Shawn Simons

Shawn Simons reflects on first lifetime win

Trenton, NJ --- It was almost too perfect. A harness racing driver named Shawn who has four-leaf clovers on his colors winning his first career race as a driver on St. Patrick’s Day. It sounds like a hokey movie plot, but it was as real as a pint of Guinness in Dublin. “That made it even more special,” said 21-year-old Shawn Simons, who drove Caviart Spencer to victory at Monticello Raceway on March 17. And it was predicted by an old friend, Eddie Sager, who called Shawn two weeks prior to the race. “Eddie has known me since I’ve been born and he said ‘I got you your first winner at Monticello,’” said Simons, the son of veteran driver Mike Simons. “I said ‘Whoa, slow down.’ We talked about the horse; he wanted me to take him so we bought the horse.” The price was $3,000 for the 9-year-old, although Simons had no idea he was that old. “I actually didn’t even ask for his age,” Shawn said. “I kept asking him is there anything wrong with him that I’d have to work on. He said ‘I wouldn’t sell you a bad horse,’ and I said ‘You got me there,’ so I was pretty confident in this horse. “I walked into the barn the next day and saw this horse and I said ‘Wow, he’s small!’ But he’s a great racehorse. He’s got a weird attitude, he’s kind of bashful, but he can race.” Shortly thereafter, as millions of Americans dined on corned beef and cabbage, Caviart Spencer raced in fourth place throughout much of his race, following the outside cover of favorite One Shark Road and driver Jimmy Taggart after the half-mile point before going three wide on the final turn. “It was the best of luck for (One Shark Road) to go first up so I could follow him,” Simons said. “I was following him and about halfway at the end of the turn I’m thinking ‘Wow I can actually be in this race up until the end.’ “Right before the head of the stretch, I got after him and I’m yelling at him and I’m feeling it. And then I realize I didn’t pop the (ear)plugs yet. So I popped the plugs and I go by Taggart, and I hear the announcer say ‘Can Shawn Simons finally get his first Monticello win?’ and when I heard that my adrenaline just went right through the roof and I’m like ‘Yeah I can,’ and I just kept driving him. I was just so energetic and gave a little fist pump at the end.” As he came across the finish line, Shawn experienced something he never felt before. “It was such a weird feeling; a good feeling,” he said. “It kind of felt like you shed your skin and you break through your skin and you’re reborn. My skin was like...it was crazy.” It turned out that Scotty Bicum, a groom for the Simons at their Big Z Farms in Montague, N.J., had a good feeling before the race considering what day it was. “Scotty kept saying ‘It’s St. Paddy’s Day, you might get ’em kid,’” Simons said, who won at odds of 38-1. “And then afterwards we said ‘Of course it’s St. Paddy’s Day and we’re gonna win.’ It was just perfect timing, just a great day.” Mike Simons was right there to take it all in. “I thought he was kind of getting emotional,” Shawn said. “He got out of the cart and they all had smiles on their faces and he was like ‘I knew you could do it kid.’ My dad gave me a big hug, it was a great picture.” Shawn had 21 drives before getting his first driving victory, to go along with 15 wins as a trainer. “It’s a much more intense feeling when you win as a driver,” Simons said. Shawn has spent a lifetime around the sport. He grew up at Pocono Downs, where the Simons were stabled for years. “I just hung around the horses all the time in the summer time, whenever I wasn’t in school,” he said. “On summer nights I would just run all around the grandstand all night long.” At age 14 he asked his dad if he could work the paddocks at Tioga Downs because he could get a groom’s license in New York at that age. At age 17 he began working with his dad on a few horses at Pocono Downs. “That’s where I learned most of my stuff,” he said. Two years later Shawn moved up to the Big Z where he has worked ever since. He began actual hands-on training at age 18 and still has the first horse he trained with and drove behind. “Me and my dad trained him on the main track at Pocono Downs,” Shawn said. “I got on the bike and it was actually pretty fun. The horse did all the work. It’s not like racing, you only have to deal with one other horse. In racing you have to deal with six or seven others. “He said ‘How’d you like it,’ and I said, ‘It was easy.’ He said ‘Did you like it?’ I said ‘Yeah,’ and I just kept going from there.” Firmly entrenched in the sport, Shawn wants to continue to train and drive. He and Mike have 16 horses at the Big Z, with Mike owning half of them and Shawn owning quarters to halves of four or five. “I hope I can become more of a popular driver so I can also catch drive for other people as well,” he said. “I’m looking to get a couple more wins under my belt. We like Tioga, we always race at Tioga. I’m hoping to become a little bit of a catch driver there, if not this summer than next summer.” And if at all possible, he’ll look to get back in the sulky on St. Patrick’s Day from this point on. After all, there may just be something to this luck of the Irish thing. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

JackpotHi5Logo-STB.jpg

History points towards massive Jackpot Hi-5 pool

TORONTO, April 1 - The hype and anticipation has been building for more than three months and it will all come down to the final race this Saturday night at Woodbine. The harness racing Jackpot Hi-5, which has not been won since December 8, 2014, will finally be paid out this Saturday night, as a mandatory payout is in effect. On a regular evening, the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool is only paid out if there is a single winning ticket. If multiple winning tickets hit the 'Hi-5', half of the wagering pool is carried over to the next card, while the other half is distributed in consolation payouts. The traditional rules are not in effect this Saturday, as instead the entire Jackpot Hi-5 pool will be paid out and split among all the winning tickets. A mandatory payout is familiar ground for this wager on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit, but the carryover of $847,458.26 is the largest carryover into a mandatory payout in track history. Since the Jackpot Hi-5 was integrated into the WEG betting menu in October of 2013, two large 'mandatory payout' programs have taken place. The first to draw major interest was on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine. A carryover of $656,383 was brought into that evening and helped generate a total pool of $2,002,026. The Jackpot Hi-5 race that night featured a field of 11 pacers and was won by Drain Daddy and Jody Jamieson from post position three at odds of 4-1. The winning trip saw Drain Daddy get away fifth and make a first up move down the backstretch, clearing to the front in the third-quarter and never looking back. The favourite in that contest finished out of the top-five helping return a $0.20 payout of $8,759.15. The next mandatory payout on a large carryover took place at Mohawk on Canadian Pacing Derby and Metro Pace night, August 30, 2014. The stakes filled card and the substantial interest in the Jackpot Hi-5 carryover of $647,331 would lead to a record-setting evening for Mohawk. An additional $2,026,548 was wagered into the Jackpot Hi-5 to bring the total pool for the mandatory payout to $2,673,879. The Jackpot Hi-5 dash was scheduled to feature a field of 11 pacers; however a scratch reduced the race to a field of ten with one trailer. Resistance Futile, the 9/5 favourite, and driver Corey Callahan came away with the victory from post position two. The winning duo moved out from fourth in the second-quarter following cover and would clear to the front as they entered the final turn. The public's choice would pace away from his rivals in the stretch to score a four-length victory. The second and third choices on the board finished third and fourth, playing a large factor into a $0.20 payout of $1,347.36. The Jackpot Hi-5 helped propel the handle for that August evening to a new Mohawk Racetrack record of $5,006,896. If the healthy pools from the past two sizable mandatory payout nights are any indication, this Saturday's Jackpot Hi-5 race has a chance to generate a large pool exceeding well over any previous mandatory payout pools. The nearing Jackpot Hi-5 race will also feature a different twist, as a field of 12 horses will contest the mandatory payout dash. Each starter in the field will receive money and the class level itself will receive a purse increase. The Jackpot Hi-5 offers a 20-cent minimum bet. A horseplayer could spend $19,008 by boxing all 12 horses in the field. Boxing five horses would cost a fan $24. The combinations appear to be endless, but ultimately if a horseplayer is able to map out a ticket with the top-five finishers, certainly a portion of a hefty Jackpot Hi-5 pool is there to be collected. Mark McKelvie  

