JK She'salady, harness racing

JK She'salady - "Harness Horse of the Year"

East Rutherford, NJ --- The ‘Lady’ is the champ. JK She’salady, who was undefeated in 12 races for breeder/owner 3 Brothers Stables and trainer Nancy Johansson, became the first 2-year-old female pacer in harness racing history to be named Horse of the Year, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Thursday during a Dan Patch Awards presentation at Meadowlands Racetrack. The filly won by five votes, 57-52, over fellow pacer Sweet Lou in the tightest Horse of the Year finish since 7-year-old trotting gelding Savoir beat 3-year-old filly pacer Silk Stockings, 52-49, in 1975. Five-year-old Sweet Lou, however, was named Pacer of the Year after besting JK She’salady by one vote, 74-73, in that category. It is the first time a Pacer of the Year or Trotter of the Year – categories introduced in 1970 – failed to receive Horse of the Year. Voters, who are members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and American Harness Racing Secretaries, must choose their Horse of the Year from either their Pacer of the Year or Trotter of the Year selection. A total of 157 ballots were returned. The anomaly occurred because a greater number of voters that selected JK She’salady for Pacer of the Year on their ballot also voted her their Horse of the Year. Only 16 people that voted JK She’salady as the best pacer gave their Horse of the Year vote to their Trotter of the Year selection, compared to 22 for Sweet Lou. Three-year-old filly Shake It Cerry was named Trotter of the Year, finishing 22 votes ahead of runner-up Sebastian K, 59-37. Shake It Cerry, owned by Solveig’s Racing Partners and trained by Jimmy Takter, received 14 votes for Horse of the Year. A total of nine horses received at least one vote for Horse of the Year. JK She’salady is the fourth 2-year-old to receive Horse of the Year, joining pacer Niatross (1979), trotter Nevele Pride (1967) and pacer Bret Hanover (1964). The three previous 2-year-old winners were colts. She is the first female pacer to be voted Horse of the Year since Rainbow Blue in 2004 and the fourth female pacer overall to receive the honor. The others were Bunny Lake in 2001 and Fan Hanover in 1981. “It’s unbelievable,” Johansson said. “I don’t know if it’s completely sunk in. The hard work paid off. She’s just such a special horse. “She’s as perfect as they come now, and I guess finishing off with Horse of the Year exemplifies how perfect she is.” JK She’salady, who on Wednesday was named the sport’s best 2-year-old filly pacer, won her final nine starts by a minimum of one length and closed her campaign with a stakes-record victory in the Breeders Crown. She equaled the world record of 1:50.1 for a 2-year-old female pacer in winning the She’s A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk and also captured the Three Diamonds Stakes. For the year, the homebred filly earned $883,330. She was driven by Tim Tetrick in the Breeders Crown and by Yannick Gingras in her previous starts. It is the first Horse of the Year honor for the 33-year-old Johansson, who is Takter’s daughter and previously worked as a caretaker in her father’s stable. Takter has won three Horse of the Year awards, two with Moni Maker (1998-99) and one with Malabar Man (1997). Sweet Lou, who was driven by Ron Pierce and set a record with six consecutive wins in faster than 1:48, captured 11 of 19 races for the season and earned $1.36 million for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. He won the Ben Franklin Pace at Pocono Downs in 1:47, the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths track, and won the Dan Patch Invitational in 1:47.2, the fastest-ever mile at Hoosier Park. Other victories for Sweet Lou included the TVG Free For All Series championship, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and the Roll With Joe. Sweet Lou, who was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer in 2011 and added the award for best older male pacer this season, is Burke’s second Pacer of the Year winner. Burke also won with Foiled Again in 2011. “We got Pacer of the Year, I’m OK with that,” co-owner Collura said. “We’ll have some fun with that. “It was a little disappointing (not to receive Horse of the Year), but I’m still happy. Pacer of the Year is a great achievement for Lou. It’s a nice way to end the year regardless.” Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races this year, earning $1.23 million for the Solveig’s Racing Partners ownership group and driver Pierce. Most of the members of the ownership group are also members of Solveig’s Breeders, which bred the filly. The Takter-trained filly, who on Tuesday was named the best 3-year-old filly trotter, finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown in a stakes-record 1:52.2. She also won the Matron Stakes in a stakes- and track-record 1:52.4 over a “good” surface at Dover Downs, the American-National in a stakes-record 1:52.2 and equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in capturing the Elegantimage. “This filly, she really deserved Trotter of the Year,” Takter said. “Besides the Hambletonian (Oaks), what a season she had, and she finished up in style. She’s just a fantastic horse.” Both of Shake It Cerry’s parents were Dan Patch Award winners. Donato Hanover was Horse of the Year at age 3 in 2007 and Solveig was voted best 2-year-old female trotter in 2004. Solveig also was trained by Takter, who named the filly in honor of his mother. It is Takter’s sixth Trotter of the Year Award. He won three with Moni Maker (1998-2000) as well as Malabar Man (1997) and Kadabra (2002). Complete vote totals for all Dan Patch Award categories can be found here. For the announcements of division honors, for pacers click here and for trotters click here. HORSE OF THE YEAR 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER OF THE YEAR JK SHE’SALADY Art Major – Presidential Lady – Presidential Ball Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeders: 3 Brothers Stables. Owners: 3 Brothers Stables. Trainer: Nancy Johansson. Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Tim Tetrick. Races: 12-12-0-0. Purses: $883,330. Mark: 1:50.1 at Mohawk (equals world record). Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $441,600 She’s A Great Lady; $377,360 Three Diamonds. PACER OF THE YEAR OLDER MALE PACER OF THE YEAR SWEET LOU Yankee Cruiser – Sweet Future – Falcons Future Yearling Price: $38,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Birnam Wood Farms. Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, Phil Collura. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 19-11-3-1. Purses: $1.36 million. Mark: 1:47 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $500,000 TVG Final; $500,000 Ben Franklin; $463,300 William Haughton Memorial. TROTTER OF THE YEAR 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER OF THE YEAR SHAKE IT CERRY Donato Hanover – Solveig – Yankee Glide Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Solveig’s Breeders. Owner: Solveig’s Racing Partners. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 17-15-0-1. Purses: $1.23 million. Mark: 1:51.2 at The Red Mile. Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $368,100 Elegantimage; $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity. From the United States Harness Writers Assoiation

