Day At The Track
Mambo Lindy

Mambo Lindy and Merton are streaking

Plainville, MA---It's the same old story, but one his connections won't soon tire of. Mambo Lindy spotted the field seven lengths before roaring back to notch another harness racing victory at Plainridge Park as he won the $17,000 Open Handicap on Thursday (June 22). Mambo Lindy (Greg Merton) got away last in the field of seven as Mistress Valentine (Mark Eaton) rolled down the road in :27 and :55.2 with her followers strung out behind. At that station, Tag Up And Go (Chris Long) pulled first-over and Mambo Lindy followed in step. Halfway up the backstretch Mistress Valentine got foul-gaited and broke stride, leaving the pocket-sitting Guiltywithanexcuse (Jim Hardy) with the lead. Outside of him, the tiring Tag Up And Go had enough forcing Mambo Lindy to tip three-deep. When Merton made that move, Mambo Lindy was flying and took that momentum down the stretch. As Merton had already tucked the whip, Mambo Lindy cleared and drew off by three to the easiest kind of win in 1:53.3. It was the fourth straight feature trot win for Mambo Lindy ($3.40) at Plainridge Park and it expanded his bank account for the year to $32,000. The 6-year-old gelded son of Donato Hanover is owned by Greathorse of Hampden, Massachusetts and is trained by Frank Antonacci. Mambo Lindy is eligible to the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot at Plainridge Park on Friday (July 28) and would certainly have the home field advantage in that race as a starter. Mambo Lindy was only one highlight of Merton and Antonacci's day as both horsemen put up lofty numbers on the afternoon. Greg Merton posted another six-win day, extending his dash driving lead over Kevin Switzer to 31. Merton finished first with Only Passing Thru ($2.40, 1:55.4), World Of Lindy ($4.60, 2:00), Mambo Lindy ($3.40, 1:53.3), Northern Nandi ($9.40, 1:58.1), City Pie ($3.40, 1:53.2) and Waiting On A Woman ($4.60, 1:56). His 1:55.4 win with Only Passing Thru in the second race tied the track record for 3-year-old trotting colts set by Backstage Pass (Eddie Davis Jr.) on May 4 of this year. Merton now boasts a gaudy 86 wins for this meet, 31 ahead of his 2016 total to this point when he won a track record 229 times. If he were to keep up this pace he would end up with 314 wins at this session. Frank Antonacci started three of his Lindy Farm trainees (Only Passing Thru, World Of Lindy and Mambo Lindy) and watched as all of them bested their fields. Antonacci now has 18 training wins out of 26 starts this meet, giving him a 65% win percentage. Other horsemen with notable performances were Chris Long with a driving double and Kyle Spagnola that had a training pair of wins. Live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (June 23) at 4 p.m. The Wicked Hi-5 pentafecta carryover for Friday is $2,265.42 and that wager is available only in the sixth race.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  

Santo Domingo

World record under saddle attempt in York, UK

YORK, UK - Come this Saturday afternoon there will be an attempt to break the all-age world record for harness racing Under Saddle on a half mile track at York Harness Raceway in England. The current world record holder is Santo Domingo, who at age 8 in 2015, set the mark for jockey Marita Volstad with a 1:59.3 clocking at Flamboro Downs in Canada. The early favorite is Teresa Haythornwaite's Rhyds Design, who has already won at York with a sulky in 1:57. Rhyds Design will be ridden by Lauren Moran. Another major contender who could set the record is Rocker Laidler's Evenwood Sonofagun, who will be ridden by the Rocker's wife, Alexis Laidler. Rocker said he feels that the record can be broken on Saturday. There are six horses entered in the race. Post positions are drawn the day of the event. Also entered from the Nicholson Stable are Burning Dust and Afan Romeo and the Laidler Stable is also entering JMs Hallstar and Rhyds Solution. The race will be featured live on Facebook from Craig Stevenson. By Craig Stevenson, for York Harness Raceway  

And they're off!

Kentucky Roam enhances growing reputation

With summer in full flow the Old Radnor trotting races at Evenjobb provided a wonderful afternoon of harness racing entertainment. The public with racecard in one hand and icecream in the other witnessed superb racing, as the speedy horses responded to top of the ground conditions. Three nursery races preceded the serious races, in the first Kentucky Roam belonging to the Perks family from Presteigne enhanced his growing reputation with another win. In the second race it was Bets All Off (Sargeant Llandrindod) on his first time on the track who claimed first place, while in the third nursery another one with a few runs on the books Immortal Storm (Meaney Merthyr) was first passed the post. The Novice section is very competitive at the moment and this week was no exception as the backmarker Lakeview Meg (Atherton Rees, Narberth) with Debbie Hitchcock on board stormed to victory in the first heat in front of Fronfelen Duchess (Preece Llanbister) with Tyssul Pennylane (Broome, Bromfield) in third. In the second Novice heat Evenwood Thumps Up (Lewis, Llanyre) romped away to victory with Mel Langford at the controls in front of the fast finishing Fantasizing (Havard, Dinmore) while the ever reliable Lanehouse Patch (Thomas, Merthyr) was third. In the first Grade B the in-form George Gentle despite his ten yard handicap claimed an heroic victory for his young owner, trainer, driver Zak Lewis from Welshpool, in second was Arctic Prince (Gwatkin Evenjobb) with Tyssul Pearl (Thomas, Llanbister) in third. Meadowland Maverick with owner, trainer Oliver (OJ) Jones from Evenjobb on board produced a classy run to take the second Grade B heat from the handsome Ayr Ontario (Weigle Llanddewi Velfrey) while Tillies Larg (Evans, Brecon) ran on well to be third. In the first Baby Novice the newly promoted Cool Ice (Gething, Ewyas Harold) partnered by her trainer Derek Pritchard ran a mature race to win from the well respected Talavary Zara (Jones, Evenjobb) with newcomer The Chancer on his first time with Mid Wales racing (Knox, Pandy) was third. Universal Soldier belonging to long time trotting enthusiasts David & Marion Powell from Merthyr Cynog and driven by his trainer Oliver (OJ) Jones won the second Baby Novice race ahead of Rhyds Panalulah (Gething, Ewyas Harold) while Ook Whos Coming (Evans, Brecon) was third. After the break the racing continued with a saddle race where five jockeys battled it out, the spoils going to the experienced Jayne Bevan on No Mercy (Weigel, Llanddewi Velfrey) with Habberley Haste (Lloyd, New Radnor) in second and Nia Patrol (Williams, Ludlow) in third. Four juniors lined up in the next race with experience counting as Ellie Tromans driving Makemeamilliaonayr (Weigel, Llanddewi Velfrey) was first passed the post in front of the hard pulling Wellfield Wally (Bevan, Builth Wells) driven by Rachel Bevan-Thomas while the striking Camden Lock (Lloyd & Samuel, Painscastle) ridden by Jess Samuel was third. The Novice final saw another display of speed from Evenwood Thumps Up (Lewis, Llanyre) as Mel Langford urged him to the front where he remained, despite the efforts of his pursuers, again Fantasizing (Havard, Dinmore) finished strongly in second while Fronfelen Duchess (Preece, Llanbister) was third. The Grade B Final produced another fine run by the much respected George Gentle with his nineteen year old, owner Zak Lewis at the controls beating Ayr Ontario (Weigel Llanddewi Velfrey) into second while Fold the Notes (Perks, Presteigne) ran on well to be third. The final race of the day was the Grade A, with nine horses lined up, it was Best of the Fleet with owner Matt Lewis from Welshpool claiming a thrilling victory from Chinatown Kolt (Jones, Llanllwni) with Ithon Inmate (Price, Brecon) finishing in third. The Lewis family from Welshpool registering a significant double by winning both the Grade A with Matt Lewis driving and the Grade B with son Zak driving. Next week is the prestigious Presteigne races held on Broadheath common on Saturday, June 24 starting at 1.30 pm. By Brecon and Radnor Reporter in Equine Reprinted with permission of The Brecon And Radnor Express

