan Cummings, Brent and Sheree McIntyre (Macca Lodge) and Ged Mooar (Nevele R Stud) “It’s an unbelievable roll that we are on. You get a bit anxious about how long it’s going to last. We’ve been in the game too long to know that it will last forever.” For driver Dexter Dunn it cemented his domination of some of the feature races in Southland  He's now won four of the last six Southland Oaks, winning with Nek Time last season, Safedra in 2013 and Gaylee’s Delight in 2012. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing      

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Horseman, wife a great team for harness racing

LEBANON — This is not to say it’s a commentary on her driving, but when Becky Woebkenberg gets behind the wheel of their white Ford F-150 pick-up, her husband Mike gets in the back seat, turns completely around and looks out the rear window. “I’m a true backseat driver,” Mike grinned. But he wasn’t kidding. And that’s what makes Becky and him one of the most unique husband and wife teams in sports. While Becky steers the truck around harness tracks, Mike looks the opposite way, works the accelerator and operates the long, wing-like gates that stretch out from each side of the vehicle, making it look, in his words, “like a 747.” As he does this, he begins to choreograph an equine kick line that quickly resembles a bugle-blaring cavalry charge. Until recently he’s billed the unique view from his back seat perch as “the most exciting 30 seconds in sports that nobody gets to see.” Mike, with Becky’s help, is the starter of harness races at Miami Valley Gaming in Lebanon, Hollywood Dayton Raceway at Needmore and Wagner Ford roads in Dayton and at 46 of the 66 county fairs in Ohio that have pari-mutuel racing. Woebkenberg said he and his wife start some 3,000 races a year and they’ve been doing it for 25 years. While he guesses there are fewer than 50 starters now working harness tracks in the United States, it’s a certainty that few, if any, are more immersed in the sport than he is. He’s a former driver. He helps with blacksmith duties between races at the tracks. And there is a good chance some of the race bikes upon which the drivers are perched in his races were built by him at his nationally-known Superior Sulky shop in Farmersville. Woebkenberg is also a tireless promoter of the sport, which is a why in 2011 the Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association presented him with its Rambling Willie Award, an honor named for the famed Ohio-owned pacing gelding and given to an Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades. And because Woebkenberg has not rested on those laurels, he’s had to amend that “most exciting 30 seconds” claim. Thanks to him, the past two months or so at Miami Valley Gaming — where the race cards run through May 8 — other people have been able to share his up-close vantage point at the start of races. He’s begun taking some fans along with him in the race gate (as the starter’s vehicle is known). They sit next to him and get an unbelievable and up-close experience of sight and sound and an appreciation of the drivers and those magnificent animals. Learned from Dad The other morning Woebkenberg was standing on the sidewalk outside his Superior Sulky shop in Farmersville. On one side of him was an aluminum training cart he had made. On the other was a smaller, sleeker race bike. But at the moment his interest was directed across Jackson Street from the 1868 building that houses his business. “That was once the high school here in town,” he said of the stately brick building that now proclaims Masonic Temple over the door. “And that yellow brick building over there was the blacksmith shop. That building and mine were owned by brothers. They’d build the buggies over here, then roll them over there and take them up to the second story to paint them before bringing them back here to sell.” He then nodded to a building farther down the street: “That white brick place was the stage stop in town.” Just then the postman came walking across the street. The two men called each other by name and exchanged pleasantries and that made Woebkenberg smile: “All this is small town personified.” Inside his shop, where several horse carts and race sulkies were in various stages of assemblage or repair, you also found an eclectic collection of racing and horse-themed remembrances of times long past. It made you realize just how deeply Woebkenberg has embraced the sport since he grew up in Lebanon in the 1950s. He’s a third-generation horseman, and with a warm smile he said one of his first memories is being with his dad, John Woebkenberg, who had just driven home a winner at the Ross County Fair in Chillicothe: “I have a picture of it. I was just three or four. My mom had made me a set of racing colors to match my dad’s. He’s in the Winner’s Circle and I’m setting up there on his shoulder in the race bike.” His dad taught him everything from mucking stalls to how to handle various driving dilemmas on the track. And at age 16, Mike debuted in the sulky at the Warren County Fair. Years later he began to realize there were other ways to make a living in the sport. He began to build and repair sulkies and horse carts and then one day he said a friend had him paint some mobile starting gates for him. As payment the guy gave him a starting gate unit and suggested he try starting races at a couple of county fairs. “I needed a driver to help me and Becky volunteered and it exploded from there,” he said. Becky — who had grown up outside Gratis and shown horses when she was younger — was a natural. She had been helping run her family’s bulldozer business in West Alexandria, Mike said: “She’d run D-8 Cats (Caterpillars) and all that stuff, so it was just an extension of that.” Over the years the pair has started races at various harness tracks across the Midwest, and with the resurgence of standardbred racing in Ohio, Mike has been able to stay deeply involved in the sport he champions whenever he can. “I believe we have one of the most unique sports going,” he said. “Men and women race on equal footing and you may have drivers who are very young — kids can start at 16 — and, on the other end of the spectrum, a few years ago I started (Hancock County Sports Hall of Famer) 93-year-old Doc Schoonover. “Pro football and pro basketball careers are short, but in our sport you can drive into your 40s and 50s and 60s and still be competitive. By Tom Archdeacon Reprinted with permission of The My Dayton Daily News