Harness Racing

Monticello OK, Vernon not over new casinos

Yesterday’s announcement about the three winning bids for casino resorts in upper New York State has had positive and negative impacts on harness racing in the Empire State. The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board announced Wednesday the selection of the one winning bid for a casino in each of three defined regions of the State:  Catskills/Hudson Valley (Region One, Zone Two), Capital (Region Two, Zone Two) and Eastern Southern Tier/Finger Lakes (Region Five, Zone Two). In the Catskills/Hudson Valley Region, The Montreign Resort Casino in Thompson, N.Y. whose developer Empire Resorts operates through a subsidiary, the nearby Monticello Casino & Raceway, was selected over eight other applicants. What this means is that Monticello Raceway will hopefully be able to survive. The new resort will be built just a couple of miles away from the track and because the parent company is already running the racing, it should remain a viable attraction to compliment the resort. No word yet on whether the casino already at Monticello Raceway will remain open once the new resorts gets finished, which is now years away. In the Eastern Southern Tier/Finger Lakes Region, the Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, N.Y. was selected over the other two applicants in the region, Tioga Downs Casino, Racing & Entertainment in Nichols, N.Y. and Traditions Resort & Casino in Union, N.Y. This move will have major devastating effects at Vernon Downs according to owner Jeff Gural, who stated after the meeting, "they probably put Vernon Down out of business." Gural's casino bid for Tioga Downs in the Eastern Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region was not chosen and he suggested to the Capital New York that the future of Vernon Downs could be in trouble with a casino license being considered about 80 miles away at Lago Resort and Casino. “It will hurt me at Vernon. But, I don't give a sh*t about me, I’m wealthy,” Gural was quoted as saying in the Capital New York article. “But it certainly screwed the people who live in the Southern Tier. There are five casinos where Lago is and now there are no casinos in the Southern Tier. That's—that’s shocking! “I think the Southern Tier just got wiped out economically," he continued. "Poor people, they’re going to have no jobs. Take a ride around the Southern Tier and see what it looks like. It’s about as depressed an area as there is and when you had a chance to help these people, with the fracking and the casino, they give them a doubleheader. It’s just sickening. I feel bad for the people. Don’t worry about Jeff Gural, I’m fine.” To read Gural's comments in the Capital New York, click here. Along with The Montreign Resort Casino and Lago Resort & Casino, the Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady, NY from the Capital Region was the third entity that will be entitled to apply to the New York State Gaming Commission for a gaming facility license. To read the complete report, click here. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Sweet Lou, harness racing

Dan Patch Award winning pacers announced

JK She’salady and Sweet Lou were landslide winners in Dan Patch Award voting announced Wednesday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, but one of the six pacing divisions resulted in a rare dead heat. Anndrovette and Rocklamation will share the Dan Patch Award for best older female pacer after each received 51 of 157 votes. The only previous tie for a Dan Patch Award came in 1965 when Cardigan Bay and Race Time finished in a dead heat for best older pacer. JK She’salady, who was undefeated in 12 starts, came within one vote of being the unanimous selection for best 2-year-old female pacer. Sweet Lou, who set a record with six consecutive wins in faster than 1:48, was three votes from being the undisputed top older male pacer. Completing the list of division champions were 2-year-old male pacer Artspeak, 3-year-old male pacer McWicked, and 3-year-old female pacer Color’s A Virgin. Artspeak received 90 percent of the vote in his group while McWicked had 82 percent and Color’s A Virgin had 68 percent. Seven-year-old Anndrovette and 5-year-old Sweet Lou are repeat winners. Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year will be announced at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Meadowlands Racetrack’s Victory Sports Bar. Thursday’s announcements will be streamed live on the racetrack’s website, www.playmeadowlands.com. Anndrovette now has received a record four Dan Patch honors in the pacing mare division, and is tied with Eternal Camnation for the most honors for any pacer in history.  Rocklamation’s trophy is the first in the division for trainer Ron Burke, who has conditioned the six most recent winners among older male pacers. This season, Anndrovette won six of 22 races and earned a division-leading $520,352 for driver Tim Tetrick, trainer P.J. Fraley, and owners Bamond Racing and Joe Davino. Her victories included the Roses Are Red Stakes and Betsy Ross Invitational. Rocklamation, a 6-year-old, won four of 18 races and banked $517,364. Her triumphs for driver Yannick Gingras and owners Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, and J&T Silva Stables included the Golden Girls, Artiscape, and Lady Liberty. Artspeak won eight of 10 races and earned $742,185, with top wins coming in the Metro Pace and Governor’s Cup. He is owned by Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, and In The Gym Partners. He is trained by Tony Alagna, who also captured this division in 2012 with Captaintreacherous, and was driven by Scott Zeron. After losing her first three starts of the year, Color’s A Virgin rebounded to win all but one of her next 14 races, with her victories including the Jugette and Nadia Lobell. She finished the campaign with 13 wins in 18 starts and earnings of $532,622 for driver Trace Tetrick, trainer Brian Brown and owner Emerald Highlands Farm. JK She’salady won her final nine starts by a minimum of one length and closed her campaign with a stakes-record victory in the Breeders Crown. She equaled the world record of 1:50.1 for a 2-year-old female pacer in winning the She’s A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk and also captured the Three Diamonds Stakes. Owned by 3 Brothers Stables, JK She’salady is trained by Nancy Johansson. The filly was driven by Tim Tetrick in the Breeders Crown and by Gingras in her previous starts. McWicked was the richest pacer of the year, with $1.47 million in purses for owner SSG Stables and trainer Casie Coleman. The colt won 12 of 23 races and hit the board a total of 21 times. He finished the season on a three-race win streak, which included the Breeders Crown and a stakes-record triumph in the Progress Pace. Other victories for McWicked included the Delvin Miller Adios and Max C. Hempt Memorial.  His time of 1:47.3 in the Hempt at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track. He was driven primarily by David Miller, with Brian Sears in the sulky for the Breeders Crown. A Dan Patch Award winner in 2011 at the age of 2, Sweet Lou added a second trophy this year for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. He won 11 of 19 races for the season and earned $1.36 million. Sweet Lou, driven by Ron Pierce, won the Ben Franklin Pace at Pocono Downs in 1:47, the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths track, and won the Dan Patch Invitational in 1:47.2, the fastest-ever mile at Hoosier Park. Other victories for Sweet Lou included the TVG Free For All Series championship, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and the Roll With Joe. Complete vote totals for all awards will be released Thursday with the Horse of the Year announcement. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Artspeak (141 of 157 votes) Western Ideal – The Art Museum – Artsplace Yearling Price: $100,000 at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeders: Brittany Farms, Melvin Hartman. Owners: Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco, In The Gym Partners. Trainer: Tony Alagna. Driver: Scott Zeron. Races: 10-8-0-2. Purses: $742,185. Mark: 1:50.2 at Mohawk. Top wins: $613,640 Metro Pace; $502,850 Governor’s Cup. 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER JK She’salady (155 votes; one abstention) Art Major – Presidential Lady – Presidential Ball Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeders: 3 Brothers Stables. Owners: 3 Brothers Stables. Trainer: Nancy Johansson. Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Tim Tetrick. Races: 12-12-0-0. Purses: $883,330. Mark: 1:50.1 at Mohawk (equals world record). Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $441,600 She’s A Great Lady; $377,360 Three Diamonds. 3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER McWicked (128 votes) McArdle – Western Sahara – Western Ideal Yearling Price: $35,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Andray Farm. Owner: S S G Stables. Trainer: Casie Coleman. Drivers: David Miller, Brian Sears. Races: 23-12-5-4. Purses: $1.47 million. Mark: 1:47.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $531,250 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Hempt Memorial; $400,000 Adios. 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Color’s A Virgin (106 votes) Always A Virgin – Full Color – Allamerican Ingot Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Emerald Highlands Farm. Owner: Emerald Highlands Farm. Trainer: Brian Brown. Driver: Trace Tetrick. Races: 18-13-2-0. Purses: $532,622. Mark: 1:51 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $298,100 Jugette; $176,500 Nadia Lobell. OLDER MALE PACER Sweet Lou (154 votes) Yankee Cruiser – Sweet Future – Falcons Future Yearling Price: $38,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Birnam Wood Farms. Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, Phil Collura. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 19-11-3-1. Purses: $1.36 million. Mark: 1:47 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $500,000 TVG Final; $500,000 Ben Franklin; $463,300 William Haughton Memorial. OLDER FEMALE PACER (tie) Anndrovette (51 votes) Riverboat King – Easy Miss – Big Towner Yearling Price: Private sale. Breeder: Golden Touch Stable. Owners: Bamond Racing, Joseph Davino. Trainer: P.J. Fraley. Driver: Tim Tetrick. Races: 22-6-4-4. Purses: $520,352. Mark: 1:49.1 at Mohawk. Top wins: $303,600 Roses Are Red; $250,000 Betsy Ross. Rocklamation (51 votes) Rocknroll Hanover – Art Sale – Artsplace Yearling Price: $50,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Perretti Farms. Owners: Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, J&T Silva Stables. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Yannick Gingras. Races: 18-4-5-2. Purses: $517,364. Mark: 1:48.3 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $183,450 Golden Girls; $178,000 Artiscape; $177,750 Lady Liberty. From the United States Harness Writers Association