Herve Filion

Hall of Fame driver Herve Filion, 77, dies

Five years ago when Dave Palone became the leading driver in career wins in North American harness racing history, he looked to the man he surpassed with respect and awe. “When I was a kid,” Palone said, “Herve was my idol. In soccer, there’s Pele. In harness racing, there’s Herve. When you say ‘Herve’ everyone knows who that is. “I don’t think I could ever replace Herve as the legend that he is.” Herve Filion, a Hall of Famer in the U.S. and Canada who retired in 2013 with 15,179 career wins, passed away Thursday at the age of 77. Filion, a native of Quebec, was North America’s leading driver in wins 16 times, earning his first title in 1968 and final crown in 1990. The Filion family at midday Thursday posted on Facebook: “God saw you getting tired and a cure not meant to be. So he put his arms around you and whispered ‘come to me.’ Our dad, Herve Filion, crossed the finish line like the champion he is and became our angel today. “A true champion he will always be – doctors have told us this is one for the books for sure! We appreciate all the well wishes and the memories that have been shared these past few weeks. We thank you for giving us our privacy during this heartbreaking time.” Filion first came to the U.S. in 1961. At 21 he was racing at Vernon Downs before migrating to the Delaware Valley circuit, where he rewrote the books at both Brandywine and Liberty Bell while also establishing himself as a power at Freehold. When Filion left to go to New York in 1970, he became a fulltime doubleheader driver, racing at Freehold in the afternoon and the metropolitan New York tracks at night. A teenage Palone watched in 1979 when Filion drove Hot Hitter to victory in the Adios at Palone’s hometown track, The Meadows in western Pennsylvania. When he was in his 20s, Palone got to meet his idol while participating in a driving competition at Freehold. “He was just like people always said he was, bubbly and positive,” Palone said today. “He treated me just like he treated all the other drivers and it meant a lot to me. He told me, ‘All you need is power, kid.’ That’s what he would always tell me. I’ll just always remember the way he treated me. He always had a smile on his face.” Filion’s roots in racing traced back to his childhood in Angers, Quebec, a remote farming community. “We had work horses and road horses because we didn’t have a car,” Filion once said. “In those days my father would do anything to make a buck, to raise 10 kids – eight boys and two girls. My father started racing as a hobby in 1949. I raced for the first time when I was 12, and finished second. At 13, I won my first race, with Guy Grattan, at Rigaud, Quebec.” Record numbers of wins followed. In 1968, Filion became the first driver to surpass 400 wins in a year, recording 407 victories en route to his first North American title. He continued to raise the bar from there, with 486 wins in 1970, then 543 in 1971, 605 in 1972 and 637 in 1974. When Mike Lachance broke Filion’s record with 770 wins in 1986, Filion reclaimed the mark with 798 triumphs in 1988. He pushed the record to 814 wins a year later. “He was one of the greatest drivers our sport has ever had,” Palone said. “No one was smoother with a horse. I think horses felt that and responded to him. He could keep a horse going forever.” Palone became the winningest driver in North American harness racing history on July 5, 2012 at The Meadows. Filion was in attendance. “Having him there meant so much to me,” Palone said. “He was so supportive and so encouraging when I was getting near the record. He kept telling me I was going to do it. I thought it was cool to have him in my corner. He hugged me when I broke the record and I could feel he was as happy for me as I was. “To this day it doesn’t seem right to me that I have the record. There’s only one Herve.” In addition to his years as the sport’s leading driver in wins, Filion topped the purse standings seven times. He finished his career with $88.4 million in earnings. Top horses driven by Filion included Grades Singing, who won the 1986 Maple Leaf Trot, American Trotting Championship and Breeders Crown Mare Trot with Filion in the sulky. Filion was a two-time winner of the Little Brown Jug, with Nansemond in 1971 and Hot Hitter in 1979, and enjoyed multiple stakes victories with millionaire Dorunrun Bluegrass. In addition to winning a Breeders Crown with Grades Singing, he won a trophy with Caressable in 1985. Filion, who won the inaugural World Driving Championship in 1970, was the youngest person ever elected to harness racing’s Living Hall of Fame, when he was inducted at the age of 35 in 1975. (John Campbell was also inducted at age 35 in 1990.) In 1976, Filion became the youngest driver inducted into Canada’s Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Other awards for Filion included the Lou Marsh trophy as Canada’s leading professional athlete; the Hickok Professional Athlete of the Month Award (the only individual in harness racing ever so honored); and the 1973 Proximity Award. “This is a sad day for harness racing,” Palone said. “There will never be another one like him.” Additional obituary information and information regarding services will be published when available. Ken Weingartner

East Rutherford, NJ - A field of seven pacing fillies including the darling of the morning trials Rainbow Room, comprise the first harness racing two-year-old race of the 2017 season as race three on Friday at The Meadowlands.   Rainbow Room has impressed onlookers and delighted her connections with a pair of effortless wins in Meadowlands Baby Races. Her first appearance was on June 3 where she toured the oval in the day's fastest of 1:55 and social media lit up with superlatives. She returned Saturday past with a similar effort, closing out the 1:55.2 win with a 26.4 final quarter under no encouragement from driver David Miller.   By Somebeachsomewhere from Rainbow Blue, both World Champions and Horse of the Year following their respective three-year-old season, Rainbow Room clearly possesses the championship gene. She was bred by Vieux Carre Farms and Steve Jones and was a $100,000 purchase from the 2016 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale by Crawford Farms, Val D'Or Farms and Ted Gewertz who placed her with trainer Joe Holloway.   Holloway has trained plenty of champions including some of the sport's best filly pacers including the fastest ever in Shebestingin. Joe recognized early on that Rainbow Room had the potential to follow in that tradition and now sets her on that course.   The competition includes several others who have impressed in morning trials including KJ'S Bekah who was a good second to Rainbow Room on June 17 and has gone well in both of her qualifiers. The American Ideal lass was plucked from the Lexington sale by Kenny Jacobs for $140,000 and is trained by Linda Toscano. Tim Tetrick has the drive.   All On Top Hanover is from the first crop of Betterthancheddar and has been an easy winner in her pair of qualifying efforts for trainer Erv Miller and driver Marcus Miller. She was a bargain buy from last year's Goshen Yearling Sale, costing Erv and partners Ron Michelon & GT Golemes a mere $14,000.   It's a ten race program that gets underway at 7:15 p.m.   Nick Salvi    