Bruce Aldrich Jr. in action driving Giddyallyougot to victory

Bruce Aldrich Jr. still on a roll

When the day started, Bruce Aldrich Jr. had 146 driving wins thus far in 2015, which ranks him 4th in the nation, by the end of the day he added 6 more, upping his tally to 152. He currently leads the Monticello Raceway harness racing driver colony with 119 wins and is in 2nd place at Saratoga Raceway with 24 wins. Mother Nature continued her cruel streak as the card was marked with intermitted snow squalls, the track condition started off as good and then later in the card was downgraded to sloppy. Always a good indicator on what kind of day Bruce is going to have are the first 2 legs of the Daily Double. It was to be a very good day, as Bruce swept both ends of the Daily Double, scoring with Magic Manny in the first and then right back with One Tough Hombre, for trainer Thomas Merton, both with winning times of 1:57:2, The Aldrich double returned $6.80. Bruce came right back to win in the 3rd race with Fools Run Around. With no drive in the 4th, Bruce won the 5th with Giddyallyougot by a scant nose over Paulimony and driver Jim Taggart Jr. The 6th race looked like a mortal lock with morning line favorite Priority, but after cutting the mile he finished 3rd. In the 9th race, he teamed up with leading trainer Bob Lounsbury, with the 8 year old Badlands Hanover's gelding Amazing Quest in 1:58:1. In the card's finale he scored a wire to wire win with Catman Dude. When reached in the paddock after his last win, he was posed the question "What does it feel like to win 60% of the days races" Bruce cheerfully replied "I'm getting good drives, today I was getting to the front easy with soft fractions, so everything worked out for the best" . Shawn Wiles

Oakwood Stud, harness racing

Oakwood Stud to sponsor “Greys Only” FFA

ABERGELE, UK - Harness Racing fans all over the world love to see a grey pacer in full flow and none more so than the people of Great Britain and Ireland who intend on paying homage to these strikingly beautiful Standardbreds by featuring a novel “greys only” free for all event at Tir Prince Raceway in Wales on July 18th. Sponsored by Oakwood Stud in Ireland, who are currently showcasing their new stallion, Foreclosure N, this eagerly awaited event will be called the Platinum Free For All and some ever popular household names have already thrown their hats into the ring to take part in this contest, the first of its kind ever held in the UK or Ireland. Early ante-post favourite for the race is the locally trained Blue Incredible. Conditioned by Jason Podmore, Blue Incredible is renowned for his toughness and is the winner of 14 races and 23 placed efforts including a five-straight victory streak back in 2013, culminating in a grade final win at Aberystwyth in July of that campaign. Another Aberystwyth grand final winner, Wellfield Ghost, is also being aimed at Platinum Free For All and the 2014 victor is a big improver over the past 12 months with 11 wins and has only been out of the money 3 times in 26 lifetime starts.  Jack Frost is also likely to prove popular with punters, being virtually white in colour at this stage of career but with 8 wins under his belt, including 2 grand finals at Wolsingham and Appleby, he showed he can still be equally as potent on the hard tracks as well as on grass tracks with a 1:59.2 record. Another big improver right thru the 2014 seas was the Andrew Cairns trained Coalford Chief and although only six years old, he has made 12 visits to the winners enclosure so far in and came of age in no uncertain terms last September when he landed the Joe Murdock Memorial Open Final at the Scottish venue Corbie Wood.  The only lady in the line up so far is the aptly named Shades Of Grey and her connections fancy her big time to whip the boys into submission. A US import by Camluck,  Shades Of Grey continues to improve with age and ran out a game winner of the George Bell Memorial grand final in Scotland making it 9 wins in total and almost £9000 in prize money. The Irish raider Oakwood Outlaw could prove to be the fly in the ointment to them all however. A 9 year old by Armbro Operative out of a Laag mare Snow Whitey, was actually bred by the sponsors and is now in the care of top reinsman Alan Wallace. Pacing sub 1:59 miles right through the 2014 season, she topped off a stellar year with a win in the Barney Richardson Memorial at Portmarnock in October. The race remains open for additional entries right up until seven days before the unique contest and hopes are high that some other grey pacers will emerge up through the ranks and line up in this most unusual field of pacers. Tarawood Messi, Coalford Showtime and Krakatoa spring to mind and a full field of 10 greys is a distinct possibility as the starting car pulls away at Tir Prince on July 18th. Speaking to Derek Delaney, a representative of sponsors Oakwood Stud, stated that “It is an honour to sponsor a unique free for all with just grey horses only and I’m sure it will be a very special race. It’s an ideal opportunity to showcase our new stallion, Foreclosure N, as we believe that he is also something out of the ordinary, being the first ever Rocknroll Hanover to stand in the British Isles.” Foreclosure N has a record of 1:48.4 and almost $1 million dollars racked up in prize money. With an infusion of New Zealand blood, he is bound to prove popular with breeders in the UK and Ireland who highly value the ability to stay longer distances and remain sound right throughout a long career on both hard and turf tracks where his offspring are likely to ply their trade. By Thomas Bennett, for Harnesslink.com

