Day At The Track
Mansfield Farm offered the top-priced yearling today in Lot 192

Strong demand for NZ-bred Trotters

The lift in demand for the straight-out trotter has been reflected in the results achieved on Day 1 of selling at the harness racing NZB’s National Yearling Sale in Christchurch, with the aggregate, average and median figures exceeding that of last year’s result. “There has been a tremendous development of the stand-alone trotter and for the turnover to break the million-dollar mark is a great achievement,” commented NZB Standardbred Manager Peter Lagan. “It’s been great to experience another lift with the average reaching over $30,000, reinforcing that the trotter has really become quite a commercial product.” With 40 lots sold this afternoon, the aggregate surpassed the seven-figure mark to close at $1,203,500 (up 26% on 2018). The average rose to $30,088 (up 16% on 2018), the median settled at $21,500, while the clearance rate was a strong 83%. Seven lots sold for $50,000 or more with the highest-priced yearling fetching $105,000. The Love You colt, King of Love, was offered by Mansfield Farm as Lot 192 with local trainer Greg Hope the winning bidder. “We’ve got a Love You filly at home that we are in raptures about and we couldn’t resist having a full blood brother to that,” commented leading buyer Hope who spent an aggregate of $140,000 for two lots. Champion European sire Love You topped both the leading sire table by aggregate and average (three or more sold) having sold 10 lots for $403,500 in receipts, and a healthy average of $40,350. Jim Connelly was active at the Christchurch Sale after making his presence felt in Auckland. Purchasing under his KPC Racing banner, Connelly secured two trotting yearlings today for a total spend of $130,000. Selling six lots for a total trade of $163,000, Ripple Creek were the leading vendors by aggregate with their results bolstered by a Father Patrick colt (Lot 156) who sold for $50,000. Studholme Bloodstock were the leading sire by average (three or more sold) having sold three lots at an average of $42,333, including a Muscle Hill filly (Lot 158) who made $65,000. “It was a wonderful result for the farm,” commented Studholme Bloodstock’s Brian West. “I’ve been in and out of the trotters for nearly three decades, and once I had spent some time in Europe, I came home convinced that we should start investing in good trotting blood – simply because we can access the best trotting sires in the world.” The Christchurch Sale continues tomorrow with Lot 196 to Lot 401 going under the hammer from 11.00am. All horses purchased at the National Yearling Sale are eligible for the NZB Standardbred Harness Million Series with approximately $1 million in prizemoney for graduates. To make enquiries about any Passed Lots, contact Cam Bray on +64 21 737 199.   2019 National Yearling Sale Statistics - Christchurch Sale Day 1   2019 Trotting Sale Aggregate $1,203,500 Average $30,088 Median $21,500 Clearance 83% Catalogued 50 Sold 40 Top Price $105,000 Lot 192 Sassy And Sweet (B.C.) Love You - Diedre's Jewel   Top Lots Lot Type Breeding Vendor Purchaser Location Price 192 B.C Love You / Diedre's Jewel Mansfield Farm Mr G Hope Canterbury $105,000 176 Ch.C Love You / Sun Mist M. Caig E & M Stride New South Wales $90,000 173 B.C Muscle Mass / Nice One Kenny Ardgowan Lodge KPC Racing Victoria $80,000 158 B.F Muscle Hill / Margaritaville Studholme Bloodstock Mr AG Herlihy Auckland $65,000 189 B.C Orlando Vici / Belle Galleon A. D. Edmonds Mr CW Lang Victoria $51,000 156 B.C Father Patrick / Hot Pants Ripple Creek Mr NR McGrath Cambridge $50,000 168 B.C Muscle Mass / U Dream Rosedale Farm KPC Racing Victoria $50,000 160 B.C Father Patrick / Kylie Ree N. P. Williamson Mr B Purdon Auckland $45,000 172 BR.F Love You / Sierra Roydon Lindenny Lodge Mr BM Williamson Otago $42,000 191 B.C Andover Hall / Bree Studholme Bloodstock IG & LF Thomson Southland $42,000   Leading Purchasers Purchaser Bought Aggregate Average Top Price Top Lot Mr G Hope (Canterbury) 2 $140,000 $70,000 $105,000 192 KPC Racing (Victoria) 2 $130,000 $65,000 $80,000 173 E & M Stride (New South Wales) 1 $90,000 $90,000 $90,000 176 Mr B Purdon (Auckland) 2 $70,000 $35,000 $45,000 160 Mr AG Herlihy (Auckland) 1 $65,000 $65,000 $65,000 158 Mr GL Clarke (Otago) 3 $64,500 $21,500 $32,000 182 Mr GD Smith (Canterbury) 2 $56,500 $28,250 $37,500 159 Mr BM Williamson (Otago) 2 $52,000 $26,000 $42,000 172 Mr CW Lang (Victoria) 1 $51,000 $51,000 $51,000 189 Mr NR McGrath (Cambridge) 1 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000 156   Leading Vendors by Aggregate Vendor Sold Aggregate Average Top Price Top Lot Ripple Creek           Ripple Creek 6 $163,000 $27,167 $50,000 156 Studholme Bloodstock 3 $127,000 $42,333 $65,000 158 Rosedale Farm 5 $116,000 $23,200 $50,000 168 Mansfield Farm 1 $105,000 $105,000 $105,000 192 M. Caig 1 $90,000 $90,000 $90,000 176 Ardgowan Lodge 1 $80,000 $80,000 $80,000 173 M. Baird 2 $69,500 $34,750 $37,500 159 A. D. Edmonds 2 $66,000 $33,000 $51,000 189 G. M. Murray 3 $49,500 $16,500 $20,000 169 N. P. Williamson 1 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000 160   Leading Vendors by Average (three or more sold) Vendor Sold Average Aggregate Top Price Top Lot Studholme Bloodstock 3 $42,333 $127,000 $65,000 158 Ripple Creek 6 $27,167 $163,000 $50,000 156 Rosedale Farm 5 $23,200 $116,000 $50,000 168 G. M. Murray 3 $16,500 $49,500 $20,000 169 Dancingonmoonlight 3 $14,833 $44,500 $19,000 185   Leading Sires by Average (three or more sold) Sire Sold Average Aggregate Top Price Top Lot Love You 10 $40,350 $403,500 $105,000 192 Father Patrick 6 $34,917 $209,500 $50,000 156 Muscle Mass 9 $28,389 $255,500 $80,000 173 Majestic Son 5 $14,600 $73,000 $20,000 162  