Team Graham

Milestone moment for Darrel Graham

Darrel Graham has now joined an elite harness racing club. Following the victory of talented trotter Our Dainty Lady at Albion Park last night (Saturday), the proud Queenslander has now driven 2000 winners. The milestone moment coming two days prior to his 49th birthday. “It’s quite amazing to think that I’ve driven 2000 winners, when you start in this game you don’t think about these types of milestones, it’s all about survival really. Look, I’ve been lucky with great support from a number of people and I can’t thank them enough, I can tell you I have enjoyed the countdown to this moment with my family and it’s great to share it with them.” Graham said. The diminutive horseman has always been taken by horsepower, his parents Mick and Shirley made sure he had a trade behind him and the one time mechanic then switched to the equine power variety. Bitten by the bug at an early age, Graham knew his future would come via the horses and couldn’t wait to down tools before taking on his beloved profession and working with the standardbreds. His parents weren’t thrilled but the eager youngster was determined to make it work. At the time, he could’ve made the choice of being a jockey but opted for a life in the bike. His maiden victory was aboard Lynden Hope at Toowoomba on October 3 back in 1984 and obviously plenty more have flowed since that day on the Darling Downs. Like any occupation, it comes with hazards and Graham has had his fair share of close calls. But he couldn’t avoid a horrific spill at Redcliffe last May which left him with a badly broken leg, his only major injury during his time in the industry. During his time away from the track, he pondered if he would ever return to race driving. “The thought crossed my mind, I’ve never experienced pain like that before and hopefully I don’t have to ever again. It was tough going but I was determined to get back out there. “Like they say, you just have to get back on the horse. In the end, I knew I was fairly close so I was determined to reach this figure so I had to push on.” Graham’s biggest early gamble was setting up a stable on-course at Albion Park with his small team and the results that followed were impressive. Competing at all tracks in south-east Queensland; Graham enjoyed solid success with the likes of Furys Fineto, Power Wiper, King Leo, Land Of Reno, Twigalow and Southern Lover among others. Over time, Graham became a regular fixture on the North Queensland circuit and competed often at tracks like Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville. Those northern sojourns became invaluable experience and allowed him to create solid contacts for years to come. A key supporter in more ways than one was John Crowley; the former Queensland Harness Racing Board Chairman was the man who gave Graham the opportunity to earn his trade through his burgeoning motor company Bryan Byrt Ford. And then they forged a successful bond with the horses. Crowley was the key component in Graham’s early success but the friendship has stood the test of time, in fact, it’s better now than ever before. Winners flowed with the likes of Lexie Lad, Lord Of The North, The Mirage and Torado Stone amongst others. And Crowley was a big part of that success. In 1991, Graham won the Australian Young Drivers Championship when the series was staged in Tasmania. He would then also represent his country in New Zealand where he tasted success. Better opportunities were forthcoming and Graham didn’t waste his chances, quality New Zealand performer Knight Rainbow provided big thrills when finishing second in both the Queensland (Albion Park) and Australian Derby (Moonee Valley) features. He went close but not close enough but that only made Graham more determined. He combined with astute trainer and internationally experienced Peter Walsh to land both the 1995 Queensland Oaks and Derby with Madam Steward and Late Bid. Life was busy on and off the track; Graham married his wife Linda and welcomed two beautiful daughters, Brittany and Stephanie. A chance meeting with entrepreneur Dean Shannon in the late 1990’s has also stood the test of time. The computer wizard spent plenty on Kiwi stock and Graham delivered in spades. Names like Scott McLeod, Holm For Xmas, Lanercost, Courageous Annie, Emperor Montana, Montana Falcon and Five Card Draw readily come to mind. Shannon also raced fan favourite Rollon Bigred, a winner of 30 races and earnings close to $400,000 before being retired to stud. But as good as Rollon Bigred was, New Zealand colt Lanercost was even better. The Courage Under Fire speed machine won 30 of his 45 starts including three Group One majors. His biggest moments coming via the Tasmanian and Australian Derby classics while he completely dominated his rivals in the 2011 Chariots Of Fire at TABCORP Park, Menangle. Lanercost is now standing at stud and ironically, his maiden siring success came via Graham when Mighty Montana scored at Albion Park earlier this season. Another quality performer was giant filly Montana Marie, a winner of 18 races including a streak of 12. New Zealand horseman Adam Sanderson played a major role in the success of Montana Marie guiding her to many victories and Graham has forged a strong bond with the natural talent. Graham has excelled working with his eldest daughter Brittany, nurturing her slowly and giving her opportunities and guidance when required. Brittany has now firmly established herself as a leading concession driver in the state. A proud moment for Graham was spending a North American holiday with his daughter where Brittany took drives and even worked “7 million man” Foiled Again. The support from Linda plus Brittany and Stephanie is obvious, on and off the track, and Graham wouldn’t want it any other way. Graham says a number of people deserve special recognition away from his immediate family including Cliff Turner, Brett Cargill, Mick Bryant, Dave Lovell, John Jaedin, Jeff Langdon, Scott Kunde and Matt Learoyd among others. So what’s next for Graham? “I’d love to see the Brisbane Broncos win another NRL premiership while another fishing trip could be on the cards,” laughed Graham. “I’ll be happy to cheer on Brittany as she starts her quest for 1000 winners.” Darrel William Graham – Congratulations! Chris Barsby