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (June 22, 2017) - The Meadowlands Racetrack will honor Hall of Famer John Campbell and celebrate his five-decade career with a series of events and tributes on Friday, June 30, the final night of his driving career. The 62-year-old is harness racing's most decorated and accomplished driver with career earnings just under $300 million. He has won a record six Hambletonians, seven Meadowlands Paces, and 48 Breeders Crowns. He was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1990 at age 35, the youngest person ever to receive that honor. The celebration of Campbell's five decades in the sport will include a video tribute played throughout the evening and a series of interviews with some of Campbell's closest friends and competitors over the years that will be in attendance. There will also be an autograph signing with Campbell from 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., a commemorative poster giveaway (while supplies last), and a series of contest giveaways featuring signed Campbell memorabilia. A special Campbell retirement cake will also be on display and fans in attendance can enjoy a piece of the cake beginning at 8:00 p.m. in the clubhouse lobby. "John Campbell is truly the Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, and Wayne Gretzky of harness racing all wrapped up into one," said Meadowlands GM/COO Jason Settlemoir. "Nobody has revolutionized our sport or more importantly, been a better ambassador and promoter of our industry. We hope the night can be a fitting celebration of a true giant in our sport." Upon Campbell's official retirement from driving, he will compete in a pair of exhibition races, one at the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY on July 2 and the other at Clinton Raceway in Ontario on July 30 where Campbell got his start as a driver. While Campbell will no longer compete on the track, he will still be involved with the sport. Beginning July 1, he will take over as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Hambletonian Society, a not-for-profit organization which supports and encourages the breeding of Standardbred horses by sponsoring and administering stakes and other special events in harness racing. Fans are encouraged to RSVP to the event on the official Meadowlands Facebook page. Live racing begins at 7:15 p.m. For more information and complete schedule of events, visit www.playmeadowlands.com. Justin Horowitz

Chicago Bull's return to the racetrack earlier this month was nothing short of sensational. The Little Bull returned to the harness racing track after his stellar summer - dominant wins in the Group 1 $300,000 Fremantle Cup (2536m) and the Group 1 $450,000 WA Pacing Cup (2936m) - in an unsuitable scamper over the 1730m sprint trip at Gloucester Park. He was drawn wide and was taking on race-hardened rivals, some of whom were good frontrunners and were being touted as hard to get over but it all mattered for little when Chicago Bull's regular driver Gary Hall Jr asked the pony-sized pacer for an effort after the field settled down following the early speed burn. Chicago Bull accelerated so quickly that he went from first to last and took the lead from Erskine Range at the bell lap. A second quarter of 27.5 had his rivals off the bit and chasing hard but the little bloke had plenty in reserve as he led the field home. New World Order and Our Jericho were taking ground off Chicago Bull near the line, but the bird had well and truly flown. It was an outstanding return to the racetrack - the mile rate for the 1730m was 1:53.2, only 0.8 of a second outside of Run Oneover's track record for the distance - and underlined the raw talent of Chicago Bull. On Friday night at Gloucester Park Chicago Bull takes on a field of M2-M4 pacers in the $23,000 Buy A Share In A Horse Today With Trotsynd Pace (2130m) and he will be odds-on to take his prize money past the $900,000 mark and lift his splendid record to 20 wins and eight placings from his 32 starts. It's an imposing record and one that Chicago Bull will certainly add to in the future. The Chicago Bull drive is just one of many top drives for champion reinsman Hall. He also has excellent prospects of taking home the major end of the purse in the Try Our New Winter Menu at Steelo's Westbred Pace (2130m) with the much-improved Soho Wall Street. This Glenn Elliott-trained horse has "jumped out of the ground" of late and has now progressed to fast-class ranks. He can win again on Friday night, despite the wide draw.  Junior also has sound each-way prospects in earlier events with Three Blind Mice in the Trotsynd - The Cheapest and Easiest Way to Own a Horse Pace  (2130m) and Beaudiene Boaz in the $35,000 Winter Cup (2536m).  Wayne Currall