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18 to race in Vincennes Criterium Continental

Final lineup and post positions are set for Sunday’s prestigious Criterium Continental for €240,000 and contested over 2100 meters autostart. The French leading four year-olds drew very well. Tomas Malmqvist’s entry of Backfire and Tumble Dust drew posts eight-nine and J-P Dubois’ Tast of Bourbon (by Donato Hanover-Qualita Bourbon) will start from the inside of the second tier. The winner of the event earns an invitation to the Prix d’Amerique. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. Each issue includes an in-depth Stallion review not available anywhere else. All previous reviews can now be viewed at www.stallionsphere.com This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: Stallion Review – YANKEE CRUISER – Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Yankee Cruiser 1:49.3s ($1,457,346). AU: You're only as good as your last win - We have all heard the adage "you are only as good as your last win." Well, it would appear at least one well-known trainer has come to realise this to be true. NZ: 1000 wins and hardly a murmur - One thing that we struggle with in the harness racing game in New Zealand is how we treat our superstars of the sport. In any other sport they shower there stars with awards and public recognition when they achieve something special. Drop your foot and pay the fine - Last week Harnesslink featured its most controversial article ever. Thousands of views and hundreds of comments, both pro and con, on the David Miller interview about dropping his foot in the Progress Pace at Dover Downs. Insider Access archive available - Following requests from our readers in relation to previous editions of Insider Access, we are providing a link for those looking to catch up on some news they missed. Simply click here and delve through the archives as Insider Access and Harnesslink continue to lead the way in providing the latest news from around the world. Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

No decisions on the immediate racing programme of New Zealand Cup winner Adore Me have been made yet as she heads into the $100,000 Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park tomorrow night. At this stage once the  Auckland Xmas carnival is safely over, champion mare Adore Me is likely to head to the Waikato Flying Mile on January 9. As former stable star Auckland Reactor has done in the past, Adore Me will take on the best on the 1000 metres Cambridge track but this year it will be a race with a difference. It will probably be the main guide that Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will use when they decide the racing programme for Adore Me for the remainder of the season. Just what races Adore Me will be set for is up in the air and the programme set for her may yet include some Australian features. Mark was non committal when asked where Adore Me may race next. "She is nominated for both the Victoria Cup (January 31 2240m) and the A G Hunter Cup ($400,000-February 7-3280m) but we will reassess her programme after the Flying Mile" Mark said Wednesday. "She is not at this stage any certainty to compete in the Inter Dominions Series (the final is on March 1) although the Ladyship Mile on grand final day is on the radar" Mark said. Mark's has more immediate concerns in light of  Adore Me's tricky draw in the Queen of Hearts on Friday night at Alexandra Park. "It is going to be an interesting race." "It is a bad draw for us although we are behind Helena Jet whom I rate the hardest to beat from the draw." "If I stay behind her Ricky will put us three pegs at some stage but he will be wanting to only give the lead to the right horse so it might not work out too badly." "So that is probably what we will do." "The only other way to drop out and wait for a run into the race is an option but following Helena Jet is probably the way to go." "I can't decide too much in advance," Mark said Harnesslink Media  

Columbus, OH --- The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board announced Wednesday the selection of the one winning bid for a casino in each of three defined regions of the State:  Catskills/Hudson Valley (Region One, Zone Two), Capital (Region Two, Zone Two) and Eastern Southern Tier/Finger Lakes (Region Five, Zone Two). In the Catskills/Hudson Valley Region, The Montreign Resort Casino in Thompson, N.Y. whose developer Empire Resorts operates through a subsidiary, the nearby Monticello Casino & Raceway, was selected over eight other applicants. In the Eastern Southern Tier/Finger Lakes Region, the Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, N.Y. was selected over the other two applicants in the region, Tioga Downs Casino, Racing & Entertainment in Nichols, N.Y. and Traditions Resort & Casino in Union, N.Y. Along with The Montreign Resort Casino and Lago Resort & Casino, the Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady, N.Y.  from the Capital Region was the third entity that will be entitled to apply to the New York State Gaming Commission for a gaming facility license. To read the complete report, click here. From the USTA Media Department

Her name poses a question – Whats Emma Got – and the answer is simple….plenty of ability. One of the most promising pacers to come from South Australia in recent years, Whats Emma Got has cut a seemingly permanent path to the winners’ circle. Successful at her two starts this season, Whats Emma Got has extended her winning streak to nine for trainer Glenda Fuller. Excited by the filly’s prospects, Fuller has set her sights on several key targets, including the South Australia Oaks. “The Oaks is a race which should be perfect for her,” Fuller said. “She has got very high speed, but she is also versatile. “She can lead, take a sit of do a bit of work.” Having already beaten the ‘boys’ during her last three outings, Fuller is considering a Derby start on January 10 with the daughter of Grinfromeartoear. As a guide on a Derby campaign, Fuller will start Whats Emma Got in the St Leger a week before the classic. “I will put her in the St Leger before the Derby and see how she goes,” Fuller said. “If she races up to expectations, then I will start her in the Derby the following week. “After that she has the Oaks, then I will give her a short let up.” With the three-year-old eligible for the Vicbred Super and Southern Cross series, Fuller will make a decision on the futurities later in the season. The Vicbred Final is scheduled for July 5, with the Southern Cross a month later. “I don’t want to plan too far ahead with her,” Fuller said. “At some stage I do want to take her to Victoria to pick up her bonus, but other than that, I haven’t decided on the Vicbred series.” Bred and owned by Fuller’s daughter, Sharon Newman, Whats Emma Got has attracted some offers, but Fuller made her position clear. “I know never to say never, but no way…she is not for sale,” Fuller declared. “She is the horse we have been looking for. “I had an offer on her unraced half sister by Art Major, but we didn’t sell her. “She’s just turned two and is still a while away from racing.” PAUL COURTS