Ohio-bred harness racing 3-year-old colts and geldings will go postward in seven $40,000 Ohio Sire Stakes (OSS) Leg One divisions on Tuesday afternoon at Miami Valley Raceway. Post time is 2:05, with the first OSS event scheduled as Race 2.   Three divisions of sophomore trotters (races 2,4,6) and four divisions of pacers (races 3,6,10 & 12) will be contested, featuring many of last season's top performers in the OSS competition. Trainer Brian Brown will harness seven contestants in five OSS events, six pacers and one trotter.   "We have 84 horses in training right now at the Delaware County Fairgrounds," Brown explained. "Of those 84, two are trotters, one 2-year-old and one 3-year-old. We train in Florida over the winter months--leaving here in late November and return the first of April."   Brown's lone trotter in Tuesday's OSS races is Robert H, a son of Dejarmbro--Keystone Twilight, that made one start as a freshman, albeit a winning effort at the Madison County Fair. Robert H starts in the first division (Race 2) fresh off a front-stepping 1:58.1 triumph at Miami Valley on April 24, facing seven rivals for Ohio owners Jennifer & Brian Brown, Richard Lombardo and Chris McCown.   "This horse is a little close to my heart, as he's named after my father," Brown related. "He's a skinny, long-legged horse and he's showed us he's got some talent, so I think he fits well in this first sires stake."   Hackett winner McRaven--who won that contest on April 22 in 1:51.4--starts from post one in Race 3 for Brown. This gelded son of McArdle won a pair of OSS events in mid-season for Country Club Acres and L&H Management Services of Findlay, OH.   "He had a foot that was bothering him earlier and was bearing out a bit in his last start, and we've been working on trying to correct that issue," Brown said. "But we've got a good post and he should be good on Tuesday."   White Jet--another lightly-raced Brown pupil--starts from post three in this same race for the Emerald Highlands Farm of Mount Vernon, OH. The grey son of The Panderosa won his first start of 2017 in an impressive 1:53.2 at Hoosier Park.   "White Jet is a really nice colt and has been a pleasant surprise," Brown noted. "He didn't have a good 2-year-old season and has really matured into a nice individual."   The appropriately-named Lightning Onmyfeet is Brown's seventh race contestant. This speedy son of McArdle paced to a winning 1:52.4 on April 25 in a Miami Valley overnight for owners Erv Miller Stable, D. Robinson, J&T Silva Stables and Stable 45. The bay colt has had just four starts in his career with two wins. He faces the 2016 OSS Championship winner Scotch McEwan, another son of McArdle owned by Xenia's Carl Atley and trained by Bill Dailey, who is making his seasonal debut in this OSS division.   "Lightning Onmyfeet cracked a P-1 last year," Brown explained. "(Trainer) Erv (Miller) was really high on him until that happened. He's got a world of talent and I expect he'll be even stronger than he was in his last start." Officially Creek, an Art Official gelding owned by Debbie Bird of Ontario, makes his 3-year-old debut for Brown in race ten. A winner of $53,315 last year, the bay gelding won an OSS leg at Northfield on Aug. 24. "This colt just got here from Canada a few days ago and is a brother to Bolder Creek," Brown said. "I don't think he's quite as tight as he needs to be and it might take him a few starts to get up to the speed of the rest of these in his division. He's a great big horse--very tall and long-legged and just towers over everybody else in the barn." Brown's last two contestants--Barnabas and McThriller--vie from posts eight and nine in Race 12. These two McArdle geldings are both making their seasonal debuts--coming into OSS action fresh off impressive qualifying efforts. Barnabas, a winner of $84,064 lifetime, paced to a 1:55.2 winning effort on April 26 with Tyler Smith in the sulky, while McThriller, who earned $113,022 last season, paced in 1:55.1 on the same date. "Both of these colts drew poorly (posts 8 & 9)," Brown acknowledged. "That makes their job tough. Barnabas had an open bridle in the Hackett as we wanted to calm him down a bit and he got too calm. He wasn't focused at all, so we put the blinds back on him and he qualified much better and was much more willing to go forward." Barnabas is owned by the Ohio quartet of Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombado and William Robinson. "McThriller is a very nice colt who got good late in his 2-year-old season," Brown said. "He's a great horse to have the barn--he loves everyone and is just a big pet." NR Holdings, TLP Stable and Howard Taylor are the trio of McThriller owners who hail from Boca Raton, FL, Kearny, NJ and Philadelphia, PA, respectively. Kimberly Rinker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 29, 2017 - Lady's Dude (George Brennan, $7.30) and All Bets Off (Brennan again, $4.80) shared the Saturday night harness racing spotlight, winning Yonkers Raceway's pair of $55,000 co-featured Open Handicaps. After a couple of no-shot eight-holes, Lady's Dude found this post position No. 5 assignment more than acceptable in the week's featured trot. Caught three-deep early, Lady's Dude made the lead just before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile. He then rated a 56.4 intermission before 17-10 favorite Melady's Monet (Brett Miller), who had left for a seat, moved from fourth. However, he couldn't get close and with a pocketed Not Afraid (Dan Dube) gapping, Lady's Dude had a lonely lead in and out of a 1:25 three-quarters. The advantage was a couple of lengths entering the lane and an unpressured length-and-a-quarter at the wire, finding it in 1:54.3...fastest local mile of the season. Aggressive (Jason Bartlett) saved ground for second, with Not Afraid third. Buen Camino offered good late interest for fourth, with Luck O' the Irish (Jordan Stratton) getting the final envelope and 'Melady' fading to seventh. For Lady's Dude, a 6-year-old Victory Sam gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Johnny Yoder and Weaver Bruscemi, it was his fourth win in nine seasonal starts (career earnings now over a half-million dollars). The exacta paid $63, with the triple returning $267. The week's adult-table pace had three unoccupied seats, as Levy Series winner Keystone Velocity and consolation winner Clear Vision were among the defections. The quintet was in need of a leader, and-from post No. 3-favored All Bets Off picked up that gauntlet. Though not the Free-For-Aller he used to be, All Bets Off was more than good enough when left (:27.4, 56.3, 1:24.3, 1:52.1) to his own devices. After taking a 2½-length lead into the lane, he held off a from-last Roland N Rock (Stratton) by three-quarters of a length. Santa Fe Beachboy (Bartlett),. Lucan Hanover (Tyler Buter) and a season-debuting Luck Be Withyou (Brian Sears) rounded out the order/payees. For All Bets Off, a 6-year-old son of Bettor's Delight trained by Burke for co-owners himself, Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, it was his first win in five '17 tries. The exacta paid $14.40, with triple and superfecta wagering cancelled. Frank Drucker

WILKES-BARRE PA - The Bettor's Delight gelding Barimah A, who last week lost a three-race winning streak when he drew an outside post, saw his pill shake turn upside-down this week - from "9" to "6" - and took advantage of the more favorable starting slot to regain his winning ways, posting a 1:50 victory in the $20,000 featured harness racing pace Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Though Barimah A did get a better post, his route to Victory Lane was by no means an easy one. Driver Pat Berry found a 4-tuck early with the winner, then had to come first-over on the favorite pacesetter Scott Rocks, really putting the pressure on the chalk by going his individual third split in 26.2. In the stretch it was the grinder who had more to the wire than the pacesetter winning by 1¼ lengths, with pocketsitter Book Binge another ¾ of a length back in third. Trainer Scott Di Domenico took over conditioning of Barimah A just over a month ago, and the horse is now 4-for-5 under his care for owners Brain Carsey, John Mcgill, and Adam Friedland. The pacer lowered his lifetime mark by 3/5 of a second in the rugged victory, and his time was just a tick off the seasonal Pocono standard, set by Orillia Joe two Saturdays ago. The trotting highlight of the Saturday card was a $16,500 conditioned event, and Skates N Plates, who had led at every call in his previous three starts only to give a little ground in the lane, was able to carry his speed wire-to-wire while equaling his personal best of 1:53.4. The hot trainer/driver combo of sulkysitter Anthony Napolitano (four wins on the card) and conditioner Andrew Harris (two triumphs) teamed up again here with the son of Revenue S, owned by Bob Key. A total of ten horses were claimed on Saturday's Pocono card, including five of the eight in an event with a base price of $15,000. Of Saturday's six claiming races, the winner was haltered in four of them. Trainers of top horses in the sport's glamour division, the three-year-old pacing colts, will have an eye on the featured $18,000 tenth race pace on Sunday night's Pocono card, as it features the return of Miso Fast, who was third in his Breeders Crown event last year behind the two freshmen generally thought of as at the head of their class, Downbytheseaside and Huntsville. Miso Fast returns to the races from post seven for driver Matt Kakaley and trainer Ron Burke off a 1:52.2 - 26.4 qualifying win at Harrah's Philadelphia. PHHA / Pocono