WASHINGTON, PA, June 21, 2017 -- Call For Justice, who hadn't won in five starts since leaving The Meadows, made a triumphant return home Wednesday with a front-end harness racing victory in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap Trot. A 5-year-old son of Justice Hall-Mika's Mazurka, Call For Justice opened the year with five straight victories at The Meadows before shifting to Hoosier Park to face the trotting elite there. He hit the board in all five Indiana outings but couldn't reach the winners' circle. He ended that frustrating streak when he made the front past the quarter for Dave Palone and held off the pocket-sitting Classicality by a neck in 1:53.2, with Boy Meets Girl K third. Ron Burke trains Call For Justice, who now boasts a lifetime bankroll of $358,167, for Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. In Wednesday's companion feature, the $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot, 1-2 favorite Barn Girl withstood the first-over challenge of Dirty Secret and prevailed by 1/2 length in 1:54.3. Bessie rallied for second while Dirty Secret held show. Aaron Merriman drove the 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie, who extended her career bankroll to $480,268, for trainer Bill Bercury and owner Renee Bercury. Elsewhere on the card, Kristy'sgingergal became harness racing's fastest freshman filly trotter on a five-eighths-mile track when she won at first asking for trainer/driver Tyler Stillings and owner Baby Horses LLC. The daughter of Pilgrims Chuckie-Outback Kristy scored in 1:59.1. Stillings enjoyed another victory with a debuting 2-year-old filly from his stable when Swan Mama (Swan For All-Little Rigs) broke her maiden in 2:00.1. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Friday with a special twilight program, first post 5 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Less than a week ago, harness racing trainer Julie Miller was uncertain whether she would send Devious Man to the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. Devious Man's performance in last Sunday's Empire Breeders Classic made the decision easier. Devious Man won the EBC championship by four lengths over Bill's Man in 1:52.2, prompting Team Miller -- Julie and husband Andy -- to enter the colt in the Beal. The event for 3-year-old trotters attracted 23 horses, including award-winning filly Ariana G, so three eliminations will be contested Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Devious Man is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the second division. Giveitgasandgo, coming off a win in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, is the 5-2 favorite in the first elimination and New Jersey Sire Stakes filly champion Ariana G is the 2-1 choice in the third. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final July 1. Eliminations for the Ben Franklin for older male pacers, Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers are also on the Saturday card at Pocono. Devious Man, owned by Stroy Inc. and the Andy Miller Stable, is undefeated in three races this year. For his career, he has won 10 of 15 starts and earned $455,393. "We were on the fence about going to the Earl Beal, but that last start solidified that he deserved a chance," Julie Miller said. "We were really happy with that start. You couldn't have mapped it out any better; when Andy (came off cover from second over) he just scooted down the lane. "He didn't have to over-exert himself in his last couple starts, so we should have a nice fresh horse going to the Earl Beal. These starts this year have been confidence boosters. I'm really pleased with that." Of Devious Man's 10 lifetime wins, nine have come in races restricted to New York-bred horses. But the colt did win on the Grand Circuit last season, capturing a division of the International Stallion Stakes in 1:53.2 at Lexington's Red Mile. The clocking was the sixth-fastest win time of 2016 for a 2-year-old trotter. "He was solid last year and he won in Lexington so I thought he could maybe step up to the Grand Circuit level, but you don't want to put that kind of pressure on them," Miller said. "You don't want to over-stake them or over-train them trying to work on a schedule. We pretty much let him decide how he was going. "He trained down good this year. He gave me every indication we could enter him in these kinds of stakes races. I know he's only faced New York company so far this year, but he's raced really well. I think he deserves a chance against open company in the Earl Beal." Devious Man is among a group of 19 Beal participants eligible to the $1 million Hambletonian Stakes on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands. Devious Man, a son of Credit Winner out of the mare Miss Garland, is a half-brother to 2005 Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo. "If my horse can work it out, that's great for us," Miller said. "I think he's a smart horse and a very versatile horse. No matter the size of the track Andy can drive him the way the race develops for him. We don't always have to be on the front, we don't always have to have cover. "There are three (Beal) divisions, which shows there are a lot of nice horses. No one is bowing out. But I feel confident in our chances. He's given us no reason not to give him a chance." Ariana G, who received the 2016 Dan Patch and O'Brien awards for best 2-year-old female trotter in the U.S. and Canada, is bidding to become the first filly to win the Beal in its seven-year history. She is this year's fastest 3-year-old trotter, with a mark of 1:51.1. Her trainer, Jimmy Takter, has won the Beal three times. For a look at all the entries for Saturday at Pocono, click here. ROAD TO THE HAMBLETONIAN A look at open stakes for 3-year-old male trotters and state-restricted stakes featuring Hambletonian eligibles Date - Track - Event - First - Second - Third May 6 - Freehold - Dexter Cup - Lord Cromwell - Gustavo Fring - Southwind Cobra May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - Long Tom - Yes Mickey - Deacon Tony May 19 - Meadowlands - NJSS - What The Hill - Southwind Cobra - New Jersey Viking May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Sortie - Giveitgasandgo - High Glider May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Andy M - Gustavo Fring - Stealth Hanover May 20 - Meadows - PASS - Common Parlance - Brown Bear - Brand New Key May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Stick With Me Kid - Bill's Man - Top Flight Angel May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Devious Man - Lord Cromwell - Aces And Eights May 29 - Vernon - NYSS - Enterprise - Swell Chap - Meetmeinthemiddle June 2 - Meadowlands - NJSS Final - Long Tom - King On The Hill - What The Hill June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Fraser Ridge - Meme Hanover - Muay Hanover June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Moonshiner Hanover - Giveitgasandgo - Lars Perry June 3 - Meadows - Currier & Ives - Sortie - Dover Dan - Always A Good Time June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - International Moni - Guardian Angel As - Jake June 9 - Mohawk - Goodtimes Elim - Enterprise - AWOL Hanover - Shake It Off Lindy June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Bill's Man - Such An Angel - Stick With Me Kid June 9 - Vernon - EBC Elim - Devious Man - Swell Chap - Lord Cromwell June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Rubio - Muscles Jared - Di Oggi June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Dover Dan - Moonshiner Hanover - Sir John F June 10 - Pocono - PASS - Giveitgasandgo - President Lindy - Andy M June 17 - Mohawk - Goodtimes - International Moni - Mass Production - Seven And Seven June 18 - Vernon - Empire Breeders Classic - Devious Man - Bill's Man - Stick With Me Kid June 24 - Pocono - Earl Beal Jr. Elims - July 1 - Pocono - Earl Beal Jr. Memorial - July 9 - Pocono - PA All Stars - July 15 - Meadowlands - Stanley Dancer Memorial - July 22 - Meadowlands - Tompkins-Geers - July 29 - Meadowlands - Reynolds - Aug. 5 - Meadowlands - Hambletonian - Hambletonian eligible in bold Ken Weingartner

Today the Norwegian Trotting Association published the verdict in the doping case against French harness racing trainer Fabrice Souloy, who had four trotters test positive for Cobalt in June 2016 at Bjerke, Oslo. Souloy was banned from training and driving for 15 years and fined $60,000. The association had wanted Souloy banned for life and fined $25,000. Souloy is still awaiting a verdict from the Swedish Trotting Association regarding a positive test from the Elitlopp 2016 -- also for Cobalt -- and it was thought that the two Scandinavian associations would have published their verdicts together. However, due to vacation the Swedish verdict is first expected to be known around July 5. At present Souloy is serving a one year ban in France after a positive test for Cobalt. by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Newsroom Correspondent