Champion reinsman Chris Alford has been selected to represent Australia at the 2015 World Drivers’ Championships in New South Wales. Alford won last season's Victorian Drivers’ Premiership with 291 wins, despite missing about six weeks with a broken collarbone. Nationally, Alford registered 298 victories to be crowned Australia's premier driver. “It’s a big thrill to be able to compete against the best drivers in the world,” Alford declared. “Last season was a very good season. I drove some really good horses and I don’t think it could have gone much better really.” Alford, 46, has driven more than 5300 winners in an illustrious career spanning 20 years. This will be his second time Alford has represented Australia, after 'donning' the Green and Gold in 1997. - HRV Media

Tomorrows highly anticipated announcement of the Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year honors will be an exciting event and is being video streamed live from the Meadowlands at playmeadowlands.com. Harnesslink columnist Joe Fitzgerald gives his views and covers prior years of voting. In recent years the Horse of the Year race has been singularly lacking in suspense and drama. Last year the undefeated trotting filly, Bee A Magician, won the award with 78% of the vote. In 2012 it was world record holder Chapter Seven with 64%. San Pail dominated with 85% in 2011, while Rock N Roll Heaven swept the vote in 2010. Muscle Hill received 97% in 2009 and the previous year SBSW crushed Dewey with 77% of the vote. Some years, and this was certainly the case back in the day when there were many more voters, the votes were cast in what one could call a splash pattern: the winner benefited from the fact that so many horses were deemed worthy of consideration. Geography played a pivotal role in the voting at that time.  In 1954 Stenographer was designated the eighth Horse of the Year and the first sophomore trotter to receive that honor. The filly established six world records and won 23 heats. Oddly enough, Scott Frost, the sport’s first two-minute two-year-old trotter, received one more first place vote, but lost the election on points. Adios Boy, Kimberly Kid, Red Sails, Katie Key, Philip Scott, Adios Harry, Pronto Don and Phantom Lady all received first place votes in 1954, and hence contributed to the win by Stenographer. In 1977 Bill Haughton’s oddly gaited Speedy Rodney trotter, Green Speed, took Horse of the Year honors with 50% of the vote. He had won 16 times and took the Hambletonian and the Yonkers Trot. The following year he was syndicated for $3.2 million, but Hambletonian winner Duenna was his only top tier issue. Governor Skipper, who set a world record in the Jug got 33%, while seven-year-old Rambling Willie received 12%. Nine others also collected votes that year. In 1984 we saw another example of the Horse of the Year—in this case, Fancy Crown—benefiting from the fierce competition for votes down below her. The Three-year-old Speedy Crown filly had won 13 of 21 starts, including the Kentucky Futurity, and she had trotted the fastest mile ever—1:53.4. She won her Horse of the Year crown with only 39% of the vote. Sophomore pacer On The Road Again had won 18 times and set a single season earnings record for the sport; he garnered 26% of the vote. And right behind him was two-year-old Nihilator, who won 12 of 13 and set a world record in the Wilson. Baltic Speed, Colt Fortysix, Dragon’s Lair and Davidia Hanover also got votes in 1984. This year the favorite is the freshman pacing filly, JK She’salady, The winner of all 12 starts, with a 1:50.1 world record taken at Mohawk to her credit. She may become the first in her class to capture Horse of the Year honors, thanks to splash voting. For much of the season it was assumed that Sebastian K, the world record holder thanks to a 1:49 mile at Pocono Downs, was a shoe-in for that title. But then Sebastian, the first to trot four winning miles in under 1:50.3, lost his last four starts. Some voters will stay with him. And Sweet Lou will also get votes. He set a world record of 1:47 on Sun Stakes Day at Pocono and at one point won ten in a row. Six of the ten consisted of consecutive sub-1:48 miles. It’s a foregone conclusion that Lou will win his division. He’ll be the first pacer to win his division at two and five. Sweet Lou earned $1.3 million this year. He’ll get votes. Three of Jimmy Takter’s trotters, Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry and Nuncio will also draw Horse of the Year votes. Patrick won more money than any other in 2014. He won 11 of 15 starts and set a world record of 1:50.2 at Pocono. Stablemate Nuncio won the Kentucky Futurity and the Yonkers Trot, and many thought he would take the division if he had taken the Breeders Crown. And Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 starts and more than $1.2 million. I believe all of the above will chew up votes allowing the freshman filly to emerge triumphant from a split vote. Regardless, a splash voting pattern will no doubt help determine the winner. by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

A cash injection from a French organisation looks set to boost the revival of harness racing in Ireland. Harness racing is one of the most lucrative horse racing sports in the world, but for many years now Ireland has struggled to keep up with its European and global rivals in the sport. Harness racing has a long way to go here compared to horse racing, which employs thousands and is worth an estimated €1bn to the economy. However, the prospects for harness racing are picking up. New initiatives from the Irish Harness Racing Club (IHRC), and backed by the French equivalent, Le Trot, will hopefully see the sport making great strides forward in 2015. In the early 20th century, Dublin was home to some 20 tracks for harness racing with the venues including Croke Park. Dublin now boasts just one designated all-weather track at Portmarnock, with smaller grass tracks located in Cork and an all-weather track in Northern Ireland. The Portmarnock venue opened in 1965, but, due to the sale of the land, was consequently shut down in 2004. "The land was never redeveloped, so a group of us came together and raised some €250,000 to lease the land and redevelop the whole track and club house to get it going again a few years ago," says Mark Flanagan, chairman of Standardbred Horse Racing Ireland (SHRI). "We also got a Leader grant which has been put to good use to develop the facilities," he adds. That harness racing revival began in 2011 and, while the recession did have an impact on numbers competing, interest has picked up again in the last few years. Thanks to generous sponsorship from local businesses and major horse feed companies, race numbers and race days returned to healthy figures, and this past year saw 25 meetings held between April and October. "We all know it's an expensive hobby, but harness racing is so big in mainland Europe and we are really missing out here in many ways," says Mark Flanagan. "Like horse racing, and greyhound racing, we have a ready-made export market, particularly for off-course betting, but to do so we need a Tote licence and a bigger venue for starters." The IHRC, along with HSI, are in discussions with the Department of Finance to procure a Tote license which will allow for an off-course betting solution to be developed which will allow it to export its pictures to other countries around the world. The value of the sport to the economy in other countries is significant. France tops the list with the sport there estimated to be worth €4.9bn to the economy. Over 11,000 trotting races take place per annum, representing 61pc of the total French races organised. Harness racing is also hugely popular in Sweden, where it competes with the likes of show jumping, but in Austria it is the preferred sport for most equestrians. Over the years, Mark Flanagan and his fellow enthusiasts have worked hard to promote the sport here to a wider audience. Their efforts are beginning to pay off with the close relationship being built with Le Trot. One of the most exciting developments is the Le Trot mentoring programme, whereby the French body mentors smaller trotting nations and helps in the development of the sport. This has included the supply of the Trotteur Français breed of horse for racing. "So far we have purchased some 78 horses from France at an agreed price of €2,500 each, with €2,000 being subsidised by Le Trot," says Mark Flanagan. "We have also signed an agreement whereby horses born in Ireland from French stock will be eligible to race in France where the average annual prize money exceeds €200 million.. Success "Just last month eight Irish drivers were invited to race against the top eight French drivers in Normandy and this was such a success that the people of Argentan want to make it an annual event," he continues. "Also last month there was a special international weekend in France, where we were represented by our top driver Alan Wallace. A total of €2m in prize money was offer over that weekend. "Le Trot is now speaking with their Ministry for Agriculture to develop a link between their Ministry and our Department of Agriculture. The plan is to invite Minister Simon Coveney to go to France, where he will be shown how important the trotting industry is to the French economy as well as the rural community." In a major deal recently confirmed earlier this year, Le Trot has pledged €100,000 in sponsorship to Ireland for 2015, a figure which Mark Flanagan believes could make a huge impact on the sport here in the coming months. "Le Trot sees the potential here, especially for betting, and wants to offer a facility through the French betting agency PMU, but we need a bigger track and we are actively trying to look at ways of expanding. One of the venues they had sought was Dundalk Racecourse. Two full days of racing there in 2008 attracted 120 runners over 20 races and some 3,000 spectators. Over €360,000 was wagered over the two days. During the following two years applications were made to Dundalk for further harness meetings to be conducted. The management had no objections and were encouraging. However, the IHRA proposal was subsequently referred to Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) for approval. "Unfortunately Horse Racing Ireland has deemed Dundalk unsuitable long-term, citing various reasons for its decision," explains Mark Flanagan. These include commercial concerns as well as the potential impact on the racing surface. Stabling The Portmarnock currently has no stabling facilities, but it is the current surface area of the track which is the biggest issue. In order for Irish harness racing images to be exported, the track would need to be completely redeveloped at an estimated cost of €2m. To meet international standards the circumference would need to be extended to 1,000m and widened to ensure a minimum of seven horses can start from the front line. Currently the track is 800m and can only take five horses from the front line.A stabling area would also need to be developed, as well as the redevelopment of the grandstand, club house and restaurant. Other factors that need to be addressed include the current leasing of land, and future options, as well as media facilities. "We have also looked at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown and this would be an ideal venue for many reasons," says Mark Flanagan. Located north of Dublin, Abbotstown is currently home to various sporting organisations. "We know that if we had a proper track we could supply pictures of racing to places such as France and Australia, where harness racing is so big. The betting would be massive and it would make a great contribution to the economy," says Mark Flanagan. For further information on harness racing in Ireland, visit www irishharnessracing.com or www.portmarnockraceway.ie Reprinted with permission of The Independent  Courtesy of Indo Farming