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. – John Kenneth Galbraith The majority of race tracks are not populated by horses with the qualifications of Dortmund or California Chrome, or by trainers with the name recognition of Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert or Steve Asmussen. The base of the racing pyramid is built with horses named Grant or Get a Notion, animals that are kept in racing condition by trainers who toil in relative anonymity at tracks often ignored by the people who often forget racing occurs at places other than the cathedrals of the sport like Saratoga or Churchill Downs or Santa Anita. The base of the pyramid is built on the blue collar efforts of guys like Bill Brashears, conditioners keeping $3,500 claimers healthy enough to run and plying their trade in the minor leagues of racing at tracks like Turf Paradise, Arapahoe Park, Farmington, Rilito, and Albuquerque. Brashears comes across exactly like what he is. A  guy who shoots straight and understands that you treat people with unambiguous honesty and fairness, expecting the same in return. He is guileless and smart and hard-working, a trainer’s trainer. Success in his business is based on relationships, knowing who the good guys and not so good guys are. Who can be trusted and who needs to be taken with a few grains of salt. In Bill’s world you give the good guys the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to. The bad guys – better to just not deal with them. He treats his horses with the kind of care you only see from someone with a love for the thoroughbred and a passion for watching them run. He is not the guy described by a cynical racing executive as being willing to do anything that will allow him to win. It is simply not in his nature to do anything less than treat his horses as if they were family, the core of Brashears Racing. You can see him metamorphose around his horses, the hardscrabble exterior melting away into a doting grandfather, feeding them peppermints and affectionately scratching at their muzzle. He admits that when he climbed over a fence at 13 so he could see horses run, he was hooked. He trains not simply because it is a job, but because it is so much a part of who he is. He’ll never amass a fortune running at the smaller tracks, but that was never his goal. If Bill Brashears is remembered as a trainer who worked his butt off and played by the rules and was an example to any trainer hoping to make a mark in racing  the right way, he will be satisfied. What a lot of trainers, including Bill Brashears, are having trouble with is believing they could do everything what they thought was the right way, but have still been hit with medication positives. In Brashears case the offending drug was Banamine, a medication that has been used for years to help control inflammation. Horses are athletes and they suffer from the same affflictions common to all athletes. It is nothing less than humane to treat horses with therapeutic medications, drugs that will provide comfort to the animals while they recuperate. What a therapeutic like Banamine doesn’t do is mask pain in a way that will allow a horse to run as if nothing is wrong. Ask any veterinarian – if you are trying to mask an injury, you would have to use a fairly strong narcotic not the equine equivalent of ibuprofen. Again ask any veterinarian – inflammation is a natural process and it is critical for survival. It is defined as “a protective immunovascular response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.” The problem is that often this process becomes excessive, creating a vicious cycle and causing more tissue damage and pain than the injury itself might. Inflammation can produce different products, including prostaglandins and other inflammatory “mediators” that help bring about these effects. According to Thal Equine Hospital in Santa Fe, NM, “This is where anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful. Their role is to dampen inflammation by reducing the formation of these mediators, and thus reducing the signs of disease (swelling, pain and fever, for example) while still allowing healing to take place.” In other words, anti-inflammatory drugs are precisely what are indicated for certain conditions. One might even argue it is cruel not to give a horse with inflammation a medication. Banamine belongs to a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDS”), which includes familiar human drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. They are drugs that have been used safely and effectively for decades. It is generally the veterinarian’s drug of choice for soft tissue inflammatory conditions (sore muscles) and is considered kinder to a horse’s stomach than phenylbutazone (bute) for treating joint swelling. Banamine is also a good choice for horses that have a tendency to tie-up. The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has stated, “Class 4 or 5 therapeutic medications (mostly NSAID-type medications such as Phyenylbutazone) are used to ease the aches and pains of training – akin to a person taking an Advil before or after a competition. It will not make that individual run any faster or jump any higher than his or her natural ability to do so.” For those concerned about the welfare of the horse, NSAIDs, when used as prescribed, do not put a horse at substantially elevated risk of catastrophic injury. So if you are a racing commissioner and you believe it is necessary to set a standard for Banamine, the question you should ask is straightforward: at what level is the analgesic benefit of Banamine essentially negligible? Whether or not Banamine might have some residual benefit to inflammation should be irrelevant, since good veterinary practice has already established that reductions in inflammation often speed healing. If a horse is not receiving an analgesic effect, it would be hard to argue the drug is performance enhancing. THAT is the level at which we should set the standard. Most vets and pharmacologists agree that any post-race level below 50ng/ml and a withdrawal time of 24-hours from administration will completely ensure elimination of the analgesic effect Racing is governed for the most part by politically appointed boards and commissions. The commissions are not normally filled with experts on pharmacology, and they are often at the mercy of long-time administrators, people like Rick Arthur in California, Joe Gorajec in Indiana, and Dan Hartman in Colorado. These are the people who populate the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), a group on the record as calling for “the racing industry and member regulators to embrace a strategy to phase out drugs and medication in horse racing.” (ARCI Press Release March 28, 2011) The chairman of the ARCI at the time of that press release? Dan Hartman, Executive Director of the Colorado Racing Commission. He becomes an integral part of Bill Brashears story. In that press release Hartman is quoted as saying that “a five-year phase out [of Lasix] is reasonable to bring North American racing policies in line with what is going on in other parts of the world like Europe and Hong Kong.” Hartman’s successor, William Koester, Chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, added, “Today over 99% of Thoroughbred racehorses and 70% of Standardbred racehorses have a needle stuck in them four hours before a race. That just does not pass the smell test with the public or anyone else except horse trainers who think it necessary to win a race. I’m sure the decision makers at the time meant well when these drugs were permitted, however this decision has forced our jurisdictions to juggle threshold levels as horseman become more desperate to win races and has given horse racing a black eye.” Koester’s statement is meant to inflame (no pun intended) by referencing needles stuck in horses, as if it was some willy-nilly attempt to torture helpless animals. When I was shadowing Doug O’Neill I watched his vet, Dr Ryan Patterson, administer a Lasix shot and if you had blinked you would have missed it. The horse had no negative reaction at all. Koester further pounds home the point that trainers are medicating their horses only to gain an advantage and win races, seemingly arguing they are not doing it to ensure the horse’s health is being managed so that it can race without distress. Not passing the smell test and black eye for racing are the justifications for trying to make all racing drug free. It reminds me of a quote from Arnold Glasow. “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” As long as administrators with the power to make the rules for racing insist the seamy underbelly of racing is legal therapeutic medication, it can become the facts. The press release states that ARCI intends to move toward “enacting a policy of zero-tolerance.” (Note: Once Koester took over as chair, he quickly backed off that statement, stating the ARCI does not subscribe to a policy of zero-tolerance, but bear in mind it was Hartman who approved the press release.) Hartman concludes, “We regulators are the only voice in racing for the animals and betting public. It’s time we raise the bar in service to both.” To reference the famous Pogo line, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” I have already written about why we cannot be Hong Kong (http://halveyonhorseracing.com/?p=910). Basically, North America  runs more races in a week in August than Hong Kong’s entire racing year. To populate those races we need ten times the number of horses in training than Hong Kong does. How does North America compare with Dubai and its 23 racing days a year? I’ll go out on a limb and say if we were racing at a couple of tracks the equivalent of three weeks a year we could have Dubai’s drug policies too. Look at the standards for Europe or Australia. Other than Lasix, there is often not a significant difference between those jurisdictions and North America for therapeutics, and some threshold levels for therapeutic medications are even higher than the ARCI standards. The upshot of the zero-tolerance Dan Hartman favors is almost certainly the demise of small tracks and reduced field size at the tracks that survive, incredibly ironic when one considers one of the small tracks that would suffer is Colorado’s own Arapahoe Park. ARCI has relied on studies commissioned by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) to establish post-race residual levels and recommended withdrawal times. In the case of Banamine (flunixin), a study done by Heather Kynch, Rick Sams, Rick Arthur, and Scott Stanley on how quickly flunixin was cleared in exercised horses provided the initial recommendation on which the flunixin standard was based.  They tested one model (called the sedentarymodel) in which four non-exercised horses were tested and it was determined a probable threshold level of 20 ng/mL with a withdrawal time of 24 hours. For those not familiar with the nanogram (ng) it is a billionth of a gram. However, subsequent testing using a racehorse model took 20 horses in training and determined exact plasma concentrations of Banamine, concluding that 99% of horses would have less than 50 ng/mL, and thus recommended a threshold value of 50 ng/mL 24 hours after administration of the recommended dose. If 20 sounds like a small number for testing animals to set a standard, according to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products study on the Evaluation of Medicines for Veterinary Use (2000), 19 is the minimum number of animals that need to be tested to conclude a 95% confdence level that 95% of the population will be below a respective standard. Think about this for a minute. Like a lot of ARCI standards, the testing is not to determine at what level a medication stops being performance enhancing (or retarding) but at a level at which almost all horses would have cleared all but a residual amount of the medication by some time in the future. Remember, the ARCI objective as plainly stated by Dan Hartman in 2011 was to eventually rid thoroughbred racing of the scourge of “drugs and medication.” It also points out something else that is critical when looking at new standards – the availability of new mass spectrometers that can measure ridiculously small amounts, even less than nanograms down to picograms – trillionths of a gram. As Dr. Steven Barker said to me once, “show me a lab measuring amounts in picograms and I’ll show you a lab with an expensive new machine they need to justify.” Despite the RMTC study recommendation, the ARCI in April 2013 adopted the 20 ng/mL (with a recommended 24-hour withdrawal time) standard. It is critical to note that even at the time ARCI adopted the standard it was cast as a  “95/95 standard.” As noted above, this means there is a 95% level of confidence that 95% of the horses tested would fall below the standard. In plain terms, one in 20 horses would still be expected to fail a post-race test. By that measure, if a track tested the first and second place finishers of a ten race program, and they all had been given 10 cc’s of Banamine, at least one of them had a probability to come back over the standard. Think about this. ARCI had a chance to adopt a standard (50 ng/mL) that would have all but guaranteed no undeserved positives and no performance enhancement, and instead picked a standard where non-pharmacologically merited violations would abound. Dr. Steven Barker at LSU didn’t equivocate on the adoption of the original ARCI standard. “The Banamine standard is too high, and it is because ARCI didn’t pay any attention to pharmacologists. With the recommended dose, there is no analgesic effect 24 hours after administering Banamine.” So with Dan Hartman at the helm, Colorado adopted the ARCI therapeutic medication schedule of 20 ng/mL for Banamine and in March 2014 the Colorado Racing Commission staff and the track stewards had a meeting with the veterinarians who worked on track at Arapahoe Park. Dr. James Dysart, Bill Brashears’ veterinarian in Colorado, and a vet who has been practicing about as long as Bill Brashears has been training horses, was in attendance at that meeting and asked specifically about what treatment changes would be indicated in 2014. According to Dr. Dysart, he was clearly told, if you practice as you did last year there should be no problems. With regard to Banamine, in March Dr. Dysart was told 10 cc’s with a 24 hour withdrawal time would prevent positives. So when it came to Banamine Dr. Dysart did exactly as he did the year before and by July Bill Brashears had three Banamine positives. There were six positives in all in Colorado and half belonged to Brashears. I asked Dr. Dysart why there were not more positives, and based on his practice, he indicated many trainers had thrown in the towel and switched to bute. Whether the reason was the change in flunixin standard, cost or efficacy, trainers made the switch. After Brashears was hit with the first Banamine positive, he and Dr. Dysart huddled and decided to drop the dosage by 20% to 8 cc’s and increase the withdrawal time closer to 25 hours. Amounts and times for all horses are documented on the medication sheets maintained by Dr. Dysart, and there is no disagreement that the  dose that was administered had sufficient withdrawal time based on the information Dr. Dysart was given in March. After Brashears had five horses test clean after the first positive, he figured they had found the right formula. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case. Brashears was informed that two horses that raced about 10 days apart in July came back positive (both under 30 ng/mL), even after receiving the 8 cc dosage. Brashears had no way of adjusting dosage or withdrawal time for the third horse since the results of the testing for the second horse had not yet been given to him. In fact, Brashears was informed of the last two violations at the same time, well after he could have made a further adjustment. Based on that Brashears expected the second and third violations to be combined into one. Until he was given notice of the last two positives, Brashears sensibly was given a warning after the first violation, made a documented adjustment in an effort to comply, and as far as he could see had success with the new protocol, so he stuck with it, not realizing at 20 ng/mL he was still in danger of a violation. Meanwhile something interesting happened at the RMTC. The high number of Banamine positives in different jurisdictions in 2013 caused them to reexamine the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI had adopted. Remember, the initial RMTC testing suggested 50 ng/ml would ensure 99% of the horses treated appropriately would test negative, and at best with the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI adopted we would still expect 5% positives. It turned out the reality was alarmingly beyond 5% positives. RMTC then did another study that included 16 horses (less than the 19 required for statistical validity) that were exercised under laboratory conditions, and four (25%) of the 16 showed residual levels over 20 ng/mL after 24 hours. But, given the umbilical tie between ARCI and the RMTC, rather than suggest the standard was wrong, it was determined the withdrawal time was too short. In fact, the subsequent RMTC study concluded at least 32 hours was required to maintain 95/95 compliance with a 20 ng/mL. In April 2014 ARCI revised the recommended withdrawal time for flunixin a mere year after originally adopting it, but left the 20 ng/mL in place. This was a critical conclusion because changing the withdrawal time instead of the residual standard ultimately would have the effect of eliminating the therapeutic value of Banamine. At 24 hours the analgesic effect is essentially gone, and approaching 32 hours really limits the anti-inflammatory effect. In other words, this could be seen as an indirect way to ban Banamine consistent with the ARCI stated goal. This was also critical because the ARCI standard was not actually either 20 ng/mL or 32 hours, it was simply 20 ng/mL. Regardless of when Banamine is administered, 24 hours or 32 hours, if the level is over 20 ng/mL the horse is in violation. According to Dr. Dysart, veterinarians in Colorado were not told the recommended withdrawal time had changed to 32 hours until July. Since the 32 hours was nothing more than a recommendation, there was no need to provide notification of rulemaking. That would only be necessary if the standard was proposed for revision. The new recommendation came too late for Brashears though. He had to hope the Colorado Racing Commission saw that he and his vet had done everything the Commission assured them would maintain compliance and be lenient with their punishment. Brashears asked for split samples to be tested for the second and third violations, and both confirmed he was over the 20 ng/mL standard (but well below 50 ng/mL). Brashears appealed, resting his case on the fact that his veterinarian did exactly what he had done hundreds of times and was assured he could continue doing it before the season without risking a violation. In front of a hearing officer he lost and on he went to his final appeal to the Colorado Racing Commission. Brashears’ attorney made the relevant arguments, and once the testimony and final arguments were completed the Commission voted on a motion to saddle Brashears with both the second and third violations as separate events. One of the five commissioners was absent from the hearing, and the vote on the motion was 2-2, which normally would have been a win for Brashears. In a rare occurrence, the Commission moved to go into executive session where they got the missing commissioner on the phone, and re-voted on the motion. When they came back Brashears had lost his appeal 5-0. I asked Dan Hartman if this was a regular practice. He said no, but the Assistant Attorney General was consulted and opined it was a perfectly legal procedure. It was never clear exactly what happened to go from 2-2 to 5-0, but Brashears was ultimately assessed a $1,500 fine and 15 days. One of the people privy to the discussions in the executive session suggested that the Commissioners were advised that letting Brashears off the hook could leave them vulnerable to a subsequent action by Brashears. The concern was that it would essentially be an admission that Colorado had committed an error by leading the veterinarians to believe either historical protocols were sufficient for compliance or that a 24-hour withdrawal time indicated compliance. Brashears is not new to the game, and he understood a violation, even if it is for a bad standard, is a violation. Despite believing he had done nothing wrong, he was willing to bargain with the Commission, offering to pay a fine (less than the $1,500) if the days were waived. It appeared the Commission wanted nothing less than what Brashears was ultimately given. Bill Brashears has paid an even higher price than the fine, the loss of purse money and the cost of an attorney. He’s lost clients. After all, owners don’t want to be associated with someone with a medication positive, regardless of the circumstances. He’s lost the ability to even make a living during his suspension. Most of all he’s lost some of his belief that if you do right by racing, racing will do right by you. For Brashears part, he has sworn off racing again in Colorado. He is firm in his belief he didn’t cheat, and that he was the pawn in a bigger battle over medication in racing. In the end, Colorado not only will lose a long term trainer, but a guy who cares about his horses and about training them the right way. It’s hard to imagine this was a success for anyone. I asked Bill Brashears what bothered him the most. He said, “What makes me the most upset is [Arapahoe Park General Manager] Bruce Seymore telling me at the first Commission meeting that he knew I was innocent but that they were going to hang me anyway. I believe Hartman knows I’m innocent but their grand plan of Colorado being medication free would go down the tank if their first experiment went so wrong. Spending thousands of dollars in attorney fees for their screw-up and I’m still doing 15 days and being fined $1,500 and the division [the Colorado Division of Racing] calling it trainer responsibility. Where’s their responsibility?”