The horsemen at Fraser Downs have made great strides since several standardbred owners and trainers came forward earlier this year to express concerns that the 40-year Cloverdale industry was in trouble. The severe winter weather cancelled several race dates, cutting into a live racing schedule that has been getting shorter every year. In 2010, Fraser Downs had 87 live racing days a year. In 2015, there were 62. This year, winter storms – and the havoc they played on the condition of the track – led to the cancellation of nine race days in total. For more: Fraser Downs horsemen predict end is near Letter: Casino couldn’t care less if Horsemen survive The rough weather and the resulting issues opened a dialogue between Harness Racing BC (HRBC) and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) concerning maintenance and the race calendar. Last week, it was announced that the horsemen would get four race dates added to October, to help make up for the cancellation, and that the track maintenance issues – such as the fence surrounding the track, which is rotting through in some places – would be addressed before the start of the fall season. Carla Robin, executive director of Harness Racing BC (HRBC) said that the horsemen were now negotiating for additional race days in September. “GPEB (Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch) is behind us on that too because they know the standardbreds can race a longer season than the thoroughbreds,” said Robin. “We need a minimum of eight months (of racing) to have a really sustainable industry.” “Take a look at what’s happening back east in Ontario,” she said. Woodbine Entertainment Group, which operates Woodbine Race Track and Mohawk Raceway has recently decided to take standardbred racing out of Woodbine and run standardbred racing 12 months of the year at Mohawk. “Now, why would you be [running] an industry at Mohawk for 12 months of the year if it isn’t good for the economy?” said Robin. “You’d just let them race six months. But Ontario says, ‘No. The standardbred industry is a great industry and it has a lot of economic generation into the community.’” “People here would love to have the 10 months of racing, like we used to have,” she said. “But if we had a minimum of eight, then we’d have people who are really willing to invest in the industry in the longer term, breed more horses, etc.” “At this point there is no discussion about adding more days,” said Darren MacDonald, director of Racing Operations BC, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. “The four race dates were added to give the horsemen a chance to make up the days that were missed last winter. HRBC created some incentive programs to try and attract more horses which gave us more confidence in running three days a week,” said MacDonald. For more: Negotiations ongoing at Fraser Downs racetrack HRBC’s additional incentives aim to bring more horsemen, and more horses, to Fraser Downs. A starting incentive is in place for the fall season to encourage racers to stay the full season and see what it’s like to race at Fraser Downs. There will be a 10 per cent purse increase as well. “With our incentives, and increasing the purses, those are things to get people here, hang onto their horses and race them here until such time as we can get more racing,” said Robin. Robin added that the shorter racing season has a negative impact on the local economy. “The farmers suffer, the hay suppliers, feed, grain, you name it,” she said. “The front side (of Elements Casino) will be closed for five months. There’s no jobs there for that time.” MacDonald said that it wasn’t the shorter season that impacted the casino and business in the area, but rather the extreme winter weather that Cloverdale experienced this past year. “The overwhelming factor impacting all of our business lines – including casino gaming – was the unusually bad weather we all experienced. Just getting to the site, for both our team members and guests, was a huge challenge, and thus, all of our business lines were negatively impacted,” he said. The four added race dates to October will fall on Tuesday, which MacDonald said would gain the races at Fraser Downs the most attention from wagerers across North America. “In today’s horse racing industry, the most critical factor for success of a product is large wagering pools, and that only happens if those races are simulcast across North America for wagering purposes,” said MacDonald. “Our goal was to find a day where there was very little other racing product available in North America, to try and maximize the size of those wagering pools. Tuesday was the day where we thought our racing would get the most exposure,” said MacDonald. Getting back on track Track maintenance issues, which The Reporter first reported in “Horsemenpredict end is near” on Feb. 22, are also being addressed. “Great Canadian is going to replace the fence and they’ve said they’ll have it done by the end of July,” said Robin. Serious track training for young horses is done during the summer months, so a construction schedule is being worked out, but Robin expects to see it finished before the fall season starts. The track will be resurfaced in certain areas, and Robin said that GCGC has bought a new tractor and new equipment for spreading the stone. Robin also said that a worker has also been hired to fix the stalls in the barns. “As we came out of the poor weather the track was much improved and very good at the end of the racing season,” said MacDonald. “Some new equipment has been purchased to assist with track maintenance going forward.” “We are in the final stages of sourcing out a builder for the new fence, and will be planning on having it done in time for the start of the season,” said MacDonald. In some places, the wood of the outside rail surrounding the track has rotted completely through, as seen here in this Feb. 22 photo. (Sam Anderson) By Samantha Anderson Reprinted with permission of The Surrey Now-Leader

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - Harness racing double-millionaire Resolve returns to the scene of his world-record romp Saturday night (June 24th), headlining Yonkers Raceway's $55,000 Open Handicap Trot. When last working in Westchester, the now-6-year-old son of Muscle Hill made short of his rivals in last October's million-dollar Yonkers International Trot. Resolve went the (mile-and-a-quarter) distance in a spiffy 2:23.4. Resolve began this season by winning the $200,000 Cutler Memorial (Meadowlands), then hightailed it to Solvalla, where he was second (elimination) and third (final) at the Elitlopp. Assigned outside his seven rivals in Saturday night's sixth race, trainer Ake Svanstedt takes his usual seat for owner Hans Enggren. There are few lightweights in this week's marquee trot. Obrgiado (Mark MacDonald, post 6) and his $1.6 million resume started his season with a solid second in Scioto's $200,000 Hill Memorial, while veteran statebred Gural Hanover (George Brennan, post 4) has been rock-solid in his last three tries across the river. Melady's Monet (Jason Bartlett, post 7), though not being able to reach from a 12-hole here a week ago, had won two of his previous three local Open Handicap tries. Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory, post 3) defends the honor of the fairer sex going after a 20th career win. Springbank Sam N (Jordan Stratton, post 1), Money Maven (Eric Goodell, post 2) and Red Hot Herbie (Dan Dube, post 5) complete the octet. Saturday night's co-featured 55-large Open Handicap Pace (8th race) finds Western Fame (MacDonald) banished behind the eight-ball. Frank Drucker