Grand harness racing mare Broadways Best has been retired. Trainer Shannon McLean decided to end the multiple feature race winner’s career following her unplaced effort last weekend. Although Broadways Best had been racing in competitive fashion, McLean feels the timing is right for the nine-year-old to enter the next phase of her life – motherhood. As such, Broadways Best will visit the court of super sire Art Major. “She has been racing well without any luck either at the races or with draws,” McLean said. “As such, I felt it was time for her to enter the next stage of her career as a mum. “If you look at her individual times, she has been racing well, but she just can’t seem to get into the races for one reason or another. “She has nothing left to prove, and with a bit of luck, she can pass on her ability to her foals.” Showing average ability as a two-year-old, Broadways Best made people realise she was anything but average at three, winning seven of her 15 starts, with seven placings also to her credit. Her victories included the Victoria Oaks and Vicbred Final, while beating all but Captain Joy in the Victoria Derby. “Her Derby run when second behind Captain Joy remains one of her best efforts,” McLean said. Making an effortless transition to open company at four, Broadways Best captured the four-year-old Vicbred Final and Ladyship Mile as well as the Angelique, Golden Wattle and Ladyship Cups. Broadways Best’s 2011 Ladyship Mile victory will always remain special to McLean for sentimental reasons. “The Ladyhsip Mile will always be the greatest highlight with her,” McLean said. “They brought the race five weeks forward from the original date, which made it clash with my wedding day. “As such, I couldn’t be at Menangle, but the whole reception listened to the win on the load speaker. “Although a few drivers have won with her, Chris Alford seemed to have a real connection with her and got the best out of her on a regular basis.” Owned by McLean’s father, Ric, Broadways Best’s tally sits on 29 wins and 29 placings from 97 starts for earnings of $643,091. “I really have to thank my father for entrusting her with me, it has been one fantastic ride,” McLean declared. PAUL COURTS

East Rutherford, NJ (December 16th) - Effective immediately, The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs will be enforcing a "zero-tolerance" policy when it comes to drivers violating rules associated with the "kicking or nudging" of a horse. This past Saturday, Meadowlands C.E.O and General Manager, Jason Settlemoir along with Presiding Judge John Tomasello met with the drivers and informed them of this policy. Any driver that is cited for an infraction pertaining to "kicking or nudging a horse," will be suspended for seven (7) days by the judges at The Meadowlands. In addition, the management at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs will reserve the right to disqualify that driver from participation at all three racetracks. The rule exists in the New Jersey Racing Commission Rule Book and can be found in 13:71-20.15: "The brutal use of a whip or blunt spur, kicking a horse with a foot, striking a horse with the whip under the seat of the sulky or indiscriminate use of a whip may be considered a violation." Furthermore, if a driver is cited for a "kicking or nudging" violation at any racetrack other than three properties operated by Jeff Gural, the management at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs will reserve the right to disqualify that driver from participation at all three racetracks. "We have a responsibility to our horses and to the public that we are putting forth the most integrity-driven and safest product possible," said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. "Regardless of the debate that has been ongoing related to this issue, as far as we are concerned, perception is reality and it looks terrible, therefore we will not tolerate it. I hope our having to take action on this issue will not be required to demonstrate how serious we are about this subject." This policy will be in effect when The Meadowlands resumes racing on Friday, December 19th. by Darin Zoccali, for the Meadowlands      

