Day At The Track

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As the leading harness racing driver at the Meadowlands, Yannick Gingras has had his share of big nights at the mile oval, and Saturday at the Big M was just another of many for the 39-year-old, who scored four times on the 13-race program, among them the featured conditioned pace. Seeing Eye Single, a 4-year-old gelded son of Dragon Again-Shabalabadingdong, overcame post 10 and lowered his previous lifetime best by one-and-one-fifth seconds after stopping the clock in 1:49.3 in the event for non-winners of $17,500 in their last five starts. Gingras had Seeing Eye Single on the go from the start, following Captain Deo (who led at the quarter in :27) before clearing the lead just after the first split. A rated second fraction of :28.2 would follow before pressure would come from Stonedust, who was inching his way closer to the leader while first-over at three-quarters. Seeing Eye Single shrugged off that challenger to get some separation at the head of the stretch before holding sway to the wire, finishing a length in front of the pocket-sitting Captain Deo. Rough Odds was third with Penzance Hanover fourth. K Ryan Bluechip, the 4-5 favorite, was in a fourth-over flow before closing well to be a non-threatening fifth. Seeing Eye Single returned $6.00 as the second choice in the wagering, and in the process upped his resume to 11 wins from 28 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $359,926 for owners Burke Racing, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Larry Karr and Weaver Bruscemi. "He was strong and won fairly easily," said Gingras of the Ron Burke trainee who sprinted his final quarter in :26. "He loves the big track." Gingras' other wins came with McRaven (first race, $8.20, 1:52.3), All It Takes (third, $6.00, 1:52) and Always A Diamond (sixth, $8.20, 1:52.1). BETTING TOPS $3 MILLION: For the seventh time in 2019, wagering at the Meadowlands exceeded $3 million, as a total of $3,046,148 was pushed through the windows. Race eight saw $341,302 in action, and the ever-popular 50-Cent Pick-4 served as the catalyst with a pool of $116,859. A LITTLE MORE: It was huge day for Austin Siegelman. Monticello Raceway's leading driver took his act on the road Saturday and piled up the victories. After winning five times during the day at Freehold, Siegelman then won three more under the lights at the Big M. ... Players who don't like chalk are loving life of late at the Meadowlands. Over the last four programs, favorites have gone nine-for-52, good (or bad, based on your preference) for a minuscule win percentage of 17. ... Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

There’s an old saying and we all know it: “Money talks and [you know what] walks.” Many will say that it really isn’t about the money; how many times have we heard athletes say that after they sign a very lucrative contract with their new team? We know that money — if it doesn’t rule the world, it certainly drives it — matters. I give you The Meadowlands as Exhibit A. Last April, there were talks of closure, talks of ending stakes races and talks of moving The Hambletonian. We all know why. While other tracks were using casino monies to bolster purses, The Big M had no casino monies to give. They got by during the winter when nearby tracks were closed, but once March came, off went the horses to other tracks, mainly those in Pennsylvania, which offers two facilities — Pocono and Chester — that are buoyed by the casino dollars. The politicians were thinking about helping all three New Jersey racetracks — Monmouth on the thoroughbred side and Freehold and Meadowlands on the Standardbred side. For years, they hemmed and hawed, the classic political football. Former Governor Chris Christie opposed helping and legislators had to be careful too. Any time a politician talks of using taxpayer money to support private industry, it goes over like a lead balloon. Most cringe at funding public schools, let alone an industry such as horse racing. So, for much of 2017 and 2018, New Jersey horse racing stood in limbo. Both sides had valid arguments. Those that wanted the subsidies argued that horse racing is a billion-dollar business that employs thousands and seeing it end would leave many unemployed and would deprive the state of much-needed revenues. Those against it believe that it is not the state’s responsibility to prop up private industry, even though subsidizing horse racing, because it’s heavily regulated by the state, is a little different than, say, subsidizing car dealerships. Still, it’s a valid point: if an industry can’t survive on its own, then maybe it should fold. In May 2016, Phil Murphy decided that he wanted to be the next governor of the Garden State and, while campaigning, he came out as a friend of New Jersey horse racing. He visited the Meadowlands more than once and said (if elected) that should subsidy legislation ever reach his desk, he would sign it. In 2017, he was elected and he took office in 2018. As we know, nothing moves quickly in politics. So, for much of 2018, the bill to subsidize horse racing purses crawled along. Finally, in January of this year, it became law. The state would give horse racing $100 million over