New Zealand-breds taking top honours

With the 2019 National Yearling Sale kicking off, we take a look at the strength of the New Zealand standardbred and their performance in the elite harness racing races throughout Australasia. Like any sport, the end goal is to take top honours, and these powerful pacers and trotters that hail from New Zealand are doing just that for their breeders, trainers and owners alike. Like any sport, the end goal is to take top honours, and these powerful pacers and trotters that hail from New Zealand are doing just that for their breeders, trainers and owners alike.      

Brian Loney, harness racing

Seven from nine for Brian Loney

The Brian Loney harness racing stable sent nine horses to post on Monday (Feb 18) at Northfield Park. Those nine starters resulted in seven trips to the Winner's Circle. Loney's triumphs were with Always'syourway ($4.60) in race three, Twin B Stingray ($14.60) in race four, Montana Pablo A ($5.20) in race six, Bully Pulpit ($5.00) in race nine, Dante Ivy ($5.80) in race 10, Man He Can Skoot ($7.60) in race 11 and Hunch Man ($3.00) in race 14. Loney won his first race in 1996, a $3,000 claiming race at Fairmount Park with Stealth Fighter for a purse of $1,600. Since breaking his maiden, Brian has won nearly 1,800 more times with purse earnings in excess of $6 million.  

Star Galleria,Harness racing

Kiwi pacers miss nomination cutoffs

Three of New Zealand’s best pacers will miss their biggest targets of the season after shock errors ruled them out of Menangle features over the next fortnight. Star Galleria misses his shot at qualifying for next week’s A$1 million Miracle Mile and Utmost Delight and Elle Mac the Ladyship Mile after all missed the nomination cut off yesterday morning for the preludes at Menangle this Saturday.  Star Galleria needed to contest a $100,00 prelude of the Miracle Mile to have any chance of qualifying for the great race, while his stablemate Utmost Delight and the All Stars-trained Elle Mac had to start in a mares race this week and finish top four to qualify for the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile.  Trainer Steven Reid missed the nomination time for both Star Galleria and Utmost Delight by two minutes.  “I was buying a horse at the sales and thought I had plenty of time but when I went to nominate the free calling number you use doesn’t work from New Zealand,” explained Reid.  “By the time I googled the office number and then rang them, got through to the racing office via reception I was too late. “I tried to explain what happened but their boss John Dumesny told me he would check the phone records and if I was late they couldn’t bend the rules.  “He checked the phone log and I was two minutes later and they won’t let them start. So they are coming home.”  While Reid was disappointed, the owners of Utmost Delight, Paul and Mary Kenny, were pragmatic about the error.  “It is disappointing but people make mistakes,” said Kenny, who still has Dream About Me in the race.   Elle Mac was being nominated online but because she had never raced in Australia she was not already in their system so that couldn’t be completed and by the time the phone call was made to try and rectify that problem it was too late.  That leaves New Zealand with six potential Miracle Mile contenders, all from the All Stars, contesting preludes on Saturday while Dream About Me (Ladyship Mile), Princess Tiffany (NSW Oaks) and I’m Anothermasterpiece (NSW Derby) will contest preludes of those races. Michael Guerin