The fastest trotter of all time and the richest Standardbred of the year were among the six trotters to receive divisional honors in Dan Patch Award voting announced Tuesday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Divisional honors for pacers will be revealed Wednesday, followed by the live announcements of Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Meadowlands Racetrack's Victory Sports Bar. Thursday's announcements will be streamed live on the racetrack's website, www.playmeadowlands.com. Sebastian K, an 8-year-old who won in 1:49 in June to become the fastest trotter in history, was voted harness racing's best older male trotter of 2014. Father Patrick, who earned $1.69 million this season to lead all Standardbreds, was named the sport's best 3-year-old male trotter. Father Patrick is from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, who also conditioned Pinkman, the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, and Shake It Cerry, who was one vote shy of being the unanimous selection for best 3-year-old female trotter. Shake It Cerry and Father Patrick also were honored last year at age 2. Completing the list of this year's award winners were 2-year-old female trotter Mission Brief and older female trotter Classic Martine. A total of 157 ballots were returned. Mission Brief, Pinkman, and Sebastian K joined Shake It Cerry in exceeding 89 percent of the vote in their respective divisions. Father Patrick received 60 percent and Classic Martine garnered 58 percent. Yannick Gingras was the primary driver for three of the trotters to receive Dan Patch honors: Mission Brief, Pinkman, and Father Patrick. Classic Martine won nine of 18 races this year and hit the board a total of 16 times to lead all older female trotters in purses with $438,912. Her victories included the Armbro Flight Stakes, Miss Versatility Series championship and the Ima Lula Series final in a then-world-record-equaling performance. Trained by Chris Oakes and driven primarily by Tim Tetrick, Classic Martine is owned by Hauser Bros. Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, and Edwin Gold. No harness racing horse earned more money this year than Father Patrick, who banked $1.69 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group. His victories included the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters, Canadian Trotting Classic, Beal Memorial, Zweig Memorial, Stanley Dancer Memorial, American-National Stakes, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. His 1:50.2 win in the Beal Memorial on June 28 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is the fastest mile ever by any 3-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track. Father Patrick joins Lucky Chucky, Muscle Hill, Deweycheatumnhowe, and Donato Hanover as male trotters in the last 10 years to receive a Dan Patch Award at both ages 2 and 3. Mission Brief trotted the fastest mile ever by any 2-year-old, stopping the clock in 1:50.3 in winning her division of the International Stallion Stakes on Oct. 2 at The Red Mile. It was the third time Mission Brief either equaled or lowered the world record. She finished her campaign by winning the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly trotters in a stakes-record 1:51.4. For the year, Mission Brief won nine of 13 races - she went off stride in all four losses - and earned $591,070 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. She won eight of her starts by at least three lengths and had a combined margin of victory of 65-3/4 lengths - an average of more than seven lengths per triumph. In addition to the Breeders Crown, her wins included the Merrie Annabelle Stakes and New Jersey Sire Stakes championship. Pinkman, who was entered in November's Standardbred Horse Sale's Mixed Sale before Takter reconsidered, won six of eight races and earned $566,960 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman. Named after a character from the television series, "Breaking Bad," the gelding's victories included the Breeders Crown, in a stakes-record-equaling 1:53.2, and Valley Victory Stakes. Takter-trained horses have been named best 2-year-old male trotter three times in five years, with Pinkman following Father Patrick in 2013 and Pastor Stephen in 2010. Sebastian K arrived in the U.S. this season after a record-setting career in Europe. The Swedish-born stallion trotted a world-record-equaling 1:50.1 in his debut at the Meadowlands and capped a record streak of four consecutive victories in 1:50.3 or faster with his 1:49 triumph at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Owned by Knutsson Trotting Inc., Sebastian K was driven by trainer Ake Svanstedt and finished the year with eight wins in 13 races and $663,853 in purses. His victories included the Cashman Memorial, Crawford Farms Open Trot, and Cutler Memorial. Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races this year, earning $1.23 million for the Solveig's Racing Partners ownership group and driver Ron Pierce. The Takter-trained filly finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown in a stakes-record 1:52.2. She also won the Matron Stakes in a stakes- and track-record 1:52.4 over a "good" surface at Dover Downs, the American-National in a stakes-record 1:52.2 and equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in capturing the Elegantimage. Both of Shake It Cerry's parents were Dan Patch Award winners. Donato Hanover was Horse of the Year at age 3 in 2007 and Solveig was voted best 2-year-old female trotter in 2004. Solveig also was trained by Takter, who named the filly in honor of his mother. Shake It Cerry joins Passionate Glide and Pampered Princess, both also trained by Takter, and Check Me Out as female trotters to receive Dan Patch Awards at ages 2 and 3. Complete vote totals for all awards will be released Thursday with the Horse of the Year announcement. 2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER PINKMAN (144 of 157 votes) Explosive Matter - Margie Seelster - Angus Hall Yearling Price: $77,000 under name Traffic Jam at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeder: O Narutac Equine Nursery. Owners: Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, Herb Liverman. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras, Sylvain Filion. Races: 8-6-1-0. Purses: $566,960. Mark: 1:53.2 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $463,690 Valley Victory. 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER MISSION BRIEF (150 votes) Muscle Hill - Southwind Serena - Varenne Yearling Price: $150,000 at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeders: Steve Stewart, Black Creek Farm, Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc. Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Yannick Gingras. Races: 13-9-0-0. Purses: $591,070. Mark: 1:50.3 at The Red Mile (world record). Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $352,050 Merrie Annabelle. 3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER FATHER PATRICK (94 votes) Cantab Hall - Gala Dream - Enjoy Lavec Yearling Price: $105,000 under name Royal Press at Lexington Selected Sale. Breeder: Brittany Farms. Owner: Father Patrick Stable. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras. Races: 17-12-3-0. Purses: $1.69 million. Mark: 1:50.2 at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $613,800 Canadian Trotting Classic; $500,000 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Beal Memorial. 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER SHAKE IT CERRY (156 votes) Donato Hanover - Solveig - Yankee Glide Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Solveig's Breeders. Owner: Solveig's Racing Partners. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 17-15-0-1. Purses: $1.23 million. Mark: 1:51.2 at The Red Mile. Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $368,100 Elegantimage; $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity. OLDER MALE TROTTER SEBASTIAN K (141 votes) Korean - Gabriella K - Probe Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Knutsson Trotting AB. Owner: Knutsson Trotting Inc. Trainer: Ake Svanstedt. Driver: Ake Svanstedt. Races: 13-8-2-0. Purses: $663,853. Mark: 1:49 at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $300,650 Cashman Memorial; $236,000 Crawford Farms Trot; $175,000 Cutler Memorial. OLDER FEMALE TROTTER CLASSIC MARTINE (91 votes) Classic Photo - Drinking Days - Andover Hall Yearling Price: None (sold privately at age 3). Breeders: Todd Schadel, Christine Schadel. Owners: Hauser Bros. Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, Edwin Gold. Trainer: Chris Oakes. Driver: Tim Tetrick. Races: 18-9-5-2. Purses: $438,912. Mark: 1:51.1 at Meadowlands. Top wins: $244,720 Armbro Flight; $121,500 Miss Versatility. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