TORONTO, ON, June 21 - The 41st Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Gala Fundraising Dinner on August 9th promises to be an extra special evening of celebration as ten new members join the best of Canadian Horse Racing.  The evening will also celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing in Canada, including a nod to 2017 Legends Honouree Modesty.  The horse who win the first race on record, July 1, 1767 on the Plains of Abraham. The gala will include the induction of Standardbred honourees Blair Burgess, Dr. Gordon Gilbertson, Elegantimage, Happy Lady and Mach Three as well as Thoroughbred honourees, Harold Barroby, Eugene Melnyk, Curtis Stock, Quiet Resolve and South Ocean. Held at the Mississauga Convention Centre, co-hosting duties will be shared by Jim Bannon, CHRHF member and Woodbine Entertainment Group Thoroughbred Racing Analyst along with Greg Blanchard, racing commentator and Raceway Manager at the Raceway at Western Fair.  The Gala event will feature a cocktail reception, a fantastic line up of silent and live auction items, a four course gourmet dinner and the Induction Ceremony. The CHRHF Planning Committee, under the leadership of Auction Chair Pam Frostad, is putting together an impressive list of live and silent auction items including sporting event tickets, racing related memorabilia and other surprises. Auction donations are welcomed and appreciated.  All proceeds from the auction will go directly toward helping the Hall of Fame recognize the achievements of those that have built and established the roots of horse racing in Canada. The reception and silent auction will commence at 5:30 p.m., followed by a four course dinner, live auction and induction ceremonies at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are $175 per person, with a charitable receipt for $50 per ticket or $1,700 for a table sponsorship which includes 8 tickets, a $300.00 donation to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and a total of $700 charitable receipts.  Tickets may be purchased by visiting the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Online Store at http://shop.horseracinghalloffame.com/ or by contacting Linda Rainey 416-417-9404 or linda.rainey@horseracinghalloffame.com.  Opportunities to advertise in the souvenir induction program, event sponsorship packages and auction contributions are also available.   Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Clinton, ON --- They once dominated harness racing like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did basketball and Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux ruled hockey. Now Hall of Famers Bill O’Donnell and John Campbell will both hang up their colors for good after a final drive against each other on July 30 in the C$15,000 Legends Day Trot at Clinton Raceway. O’Donnell said it was an idea first hatched in Las Vegas in February during the Dan Patch Awards honoring the best in the sport in the United States from the previous year. “We were down in Vegas for the Dan Patch. John and I and Dave Miller were standing there and John said, ‘Dave’s coming to Legends Day’ and I said, ‘Good, he can take my place. I don’t want to (drive) anymore.’ So John said, ‘Let’s do it together, our last drives,’” O’Donnell said. Considering O’Donnell has only had a handful of drives in the last five years -- most of those for fan events -- he said he isn’t bothered by the fact Campbell, who is still driving regularly, is getting most of the attention for making his last drive at Clinton. “I don’t mind it. I made $98 million on (Campbell’s) coattails,” O’Donnell said, laughing, adding that he’s been trying to officially call it quits for a few years and came close in 2013 after winning the $10,000 Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge Gerry Memorial Trot for Hall of Fame drivers at the Goshen, N.Y. Historic Track that is located behind the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. “After I won there that one year I said, ‘That’s it, I’m all done,’ but then they call because they have trouble getting eight guys (for the race). (Museum trustee) Ebby Gerry has called and it’s hard to say no to him, but I’ll break it to him this year (at Goshen) that this is it,” O’Donnell said. In the 1980s, when the sport was flourishing at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey and the concept of hired-gun catch-drivers was in its infancy, O’Donnell and Campbell battled at the top of the sport like few drivers had before them and few have since. It was during that era that O’Donnell earned the nickname The Magic Man for his wizardry in the race bike. “Billy at his best was better than any driver I have ever seen,” Campbell said in 2001, the year Legends Day debuted. Legends Day, which this year is raising money for the Clinton Public Hospital Foundation, has been held every two years since and will celebrate its ninth edition this year. O’Donnell has never missed it. “It’s just refreshing to see everyone is there for harness racing. These are fans,” O’Donnell said of Legends Day. “It’s a great day. You get to see people you haven’t seen for a long time.” O’Donnell, 69, has 5,743 career wins and has earned C$99 million on the track. He is one of eight of the world’s greatest harness drivers contesting the Legends Day Trot on the card along with Campbell (11,049 career wins and C$303 million), Ron Waples (6,923 wins, C$75 million), David Miller (12,100 wins, C$215 million), Mike Lachance (10,421, C$190 million), Steve Condren (6,845, C$114 million), Dave Wall (7,200, C$60 million) and Doug Brown (8,427, C$89 million). Combined, the eight legends have earned more than C$1.15 billion and won nearly 69,000 races. Fellow legends Bud Fritz and 93-year-old Keith Waples -- both of whom are retired from driving -- will also be on hand for an autograph session. O’Donnell said it’s nice the legends get along so well off the track. “We’ve always been comrades. The racing was competitive on the track, but we all get along, pretty much, in that age group,” O’Donnell said. O’Donnell was inducted into the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1990 -- the same year Campbell was also enshrined in Goshen, N.Y. -- Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1996. He was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, a mining town of some 5,000 that is also the birthplace of Canada’s “Songbird,” Anne Murray. O’Donnell’s father, Henry -- better known as “Henny” -- was a coal miner and a part-time horseman. In 1958, when Bill was 10, the Springhill Mine Disaster claimed the lives of 75 men and led to the closure of the mine. That forced Henny to transfer to a mine in Cape Breton. Though the family moved, they still stayed in the harness racing game. Bill was exposed to the horses by his father and his uncle, Art Porter, from whom Bill took his blue, orange and white colors. In the summer of 1965, when he was 17, Bill moved to Toronto and worked as a groom for Ron Feagan. He went home to Nova Scotia for the school year before returning to Toronto in the summer of 1966 to work for Bill Wellwood. In 1967, O’Donnell went back to Nova Scotia, worked there a few years and then headed for New England as an assistant trainer for New Brunswick native and former Legends Day honoree Jim Doherty, who died in 2015. Bill stayed in New England for seven or eight years before poor purses forced him to pack up and move to Saratoga in New York. Only a few years passed before Bill moved to the Meadowlands in 1980. He stayed for two decades. The date of Aug. 16, 1984, still stands as Bill’s single greatest day in the business. That morning he set a world record driving trotting filly Fancy Crown at Springfield, Ill. Then Bill hopped on a plane back to Jersey where he won the Woodrow Wilson with Nihilator for a purse of more than $2.16 million, to this day still the richest harness purse in history. To top it off, he also won three of the four sizable Wilson consolation events. The win with Nihilator is widely considered the key moment harness racing changed from a sport of trainer/drivers to one in which trainers hired catch-drivers better skilled at getting the most out of horses. Legendary horseman Billy Haughton took himself off Nihilator -- arguably his greatest horse -- because he thought Bill O’Donnell would have more success. That same year, Bill set a record for driver earnings of $9,059,184. The next year, Bill became the sport’s first $10 million man while driving both Nihilator and 3-year-old champion colt trotter Prakas to single-season money-winning records. Prakas won the Hambletonian. Nihilator was the U.S. Horse of the Year. The brilliant son of Niatross won 23 of 25 starts, capturing every major stake offered and setting a then world record of 1:49.3 at The Meadowlands. Bill earned the reputation of excelling with trotters, even though he drove the fastest pacer ever -- Cambest -- in a 1:46.1 time trial in 1993 that stood for 23 years as the sport’s fastest mile until broken by Always Be Miki in 2016. Among the numerous Horse of the Year or divisional champions that Bill steered to victory are Little Brown Jug and Cane Pace champion Barberry Spur; Governor’s Cup and Presidential Pace winner Redskin; Camtastic, Valley Victory, Sweet Reflection, Cayster, Delinquent Account and Canadian Pacing Derby winners Artsplace and Staying Together, who also won the Breeders Crown. Bill said fans at Clinton Raceway often ask him about the horses he’s driven and Staying Together, owned by Robert Hamather of nearby Exeter, Ontario, comes up more than most. Today, Bill lives in Guelph, Ontario and is the president of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association that represents the horsepeople racing on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit. He said he is honored to hang up his colors at Clinton and be there when Campbell does the same. “I think it will be a big deal,” Bill said. “That’s where John started. That’s his area.” Clinton Raceway