CAMPBELLVILLE, April 29 - It generally takes time for a four-year-old to step up and beat top harness racing overnight horses, but that was not the case Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Four-year-old gelding Sintra won Saturday's $27,000 feature event with a large 1:50.4 performance for driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Dave Menary. The former Ontario Sires Stakes star was making his four-year-old debut and first start since the OSS Super Final last October. Competing against seven rivals, including proven Preferred stars, Sintra got away sixth in the early-going. The tempo was modest, as Our Sky Major N led the field by the half in :56. Despite the easy-fractions for the group, Jamieson pulled first-up and unleashed his charge heading into the final turn. Sintra delivered an impressive :26.3 third-quarter to blow right by his opponents and snag command away from Our Sky Major N. In the stretch, the Menary trainee left his rivals well-behind and cruised home in :27.2 for a 3½ lengths score. Mach Code finished second, while Erle Dale N was third. The betting public was certainly hoping Sintra was ready to roll off the bench, as the four-year-old went off at odds of 7/2 and paid $9.40 to win. Owned by Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and Menary Racing Inc, Sintra won eight of 16 starts last season for earnings of $294,500. Saturday's victory improves the Mach Three gelding's career record to nine wins in 20 starts. With his four-year-old debut now in the books, Sintra's next start could be in the Confederation Cup eliminations on Sunday, May 14 at Flamboro Downs. The Menary trainee is one of 32 four-year-olds eligible to this year's event. Sintra Also on Saturday, Jins Shark posted the first sub-1:50 mile of the Mohawk meet with a 1:49.4 score in the $22,000 opening race. The Isaac Waxman trainee made a third-quarter move to the lead from fourth to front the field by the three-quarter pole in 1:23. Jins Shark proceeded to pace a :26.4 final-quarter to score a dominating 5¼ lengths sub-1:50 victory. Doug McNair guided the six-year-old gelding to his third win of the season and 16th win overall. Jins Shark paid $3.60 to win. Jins Shark Live racing resumes Monday night at Mohawk Racetrack. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

LEBANON, OH. - The initial race in the new Miami Valley Lucky Buckeye series for older Ohio-sired harness racing horses produced not only a track record, but a national season's record for trotting mares on a five-eighths mile oval. Kestrel (Josh Sutton), a 4-year-old daughter of Triumhant Caviar, went gate to wire in 1:52.1 to better the local standard set by Hannelore Hanover in the 2016 Miami Valley Distaff Grand Circuit stake and post the quickest mile in North American for her age and gait in 2017. It was the 11th win in 20 lifetime starts for Kestrel, who banked $350,400 in her first two juvenile stakes seasons. Sandy's Victory (Aaron Merriman) and Honey B (Kyle Ater), both trained by Ohio Hall-of Famer Dan Ater, finished second and third in the $25,000 clash. Trainer Chris Beaver co-owns the winner with Wilbur Lang. Following two strong qualifiers Kestrel's Lucky Buckeye three-length victory was her maiden voyage for money this year. Both Kestrel and Hannelore Hanover are eligible to the $100,000 (est.) 2017 Miami Valley Distaff slated for May 8, closing day of the meet. Mr Wiggle Pants (Kayne Kauffman), another first time seasonal starter, captured the Lucky Buckeye division for older pacing horses with an impressive 1:51.2 2017 debut. The son of Mr Wiggles left hard from an outside post, then yielded to favored Whataboy (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) in the lane the first time around. After pocket-sitting until just before three-quarters of the way through, Mr Wiggle Pants angled out from behind the pacesetter just before he called it a night, then held off fast-closing Man He Can Skoot (Chris Page) by three parts of a length. Stand Out At Dawn (Kyle Ater) was next best in the $25,000 contest. Trainer Jim Mulinix co-owns the winner with Denny Miller, William Rufenacht and the DM Stable. He has now banked $314,885 in just 24 trips to post. A third $25,000 Lucky Buckeye race, for older Buckeye-bred male trotters, saw Another Breath (Jason Brewer) run his win streak to three with a 1:55.1 score over The Next Triumph (Tony Hall) and I Know My Chip (Kayne Kauffman). Fresh off a victory in the final of the Dr. Dan Farwick Memorial late-closing series, the son of Lou's Legacy got away third, but moved to the front after passing the quarter mile marker and cruised to a length and a half tally with relative ease. Richard Mishkin owns Another Breath and entrusts the training to Jeff Johnson Jr. The annual Craig Colston Memorial, honoring the memory of the deceased popular area horse owner and occasional TV commentator at old Lebanon Raceway, brought together a field of eight for a $22,000 Open Pace. Control Tower (Dan Noble) lowered his life speed badge to 1:50.2 with an impressive score over My Buddy Ninkster (Josh Sutton) and Angelo J Fra (Chris Page), who were both lapped on to the winner at the end of the quick mile. The mild upset ($13.00 to win) was pulled off by posting front end fractions of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:22.3 before closing with a :27.4 final panel. Steve Sexton, a long standing patron of the Noble training stable at the Xenia fairgrounds, owns the son of Panspacificflight. Gregg Keidel

Boom harness racing youngster Lumineer will be given a light week before connections make a decision on his next major target. Fresh from his demolition of last night’s $300,000 Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Lumineer is resting in New South Wales today before embarking on the long trip back to trainer Ange McDowall’s Victorian property. Once home the two-year-old will enjoy an easy time to recover from his triumphant campaign. “He is having today off before we head home, where he will have a pretty easy week,” McDowall said. “He is not the kind of horse you can put in a paddock to rest as he is always on the go, but he won’t do much this week. “When we are home I will see how he settles down and go from there.” With the son of Sportswriter eligible for the New South Wales Breeders’ Challenge in June, a return trip across the Murray River is a likely scenario. Lumineer is also eligible for the Australasian Breeders’ Crown at Melton in August. “I won’t be making any plans until after we are home and settled,” McDowall said. “At this stage I’m not ruling anything out, but I’m not pencilling anything in either.” As for his latest win, Lumineer led throughout from the pole to account for Stefsbest and Jilliby Lorenzo in 1:54.4 over a mile with Jason Lee holding the reins. “I was nervous and stressed before the race as it’s a big thing for me and my family,” McDowall said. “It was the first time we’ve had a horse in a Group One and you just don’t know how things are going to turn out. “It’s a wonderful feeling to win such a big race, but it’s back down to earth cleaning out boxes this morning.” A $30,000 purchase at the Melbourne APG Sale, Lumineer is owned by the McDowall family under the BLG Racing Group, which consists of the trainer’s parents Brian and Louise and their Girls – six daughters! Unbeaten from five starts, the colt boasts a bankroll of $177,980.  