Harness racing’s yearling sales got the turbo boost they needed with a dramatic first entry into the industry by New Zealand Bloodstock at Karaka yesterday.  The National Standardbred Yearling Sale, held for the first time since thoroughbred powerhouse New Zealand Bloodstock opened their standardbred division last year (NZBS) could only be termed a huge success, with a record average for a harness racing sale in this part of the world.  And with the promise that things are likely to get better.  Right from parade day on Sunday the sales ground had more hype and confidence than in years and it resulted in 13 yearlings being sold for $100,000 or more, topped by the $190,000 for Lot 18, a Art Major colt from Goodlookinggirl, a half sister to top mare Elle Mac.  Fittingly on a day when the thoroughbred theme was so strongly in evidence he was purchased by one of New Zealand’s most successful ever galloping trainers in Graeme Rogerson.  Rogerson became heavily involved in harness racing a decade ago and even finished second on the trainers premiership but that side of his dual-code operation had quietened right down until some recent success.  But he was aggressive early yesterday in purchasing the top lot and a $120,000 Bettors Delight filly, the latter sold by a group of owners including former Black Caps bowling star Kyle Mills and All Black halfback Ant Strachan. But Rogerson wasn’t the only one bidding up big early as Lincoln Farms went to $140,000 for a Bettors Delight colt early while later in the sale traditional big names like buyers Jean Feiss, Emilio and Mary Rosati, Mark Purdon and Phil and Glenys Kennard purchased $100,000 or higher lots. But there was also new blood in Auckland-based owner Ross Dallimore, who spent $320,000 on four lots, including $110,000 for a Mach Three colt and $105,000 for a son of Bettors Delight, all four likely to be trained by John and Josh Dickie.  While most of the Australian interest was focussed at the middle market, four of the $100,000 plus lots were purchased by Australian-based owners but most are likely to be trained, at least early in their careers, in New Zealand.  Once the dust had settled on a rapid-fire day of selling the average of $46,750 will have left harness racing regulars stunned, up enormously on the $33,850 average price last year.  That came as 100 lots were sold for a total of $4,675,000, a clearance rate of 73 per cent that should bump up slightly after post-sale deals but still one NZBS will be keen to see improve.  NZBS managing director Andrew Seabrook was beaming as he left the sales ground bound for Christchurch, where the next two days of the sales will be held. “We are thrilled with that as a start for our business in harness racing but also for the industry as a whole,” said Seabrook.  “We had a great top end and a lot of happy vendors and some plenty of strong interest from Australia, some of which will flow on to Christchurch.  “But this is also a start for us and we want the sales to get bigger and better.”  He wasn’t the only New Zealand Bloodstock boss smiling as the company’s supremo Sir Peter Vela was chuffed to pick up a Bettors Delight colt for a bargain $40,000, with the famous Pencarrow colours to be worn by the colt for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Other highlights were the strong money for top-end trotters, with two topping $100,000, both sold by Breckon Bloodstock, while second season sire Sweet Lou had a big day of the office.  Both of the heavyweight vendors, Breckon Bloodstock and Woodlands Stud, were enthused by the new dawn of harness racing sales. How the momentum carries to today’s Christchurch sale without their firepower will be interesting.   Michael Guerin

He’s had more leg problems than Ironside, and has made more comebacks than Lazarus, but you would never have guessed that following Beaver’s easy run-away victory at Albion Park on Saturday night. The 10-year-old pacer, who never stops trying and loves to race, nailed his first win in three starts this season in the sixth event – the $13,000 AQWA Construction Open Pace. The son of Art Major has now won 22 races from 116 starts ($173,151) in an ‘off-on’ career spanning back to his debut third at Goulburn in February 2012. “Even though he’ a bit lazy and very laid back at home, he’s definitely the family favourite. The kids love him. He always gives of his best on race-day, and is just a lovely horse to have around the stable. He’s the best of our four in work," trainer Melissa Gillies said.  “We’ve retired him a couple of times, but he gets restless and just wants to keep racing." The Wanora horsewoman, who has a share in the bay gelding, said Beaver had suffered from a lot of leg issues since they got him off Neil Day (NSW) five years ago. “Everything he does is a bonus. We have no expectations of him now. He suffered from front leg problems and was spelled and then we had to put him out again when his hind legs went," she said. “That’s when we thought his racing career was over, but he got keen again when we worked our babies, and we could tell he didn’t enjoy doing nothing in his paddock, so we gave him another prep. “To go 1:52 in just his third run back (since March last year), and to do it parked, was phenomenal." Beaver sat in the ‘death seat’ throughout and then at the 400m Trent Dawson let him down and they ran away in the straight to win 5.4 metres over the grey, Mandy Kriden and Brendan Barnes. He paced the 1660m mobile in 1:56.2 with a slashing 1:52.6 mile rate. His sectionals were 27.8, 29.6, 27.3 and 28.1. “He’s very much a day-to-day proposition and we are going to enjoy him while we can. We will keep lining him up at Albion Park until he tells us he’s had enough,” Gillies said. “At home he only ever des what he has to, but when he’s in front on race night, like he was last night, he tends to find another gear." Meanwhile, the ‘Team Teal’ campaign, which is raising money for Women’s Cancer Research, has now hit the $5400 after win 27 by Narissa McMullen aboard favourite Comply or Die in the second race last night. Lola Weidermann brought up the $5,000 for the Women’s Cancer Foundation on Friday at the same venue with race one winner Redriverdebba, and then McMullen (Narissa) added to the tally in race three with Miss Invasion. The campaign ends in early March.   Duane Ranger  for Racing Queensland

WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 18, 2019 -- Early in the morning, Dave Kuzara teaches his pupils not to jump. Later in the day, he wants his students to jump as high as they can. Strange? Not really, because Kuzara has chosen a career combination that may be unique. He's a part-time harness racing trainer at The Meadows and full-time assistant coach for the University of Pittsburgh women's gymnastics team. Currently, Kuzara has only one active horse, Black Ruby, who's in to go Tuesday. She leaves from post 7, race 4 for Tony Hall. The card begins at 1:05 PM. Growing up near Detroit, Kuzara was a budding gymnast but got the coaching bug while pursuing his undergraduate degree. A youngish 59, Kuzara has been coaching gymnastics for 40 years with stops at the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Massachusetts and West Virginia University. Oddly enough, it was his grandmother who introduced him to harness racing. "She loved bingo and racing, so one day I took her to Detroit Race Course," he recalls. "There were more than 10,000 people there, and it was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen. I knew then that at some point, I would work with horses." In the 1980s, he bought his first horse, a quarter claimer named Pumpernickel who won twice for Kuzara but didn't earn much bread. He was much more successful with Peaches, a daughter of Water Tower who banked $161,482 for her career. "She ended up winning everywhere, including the Meadowlands. She had the track record at Plainridge Park before Bunny Lake broke it. It was amazing what she accomplished. She was just so tough." When UMASS eliminated a number of sports, including gymnastics, Kuzara was left jobless and thought he would try harness racing full time. "I had an eight-horse stable at Saratoga; that was my occupation for a year," he says. "I decided that coaching gymnastics was way easier. The horse business is tough." Kuzara's typical day is virtually endless. At 5 AM or soon after, he's at the Washington County Fairgrounds to work and feed his horses. Then he travels 30 miles or so on I-79 and I-376 to reach Pitt and his gymnastics charges. Finally, he's back at the fairgrounds late in the afternoon. "I've been fortunate in that my commute happens in non-peak-rush-hour times," he says. As you might expect, his coaching responsibilities require semi-regular travel. During those periods when he can't handle the day-to-day care of his horses, Kuzara relies on the assistance of fellow horsemen. "I've been fortunate to be associated with people like Joe Casagranda in Michigan, Don Guidette, Jr. at Plainridge and Bob Barnard and his family at The Meadows," he says. "They've helped me and taught me." For all the apparent differences in his two sports, Kuzara sees key similarities. "Both are anaerobic," he says. "In both, having a training schedule and sticking with it is important. And in each case, you have to pay attention to your students. I can watch a gymnast limp and know that I have to back off with her. I can watch my horse move and know that she's feeling good. Doing both endeavors has made me a lot more alert to the condition of the athlete." In gymnastics, though, his goals transcend winning. "I'm not really coaching gymnasts," he says. "We're in the business of developing strong women with a voice. That's what we should be doing." by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows

Harness racing Team Rogerson arrived at Karaka this morning for the first standardbred yearling sales for New Zealand Bloodstock. Not long after, they had unloaded $190,000 after engaging in a furious bidding war to get what was to be the top lot of the sales in Billion Dollar Boy  Billion Dollar Boy is a fantastic looking colt by Art Major from Goodlookinggirl by Christian Cullen from the Butler BG mare Twice As Good.  Rogerson stable foreman Dylan Ferguson suggested the colt was a bargain when speaking to NZBStandardbred after the purchase. "We liked his pedigree right from day one out of the catalogue, being a half brother to a multiple group one winner. "When we inspected him his type matched his pedigree and we thought he was definitely the top colt in the sale and that is why we were so keen to get him. "After the first day I saw him I told Graeme (Rogerson) I thought he would make $200K so some would say we got him cheap," he said. Rogerson also paid $120,000 for a Bettor's Delight filly out of Eyre To The Throne later in the day. John Street and Lincoln Farms were also busy buying, paying $140,000 for Lot 20 a Bettor's Delight colt and full brother to 1-52 miler Lancewood Lizzie. Street also paid $80,000 for a Rock N Roll Heaven – Lady Fingers colt during the sales.  Other high priced lots to sell were a Muscle Hill – Love Ya Doosie colt for $110,000 to KPC Racing in Australia, a Bettor's Delight – Safedra filly to Canterbury trainer Mark Jones and a Sweet Lou – Pacing Delight to Jean Fiess from Victoria. Mr JR & Mrs W Giumelli from Western Australia paid $120,000 for a Somebeachsomewhere – Dancing Diamonds filly and Canterbury trainer Cran Dalgety paid $100,000 for a Sweet Lou – Revere Me colt. Mark Purdon and All Stars Stables paid $130,000 for a Captaintreacherous – Veste colt and Phil and Glennis Kennard purchased a Muscle Hill – Alannah Hall colt for $100,000. Late in the day E & M Stride from NSW purchased a Bettor's Delight – Diamond Like colt for $100,000 after paying $90,000 earlier in the day for a Muscle Hill – Miss Pegasus filly.   Full sales results can be viewed here   Harnesslink Media

Champion Australian reinsman Chris Alford says taking on the most feared horse in harness racing could actually help Poster Boy win the A$1million Miracle Mile.  The Victorian four-year-old earned an automatic invite to Australasia’s richest harness race with a stunning display in the A$200,000 Chariots of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night.  He came from fourth last at the 600m mark to blow past some superstar opponents and had punters beaming after being backed in from $5.50 to start $3.80.  Trainer Emma Stewart was quick to accept the invite to the Miracle Mile on Saturday week so Poster Boy joins longshot Newcastle Mile winner Yayas Hot Spot as the only guaranteed starters with the other six spots to be decided from two preludes at Menangle this Saturday.  In one of those preludes will be the iron warrior of pacing Tiger Tara, fresh from adding the Hunter Cup at Melton to his Inter Dominion and Victoria Cup victories this season which has seen him ascend to the top of the Australian pacing ranks.  But while Tiger Tara remains the $3.50 Miracle Mile favourite with the Australian TAB compared with Poster Boy’s $6.50, driver Alford says the hard-running champ could aid Poster Boy.  “The harder they go in the Mile the better it will suit us,” said Alford, who tipped Poster Boy strongly last week.  “He will follow any speed and in fact his best chance of winning the Mile would be if they went really hard and he can sit off them just like he did tonight.  “I am glad Emma accepted the invite because he has developed into a really good Grand Circuit horse.  “He has always been fast but now he is strong enough to carry that speed longer and that is what you need for a Miracle Mile.” While Poster Boy has his spot in the great race the competition for the remaining six places has intensified as more big names eye the preludes.  Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizzuto will also have Majordan in them after he smashed some serious free-for-all opponents on Saturday night, leading from barrier nine to pace 1:49.5, which compares favourably with Poster Boy’s 1:49.1 considering Majordan did all the work in his race.  “He is a really good horse but Tiger is flying at the moment,” said Pizzuto comparing the pair.  Kiwi trainer Mark Purdon could have up to five prelude contenders, including Chase Auckland who was the luckless Chariots favourite after never getting clear in the straight.  Saturday’s meeting will also sees heats of the NSW Derby and Oaks as well as the open class mares chasing the final four spots in the Ladyship Mile, which will be run Miracle Mile night March 2.  Dream About Me and Elle Mac will make last minute trips to Sydney on Friday to contest the final lead-up to the Ladyship Mile, with the pair needing at least a top four finish to be guaranteed a start.  And they will be joined on the flight by Princess Tiffany, who was originally going to miss the NSW Oaks but after trialling well at Rangiora last week she will head to Menangle on Saturday night for the Oaks heats. Michael Guerin