On Monday, December 15, Standardbred Canada announced the finalists for the 2014 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season. The winners will be announced at the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala on Saturday, February 7, 2015, at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. This will be the 26th edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Eight past O’Brien Award winners are looking to add to their trophy collections and are either defending titles or are nominated in a new division. These past winners include: Anndrovette, Bee A Magician, Intimidate, Riveting Rosie, Chris Christoforou, Bill Davis, Richard Moreau, Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., & Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. To read the rest of the story click here. 2014 O’Brien Award Nominees Pacers Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer JK Shesalady - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY Sports Chic – owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Paoli, PA and Blake Macintosh, Waterdown, ON   Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer Artspeak –owned by Brittany Farms, Versailles, KY, Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON, Joe Sbrocco, Brecksville, OH, In The Gym Partners, Staten Island, NY Go Daddy Go – owned by Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON and Dave Boyle, Bowmanville, ON   Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer Lady Shadow - owned by Lindsey and Connie L Rankin, Lexington, MI Major Dancer - owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge, Mac Nichol, Burlington and Adriano Sorella, Milton, ON   Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer JK Endofanera - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY McWicked – owned by S S G Stables, North Boston, NY   Older Pacing Mare American In Paris – owned by Doug Millard, Woodstock, ON Anndrovette - owned by Bamond Racing LLC, Brick – Joseph Davino, Clarksburg, NJ   Older Pacing Horse Modern Legend - owned by Dave Drew Associates Inc., St. Catharines, ON State Treasurer – owned by Sally A MacDonald, Souris, PE and Paul G MacDonald, Regina, SK   Trotters   Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter Danielle Hall - owned by Carl R Jamieson, Rockwood, ON and Thomas Kyron, Toronto, ON Stubborn Belle - owned by Al J Libfeld, Pickering, ON and Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough, ON   Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter Dont Rush - owned by Dustin Jones Stables Inc., Waterdown, ON and Greg L Judson, Athens, ON Habitat - owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown, PA, Our Horse Cents Stables, Clifton Park, NY, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA   Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter Riveting Rosie owned by Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough – Don Allensen, Wyoming – J And T Stable Newmarket – John F Hayes, Sharon, ON White Becomes Her - owned by Twilight Stables Inc., Brampton, ON   Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter Harper Blue Chip - owned by Landmark 6 Racing Stable, Kingston, ON, David R McDonald, Cornwall, ON, David K Reid, Glenburnie, ON, George R Judson, Athens, ON Trixton - owned by Brixton Medical Ab, Matawan, NJ and Christina Takter, East Windsor, NJ   Older Trotting Mare Bee A Magician – owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON, Herb A Liverman, Miami Beach, FL and David H Mc Duffee, Delray Beach, Fl Classic Martine - owned by Hauser Bros Rcng Ent LLC, Orangeburg, NY – Susan M Oakes, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Conrad E Zurich, Fayetteville, NY, and Edwin J Gold, Phoenixville, PA   Older Trotting Horse Intimidate – owned by Determination, Westmount, QC and Judith Farrow, Hemmingford, QC Slip Into Glide – owned by Craid I Turner, Ingersoll, ON and Benoit O Baillargeon, Rockwood, ON   People Awards   O’Brien Award of Horsemanship Bill Davis, Langley, BC Dustin Jones, Waterdown, ON   Armstrong Breeder of the Year William Andrew, Calgary, AB / Meridian Farms, Milton, PE Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON & Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., Leamington, ON   Driver of the Year Chris Christoforou, Campbellville, ON Trevor Henry, Arthur, ON   Trainer of the Year Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON Jimmy Takter, East Windsor, NJ   Future Star Award Tyler Borth, Ingersoll, ON Nick Gallucci, Brantford, ON  