April 29, 2017 - Veteran and former Prix d’Amerique winner Up And Quick (9m Buvetier d’Aunou-Fichtre) gained an impressive gate to wire harness racing victory in today’s Gr. II first speed leg of the FR summer, this one named the Criterium de Vitesse de Base Normandie and raced at Argentan. Franck Nivard teamed the Franck Leblanc trainee that is owned and was bred by Ecurie Quick Star. The winner recorded his 14th win in 58 starts for €1,988,540 earned. Today’s event carried a purse of €100,000 and was raced over 1609 meters autostart, clockwise direction. The 5.5/1 barefoot winner bested 2.8/1 and pocket placed Billie de Montfort (6f Jasmin de Flore-Quismy de Montfort) reined by David Thomain for Sebastien Guarato, trainer for owner/breeder Philippe Dauphin. Third was the 1.6/1 favorite Bird Parker (6m Ready Cash-Belisha) driven by J.Ph. Monclin for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Elisabeth Allaire. Target Kronos and Arazi Boko were the next two to the line.  Race time was 1.09.4kr, the mile rate a sizzling 1:51.64. Thomas H. Hicks  

New Zealand’s standardbred breeder of the year, Woodlands Stud is proud to offer over 60 weanlings at the PGG Wrightson Autumn harness racing sale on Sunday May 21st. All Woodlands Stud’s, world class stallions are represented at the sale. The Autumn weanling sale has been a rich source for buyers over the journey. Millionaire pacer My Hard Copy was plucked out of the Woodlands draft for just $4,000! Current star 3yo filly Partyon was a weanling sale purchase as well, she has made over $475,000 in her career so far. Woodlands Stud celebrates 25 years of standardbred breeding in 2017 and we are the clear market leaders in Australasian standardbred breeding. We invite you to view our weanling draft on Saturday May 20 at Karaka. We will parade our draft from 1pm and our BBQ and refreshments will be provided. We will be located in Barn C at the Karaka complex. For all information related to our weanling draft don’t hesitate to contact our New Zealand agent Charlotte Mooney on 021595492 or Australian agent Mark Hughes on 0451650707.  For the catalogue click here.

East Rutherford, NJ - It's an exciting time of year in harness racing as the better horses are showing up at The Meadowlands on Saturday mornings to get some work in either training before or racing in qualifiers. Today's action came on what began as a lovely morning, the track was fast with temperatures in the mid 70's and a light crosswind at the 10 am post time but conditions deteriorated some along the way. Top rated sophomore colt and early favorite for the $750,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace Huntsville was making his second public appearance this morning and was a 1:51.3 winner with a 27 final quarter into what became a significant headwind through the stretch. Tim Tetrick put Huntsville on the lead near the 55:4 half and the big fella handled it from there with Filibuster Hanover (Gingras) making a good stretch rally to be second. Resolve (Svanstedt) returned a 1:54.2/29.2 winner, tracking Side Bet Hanover (Corey Callahan) throughout then brushing by that stubborn rival late into what has become a considerable stretch head wind. It was a good prep in anticipation of Resolve's defense of his title in the upcoming Cutler Memorial for the 2016 International and Maple Leaf winner, trained by Svanstedt for Hans Enggren. Heels On Wheels opened the day a 1:57/27.4 winner going gate to wire in a filly trot for Yannick Gingras. Ron Burke trains and owns the NYSS winner with Crawford Farms Racing and Weaver Bruscemi. Last year's division leader Ariana G (Gingras) made her 2017 debut and was a closing second to Goldsmith Maid winner Magic Presto (Brian Sears) in 1:56/28.1. It was the second "Q" for the winner, trained in the Nifty Norman stable Hartman, Liverman, Mc Duffee and Little E, LLC. Several Hambo prospects raced in the fourth and Sortie (Andy McCarthy) got the best of the group with an early move to the lead into a 58.2 half then held sway over a closing Bill's Man and pocket riding Fly On (Andy Miller) in 1:55.4/29.1. Noel Daley trains Sortie who found his best form late last year and was a Breeders Crown elim winner and third in the final for Patricia Stable, Joe Sbrocco, Mario Mazza and the Sortie Stable. A pair of good NY sired four-year-old mares looked sharp in the fifth with Fad Fiannce (Trond Smedshammer) getting the jump on Non Stick (Ake Svanstedt) to the wire in 1:55.2/28.3. She was a Lexington Grand Circuit winner last fall for owners Purple Haze, Goldberg and Rojan Stables. Someomensomewhere (Tim Tetrick) moved forward off of last week's effort and led all the way in a 1:54.4/28- well within herself. She now races for Diamond Creek and the ABM Stable with Takter doing the training. That's The Ticket (David Miller) was really good again this morning cutting the mile and winning in 1:52.4/28.2 well clear of her rivals. Idyllic Beach (Gingras) settled mid pack and made a mild close within a few lengths, second best. Chris Ryder trains That's The Ticket for Henderson, Mondillo and Minowitz. Lyons Snyder (D. Miller) was pretty much alone in his 1:50.1/27.2 romp with just three rivals scattered behind him complicated by a head-stretch breaker. Looks like he's good to go for trainer Takter and owners Jeff Snyder and Geoff Mounds. Pure Country was scary good today, dragging Brett Miller through the wind with a 26.2 end to a mile in 1:50.1 moving away from the solid open pacer Dealt A Winner. It will be very interesting to see if her connections, trainer Takter and Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farms, race her in next Saturday's Graduate Series leg. She's also paid into a number of open stakes at The Meadowlands this summer including the WR Haughton and newly christened Sam McKee Memorials. Ocean Colony went a nice mile for Takter and Gingras this morning closing his 1:52.3 front end performance with a 26.1 final quarter. He races for Mrs. Takter, Fielding, Hatfield, Katz, Libfeld and Goldband. The big news is the $61,958 carry over in the Late Pick 4 bet which will generate plenty of play and good value. Racing begins at 7:15 with the final of the $50,000 World Harness Handicapping Challenge center stage. For full results of the qualifiers click here. Sortie Magic Presto Fad Finance Resolve Someomensomewhere Thats The Ticket Lyons Snyder Pure Country Huntsville   Nick Salvi