LEBANON, OH. - All About Cowboys was all about business on Sunday (Feb. 17) afternoon at Miami Valley Raceway, winning the $22,500 Open I Trot in a front-stepping 1:55 effort. The 6-year-old black son of Swan For All has now put together a streak of four weeks with two wins and two place finishes in the weekly harness racing top trot. Driver Jason Brewer guided the winner through a well-rated mile that included checking in at the early stations in :27.3, :56.4 and 1:25.4. Sent off at 3-1, All About Cowboys had to hold off a furious late rally by Pine Dream (Chris Page) to notch the narrow victory. Monopoly Blue Chip (Kayne Kauffman) was best of the rest, while Another Breath (Dan Noble) and Trotting Grace (Brett Miller) picked up the remaining paychecks. Ken Rucker trains All About Cowboys for owners Green Acres LLC and Mike Klimas. The victory was his 15th in 88 career starts and raised his lifetime earnings to $186,000. Mystical Power (Chris Page), moving up from the $20,000 claiming level, garnered to honors in a $20,000 Open II Trot. The 6-year-old Yankee Glide mare bested Impressive Chief (Miller) and Primed N Powerful (Tyler Smith) in 1:55.4. It was the winner's tenth win overall and fourth in her last five starts, but the first in open company. Clarence Foulk conditions Mystical Power for L & L Stables. Racing resumes Monday afternoon (Feb. 18) at 2:05 p.m. at Miami Valley. Featured will be the $15,000 Survival Series championship leg for $5000 claiming mares, slated as Race 10 on the program.   From the Miami Valley Media Department

Veteran local trotter Cash Me Out (Cash Hall) made his return in style to the Spa on Sunday afternoon as the 2019 harness racing season got underway at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Kyle Spagnola-trained trotter has spent the majority of his career competing at Saratoga and on Sunday prevailed in the first Open of the season. Phil Fluet guided the 1-5 betting favorite out to the early lead in the $12,000 Open Trot and the veteran high-stepper never faced an anxious moment. Cash Me Out got the money, going coast-to-coast with relative ease, stopping the timer in 1:57.1 in the season's first feature at the Spa. Mandeville (Jimmy Devaux) finished second while Zagster (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. Cash Me Out's win, which was the 38thin 164 career starts, boosts his lifetime earnings to just above the $995,000 mark. The 78th racing season is now underway at Saratoga Casino Hotel and features matinee race cards this week contested on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons starting at 12:00pm each day. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

New Zealand Bloodstock look to be getting into the standardbred business at the right time.  The auction house which has taken New Zealand thoroughbreds to the world hold their first yearling sales for harness horses at their famed Karaka grounds today after launching NZBS last year. That put them in direct competition with long-time standardbred sales company PGG Wrightson and the competition didn’t last long, with every major vendor in the country supporting NZBS.  They are set to be rewarded with a larger financial contribution to the Sales Series programme and a return of the Ready to Run sale in October and better financing rates for pin-hookers, which looks set to be a  popular option for young trainers in particular.  They are icing on the cake though and the real reasons for optimism heading into today’s sale and the two days in Christchurch which follow are the basic fundamentals — supply and demand and high quality stock.  The standardbred breeding industry is shrinking but the demand for the product in Australia and a return of the North American market means there are less horses but more people wanting them. Add that to increasing stakes domestically, headlined by Alexandra Park, and there will be no shortage of people wanting good horses.  With today’s catalogue full of stock by sales legend Bettors Delight, his regular support cast of stallions like Art Major, American Ideal, Somebeachsomewhere and newcomers like Sweet Lou and Captaintreacherous, the pacing stallions on show are the equal of any where in the world.  But even more importantly the drafts on offer today have won race reviews from the right people.  Champion trainer Mark Purdon told the Herald the standard of yearling he has seen in the north this summer at the best he has ever viewed while vendors, even away from powerhouses like Woodlands and Breckon Farms, say they have had more visitors and paraded their horses more often than in recent years.  NZBS boss Andrew Seabrook says while today is a launching pad for the company into the standardbred industry they have big plans, including dreams of boosting the glamour sales series races to $500,000 in years to come.  After the runaway success of the Karaka Million thoroughbred meeting, such claims will be music to the ears of harness breeders.  There will still be bargains at Karaka today, although they are usually more easily found at the larger Canterbury sale, and there will still be disappointed vendors, that is the nature of any horse sale.  But with the horses available, the interest from overseas and a pin-hooking market to help boost the lower end, NZBS’s first real day at the office should prove a success.   Michael Guerin