WILKES BARRE PA - Walk The Walk, a son of former harness racing "Horse of the Year" Muscle Hill, emerged as the only horse competing in Bobby Weiss Series action to take a second straight win in the $15,000 Tuesday preliminaries, two for trotting males and two for pacing females, at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.   Last week's first round trotting male winners, Walk The Walk and Two Hip Dip, were matched in one division, and Walk The Walk maintained his perfect record in the series by winning Tuesday in 1:55.2 on a cold night and a sloppy racetrack. Last week Walk The Walk was well in front when he made a break nearing the wire, so in the interim trainer Chris Ryder qualified him with trotting hopples, and this week Walk The Walk was errorless, making an early move to command and then stepping home in 57 to defeat Raise The Curtain, with Two Hip Dip, the slight second choice as last week's winners were both sent off at 11-10, third after a first-over trip.   David Miller, who drove both winners last week, stayed with Walk The Walk, and the horse repaid that confidence of Miller in tallying for the ownership of Ruder, Sidney Korn, Robert Mondillo, and Max Wernick.   Bourbon Bay, third last week in snapping a six-race win skein, bounced back to winning ways, going a tick faster than the other trotting cut in winning by open lengths. The Sand Vic gelding is trained by Megan Wilson for driver/owner John Cummings Jr.   Thebeachnextdoor put paid to the hopes of a repeat Weiss win for Life Is A Beach and Crescent City, both nose victresses last week, by taking a personal mark of 1:53.4 in one leg of the female pacing competition. Jim Morrill Jr., behind hid fourth winner of the night, guided the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere, like Muscle Hill a former Horse of the Year and who was nosed out in the first round, to a wire-to-wire triumph, with last week's winners finishing 2-3 respectively. The Brewer Adams-trained mare is owned by Adams Racing LLC and Brian Clark.   Allthatjazz De Vie couldn't be a repeat winner because Tuesday's other division for females was her first start of the year, but she won her Weiss debut by personally coming home in 56.3 to win in 1:54.4 over Hollyrocker (the other distaff to be nosed in the first round). Andrew McCarthy sulkysat behind the sophomore daughter of American Ideal, now 5 for 7 lifetime, for the familiar pairing of trainer Ron Burke and the ownership combine of Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi.   PHHA / Pocono    