April 29, 2017 - Lionel (NO) swept four wide around the final bend to draw clear for 110.9kr score in today’s Gr I UET Masters Series Olympiatravet (purse €284,672, 2140 meters autostart, ten starters). The seven year-old son of FR sire Look de Star-Aurora Sign-SmokeN Lantern was off at 15/1 and ecorded his 18th win in 51 outings for 11,816,821SEK earned. Owner Goran Antonsen teamed the Daniel Reden trainee. 18/1 Your Highness (8f Chocolatier-La Belle Lady) was a solid second for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop, ahead of 45/1 Oasis Bi (9g Toss Out-Up Front JM) with Erik Adielsson up for trainer S.P. Petterson Kadett CD and Nadal Broline completed the top five after favorite Nuncio and Voltiguer de Myrt made misques at the start. On Track Piraten faded after being on the front. Fractions were 1.10.4kr at the first 500; 1.10.2kr at the first 1000 and 1.11.2kr after 1500 meters). Lionel has now beaten Bold Eagle and Nuncio. Replay: https://www.atgplay.se/lopp/20170429-aby-v75?id=7 On the undercard the Lovely Godivas (Gr. II, for mares over 2140 meters autostart, 250,000SEK to the winner, went to 1.5/1 Wild Honey (5f Cantab Hall-U Wanna Lindy-SJs Photo) for driver Orjan Kihlstrom, Stall Zet and trainer Daniel Reden. This mare has 25 wins in 42 starts for 13,200,598SEK earned. Thomas H. Hicks  

Columbus, OH --- After the Finn Stable sustained a loss that left them reeling, the family is hoping Rockin Racer, who has demolished her harness racing opposition in three trips to the post this year at Hoosier Park, may alleviate some of the sorrow residing in their souls and demonstrate her own prowess at overcoming significant obstacles to even compete. “We suffered a tragedy when we lost ($283,564 winner) Rockin Good,” said JD Finn. “We took her to Ohio to race and she came down with a bad case of the strangles. She immediately went to Ohio State and they provided her with the best of care. Even with their efforts it was very serious and after being there for some time, she was finally able to come home. She was doing really well and was healthy until one day she just couldn’t get up. We tried everything we could to save her, but we knew what we had to do for her. We think now she may have had EPM, but it still hurts every day she is not with us. “Rockin Racer reminded us of her as a yearling and is the reason we bought her. We trained her down in 2:07 and she broke her splint bone in two places in her right front leg, so we had to wait on her. We knew she had talent but we didn’t think she would be winning like this.” Rockin Racer seeks to extend her record to a perfect four-for-four when she takes on nine other rivals in the $15,000 Miss Windfall final on Saturday (April 29) at Hoosier Park. Conditioned by JD Finn, the 3-year-old pacing filly will leave from the rail as the 3-2 favorite in the seventh race on the card with his son Jared holding the lines. Not only has the daughter of  Rockin Image-Portia Blue Chip amassed the highest seasonal earnings in the field ($12,500), but her speed badge of 1:52.4 is nearly a full two seconds swifter than the other contestants have paced. “Everything she has done has been well within herself,” the elder Finn said. “We have never asked her and have been very surprised by how she has been racing.” Despite displaying immense promise at this early stage of her career, Rockin Racer has much more to achieve before she can rival the likes of her former stablemate Rockin Good. Rockin Good was purchased for $9,500 at the 2013 Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale. The daughter of Rockin Image-Do Me Good was an Indiana champion, a stakes victress and collected $283,564 for the Finns during her two-year career. Rockin Racer, who is co-owned by Finn Racing and Hinshaw Homestead Farms, was selected from the 2015 Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale for $7,500 and is a full sister to Undertaker ($129,807). Unraced at age two, the filly has been simply dominant in each of her 3-year-old engagements. Her first start was a powerful performance coming from off the pace to stop the clock in 1:54.3 in a $10,000 Rosie Harness Memorial contest on April 8. The following week she went to the top at the half-mile marker and never looked back, lowering her mark to 1:53.1 in the first leg of the Miss Windfall Series. In her latest foray last Saturday (April 22) in the second leg of the Miss Windfall, she decimated 11 other fillies and mares with a wire-to-wire victory while setting her new lifetime mark of 1:52.4. Although she will be extremely short odds at the windows this weekend, Rockin Racer defeated exceptionally long ones to even place her nose upon the starting gate in a pari-mutuel contest, which makes these performances all the more rewarding for the Finns. “Well first we had that splint bone,” said Finn, who conditions his horses at the Jasper County Fairgrounds. “All we could do was take it out and wait to see what would happen. Fortunately, the leg healed beautifully and we have not had one problem with it; it came out just perfect. “But we had another issue and even if the leg had not happened, we would have been embarrassed to take her anywhere because her tail fell out. The vet said it was some type of fungus and it came out in hunks; she had no tail at all and we would never want to take a horse around looking the way she did. It grew back and is black now except for about four inches from her tail bone; that is all gray.” Although she obviously possesses speed and relishes her work, Rockin Racer has quite the personality when she is not on the track pacing. “She is a rip around the barn,” Finn said. “She is very professional when it is time to race or train, but we could not get hobbles on her. She would lay right down whenever we would try to put that last leg in. We have to lay them on the ground for her to step into. She likes to do her things her way.” Like Rockin Good before her, Rockin Racer will target the lucrative Indiana Sire Stakes program and other stakes over the Anderson oval. “She will stay at Hoosier and race in the sire stakes,” Finn said. “That is our plan for the season and of course we always have to consult with our partners on her. She will also tell us where to go herself. We bought her because she reminded us so much of Rockin Good as a yearling and we like Rockin Image as a sire, plus Undertaker’s career was another reason for buying her. “We are very surprised with how this filly has already went in (1):52 and the way she has done it, but Undertaker has been in (1):51, so we are looking forward to the year with her. “It still stings with what happened with Rockin Good and I think it is one of those things that will never really go away; that pain will always be there, but maybe this filly can help ease a little bit of that sting.” by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