AUSTRALASIA’S champion pacer Tiger Tara will headline a trio of Miracle Mile hopefuls Kevin Pizzuto will run at Menangle next Saturday night. Pizzuto confirmed star speedster Majordan and his Chariots of Fire fifth placegetter Picard would also tackle one of the Miracle Mile qualifiers this week. “Picard’s come through the Chariots and he’ll be fitter for the run as well. He’s going around this week again for sure,” Pizzuto said. “He did all the work and was only beaten five metres. I know he’ll be better for it.” Majordan’s turbulent campaign took a crucial turn for the better when he did everything right and blasted away a good field, headed by NZ Cup winner Thefixer, at Menangle last Saturday night. Pizzuto reaffirmed what he’s been saying for months that Majordan rates right along Tiger Tara as a Miracle Mile prospect. “Tiger Tara’s got all the form on the board, but over a mile at Menangle, Majordan is right at home,” he said. “He’s been a bit fresh and doing things wrong. I’ve changed his bit, got some more work into him and he won really well the other night. “I can assure you he’ll keep getting better now. When he’s galloped in this races, he’s missed the hitout. Last night will bring him on a lot more.” So what about Tiger Tara and his quest to complete a total dominance of our biggest races by winning the Miracle Mile? “He’s well. Really well. He his work was fantastic on Saturday and he’ll another strong workout at Bankstown this week,” Pizzuto said. “I’m glad now I skipped Newcastle and gave him a few quiet days after the Hunter Cup. “He’s freshened-up well and with a mile run under his belt this week, he’ll be absolutely spot-on on for the (Miracle) Mile.” The latest Aussie TAB Miracle Mile market shows Pizzuto’s key role with Tiger Tara $3.60 favourite, Majordan $7 third elect and Picard at $21. Adam Hamilton

The back half of the today’s Paris-Vincennes card was terrific and included the eQ+ race of the day.  The eQuinte+ Prix d’Arras (purse 48,000€, 2700 meters, 16 European starters) this day went to 1.13kr timed Class Action with Ch. Dreux aboard, the owner/trainer as well. Off at 23/1 Class Action defeated the 25/1 odds Tooltime (9f Carmody Lobell-Etoile) with David Thomain aboard for trainer Bjorn Goop. Angle Of Attack (7g Scarlet Knight) was third as the 1.1/1 favorite and reined by Gabriele Gelormini for trainer Robert Bergh. 12/1 Angel d’Or and 44/1 Coco de Rocha completed the top five. The exact order eQuinte+ paid 148,650.20€. The featured Prix Comte Pierre de Montesson, also named the Criterium des Jeunes 2019, (Gr. I, purse 170,000€, 2700 meters) for three year olds saw 3/2 odds Green Grass (3f Bold Eagle-Tootsie Smiling) prevail by a short nose for driver Gabriele Gelormini, trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Sebastien Dewulf. Green Grass now has six career wins in 10 starts for 238,900€ earned. Race time was 1.14.3kr off even fractions. The 9/1 Golden Bridge (3m Ready Cash-Usenza) was second driven by Yoann Lebourgeois for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Michel Tessier. 37/1 Girls Talk (3f Brilliantissime-Be My Girl) took third with David Thomain up for trainer Allaire, ahead of another Allaire trainee, the 26/1 Gatsby Perrine (3m Bird Parker-Unabella Perrine) that Anthony Barrier teamed for owner J.F. Mary. 10/1 General du Park was fifth for Alexandre Abrivard, ahead of Granon Vedaquais and Greenpeace. Express Jet (5m Goetmals Wood-Run For Jet) was a powerful, mostly front end harness racing winner of today’s Gr. II Prix Ovide Moulinet (purse 100,000€, 2700 meters, six starters) timed in 1.12.6kr with trainer Pierre Vercruysse aboard at Vincennes. The winner scored for the seventh time in a 30 race career now for 446,860€ in life earnings. The 2.9/1 odds winner defeated 2.4/1 Enino du Pommereux (5m Coktail Jet-Noune du Pommereux) with Matthieu Abrivard up for trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. Third was the 1.2/1 Earl Simon (5f Prodigious-Tindrana) handled by Franck Ouvrie for Ecurie Skytten and trainer Jarmo Niskanen. The Prix des Pontavices (Gr. III monte, purse 90,000€, 2175 meters) went to the 4/5 odds favorite Boss du Meleuc (8g Lucky Blue-Rafales du Meleuc) timed in a quick 1.10.5kr (fractions 1.07.8kr at the 1500 to go mark; 1.08.9kr at the 1000 and 1.10.8kr with 500 meters remaining) with Alexandre Abrivard in the irons for trainer/owner Yannick Alain Briand. The Boss scored for the 18th time in 61 career starts for 650,100€ earned. The 3/2 second choice Clegs des Champs (7g Legs du Clos) was second for David Thomain, trainer Thierry Raffegeau and owner J.Y. Roze. 52.8/1 Codie de Beaulieu (7g Oyonnax) was third for jockey Mathieu Mottier. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Perfect conditions and ultra-competitive harness racing led to the biggest betting night of the year at the Meadowlands, as a total of $3,166,920 was pushed through the windows during the 13-race Saturday night program. It was the second time during 2019 that wagering exceeded $3 million. The night got off to a fast start at the industry's handle leader as $303,044 was wagered in the first race, with $79,108 of that poured into the 50-Cent Pick-5 pot. Not surprisingly, the second most money was wagered in the eighth race - $299,848 - with $115,218 wagered into the 50-Cent Pick-4 pool. The total bet in both the Pick-5 and Pick-4 were yearly bests. The month of February has seen six racing programs at the Big M. On those programs, a total of $17,529,832 has been wagered, for an average per card of $2,921,638. In the featured $21,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers, K Ryan Bluechip got back in the win column for the first time in six weeks, pulling off a surprise at odds of 7-1 in 1:50.4. The red-hot Tuxedo Bay, sent to the gate as the 4-5 favorite in search of a third straight score in the weekly feature, had a rough go of it. Pushed four-wide into the first turn, driver Eric Carlson had to use his horse hard to reach the quarter on the front end in :26. A rated second panel of :28 would follow, but K Ryan Bluechip, who was away early in fifth, was now making good progress while racing first over. KRB got to within a half-length of the public choice at three-quarters before powering past to lead by 1¼ lengths with three-sixteenths of a mile to go. Through the stretch, the Virgil Morgan-trained, Andy Miller-driven K Ryan Bluechip maintained his edge as Tuxedo Bay weakened, and after a leisurely final quarter of :28.4, K Ryan Bluechip had his second victory in the Preferred ranks in seven tries. It was 1¾ lengths back to Castle Flight in second. New Talent finished third while Tuxedo Bay was last in the field of six. K Ryan Bluechip, who is owned by Carl T Howard and Brian Witt, returned $17.60 as the fifth choice in the wagering. The 7-year-old gelded son of Art Major-Fool That I Am now has 32 wins in 104 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $410,484. A LITTLE MORE: Andy Miller drove three winners on the card while Corey Callahan and Dexter Dunn had two each. ... Two bettors cashed in for $6,103 after lasting seven legs in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10. ... Mindtrip destroyed his foes as the 3-5 choice in the eighth race non-winners of $16,000 pace in a lifetime-best 1:50.1 for trainer Patti Harmon and driver Mitch Cushing. ... When racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m., a carryover of $50,930 awaits those playing the Early 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five (Race 5). By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations  