Beach Memories, P H Supercam, and Polak A will try to remain unbeaten in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series on Saturday at Yonkers Raceway, but Beach Memories will do it from a new barn. The 5-year-old pacer has moved from the harness racing stable of trainer Ron Burke to trainer Scott DiDomenico. Saturday's third round of the Levy Series features four divisions, with P H Supercam competing in the first division, Polak A in the third and Beach Memories in the fourth. All three horses are 2-for-2 in the series and tied for the top spot in the series standings. A trainer can enter only one horse per preliminary-round division, and later only two in each of the series final and consolation, and Burke co-owns four Levy participants - Bettor's Edge, Clear Vision, Foiled Again, and Take It Back Terry - in addition to training Beach Memories for owners Strollin Stable, AWS Stables, King McNamara, and Country Club Acres Inc. Country Club Acres' Jim Koehler said Burke suggested the barn change for Beach Memories and recommended DiDomenico. Burke trained previous Strollin Stable and Country Club Acres standout Won The West. "I'm sure if the (series) conditions were different, he'd keep the horse," Koehler said. "But he was getting concerned about being able to race all the horses if there were fewer divisions. He owns all those other horses (in the series). I don't blame him for that. He's always treated us very fairly. He's an amazing guy." Beach Memories has won two of five races this year and earned $65,300. For his career, the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Allamerican Memoir has won 16 of 61 starts and $600,404. The gelding, who captured the 2013 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, was trained by Brian Brown until last November. "I don't think he's a Won The West, you don't find two or three of them, but I know he's got potential," Koehler said. "If he gets the lead, he's tough to pass. "I think the (Levy) is one of the most interesting series in harness racing," he added. "It's a lot of fun. We just hope we race well." Beach Memories won both his Levy prelims by a neck; the first in 1:52.2 and last week in 1:53. He drew post five in Saturday's third round. "It's pretty neat to get a horse like this," DiDomenico said. "The owners called me the other day and I thought they were pulling my leg. People don't usually call you with one like this. Fortunately Ronnie has a lot of quality horses and fortunately I was the one to get the call." P H Supercam drew post two in his third-round division, which includes no other horse in the Levy's top 10. He is trained by Jeff Bamond Jr. and driven by Jason Bartlett. Polak A, with Brian Sears listed to drive for trainer Tony O'Sullivan, got post three in his split, which also includes Michael's Power and Foiled Again. Michael's Power is fourth in the series standings and Foiled Again is tied for seventh with Dancin Yankee, Sapphire City, and Windsong Jack. Bettor's Edge, who is tied with Warrawee Needy for fifth in the series, headlines the remaining division, which also includes Sapphire City and Windsong Jack. Dancin Yankee and Warrawee Needy are among the horses who will attempt to beat Beach Memories in the fourth division. They drew posts one and seven, respectively. by Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

Star Tasmanian-owned and bred pacer Beautide delivered an early message to his likely harness racing opponents in the upcoming Len Smith Mile when he powered his way to an impressive trial win over 1609 metres at Menangle yesterday. Beautide was having his first hit-out since winning his second Inter Dominion Championship at Menangle last month. With his trainer James Rattray in the sulky, Beautide began well from the outside gate (8) and settled second behind the leader. When Rattray eased his stable star off the fence to challenge he quickly drew alongside the leader and went on to easily win the trial by a metre. Beautide stopped the clock at 1.54.7 and ran home his last half mile (800m) in 55.3 seconds without being fully extended. He is likely to have another trial before trying to make it successive Len Smith Miles with that Group 1 race over 1609m to be run at Menangle on April 26. Watch trial: courtesy of TrotsTV Peter Staples

The connections of 63 three-year-old pacing colts and geldings have made the first sustaining payment to remain eligible to this year's Pepsi North America Cup. The $1 million showcase, to be contested on Saturday, June 20 at Mohawk Racetrack, is Canada's richest harness race. Headlining the top-notch group of sophomore pacers is O'Brien and Dan Patch Award winner Artspeak. The Tony Alagna-trainee put together a fantastic rookie campaign last season, that saw the son of Western Ideal capture the Metro Pace and Governors Cup Artspeak is only the third horse (Artsplace and Jeremes Jet) to win the Metro Pace and Governors Cup in the same season, however he could become the first to go on and win the Pepsi North America Cup the following season. O'Brien Award finalist Go Daddy Go, multiple stakes-winner In The Arsenal and winter-series standout Wiggle It Jiggleit are just a few of the notables that remain eligible to this year's 'Cup.' As excitement builds towards the 31st edition of Canada's richest harness race, the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) has unveiled the official event logo for the 2015 edition of the Pepsi North America Cup. All members of the WEG creative team had an opportunity to create a logo with a committee making the final selection of this year's event logo. The selected logo pays homage to both sides of the border by incorporating a pattern of the maple leaf and stars along with the colours of Canada, the United States and the title sponsor, Pepsi. "The symbols of the star and leaf helps support the rivalries theme of the Pepsi North America Cup," said Ken McConnachie, Creative Director for WEG "The chosen logo is bold with a sports-team type feel. The new logo can work in all sizes and applications, from print to broadcasting." The 31st edition logo will be used on merchandise, advertising and in other material leading up to the big race on June 20. A full list of the 63 horses that remain eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup can be viewed below. ALLBEEF N NOBULL AMERICANPRIMETIME AMORA BEACH ARQUE HANOVER ARTSPEAK ASAP HANOVER AZOREAN ART BERKLEY BETTING EXCHANGE BRING ON THE BEACH CAMTURO ROCK CORSICA HALL DEALT A WINNER DERBY DALE DRACHAN HANOVER DUDES THE MAN EDWARD TEACH FIRST CLASS HORSE FREEDOMFORMYSOUL GALLIC BEACH GO DADDY GO GOOD FRIDAY THREE HARFO HANOVER HURRIKANE ALI IF YOU WANT FIRE IN THE ARSENAL JO PAS WELL SAID JOE HILL LYONS AGAIN LYONS GEOFFJNR LYONS LEVI LEWIS MAXDADDY BLUE CHIP MIKES POWERHOUSE MITT JAGGER MOHEGAN BLUE CHIP MULLET BLUE CHIP ONEISALONELYNUMBER PAPARAZZI HANOVER PENJI HANOVER PHYSICALLYINCLINED PIERCE HANOVER RANDYS PLAN REVENGE SHARK REVEREND HANOVER RICH WISDOM ROCK N ROLL WORLD ROCK THE NITE ROCKIN IN HEAVEN ROCKNTOUCH SICILY SOMWHEREONTHEBEACH SPLIT THE HOUSE SPORTS BETTOR SPORTS IMAGE STOVER THE SPY THE WAYFARING MAN TRACEUR HANOVER TRADING UP WAKIZASHI HANOVER WELL WELL WELL WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT YANKEE BOUNTY   ​Mark McKelvie - WEG Communications