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Pompano Beach, FL...April 30, 2017...Heart Felt, craftily handled by Bryce Fenn, put on a game harness racing performance on Sunday night (April 30), taking Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Handicap in 1:51.4. The six year-old altered son of Well Said overcame the outside post to post a photo finish win--a neck--over Arsenal, driven by Dave Ingraham. Fritzie Pic Up Man, with Wally Hennessey in the sulky, recovered from an early miscue to finish third, a half-length away. Goldstar Raider was a fast closing fourth while Rock On Moe, prominent throughout much of the mile, picked up the nickel in the classy octet. In an early battle for supremacy, the three outside horses, Arsenal, Rock On Moe and Heart Felt, all were in search of the top spot with Heart Felt gaining the top past the :26.2 opener before yielding to Rock On Moe (Dan Daley)--briefly. Three-eighths into the mile, Fenn sent Heart Felt back to the front and carved out remaining panels of :54.2 and 1:23 before a :28.4 final panel held Arsenal at bay at the wire. After the race, driver Bryce Fenn related, "The only way I was going to get into the race was to leave out of there. After all, when you have the outside post, you cannot afford to spot an evenly matched field like this 10 lengths every week. "Last week, they were leaving all around me so I didn't have much choice but, tonight, it looked like we were the only ones with noses right on the gate, so we were rocking and rolling early. "When Dan (Daley) put his horse on top, my horse didn't seem content in the pocket, so I tipped him out and reclaimed the lead. "He went a game trip, I'll say that." Trained by Luanna Beeson for Winchesster Baye Acres, Heart Felt won for the fourth in 15 starts to push his 2017 bankroll to $33,275 and $5 short of $140,000 career-wise. As the 5 to 1 third choice, Heart Felt paid $12.00 to win. The win for driver Fenn was the third of the night, who scored a consecutive grand slam of sorts by taking the early daily double on Sunday after sweeping the late daily double on Pompano Park's last program on Wednesday night. In other Pompano Park action on Sunday, Groovey Kid, handled by Wally Hennessey, scored a decisive win in a conditioned trotting event, stopping the tele-timer in a lifetime best 1:54.3. The "hard-headed" six year-old gelded son of Cincinnati Kid began a sweeping move from sixth with one lap to go and swept to the lead three-eighths from home and went on to score a win measuring 9¾ lengths over Body Double (Joe Sanzeri) with I'll Tell You What (Kevin Wallis), making his 300th career start, third. Railee Workable recovered from an early miscue to finish fourth while Uptoa Dream picked up the final award in the field of nine. Trained by Dan Hennessey for owner John Campagnuolo, Groovey Kid won for the third time this semester in 15 starts, pushing his 2017 earnings to $18,975 and $136,240 lifetime. The mile eclipsed the trotter's former mark of 1:55, accomplished when he won for the first time this year. "He can be sort of 'hard-headed' on occasion," Hennessey said, "but, when he puts his mind to it, he can trot a ton. He did that tonight!" As the 6 to 5 tote-board favorite, Groovey Kid paid $4.60 to win. Racing continues on Tuesday night with Boli looking to score a three-peat in the $10,000 Open Handicap Trot. This five year-old son of Kadabra will have to overcome the outside post to conquer a field including Sailer Eddie, Keystone Bodacious, Commentary, Legend Field, Caviart Griffin, McKenzie's Star, My Revenuer and Skyway Pippen. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park          
LEBANON — This is not to say it’s a commentary on her driving, but when Becky Woebkenberg gets behind the wheel of their white Ford F-150 pick-up, her husband Mike gets in the back seat, turns completely around and looks out the rear window. “I’m a true backseat driver,” Mike grinned. But he wasn’t kidding. And that’s what makes Becky and him one of the most unique husband and wife teams in sports. While Becky steers the truck around harness tracks, Mike looks the opposite way, works the accelerator and operates the long, wing-like gates that stretch out from each side of the vehicle, making it look, in his words, “like a 747.” As he does this, he begins to choreograph an equine kick line that quickly resembles a bugle-blaring cavalry charge. Until recently he’s billed the unique view from his back seat perch as “the most exciting 30 seconds in sports that nobody gets to see.” Mike, with Becky’s help, is the starter of harness races at Miami Valley Gaming in Lebanon, Hollywood Dayton Raceway at Needmore and Wagner Ford roads in Dayton and at 46 of the 66 county fairs in Ohio that have pari-mutuel racing. Woebkenberg said he and his wife start some 3,000 races a year and they’ve been doing it for 25 years. While he guesses there are fewer than 50 starters now working harness tracks in the United States, it’s a certainty that few, if any, are more immersed in the sport than he is. He’s a former driver. He helps with blacksmith duties between races at the tracks. And there is a good chance some of the race bikes upon which the drivers are perched in his races were built by him at his nationally-known Superior Sulky shop in Farmersville. Woebkenberg is also a tireless promoter of the sport, which is a why in 2011 the Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association presented him with its Rambling Willie Award, an honor named for the famed Ohio-owned pacing gelding and given to an Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades. And because Woebkenberg has not rested on those laurels, he’s had to amend that “most exciting 30 seconds” claim. Thanks to him, the past two months or so at Miami Valley Gaming — where the race cards run through May 8 — other people have been able to share his up-close vantage point at the start of races. He’s begun taking some fans along with him in the race gate (as the starter’s vehicle is known). They sit next to him and get an unbelievable and up-close experience of sight and sound and an appreciation of the drivers and those magnificent animals. Learned from Dad The other morning Woebkenberg was standing on the sidewalk outside his Superior Sulky shop in Farmersville. On one side of him was an aluminum training cart he had made. On the other was a smaller, sleeker race bike. But at the moment his interest was directed across Jackson Street from the 1868 building that houses his business. “That was once the high school here in town,” he said of the stately brick building that now proclaims Masonic Temple over the door. “And that yellow brick building over there was the blacksmith shop. That building and mine were owned by brothers. They’d build the buggies over here, then roll them over there and take them up to the second story to paint them before bringing them back here to sell.” He then nodded to a building farther down the street: “That white brick place was the stage stop in town.” Just then the postman came walking across the street. The two men called each other by name and exchanged pleasantries and that made Woebkenberg smile: “All this is small town personified.” Inside his shop, where several horse carts and race sulkies were in various stages of assemblage or repair, you