Talent Soup was limited to a handful of races last year at age 2 because of sickness, but harness racing trainer Bruce Saunders saw enough of the colt to believe there was ability beyond the horse's name. Good looking, well gaited, quick, and professional, Talent Soup checked all the boxes. "He's a beautiful horse," Saunders said about Talent Soup, who will compete in the third of Saturday's three eliminations of the Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. "He's very athletic looking and he's got a brilliant head. That's a good start. That's part of the reason we have him in the barn. "He's very efficient with his gait. He usually does not get tired. Even though he didn't pass every horse in his last two starts he has a great capacity to take air and continue to go forward. He's got a will to win. He's a high-energy colt and very, very athletic. He likes his job a lot and that makes our job easier. He's happy to be on the racetrack." Talent Soup, owned by Charles "Cotton" Nash and Julie Nash, is 12-1 on the morning line in a seven-horse division that features world champion Downbytheseaside, who enters the race off a third-place finish in the North America Cup. The field also includes Heaven's Gait, Donttellmeagain, Eddard Hanover, Highalator, and Photobombr Hanover. Heaven's Gait, the 3-1 second choice behind 5-2 Downbytheseaside, goes to the Hempt elim off a 1:49 victory in New York Sire Stakes action at Vernon Downs. Every Way Out is the 2-1 favorite in the first Hempt elimination and North America Cup champion Fear The Dragon is the 8-5 choice in the second. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final July 1 at Pocono. The July 1 card will also include the $500,000 Ben Franklin for older male pacers, the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. Eliminations for those stakes also are Saturday. Talent Soup won one of five races last year, when he lost time in late spring because of sickness, and has one victory in seven starts this season. His lone triumph this year came in a leg of the Weiss Series at Pocono, when he stopped the clock in 1:51.1 with a final quarter-mile of :26.3. The colt heads to the Hempt elim off back-to-back second-place finishes where he was charging late, coming home in :26.4 in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon on June 18 and :26.2 in a conditioned race June 10 at the Meadowlands. For his career, Talent Soup has hit the board eight times and earned $38,507. "His last two efforts have been very good," Saunders said. "The owners decided he earned the right to be in here and I agree with them. I don't know how fast they're going to go, but I know this colt is capable of pacing a very fast mile with the right kind of trip. "We'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope they mix it up a little bit. There are a lot of horses in that race that like to be in a controlling position. Maybe they'll mix it up and we can save some ground and finish with vigor. Stranger things have happened than for him to win a race like that." Talent Soup, bred by the Nashes and Steve Stewart, is a son of American Ideal out of the mare Tessa Hanover. His family includes stakes winners Took Hanover and Triple V Hanover plus mare Trim Hanover, who is the dam of millionaires American Jewel and Luck Be Withyou (racing Saturday in a Franklin elimination). His fourth dam is multiple Dan Patch Award winner Three Diamonds, who is the dam of millionaire Life Sign. Talent Soup was purchased for $65,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. The Nashes and Stewart were the breeders of 2010 Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven, who was trained by Saunders for owner Frank Bellino. "With (Rock N Roll Heaven) it didn't matter where we drew or who we were in with; he could muscle his way into position," Saunders said. "That's what these races are all about, being in position at the top of the stretch and still having a lot of energy. "(Post position) really compromises your chances a lot, unless you're a dominant horse. So far we have not been a dominant horse. We'll have to be a little lucky and (Talent Soup) will have to be a little better than he's been, but those things can happen." Talent Soup, who was hampered by a bruised foot earlier this season, is eligible to a number of stakes including the Breeders Crown, Little Brown Jug, and Matron. "I think he got enough experience last year," Saunders said. "He didn't go as fast as the good 2-year-olds, but he got enough starts for us to evaluate his talent level. He went some nice miles. That impressed us enough to make some stakes payments for this year. "Now he'll have an opportunity to mix it up with what is pretty much the cream of the crop. We've got some obstacles to overcome on Saturday but if he puts in a good performance we'll continue to give him a chance." For a look at all the entries for Saturday at Pocono, click here. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager Harness Racing Communications