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - (Tuesday, March 31, 2015) Jimmy Marohn Jr. has been one of harness racing's best kept secrets over the past few years and in case you've missed it, Jimmy Marohn Jr. has officially arrived at The Meadowlands. That may sound foolish given that Marohn is now 33 and nearing 3,000 wins in his career. But Marohn is clearly in the midst of what must be described as his breakout season. Since it's opening in 2006, Marohn has been one of the leading drivers at Tioga Downs. In fact, he is the three-time defending leading driver at the track, winning 235 races at Tioga since 2012 for earnings of over $1.6 Million. Tioga Downs opening day is slated for May 2nd, and Marohn had to decide, will he continue to drive at The Meadowlands each weekend, or will he venture to Tioga where he typically drives the best horses on the grounds and aim for a fourth consecutive driving title over the Nichols, New York oval? Faced with the most difficult decision of his young career, Marohn has decided to remain at The Meadowlands on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the championship meet. For Marohn, the time is now to strike while the iron is hot. He is planning to drive at Tioga Downs on Sundays, but he will call The Meadowlands home for the rest of the season. In addition, Marohn will continue to drive at Monticello and Freehold during the week. "It's been a difficult decision to choose whether to go back to Tioga or take a new route in my career and continue with the meet at the Meadowlands," said Marohn. "Tioga has always been good to me, which I am extremely grateful for. It wasn't an easy decision, but in life you have to take risks in order to be successful and this is one of those moments. So I'm going to stay the summer at the Meadowlands." Meadowlands C.E.O/General Manager Jason Settlemoir, has known Marohn for a long time and is optimistic about his future. "It has been a privilege to have had Jimmy at Tioga all these years, and we look forward to seeing him on Sundays. But I am also filled with excitement for him as he takes on this new venture in his career. The way he has been driving, now is the time for him to take on this challenge. Simply put, he is the consummate professional and I wish him the best of luck during our Championship Meet at The Meadowlands." Through Monday, Marohn is sitting on 108 wins, good for eighth (8th) in the country. With the first quarter of the racing calendar concluding, Marohn is on pace for over 430 wins and earnings beyond $2.1 Million. Both would surpass his career best season of 390 wins and $1.76 Million in earnings. But beyond the numbers, it is what Marohn has done at The Meadowlands this winter that has people talking. Amazingly, it has been more than 10 years since Marohn earned his first driving victory at The Meadowlands with SJ's Tostitos in a $20,000 Claiming Handicap Trot in December of 2004. But over the last decade, Marohn's wins have been rather sporadic, never winning more than three races in a meet at The Big M until last season, when Marohn won 10 races. But this meet, Marohn has elevated his game to a new level, winning 25 races. That number is more wins than Marohn has earned at the East Rutherford oval in the last 10 years combined. One of Marohn's best qualities is his humble nature, which was evident in this statement. "It feels really good to matter there," referring to The Meadowlands. Marohn has hooked up with trainer Daniel Gill, whom he has won many races for in New York over the past several years and trainer Rob Harmon, who's stable has been very live to start the season. "Both trainers have been an important part in my success at the Meadowlands," referring to Gill and Harmon , "and I am grateful to have the opportunity to drive for them consistently. In this game you need trainers with good horses that will give you a shot and will stick with you. I have been fortunate to be able to drive for both trainers." At present, Marohn sits tenth (10th) in the driver standings at The Meadowlands. The most impressive aspect of his season thus far is that he has made it into the top 10 in The Meadowlands drivers colony, while driving in less races than all nine drivers in front him. In fact, Marohn's 203 drives is 70 less than Ron Pierce who is the next closest competitor in both starts and wins and Marohn has only one less win than the Hall of Famer. By comparison, he has only seven less wins than Andy Miller, who has driven in 168 more races than Marohn. With Ron Pierce sidelined with an injury and the next closest driver (Trace Tetrick) having nine wins for the meet, Marohn appears to be locked in as a top-10 driver at The Meadowlands for the duration of 2015. Marohn's 13-percent (13%) win-rate is tied for fourth this meet, with John Campbell. His 15 wins since February 1st is the sixth highest total of The Meadowlands drivers and his nine wins in the month of March is the fifth highest total of the driving colony, only one less than leading driver Yannick Gingras despite having 20 less drives than anyone in the top-10. "It's a surreal moment in my career being in the spot that I'm in and competing with the top drivers in the country. It goes to show you that with hard work and dedication you can get far and achieve success. You just have to keep at it and prove to trainers and owners that you can get the job done. Hopefully with the solid winter meet that I have had at the Meadowlands it will open the doors for more opportunities." The bettors are enjoying Marohn's efforts as well, as he is the only driver in the top-10 to show a positive return on investment at this point of the season. Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali was thrilled when Marohn notified him of his decision. "Jimmy has had a sensational meet. Being the oddsmaker and track handicapper is a part of my job description and I have watched Jimmy closely this meet. He is driving like he is in the zone. All you can ask a driver to do is give their horse a chance to win, and he has consistently put horses in spots where they can win. The time is now to take a chance at the Championship Meet and I sincerely hope he is rewarded and given opportunities to shine in our stakes program. He deserves it." Marohn recently turned 33 years old. That is significant as it is the same age Corey Callahan began driving at The Meadowlands on a regular basis. Since making the move to The Big M, Callahan has become one of the stars of the sport, winning the Rising Star Award for his 2013 driving campaign, amassing over 1,200 wins over the last two seasons and nearly $19 Million earnings. This year, Callahan finds himself second in the country with 196 wins and leads all drivers with nearly $1.7 Million in earnings. While choosing to stay at The Meadowlands doesn't guarantee the success Callahan has had, it could be the decision that launches the career of Jimmy Marohn Jr. into another stratosphere. Darin Zoccali Director of Racing Operations Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment | 1 Racetrack Drive | East Rutherford, NJ 07073            

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - Yonkers Raceway Tuesday afternoon offered its richest race of the season to date, the $62,200 final of the Sagamore Hill for 3- and 4-year-old male pacers. Newly-purchased Rediscovery (George Brennan, $6.70) won the big prize-$31,100 and a date with Teddy Roosevelt-off a textbook pocket trip beneath the wet snow. Winning the draw in the finale (all 4-year-olds), Rediscovery yielded to 6-5 favorite Bettorever (Jason Bartlett), who gained the lead before a 28-second opening quarter-mile. Rediscovery, as the second choice, then locked up the box, leaving Vance Bayama (Mark MacDonald) hung out. After a :57.2 intermission, and using "Vance" as a parked-out pick, Bettorever found a 1:25.4 three-quarters. It was Vance Bayama's entrymate, YS Lotus (Dan Dube), going wide down the backside as Bettorever owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. Meanwhile, Rediscovery had his sights set on the passing lane, where he edged away late. The final margin was a length-and-a-quarter in a season's-best 1:54. Bettorever easily held second, with JK Patriot (Tim Tetrick) third. YS Lotus and Roger Mach Em (Brian Sears) completed the cashers, while Fort Knox (Eric Carlson), Khan Blue Chip (Scott Zeron) and Vance Bayama rounded out the order of finish. "I had to close the hole," Brennan said. "First time I've driven him and no way I wanted to get away third. He's handy and has a good turn of foot. He was a good buy." The "good buy" is a 4-year-old son of Tell All now co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Phillip Collura, who is 2-for-7 this season. The exacta paid $11.80, with the triple returning $76. Rediscovery, racing for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. in the three series prelims, had a win and a pair of seconds. A $25,000 series consolation was won by Ideal Willie (MacDonald, $16.80 [part of entry]) in a life-best 1:54. Series action continues Friday night with the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker (two, five-horse, $40,000 divisions), while Saturday offers the third round of George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (30 entrants in four, $50,000 divisions). Frank Drucker

Columbus, OH --- USTA President Phil Langley, accompanied by Executive Vice President Mike Tanner, presented the USTA’s position on a number of medication issues to the Ohio State Racing Commission at their monthly meeting on Monday afternoon (March 30) at the Riffe Center in Columbus, Ohio. At the previous commission meeting on Feb. 21, Chairman Robert K. Schmitz invited representatives of the U.S. Trotting Association, national and state branches of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, and the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association to address the commission. Langley focused on the need for uniform but separate medication rules for the different breeds, the use of therapeutic medications and USTA research on cobalt. He emphasized that in harness racing, the horses race much more often than Thoroughbreds and that harness racing doesn’t have the same problems with breakdowns. “The USTA strongly believes in uniform medication rules,” said Langley. “But we believe in uniform rules for harness racing and uniform rules for Thoroughbreds, but different rules. The way we race is not compatible with the way they race. We would like the rules to reflect the harness use, not the Thoroughbred use. “Recently, Ed Martin from RCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International) has indicated that they have no problem with separate rules.” Langley discussed a USTA-funded research study on cobalt conducted by Dr. George Maylin from the New York Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College with assistance from Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Associate Director Dr. Ken McKeever from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University. He informed the commissioners that the USTA is planning a new study with that team of equine experts. “Now we going to commission a new study with Drs. Maylin, Malinowski and McKeever to see exactly what cobalt does to horses,” said Langley. “One of the challenges is that the scientists have to figure out how to test horses that are racing.” When asked by Chairman Schmitz for the reason that the USTA resigned from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in September 2013, Langley cited the USTA’s $100,000 annual contribution being made to an organization that refused to consider harness racing’s issues. “Our money could be used better for studies on harness racing than for funding the RMTC who were not considering harness racing,” explained Langley. The Ohio State Racing Commission is collecting information prior to consideration of model medication rules proposed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The commissioners heard presentations by RCI President Edward J. Martin and Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, at their February meeting. According to Chairman Schmitz, the commission will invite veterinarians and scientists to present in the next two months. USTA Communications Department 

East Rutherford, NJ - As a result of discussions with horsemen on what types of races they are seeking, The Meadowlands is pleased to announce a new short series' for three-year-old trotters and pacers with separate divisions for fillies scheduled for the last two weekends of April.   The "Spring Preview" is designed to offer races to green horses preparing for their sophomore stakes season. The classes available will be Non-Winners of 1 Pari-Mutuel race or $10,000 Lifetime and Non-Winners of 2 Pari-Mutuel races or $20,000 Lifetime as the base conditions. Eliminations (purse $12,500 for NW 1 / $15,000 for NW 2) will be scheduled for April 17/18 a with the final for each (NW 1 purse $30,000E / NW 2 purse $35,000E) right back the next weekend. There will be an entry fee of $500 due when entering the eliminations with no fee due for the finals.   These races will be listed on the April 17 & 18 condition sheet. There is no nomination required other than entering for the races on the day of the draw. Conditions for the races are listed below. Further information is available by calling the Racing Office at 877-782-2537.   "Spring Preview"   For 3 years old trotters and pacers with a filly division for each. Single eliminations on April 17/18 and finals on April 24/25 that are:   Non-Winners of 1 Pari-Mutuel race or $10,000 Lifetime (Winners of over $30,000 Lifetime are ineligible) up to and including April 11, 2015. Elimination purse of $12,500 / Final purse of $20,000 added estimated at $30,000. One time entry fee $500.   Non-Winners of 2 Pari-Mutuel races or $20,000 Lifetime (Winners of over $60,000 Lifetime are ineligible) up to and including April 11, 2015. Elimination purse of $15,000 / Final purse of $25,000 added estimated at $35,000. One time entry fee $500.   No nomination is required other than entering on the day of the draw for these races. These races may require a minimum of 18 entries to fill. If the minimum isn't met in any division, that division may be raced as an overnight for a purse of $15,000 both weeks.   Meadowlands Media Relations