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The Brian Loney harness racing stable sent nine horses to post on Monday (Feb 18) at Northfield Park. Those nine starters resulted in seven trips to the Winner's Circle. Loney's triumphs were with Always'syourway ($4.60) in race three, Twin B Stingray ($14.60) in race four, Montana Pablo A ($5.20) in race six, Bully Pulpit ($5.00) in race nine, Dante Ivy ($5.80) in race 10, Man He Can Skoot ($7.60) in race 11 and Hunch Man ($3.00) in race 14. Loney won his first race in 1996, a $3,000 claiming race at Fairmount Park with Stealth Fighter for a purse of $1,600. Since breaking his maiden, Brian has won nearly 1,800 more times with purse earnings in excess of $6 million.  
LEBANON, OH. - Real Diva lived up to her name Monday afternoon (Feb. 18) at Miami Valley Raceway. The 6-year-old Real Desire mare was crowned champion when she captured the $15,000 Survivor Series final for $5000 claiming mares. The harness racing series started with 40 minimum claiming mares in four divisions two weeks ago, was narrowed to the top twenty for the second go-around last week, and then ten finalists squared off to compete for the crown and the lucrative purse on Monday. Sent off as an 8-5 co-favorite from the rail, driver Dan Noble was content to get away third in the first quarter. Real Diva was shuffled to fourth at both the half and the three-quarter stations as first Fancy Jess (Kayne Kauffman) and then Grimalkin (Trace Tetrick) pressured the pacesetter Star Of Our Show (Brett Miller). Noble was able to angle the winner three-wide at the head of the stretch and propel down the middle of the lane to secure the 1:55.4 score. Trainer Noah Garrett, who sports an outstanding .512 UTRS during the current meet, also owns Real Diva who he purchased from out East around the turn of the calendar year to 2019. She won her first start in Ohio in January, then managed a pair of show finishes in the Survivor Series eliminations. Grimalkin garnered the place money and Star Of The Show hung on for third. The Tuesday (Feb. 19) matinee at Miami Valley will feature the tandem $15,000 championship Survivor Series showdown for the male $5000 claimers. First race post is 2:05 p.m. and the Survivor Series championship should head postward approximately 5 p.m. From the Miami Valley Media Department  
Havefaithinme N (Bettor's Delight) scored in the first Open Pace of the year at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The Jose Godinez trainee brought his over $1 million in harness racing career earnings into the Monday afternoon feature which was contested for a purse of $12,000. The fractions in the race were slow over a track labeled 'good' and Havefaithinme N had his work cut out for him to come from off the pace. The millionaire eight year old toughed it out, though, and wore the leader Khun Ratha A (Larry Stalbaum) down before stopping the timer in 1:56.2 en route to his second win in as many starts in 2019. Khun Ratha A was a strong second while Maxdaddy Blue Chip (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. Havefaithinme N completed a Monday hat trick for driver Bruce Aldrich Jr who got his season off to a strong start behind the three-win afternoon. The race's favorite at odds of 2-1, Havefaithinme N paid $6.20 to win and led an exacta and triple that came back $22.60 and $96, respectively. Live racing resumes on Wednesday afternoon for the first of what will be regular Wednesday matinees on the schedule this year at Saratoga. There is a Pick Five guarantee of $5,000 on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout February and March. The Pick Five now begins in race one on the card. Also, race 5 will feature a $25,000 guaranteed trifecta pool on Wednesdays and Thursdays. First post time for the matinee cards is set for 12:00pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  
The global harness racing family has lost another pioneer. Ed “Eddie” Dunnigan, 80, went to join his friends and fellow horsemen on the backstretch way up north Feb. 11, 2019, following a 10-plus year battle with cancer. A consummate horseman, classic racetrack character, father of four and fun friend to all, Mr. Dunnigan played a role in the harness racing community for the better part of seven decades. His obsession with horses started with a shaggy Shetland pony named Scout. As the son of a respected racetrack owner/operator and grandson of the New York State Senator who legalized pari-mutuel wagering in New York, racing and gaming was in Mr. Dunnigan’s DNA. With no interest in the business side of racing, the high school sophomore ran away from boarding school to chase his dreams of the Grand Circuit. Living in stalls and tack rooms, he was fortunate enough to rub blue-blooded stock and to learn from some of the most well-respected horsemen in the business. A steadfast student anywhere but inside of a classroom, he studied under, competed against and befriended many of the early masters of the sport. The list of allies, idols, employers, mentors, friends and partners in plenty of pranks reads like a who’s who in harness racing. Last names were household names for Mr. Dunnigan and included, but were not limited