also found an eclectic collection of racing and horse-themed remembrances of times long past. It made you realize just how deeply Woebkenberg has embraced the sport since he grew up in Lebanon in the 1950s. He’s a third-generation horseman, and with a warm smile he said one of his first memories is being with his dad, John Woebkenberg, who had just driven home a winner at the Ross County Fair in Chillicothe: “I have a picture of it. I was just three or four. My mom had made me a set of racing colors to match my dad’s. He’s in the Winner’s Circle and I’m setting up there on his shoulder in the race bike.” His dad taught him everything from mucking stalls to how to handle various driving dilemmas on the track. And at age 16, Mike debuted in the sulky at the Warren County Fair. Years later he began to realize there were other ways to make a living in the sport. He began to build and repair sulkies and horse carts and then one day he said a friend had him paint some mobile starting gates for him. As payment the guy gave him a starting gate unit and suggested he try starting races at a couple of county fairs. “I needed a driver to help me and Becky volunteered and it exploded from there,” he said. Becky — who had grown up outside Gratis and shown horses when she was younger — was a natural. She had been helping run her family’s bulldozer business in West Alexandria, Mike said: “She’d run D-8 Cats (Caterpillars) and all that stuff, so it was just an extension of that.” Over the years the pair has started races at various harness tracks across the Midwest, and with the resurgence of standardbred racing in Ohio, Mike has been able to stay deeply involved in the sport he champions whenever he can. “I believe we have one of the most unique sports going,” he said. “Men and women race on equal footing and you may have drivers who are very young — kids can start at 16 — and, on the other end of the spectrum, a few years ago I started (Hancock County Sports Hall of Famer) 93-year-old Doc Schoonover. “Pro football and pro basketball careers are short, but in our sport you can drive into your 40s and 50s and 60s and still be competitive. By Tom Archdeacon Reprinted with permission of The My Dayton Daily News
Sweet Thing, driven by harness racing driver Bruce Aldrich Jr., took Sunday's $15,000 feature trot at Saratoga. The 5 year old mare, trained by Homer Hochstetler, trotted the mile in 1:56.3 for the win. Live racing resumes Thursday afternoon with a post time of 12:15. Mike Sardella  
Ohio-bred harness racing 3-year-old colts and geldings will go postward in seven $40,000 Ohio Sire Stakes (OSS) Leg One divisions on Tuesday afternoon at Miami Valley Raceway. Post time is 2:05, with the first OSS event scheduled as Race 2.   Three divisions of sophomore trotters (races 2,4,6) and four divisions of pacers (races 3,6,10 & 12) will be contested, featuring many of last season's top performers in the OSS competition. Trainer Brian Brown will harness seven contestants in five OSS events, six pacers and one trotter.   "We have 84 horses in training right now at the Delaware County Fairgrounds," Brown explained. "Of those 84, two are trotters, one 2-year-old and one 3-year-old. We train in Florida over the winter months--leaving here in late November and return the first of April."   Brown's lone trotter in Tuesday's OSS races is Robert H, a son of Dejarmbro--Keystone Twilight, that made one start as a freshman, albeit a winning effort at the Madison County Fair. Robert H starts in the first division (Race 2) fresh off a front-stepping 1:58.1 triumph at Miami Valley on April 24, facing seven rivals for Ohio owners Jennifer & Brian Brown, Richard Lombardo and Chris McCown.   "This horse is a little close to my heart, as he's named after my father," Brown related. "He's a skinny, long-legged horse and he's showed us he's got some talent, so I think he fits well in this first sires stake."   Hackett winner McRaven--who won that contest on April 22 in 1:51.4--starts from post one in Race 3 for Brown. This gelded son of McArdle won a pair of OSS events in mid-season for Country Club Acres and L&H Management Services of Findlay, OH.   "He had a foot that was bothering him earlier and was bearing out a bit in his last start, and we've been working on trying to correct that issue," Brown said. "But we've got a good post and he should be good on Tuesday."   White Jet--another lightly-raced Brown pupil--starts from post three in this same race for the Emerald Highlands Farm of Mount Vernon, OH. The grey son of The Panderosa won his first start of 2017 in an impressive 1:53.2 at Hoosier Park.   "White Jet is a really nice colt and has been a pleasant surprise," Brown noted. "He didn't have a good 2-year-old season and has really matured into a nice individual."   The appropriately-named Lightning Onmyfeet is Brown's seventh race contestant. This speedy son of McArdle paced to a winning 1:52.4 on April 25 in a Miami Valley overnight for owners Erv Miller Stable, D. Robinson, J&T Silva Stables and Stable 45. The bay colt has had just four starts in his career with two wins. He faces the 2016 OSS Championship winner Scotch McEwan, another son of McArdle owned by Xenia's Carl Atley and trained by Bill Dailey, who is making his seasonal debut in this OSS division.   "Lightning Onmyfeet cracked a P-1 last year," Brown explained. "(Trainer) Erv (Miller) was really high on him until that happened. He's got a world of talent and I expect he'll be even stronger than he was in his last start." Officially Creek, an Art Official gelding owned by Debbie Bird of Ontario, makes his 3-year-old debut for Brown in race ten. A winner of $53,315 last year, the bay gelding won an OSS leg at Northfield on Aug. 24. "This colt just got here from Canada a few days ago and is a brother to Bolder Creek," Brown said. "I don't think he's quite as tight as he needs to be and it might take him a few starts to get up to the speed of the rest of these in his division. He's a great big horse--very tall and long-legged and just towers over everybody else in the barn." Brown's last two contestants--Barnabas and McThriller--vie from posts eight and nine in Race 12. These two McArdle geldings are both making their seasonal debuts--coming into OSS action fresh off impressive qualifying efforts. Barnabas, a winner of $84,064 lifetime, paced to a 1:55.2 winning effort on April 26 with Tyler Smith in the sulky, while McThriller, who earned $113,022 last season, paced in 1:55.1 on the same date. "Both of these colts drew poorly (posts 8 & 9)," Brown acknowledged. "That makes their job tough. Barnabas had an open bridle in the Hackett as we wanted to calm him down a bit and he got too calm. He wasn't focused at all, so we put the blinds back on him and he qualified much better and was much more willing to go forward." Barnabas is owned by the Ohio quartet of Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombado and William Robinson. "McThriller is a very nice colt who got good late in his 2-year-old season," Brown said. "He's a great horse to have the barn--he loves everyone and is just a big pet." NR Holdings, TLP Stable and Howard Taylor are the trio of McThriller owners who hail from Boca Raton, FL, Kearny, NJ and Philadelphia, PA, respectively. Kimberly Rinker
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