TORONTO, March 30 - Maplelea and Cast No Shadow scored first leg victories in the harness racing Blossom Series Monday night at Woodbine. A group of 15 three-year-old pacing fillies were split into two $15,000 divisions for the first round of the Blossom Series. The first division saw a familiar horse to series action continue her recent run of dominance. Fresh off a sweep of the HPI Series, Maplelea and driver Rick Zeron picked up right where they left off with a 1:57 victory. Sent off as the 3/5 favourite, Zeron elected to take Maplelea to the back of the pack and paced along seventh around the first turn. Down the backstretch, Maplelea moved off the pylons and would pick up cover to be perfectly placed second-over as the field turned for home. In the stretch, Maplelea cruised by her rivals and paced home in :27.2 to win by two-lengths. Doctor Terror finished up well to take second, while Much Adoo finished third. A three-year-old daughter of Sportswriter, Maplelea has now won four-consecutive starts for owner/trainer Andrew Moore. Her 2015 record now sits at an impressive six wins from eight starts for earnings of over $73,000. Maplelea paid $3.20 to win. In the second division, Cast No Shadow and Chris Christoforou scored an impressive open-length victory at 5/1. Beyonces Rockn, the 3/5 favourite, took control of the lead in the second-quarter, while Cast No Shadow paced along in fourth. Christoforou would get his charge out in moving and came first up around the final turn to challenge the favourite at the three-quarter pole in 1:27.1. In the stretch, Cast No Shadow blew by Beyonces Rockn and stormed home strongly in :27 to win by 5 ¾ lengths. Moonlit Dance just got up for second, while Beyonces Rockn had to settle for third. A three-year-old daughter of Shadow Play, Cast No Shadow is trained by Des Tackoor for owner Millard Adams. After failing to win a race in four starts last season, Cast No Shadow is a now a perfect four-for-four in 2015 and has banked $31,500. Her clocking of 1:54.1 knocked almost two-seconds off her previous career-mark. Cast No Shadow returned $12.90 to win. In order to be eligible to the Blossom Series, the sophomore pacing fillies had to be non-winners of three-races or $15,000 in 2014. The second leg of the Blossom will take place next Monday (April 6). Mark McKelvie

YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 30, 2015 - So far in 2015, Yonkers Raceway has had four legal-bare-minimum $2.10 win payoffs. Three of time have been by Witch Dali (Tim Tetrick), who again fooled no one Monday night, winning the $54,800 final of the Petticoat Pacing Series for harness racing 3 and 4-year-old fillies and mares. Leaving alertly from post position No. 3, Witch Dali was stung early on a cold, windy Westchester evening. She paid a :26.4 first-quarter price to get around pole-sitting Cheyenne Robin (Dan Dube) before the lone soph in the field relented for the pocket. Cruisinwithmybaby (Tyler Buter) found a three-hole, with Hay Stacked (Eric Carlson) away fourth. Witch Dali then rated a 30-second next interval (:56.4 half) and was sailing toward a 1:25.2 three-quarters when Cruisinwithmybaby made her second move. However, Witch Dali remained unflustered by such an intrusion, taking a 2½ length lead in the lane. She completed her four-race series sweep, winning by a couple of lengths in 1:55. Hay Stacked rallied inside for second, with Cruisinwithmybaby, Royal Mama (Matt Kakaley) and Inside the Glass (Jordan Stratton) settling for the remainder. Cheyenne Robin, Anti Entity (George Brennan) and Always Sunday (Jason Bartlett) rounded out the order. "She went a big first quarter and just held tough," Tetrick said. "Hasn't given me a bad race yet." For Witch Dali, a 4-year-old daughter of Dali co-owned (as Alagna Racing) by (trainer) Tony Alagna and Brad Grant, it was her sixth win in 10 seasonal starts (13-for-24 lifetime, career earnings a buck under $164,000). The exacta paid $8.70, the triple returned $37.20 and the superfecta paid $144. Series action continues Tuesday afternoon with Yonkers' richest race of the season to date, the $62,200 final of the Sagamore Hill for 3- and 4-year-old male pacers. Friday, it's the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker (two, five-horse $40,000 divisions), while Saturday offers the second round of George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (to be drawn Tuesday). Frank Drucker