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Plainville, MA---It's the same old story, but one his connections won't soon tire of. Mambo Lindy spotted the field seven lengths before roaring back to notch another harness racing victory at Plainridge Park as he won the $17,000 Open Handicap on Thursday (June 22). Mambo Lindy (Greg Merton) got away last in the field of seven as Mistress Valentine (Mark Eaton) rolled down the road in :27 and :55.2 with her followers strung out behind. At that station, Tag Up And Go (Chris Long) pulled first-over and Mambo Lindy followed in step. Halfway up the backstretch Mistress Valentine got foul-gaited and broke stride, leaving the pocket-sitting Guiltywithanexcuse (Jim Hardy) with the lead. Outside of him, the tiring Tag Up And Go had enough forcing Mambo Lindy to tip three-deep. When Merton made that move, Mambo Lindy was flying and took that momentum down the stretch. As Merton had already tucked the whip, Mambo Lindy cleared and drew off by three to the easiest kind of win in 1:53.3. It was the fourth straight feature trot win for Mambo Lindy ($3.40) at Plainridge Park and it expanded his bank account for the year to $32,000. The 6-year-old gelded son of Donato Hanover is owned by Greathorse of Hampden, Massachusetts and is trained by Frank Antonacci. Mambo Lindy is eligible to the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot at Plainridge Park on Friday (July 28) and would certainly have the home field advantage in that race as a starter. Mambo Lindy was only one highlight of Merton and Antonacci's day as both horsemen put up lofty numbers on the afternoon. Greg Merton posted another six-win day, extending his dash driving lead over Kevin Switzer to 31. Merton finished first with Only Passing Thru ($2.40, 1:55.4), World Of Lindy ($4.60, 2:00), Mambo Lindy ($3.40, 1:53.3), Northern Nandi ($9.40, 1:58.1), City Pie ($3.40, 1:53.2) and Waiting On A Woman ($4.60, 1:56). His 1:55.4 win with Only Passing Thru in the second race tied the track record for 3-year-old trotting colts set by Backstage Pass (Eddie Davis Jr.) on May 4 of this year. Merton now boasts a gaudy 86 wins for this meet, 31 ahead of his 2016 total to this point when he won a track record 229 times. If he were to keep up this pace he would end up with 314 wins at this session. Frank Antonacci started three of his Lindy Farm trainees (Only Passing Thru, World Of Lindy and Mambo Lindy) and watched as all of them bested their fields. Antonacci now has 18 training wins out of 26 starts this meet, giving him a 65% win percentage. Other horsemen with notable performances were Chris Long with a driving double and Kyle Spagnola that had a training pair of wins. Live racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Friday (June 23) at 4 p.m. The Wicked Hi-5 pentafecta carryover for Friday is $2,265.42 and that wager is available only in the sixth race.   By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts  
It was only one start but for Francesco Laosa a chance to drive a pacer proved fruitful when the Sicilian professional harness racing finished second in the one race that he drove at Monticello Raceway on Thursday, June 22. According to his friend Marco Barone who doubled as his interpreter, the Italian speaking professional driver and his wife Carola are celebrating their honeymoon with a two week holiday in North America. And through some help from friends LaRosa made a connection with Monticello trainer Dan Gill who offered him a drive behind one of his pupils, Park it Park It, a 4-year-old altered son of Big Bad John. Sent off at odds of 8-1 from the three hole in race five LaRosa allowed John DeSimone and Eye Candy to take the lead and then was comfortable with a two-hole trip all the way. However, in the lane Park It Park It flattened out and couldn't gain on the pace-setter and finished second a length behind Eye Candy in the 1:57paced mile. Asked how it felt to drive a pacer LaRosa replied through his translator, Barone:" It was smooth and steady," and then added "the pacer was easier to handle than a trotter." A winner of a few hundred races in his homeland the opportunity to drive a pacer was special to the 30 year LaRosa since only trotters are raced in Italy, and for that matter all though continental Europe. LaRosa and his dad handle a considerable stable based in Palermo, Sicily. Their horses compete at racetracks in Palermo, Siracusa, Garigliano and Naples as well as various racetracks in southern Italy. After the Monticello race Francesco and Carola, along with Mario Barone and his son Rylee, were headed to the Big Apple . After a short stay in New York City the LaRosa's will be on to California and then to Cancun, Mexico before returning home to Sicily The Barones will leave NYC and head back to their home in the upper peninsula of Michigan. By John Manzi
On Thursday June 23, with the sun bright in the blue summer sky and the temperature hovering around 80-degrees, two amateur races dotted the 11-race harness racing card at Monticello Raceway and when the judges hung the official signs, Alan Schwartz emerged victorious in the NAADA trot with Ladys Big Stormont in a 1:58.4 clocking while Joe Lee was the first home in the Catskill Club pace with TKR's Metro Specs in 1:59.1 In his contest Schwartz hustled his trotter for the lead but they had to go a steppy :27.4 in order to rest command from Highest Hill and driver Rich Gayton. But once Ladys Big Stormont cleared and settled down along the pylons Schwartz tried to give his charge a breather but as they trotted to the halfway point Bob Hechkoff was out and moving with The Franchise and they ranged alongside the leader as the timer flashed :58.1. The two leaders raced head-to-head up the backside but Ladys Big Stormont was strong enough to rebuff his challenger. When the field headed for home Ladys Big Stormont opened up two lengths and he needed every bit of that to turn back a late charge by Hannah Miller with Rev It Now. "My horse went a tough mile especially being parked to the(first) quarter in 27:4 and then having to fight head to head with Hechkoff's horse," Schwartz said after the race. "We did draw clear as we headed for home but my guy was understandably tiring and all I could think of in the deep stretch was 'where the heck is the wire'" When the photo-finish camera snapped Ladys Big Stormont was a head better than Rev It Now . A short length farther back in third place was The Franchise. Schwartz owns the winner whose trained by Raheim Strong. Sent off as the even-money favorite Ladys Big Stormont paid $4.00 for win. Schwartz has been participating in amateur races since the 1980's and now has 585 driving victories to his credit. A long time participant at Monticello Raceway against professionals he also serves as president of the local horseman's organization. In the other amateur driving contest New York Yankees assistant locker room manager, Joe Lee once again proved he knows his was around the racetrack after scoring is eighth seasonal driving victory this time with the Woody Hoblitzell-owned TKRs Metro Specs. Sent off as the hot favorite from the pole position Lee naturally sent his pacer to the lead and once on top they commanded the race and kept Monica Banca's Fox Valley Leo, who won this event last week, on the limb. After a :28.3 first quarter Lee slowed the pace and his horse was steadfastly in charge as they led the field by the half in:59.2 and the three quarters in 1:29.2 As they rounded the final turn TKRs Metro Specs had a two length lead which was slowly diminishing as they headed for paydirt. Kennanskingwilliam was enjoying a two-hole trip and driver Gerry Fielding used the passing lane to put serious pressure on the leader. However, at the wire TKR Metro Specs held tough for a head triumph in the 1:59.1 mile. Third place went to Murphy's Ideal, driven by Dr. Jennifer Lowrey. "We had clear sailing all the way until the final strides when my pacer began to get a little leg-weary," driver Joe Lee noted "Although Fielding's horse was coming at us my horse was strong enough to get home with the victory. Trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr., TKR's Metro Specs won for the third time this season and returned a $4.20 win mutuel. By John Manzi for both NAADA and the Catskill Club  
Five years ago when Dave Palone became the leading driver in career wins in North American harness racing history, he looked to the man he surpassed with respect and awe. “When I was a kid,” Palone said, “Herve was my idol. In soccer, there’s Pele. In harness racing, there’s Herve. When you say ‘Herve’ everyone knows who that is. “I don’t think I could ever replace Herve as the legend that he is.” Herve Filion, a Hall of Famer in the U.S. and Canada who retired in 2013 with 15,179 career wins, passed away Thursday at the age of 77. Filion, a native of Quebec, was North America’s leading driver in wins 16 times, earning his first title in 1968 and final crown in 1990. The Filion family at midday Thursday posted on Facebook: “God saw you getting tired and a cure not meant to be. So he put his arms around you and whispered ‘come to me.’ Our dad, Herve Filion, crossed the finish line like the champion he is and became our angel today. “A true champion he will always be – doctors have told us this is one for the books for sure! We appreciate all the well wishes and the memories that have been shared these past few weeks. We thank you for giving us our privacy during this heartbreaking time.” Filion first came to the U.S. in 1961. At 21 he was racing at Vernon Downs before migrating to the Delaware Valley circuit, where he rewrote the books at both Brandywine and Liberty Bell while also establishing himself as a power at Freehold. When Filion left to go to New York in 1970, he became a fulltime doubleheader driver, racing at Freehold in the afternoon and the metropolitan New York tracks at night. A teenage Palone watched in 1979 when Filion drove Hot Hitter to victory in the Adios at Palone’s hometown track, The Meadows in western Pennsylvania. When he was in his 20s, Palone got to meet his idol while participating in a driving competition at Freehold. “He was just like people always said he was, bubbly and positive,” Palone said today. “He treated me just like he treated all the other drivers and it meant a lot to me. He told me, ‘All you need is power, kid.’ That’s what he would always tell me. I’ll just always remember the way he treated me. He always had a smile on his face.” Filion’s roots in racing traced back to his childhood in Angers, Quebec, a remote farming community. “We had work horses and road horses because we didn’t have a car,” Filion once said. “In those days my father would do anything to make a buck, to raise 10 kids – eight boys and two girls. My father started racing as a hobby in 1949. I raced for the first time when I was 12, and finished second. At 13, I won my first race, with Guy Grattan, at Rigaud, Quebec.” Record numbers of wins followed. In 1968, Filion became the first driver to surpass 400 wins in a year, recording 407 victories en route to his first North American title. He continued to raise the bar from there, with 486 wins in 1970, then 543 in 1971, 605 in 1972 and 637 in 1974. When Mike Lachance broke Filion’s record with 770 wins in 1986, Filion reclaimed the mark with 798 triumphs in 1988. He pushed the record to 814 wins a year later. “He was one of the greatest drivers our sport has ever had,” Palone said. “No one was smoother with a horse. I think horses felt that and responded to him. He could keep a horse going forever.” Palone became the winningest driver in North American harness racing history on July 5, 2012 at The Meadows. Filion was in attendance. “Having him there meant so much to me,” Palone said. “He was so supportive and so encouraging when I was getting near the record. He kept telling me I was going to do it. I thought it was cool to have him in my corner. He hugged me when I broke the record and I could feel he was as happy for me as I was. “To this day it doesn’t seem right to me that I have the record. There’s only one Herve.” In addition to his years as the sport’s leading driver in wins, Filion topped the purse standings seven times. He finished his career with $88.4 million in earnings. Top horses driven by Filion included Grades Singing, who won the 1986 Maple Leaf Trot, American Trotting Championship and Breeders Crown Mare Trot with Filion in the sulky. Filion was a two-time winner of the Little Brown Jug, with Nansemond in 1971 and Hot Hitter in 1979, and enjoyed multiple stakes victories with millionaire Dorunrun Bluegrass. In addition to winning a Breeders Crown with Grades Singing, he won a trophy with Caressable in 1985. Filion, who won the inaugural World Driving Championship in 1970, was the youngest person ever elected to harness racing’s Living Hall of Fame, when he was inducted at the age of 35 in 1975. (John Campbell was also inducted at age 35 in 1990.) In 1976, Filion became the youngest driver inducted into Canada’s Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Other awards for Filion included the Lou Marsh trophy as Canada’s leading professional athlete; the Hickok Professional Athlete of the Month Award (the only individual in harness racing ever so honored); and the 1973 Proximity Award. “This is a sad day for harness racing,” Palone said. “There will never be another one like him.” Additional obituary information and information regarding services will be published when available. Ken Weingartner
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