to, Haughton, O’Brien, Cruise, Caton, White, Chapman, Cameron, Miller, Sholty, Arthur, Simpson, Dancer, Beissinger, Gilmore, Insko, Garnsey and Filion, to name but a few. Mr. Dunnigan trained and drove at dozens of tracks from coast to coast and throughout Europe and Scandinavia, as well as New Zealand, during the better part of his tour of duty. He originally cut his teeth learning to drive under the watchful eye of the late John Chapman. He won his first race, however, in the 1950s driving for Jimmy Cruise at Bay Meadows in San Mateo, Calif., before stints at tracks from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Maywood, Sportsman’s, Hollywood, Del Mar Harness, Northfield, Batavia, Vernon and Phoenix Trotting Park were but a few stops on the journey for the seemingly tireless trotting man in his formative years. One of Mr. Dunnigan’s first big breaks came in his early twenties with an offer from Mr. Leonard Buck’s Allwood Stable. He traded in the chance to rub elbows with titans of industry, politicians and even a future U.S. president, however, for the chance to tour the oval as fast and frequently as often as possible and to build a stable of his own — and on his own terms. Mr. Dunnigan took a prestigious position as second trainer for the late great W.R. Haughton Stable in the late 1960s and relocated to Margate, Fla., with his young wife and family. He spent days and nights flying from track to track for the Haughton Stable, often racing two cards a day. There he piloted the likes of Laverne Hanover and Rum Customer for Haughton’s “Green Wave” of well-bred winners prior to venturing out on his own with a large public stable of 60-plus head in the early 1970s in Pennsylvania. Mr. Dunnigan had solid early success during that era and frequently found himself at or near the top of the leaderboard at tracks including Liberty Bell, Brandywine and The Meadows. He ultimately abandoned the large-scale public stable in the mid-1970s in favor of a small but quality private stable which he took west for a quality of life change and to support his father’s efforts to expand the then-blossoming west coast harness racing scene. With more horses than opportunities on the west coast, Mr. Dunnigan would ultimately return east to compete during early days at The Meadowlands, while also spending time racking up respect and some returns at Yonkers, Roosevelt, Vernon, Monticello and Pocono. Mr. Dunnigan’s two favorites included champion free-for-all-trotter and Older Trotting Mare of the Year Petite Evander, as well as the formidable and fiery open pacer and CanAm Series winner Skedaddle N, both of New Zealand. The two campaigned coast to coast and Petite Evander represented New Zealand internationally. With early luck with Kiwi breds and a love of the Down-Under lifestyle, Mr. Dunnigan moved to New Zealand and subsequently embarked on what was surely the most aggressive export of New Zealand horsehide to the United States at the time. In the process, he helped to make a mark for the breed in the U.S. Mr. Dunnigan guided one of his last winners in 2002 at the age of 64 with his first grandson’s namesake Aidan Joseph in a New York Sires Stakes event at Saratoga. He then took roles training for Howie Okusko in Vernon, N.Y., in the summers and for Mickey Burke in the winters in Astor, Fla. Okusko and Mr. Dunnigan became fast friends and ultimately, seemingly inseparable. A generation his junior, Howie kept Mr. Dunnigan on his toes while his wife Jessica kept him on track with his cancer treatments. Mr. Dunnigan won thousands of races and millions of dollars in those documented portions of his career. To be sure though, this was not his benchmark of success. His was measured in laughs, lies and legend. The journey along the way was far more noteworthy for him than the destination and he amassed a lifetime of adventures unrivaled save for a select few. From beers with kings, flights with heavyweight boxing champions, offers from actors, appearances in movies, books, TV series and commercials and write ups in magazines and newspapers, there is not much Mr. Dunnigan did not see or do. As a result, it was rare that he could not connect with even a stranger through a joke, a story or a beer. His vast circle of friends, and the outpouring of support in the wake of his passing, shows the true depth and breadth of impact of this simply complex character. Many will miss Mr. Dunnigan’s warm smile, his quick Irish wit, his endless stories, opinions and advice and his resounding reply of yes anytime there was fun to be had. One of his many goofy, yet endearing, sayings was, “If I don’t see you in the future I’ll see you in the pasture.” Let’s all keep an eye out for Mr. Dunnigan in our future adventures and, if you are fortunate enough to run into him, be sure to buy him a beer, because he won’t likely buy you one. And trust that it will be memorable, if nothing else. Mr. Dunnigan is survived by his four children, John, Joe, Mark and Mary. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Jimmy Jr., Richard and Jack. There will be a small private service for Mr. Dunnigan with his family in Arizona and plans are being made for a larger gathering open to everyone in the spring in Vernon, N.Y. By Joe Dunnigan  

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