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Trenton, NJ --- It was almost too perfect. A harness racing driver named Shawn who has four-leaf clovers on his colors winning his first career race as a driver on St. Patrick’s Day. It sounds like a hokey movie plot, but it was as real as a pint of Guinness in Dublin. “That made it even more special,” said 21-year-old Shawn Simons, who drove Caviart Spencer to victory at Monticello Raceway on March 17. And it was predicted by an old friend, Eddie Sager, who called Shawn two weeks prior to the race. “Eddie has known me since I’ve been born and he said ‘I got you your first winner at Monticello,’” said Simons, the son of veteran driver Mike Simons. “I said ‘Whoa, slow down.’ We talked about the horse; he wanted me to take him so we bought the horse.” The price was $3,000 for the 9-year-old, although Simons had no idea he was that old. “I actually didn’t even ask for his age,” Shawn said. “I kept asking him is there anything wrong with him that I’d have to work on. He said ‘I wouldn’t sell you a bad horse,’ and I said ‘You got me there,’ so I was pretty confident in this horse. “I walked into the barn the next day and saw this horse and I said ‘Wow, he’s small!’ But he’s a great racehorse. He’s got a weird attitude, he’s kind of bashful, but he can race.” Shortly thereafter, as millions of Americans dined on corned beef and cabbage, Caviart Spencer raced in fourth place throughout much of his race, following the outside cover of favorite One Shark Road and driver Jimmy Taggart after the half-mile point before going three wide on the final turn. “It was the best of luck for (One Shark Road) to go first up so I could follow him,” Simons said. “I was following him and about halfway at the end of the turn I’m thinking ‘Wow I can actually be in this race up until the end.’ “Right before the head of the stretch, I got after him and I’m yelling at him and I’m feeling it. And then I realize I didn’t pop the (ear)plugs yet. So I popped the plugs and I go by Taggart, and I hear the announcer say ‘Can Shawn Simons finally get his first Monticello win?’ and when I heard that my adrenaline just went right through the roof and I’m like ‘Yeah I can,’ and I just kept driving him. I was just so energetic and gave a little fist pump at the end.” As he came across the finish line, Shawn experienced something he never felt before. “It was such a weird feeling; a good feeling,” he said. “It kind of felt like you shed your skin and you break through your skin and you’re reborn. My skin was like...it was crazy.” It turned out that Scotty Bicum, a groom for the Simons at their Big Z Farms in Montague, N.J., had a good feeling before the race considering what day it was. “Scotty kept saying ‘It’s St. Paddy’s Day, you might get ’em kid,’” Simons said, who won at odds of 38-1. “And then afterwards we said ‘Of course it’s St. Paddy’s Day and we’re gonna win.’ It was just perfect timing, just a great day.” Mike Simons was right there to take it all in. “I thought he was kind of getting emotional,” Shawn said. “He got out of the cart and they all had smiles on their faces and he was like ‘I knew you could do it kid.’ My dad gave me a big hug, it was a great picture.” Shawn had 21 drives before getting his first driving victory, to go along with 15 wins as a trainer. “It’s a much more intense feeling when you win as a driver,” Simons said. Shawn has spent a lifetime around the sport. He grew up at Pocono Downs, where the Simons were stabled for years. “I just hung around the horses all the time in the summer time, whenever I wasn’t in school,” he said. “On summer nights I would just run all around the grandstand all night long.” At age 14 he asked his dad if he could work the paddocks at Tioga Downs because he could get a groom’s license in New York at that age. At age 17 he began working with his dad on a few horses at Pocono Downs. “That’s where I learned most of my stuff,” he said. Two years later Shawn moved up to the Big Z where he has worked ever since. He began actual hands-on training at age 18 and still has the first horse he trained with and drove behind. “Me and my dad trained him on the main track at Pocono Downs,” Shawn said. “I got on the bike and it was actually pretty fun. The horse did all the work. It’s not like racing, you only have to deal with one other horse. In racing you have to deal with six or seven others. “He said ‘How’d you like it,’ and I said, ‘It was easy.’ He said ‘Did you like it?’ I said ‘Yeah,’ and I just kept going from there.” Firmly entrenched in the sport, Shawn wants to continue to train and drive. He and Mike have 16 horses at the Big Z, with Mike owning half of them and Shawn owning quarters to halves of four or five. “I hope I can become more of a popular driver so I can also catch drive for other people as well,” he said. “I’m looking to get a couple more wins under my belt. We like Tioga, we always race at Tioga. I’m hoping to become a little bit of a catch driver there, if not this summer than next summer.” And if at all possible, he’ll look to get back in the sulky on St. Patrick’s Day from this point on. After all, there may just be something to this luck of the Irish thing. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 
Going into last weekends California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing colts, Uringoodhands and Hi Hos Little Rev had dominated the division and were getting all the love from the harness racing fans, going off at 1-5 and 5-2, respectively. Apparently Lodi Machette Man didnt get the memo. Mary Harris and Pierre Girards Little Steven homebred, who was being handled by Luke Plano for the first time, worked out a beautiful pocket trip and prevailed by a length and three-quarters for his initial stakes tally while returning $16 to his backers. Lodi Machette Man had to settle for distant third-place finishes in the previous five big-money gatherings, but now it was his turn to shine. Hes been steadily coming along, and the previous week I got locked in, said trainer Girard, who had driven the pacer in all his previous outings. The horse has still been green, which is the reason Ive been driving up to this point. I dont want another person to have to do my job. Now hes starting to mature and it was time to let another driver take over and Luke is certainly one of the best with some great hands. He had never been behind the horse before that night, but he listened to everything I said and he gave Lodi a tremendous drive, sitting in a perfect position into the stretch behind the two favorites, who were battling. It was also nice of him to give me credit when he was interviewed after the race. There are two more stakes races left at this meet for the sophomore pacing colts and it will be interesting to see if Lodi Machette Man and his new best friend Luke can pick up another trophy for Mary and Pierre before its a wrap. Contentious Distaff Open Pace headlines program Blue Gem, fresh from a 15-1 upset last week; and Part Time Lady, who battled hard with the favorite in that contest before tiring, head the cast for Friday nights $6,000 Filly-Mare Open Pace at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races Friday night under the Watch and Wager LLC banner and the action is set to get underway at 6:40 p.m. The feature will go as the eighth event on the evening. Blue Gem is a 6-year-old daughter of Nirvana and the Cambest mare Cherry Tree Blue who is owned, trained, driven and was bred by Harold Herrera. She was winning for the second time on the season from nine outings in last weeks score at this level and the 1:54 clocking shaved a tick off her career standard. Part Time Lady did the heavy lifting in that clash at this level last week, carving out the fractions and then dueling hard with odds-on Love Live Laugh to the stretch before weakening to fourth. Ronald and Tammy Wells own the 6-year-old Jeremes Jet mare while Steve Wiseman reins and trains. Part Time Lady has five wins this year from 11 appearances, the most recent coming under these conditions on March 1 from the demanding No. 10 post with the 1:54 1/5 final clocking establishing a new mark. Completing the field are Rag Doll with Mooney Svendsen; Internal Check, to be handled by Tim Maier; High Bet Hanover, Luke Plano; Diva Las Vegas with Daniel Maier; and La Madawna De Rosa, who leaves form the rail with Williams Hernandez at the controls. ******* Saturdays action will include a simulcast of the Jackpot Hi-5 from Woodbine, which features an $847,458 carryover and a mandatory payout. The Jackpot Hi-5 is a 20-cent wager with a low 15% takeout rate. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness          
ANDERSON, SHELBYVILLE, Ind.; - March 31, 2015 - Nationally acclaimed horse racing analyst and commentator Peter Lurie has joined the harness racing broadcast teams at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. Lurie will make more than one dozen appearances throughout 2015 with the first appearance this weekend at Hoosier Park beginning Friday, April 3. "We are beyond excited to have someone of Peter's stature joining our team in Indiana," said Jim Brown, president and chief operating officer of Centaur Gaming and general manager of Indiana Grand. "Peter is well respected all over the world in horse racing and having his insight into our racing product on a regular basis is phenomenal." Lurie brings in more than three decades of experience in both the television and horse racing fields. He has been on the sidelines covering many major races, from the prestigious Saratoga meet to the Florida Derby. Lurie has interviewed racing's finest participants over the years, including Tom Durkin, Bob Baffert, Kent Desormeaux and more recently the team behind 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome. He also served as a host for HRTV's syndicated weekly show, "Across the Board," which had viewership all over the world, including Dubai and Europe. Lurie has covered both the Indiana Derby and the Dan Patch Invitational at Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park, respectively, for the past four years and is very familiar with racing in the Hoosier State. He has also provided past support to some of the major Quarter Horse stakes in the state of Indiana, showing his immense versatility and expertise in racing. "Being able to continue my love of horse racing at two great facilities in the Midwest is wonderful," said Lurie. "I believe Centaur Gaming is on the cusp of something truly special and I feel very fortunate to be asked to be part of its growth. I'm looking forward to assisting them in taking their racing signals to the next level in the Thoroughbred and the Quarter Horse racing industry as well as in the harness racing world." In addition to special appearances throughout the racing season, Lurie will provide daily handicapping for the live production at Indiana Grand. His selections may be found in both the live racing program as well as Indiana Grand's website. In addition, he will provide frequent call-ins and video to both facilities as well as conduct interviews and additional television coverage while on property during the season. "Adding Peter to our team is a great way to kick off our 2015 racing season," said Rod Ratcliff, chairman and chief executive officer of Centaur Gaming. "Peter (Lurie) will enhance our current broadcast by expanding our on-air coverage of our racing programs, something we continue to strive for at both locations. This is another example of our commitment to racing in the state of Indiana." Lurie will provide support to the current broadcast team of Emily Gaskin, racing personality and on-track analyst, and Steve Cross, announcer, at Hoosier Park. He will also bring his expertise to the broadcast team at Indiana Grand, which consists of Bill Downes, announcer, Rachel McLaughlin, racing personality and on-track analyst, and Nancy Ury-Holthus, paddock analyst. In addition to his work in horse racing, the multi-talented Lurie will continue to lend his voice to numerous projects including animated series, commercials and video games in the Los Angeles area. He has served as an actor for more than 30 years and brings characters to life with his voice over work, including Leatherhead from the popular "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" television series. Live harness racing is now underway at Hoosier Park through Saturday, Nov. 14. Racing is conducted Tuesday through Saturday with a first post of 5:15 p.m. EST. Emily Gaskins
East Rutherford, NJ - Steven Torres, of West Milford, NJ, captured the March 28th World Harness Handicapping Qualifier at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Torres built his $100 bankroll into $2,189 earning him the $1,040 top cash prize and an $800 seat in the World Harness Handicapping Championship on April 25 at Meadowlands Racetrack. Contestants in the qualifier had a minimum 10 of the 12 races on the Meadowlands card, with a $10 minimum per race. Only win wagers were allowed and on one horse per race. The twelfth and final race was the pivotal play for Torres. He bet $55 to win on Chilli NZ ($79.60) and cashed $2,189. The next Meadowlands WHHC Qualifier is scheduled for Saturday, April 11. Visit PlayMeadowlands.com for complete details. Tournament Standings - March, 28, 2015 Rank, Name, Bankroll, Prize 1, Steven Torres, $2,189, $1,040 2, Jeff Gordon, $1,751, $520 3, Joe Barre, $1,602, $390 4, Bill White, $1,592, $260 5, Cody Burke, $360, $130 6, Greg Lipinski, $260, $52 7, Nick Montemurro, $145, $52 8, Nick Montemurro, $132, $52 9, Alan Hirschberg, $112, $52 10, Joe Pavlica Jr, $100, $52 Rachel Ryan
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