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East Rutherford, NJ --- The ‘Lady’ is the champ. JK She’salady, who was undefeated in 12 races for breeder/owner 3 Brothers Stables and trainer Nancy Johansson, became the first 2-year-old female pacer in harness racing history to be named Horse of the Year, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Thursday during a Dan Patch Awards presentation at Meadowlands Racetrack. The filly won by five votes, 57-52, over fellow pacer Sweet Lou in the tightest Horse of the Year finish since 7-year-old trotting gelding Savoir beat 3-year-old filly pacer Silk Stockings, 52-49, in 1975. Five-year-old Sweet Lou, however, was named Pacer of the Year after besting JK She’salady by one vote, 74-73, in that category. It is the first time a Pacer of the Year or Trotter of the Year – categories introduced in 1970 – failed to receive Horse of the Year. Voters, who are members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and American Harness Racing Secretaries, must choose their Horse of the Year from either their Pacer of the Year or Trotter of the Year selection. A total of 157 ballots were returned. The anomaly occurred because a greater number of voters that selected JK She’salady for Pacer of the Year on their ballot also voted her their Horse of the Year. Only 16 people that voted JK She’salady as the best pacer gave their Horse of the Year vote to their Trotter of the Year selection, compared to 22 for Sweet Lou. Three-year-old filly Shake It Cerry was named Trotter of the Year, finishing 22 votes ahead of runner-up Sebastian K, 59-37. Shake It Cerry, owned by Solveig’s Racing Partners and trained by Jimmy Takter, received 14 votes for Horse of the Year. A total of nine horses received at least one vote for Horse of the Year. JK She’salady is the fourth 2-year-old to receive Horse of the Year, joining pacer Niatross (1979), trotter Nevele Pride (1967) and pacer Bret Hanover (1964). The three previous 2-year-old winners were colts. She is the first female pacer to be voted Horse of the Year since Rainbow Blue in 2004 and the fourth female pacer overall to receive the honor. The others were Bunny Lake in 2001 and Fan Hanover in 1981. “It’s unbelievable,” Johansson said. “I don’t know if it’s completely sunk in. The hard work paid off. She’s just such a special horse. “She’s as perfect as they come now, and I guess finishing off with Horse of the Year exemplifies how perfect she is.” JK She’salady, who on Wednesday was named the sport’s best 2-year-old filly pacer, won her final nine starts by a minimum of one length and closed her campaign with a stakes-record victory in the Breeders Crown. She equaled the world record of 1:50.1 for a 2-year-old female pacer in winning the She’s A Great Lady Stakes at Mohawk and also captured the Three Diamonds Stakes. For the year, the homebred filly earned $883,330. She was driven by Tim Tetrick in the Breeders Crown and by Yannick Gingras in her previous starts. It is the first Horse of the Year honor for the 33-year-old Johansson, who is Takter’s daughter and previously worked as a caretaker in her father’s stable. Takter has won three Horse of the Year awards, two with Moni Maker (1998-99) and one with Malabar Man (1997). Sweet Lou, who was driven by Ron Pierce and set a record with six consecutive wins in faster than 1:48, captured 11 of 19 races for the season and earned $1.36 million for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. He won the Ben Franklin Pace at Pocono Downs in 1:47, the fastest-ever mile on a five-eighths track, and won the Dan Patch Invitational in 1:47.2, the fastest-ever mile at Hoosier Park. Other victories for Sweet Lou included the TVG Free For All Series championship, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and the Roll With Joe. Sweet Lou, who was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer in 2011 and added the award for best older male pacer this season, is Burke’s second Pacer of the Year winner. Burke also won with Foiled Again in 2011. “We got Pacer of the Year, I’m OK with that,” co-owner Collura said. “We’ll have some fun with that. “It was a little disappointing (not to receive Horse of the Year), but I’m still happy. Pacer of the Year is a great achievement for Lou. It’s a nice way to end the year regardless.” Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races this year, earning $1.23 million for the Solveig’s Racing Partners ownership group and driver Pierce. Most of the members of the ownership group are also members of Solveig’s Breeders, which bred the filly. The Takter-trained filly, who on Tuesday was named the best 3-year-old filly trotter, finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown in a stakes-record 1:52.2. She also won the Matron Stakes in a stakes- and track-record 1:52.4 over a “good” surface at Dover Downs, the American-National in a stakes-record 1:52.2 and equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in capturing the Elegantimage. “This filly, she really deserved Trotter of the Year,” Takter said. “Besides the Hambletonian (Oaks), what a season she had, and she finished up in style. She’s just a fantastic horse.” Both of Shake It Cerry’s parents were Dan Patch Award winners. Donato Hanover was Horse of the Year at age 3 in 2007 and Solveig was voted best 2-year-old female trotter in 2004. Solveig also was trained by Takter, who named the filly in honor of his mother. It is Takter’s sixth Trotter of the Year Award. He won three with Moni Maker (1998-2000) as well as Malabar Man (1997) and Kadabra (2002). Complete vote totals for all Dan Patch Award categories can be found here. For the announcements of division honors, for pacers click here and for trotters click here. HORSE OF THE YEAR 2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER OF THE YEAR JK SHE’SALADY Art Major – Presidential Lady – Presidential Ball Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeders: 3 Brothers Stables. Owners: 3 Brothers Stables. Trainer: Nancy Johansson. Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Tim Tetrick. Races: 12-12-0-0. Purses: $883,330. Mark: 1:50.1 at Mohawk (equals world record). Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $441,600 She’s A Great Lady; $377,360 Three Diamonds. PACER OF THE YEAR OLDER MALE PACER OF THE YEAR SWEET LOU Yankee Cruiser – Sweet Future – Falcons Future Yearling Price: $38,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale. Breeder: Birnam Wood Farms. Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, Phil Collura. Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 19-11-3-1. Purses: $1.36 million. Mark: 1:47 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs (world record). Top wins: $500,000 TVG Final; $500,000 Ben Franklin; $463,300 William Haughton Memorial. TROTTER OF THE YEAR 3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER OF THE YEAR SHAKE IT CERRY Donato Hanover – Solveig – Yankee Glide Yearling Price: Homebred. Breeder: Solveig’s Breeders. Owner: Solveig’s Racing Partners. Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Ron Pierce. Races: 17-15-0-1. Purses: $1.23 million. Mark: 1:51.2 at The Red Mile. Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $368,100 Elegantimage; $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity. From the United States Harness Writers Assoiation
Yesterday’s announcement about the three winning bids for casino resorts in upper New York State has had positive and negative impacts on harness racing in the Empire State. The New York State Gaming Facility Location Board announced Wednesday the selection of the one winning bid for a casino in each of three defined regions of the State:  Catskills/Hudson Valley (Region One, Zone Two), Capital (Region Two, Zone Two) and Eastern Southern Tier/Finger Lakes (Region Five, Zone Two). In the Catskills/Hudson Valley Region, The Montreign Resort Casino in Thompson, N.Y. whose developer Empire Resorts operates through a subsidiary, the nearby Monticello Casino & Raceway, was selected over eight other applicants. What this means is that Monticello Raceway will hopefully be able to survive. The new resort will be built just a couple of miles away from the track and because the parent company is already running the racing, it should remain a viable attraction to compliment the resort. No word yet on whether the casino already at Monticello Raceway will remain open once the new resorts gets finished, which is now years away. In the Eastern Southern Tier/Finger Lakes Region, the Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, N.Y. was selected over the other two applicants in the region, Tioga Downs Casino, Racing & Entertainment in Nichols, N.Y. and Traditions Resort & Casino in Union, N.Y. This move will have major devastating effects at Vernon Downs according to owner Jeff Gural, who stated after the meeting, "they probably put Vernon Down out of business." Gural's casino bid for Tioga Downs in the Eastern Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region was not chosen and he suggested to the Capital New York that the future of Vernon Downs could be in trouble with a casino license being considered about 80 miles away at Lago Resort and Casino. “It will hurt me at Vernon. But, I don't give a sh*t about me, I’m wealthy,” Gural was quoted as saying in the Capital New York article. “But it certainly screwed the people who live in the Southern Tier. There are five casinos where Lago is and now there are no casinos in the Southern Tier. That's—that’s shocking! “I think the Southern Tier just got wiped out economically," he continued. "Poor people, they’re going to have no jobs. Take a ride around the Southern Tier and see what it looks like. It’s about as depressed an area as there is and when you had a chance to help these people, with the fracking and the casino, they give them a doubleheader. It’s just sickening. I feel bad for the people. Don’t worry about Jeff Gural, I’m fine.” To read Gural's comments in the Capital New York, click here. Along with The Montreign Resort Casino and Lago Resort & Casino, the Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady, NY from the Capital Region was the third entity that will be entitled to apply to the New York State Gaming Commission for a gaming facility license. To read the complete report, click here. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
There is a $20,134 carryover in the Jackpot 6 going into Saturday's card, with a mandatory payout set for Sunday, so there is a great chance to turn a small bet into a large payday this weekend. The Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent wager with a reduced 16% takeout that is contested on races 3 through 8 on the program. The wager finds 70% of the net pool paying out nightly to the tickets with most winners when there are multiple tickets, with the remaining 30% designated for the carryover. A single winning ticket takes home the entire pool and the carryover. There is a mandatory payout on Sunday, so if the Jackpot 6 should carry over on Saturday, a large payoff is very possible. A new Jackpot 6 will start when racing resumes Friday, December 26, as the Watch and Wager LLC meet expands to three nights a week. "Cal Expo is the first harness track in America to offer a Jackpot Pick 6," Cal Expo General Manger Chris Schick explained. "The wager was targeted toward the lottery type player, and our regulars have also liked being able to take a shot with say 120 combination tickets for $12 as well." In addition to the Jackpot 6, there are three other wagers offered here nightly that come with that reduced 16% takeout. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the 20-cent Pick 4; and the 10-cent Hi-Five on the nitecap. A reminder that beginning December 26, the Watch and Wager LLC meet expands to three nights a week, with the trotters and pacers in action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Its Not Over, El Azteca head Open Trot Its Not Over and El Azteca, who have dominated things at the head of the class here at this meeting, go at it once again in Saturday night's featured $6,000 Open Trot. A 14-race card is set with first post at 5:45 p.m.. Racing is now being conducted on Saturday and Sunday evenings, with Friday racing being added to the mix beginning December 26. El Azteca accounted for the first top dances for the trotting set at this session, but it has been Its Not Over who has prevailed in the last three Open Trots with El Azteca his most immediate victim. Its Not Over is a 4-year-old son of Panama Hanover out of the Andover Hall mare Hanover Hall It who races for Richard Dryden and Debra Budahn, is conditioned by Bob Johnson and will once again have Chip Lackey in the sulky while leaving from the demanding No.10 post. After a needed outing on October 25, Its Not Over has rattled off three straight victories at the top rung, putting his class and versatility on display in the process. He played the role of stalker in his November 1 tally, made every pole a winning one on November 23 and then did his work in first-over fashion over a sloppy track at most recent asking. El Azteca is another Panama Hanover offspring who is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios with James Kennedy handling the lines. He comes into this assignment with $124,000 in his account and a 1:54 3/5 mark that was set this year at Hoosier Park. He captured the October 18 and 25 Opens, but has had to settle for the second money behind Its Not Over in the last three top clashes for the division. El Azteca lost his best chance in the slop last time when he made an early miscue and for this go-around he is drawn inside his main rival in the No. 9 slot. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness      
Akron, NY---The Railbird Recognition voting for Horseperson of the Year will conclude Friday (Dec. 19) at midnight. The polls will then be reloaded and switched to take your input on the Racing Moment of the Year. The Railbird Awards were created for the fans to have a way to express their opinions about who they think are the best the sport has to offer and are the only fan driven award in the industry. The voting is run by the United States Harness Writers Association in conjunction with the United States Trotting Association and the actual voting is conducted on the USTA website. Voting for Horseperson of the Year ran from Monday (Dec. 8) and will end on Friday (Dec. 19) at midnight, while the balloting for the best Racing Moment of the Year will begin on Saturday (Dec. 20) and conclude on Wednesday (Dec. 31) at midnight. A list of nominees for each award has been compiled by members of USHWA, based on what they believe were the most impactful people and moments in the sport during 2014. Those have been placed on the ballots where the fans can then make their selections from. Fans can only vote once per category. The winners will be announced on Thursday (Jan. 8) and will be presented with their awards during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday (Feb. 22). By Tim Bojarski for USHWA
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