five years — $20 million each year. Of that, $10 million would go to Monmouth, $6 million to the Meadowlands, $1.6 million to Freehold and $2.4 million to support New Jersey breeding. It’s amazing how the money has altered people’s moods. The Meadowlands owner is Jeff Gural. While his love for harness racing cannot be questioned, he is known as a doom-and-gloomer, a glass-half-empty type guy. But things have changed. Now flushed with $6 million, Gural feels that his track can compete with Yonkers, Harrah’s and Pocono. He is armed with cash and, as mentioned, money talks. Overnight purses have been bolstered, the preferred paces and trots are now running for $30,000 (from $18,000) and, recently, the track announced a new series of four races worth a total of $700,000. The four races will be run in the spring and early summer with the finals coming in June and July. The races are as follows: The Golden Receiver Pace: Three legs, and then a final, total $165,000. The Mr. Muscleman Trot: Four legs, and then a final, $205,000. The Rainbow Blue Mare Pace: Three legs, and then a final $165,000. The Bee A Magician Mare Trot: Three legs, and then a final, $165,000. All four finals will run for an estimated $60,000, which is far from chump change on an otherwise nondescript night of racing. As for Freehold, it has upped its purses as well. The preferreds, which ran for $8,000 are now running for $12,000. Karen Fagliarone is the racing director at the nation’s oldest harness facility and has plans for the $1.6 million. “We raised purses by 50 percent for all classes,” she said, “we’re going to use the monies on overnights.” Freehold’s season is cut in two; the first part runs from Jan. 4 to May 17, with the second half picking up on Aug. 30 and running through Dec. 28. That’s 38 weeks with racing on Friday and Saturday afternoons. I asked Fagliarone if there were plans to develop a series, à la The Meadowlands and she was noncommittal. “Right now, there are no plans,” she said, “at least not through May. We may rethink that over the break and do something the latter half of the year, but right now, we are going to use the money to boost the overnight purses and reward those who race here.” While many focus on purses, there is also $2.4 million earmarked for New Jersey breeding, something that is badly needed for a state that is suffering from a horse shortage. “Everybody followed the casino monies and left New Jersey. There weren’t many stallions and mares standing in the state,” Fagliarone said. “It will take years to build up the stock in our state. This money will help, but it’s going to take time.” Freehold has been racing since 1853 and, like Monticello, runs only in the afternoon, something Fagliarone likes. “We have an advantage with daytime racing. We have lots of farms nearby and they can drive them in, race them and be home at night with their families.” The additional purse monies have allowed Fagliarone to write some different races for the pacers and trotters as well. “We are using the Trackmaster figures for some races. Right now, we have paces and trots for horses that have TMRs (Trackmaster rating) of 68 or less. Those are racing for $4,200 purses, the lowest figure we have here.” On good days, Freehold will handle over $400,000 and, while it focuses more on overnights, there are some big days on the calendar. For most, the first Saturday in May is the Kentucky Derby, but, on that day, Freehold runs its signature race, the Dexter Cup. Sanctioned by The Hambletonian Society, this is a race for 3-year old trotters and will offer a purse of at least $130,000 in 2019. In its day, it used to serve as a prep race for The Hambletonian, but, in recent years, things have changed. The accompanying Lady Suffolk is for 3-year old fillies, which last year ran for $66,000 purse. The fall schedule culminates with New Jersey Sire Stakes action, as well as some other stakes races. The full stakes schedule can be found here. What a difference a year makes. Last year, things were looking shaky for New Jersey harness racing, but things are looking up in 2019 and, hopefully, beyond. John Furgele   As a kid growing up in the Buffalo suburbs in the 1970s and 80s, the radio was one of John Furgele’s best friends. In the evenings, he used to listen to a show on WBEN radio called “Free Form Sports,” hosted by Buffalo broadcast legend Stan Barron. The show ran weeknights from 6 to 11 pm and featured every kind of sport you could imagine. One minute, Mr. Barron was interviewing a Buffalo Sabres player; the next, he was giving high school field hockey scores. But there was always one thing that caught John’s ear. During those five hours, Barron would give the results from Western New York’s two harness racing tracks — Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. This is where John learned what exactas, quinellas, trifectas and daily doubles were all about. From then on, he always paid attention to harness racing, and when Niatross (a legendary Western New York horse) hit the scene in 1979, his interest began to blossom. John believes harness racing is a sport that has the potential to grow and he will explore ways to get that done via marketing, promotion and, above all, the races themselves. When he’s not watching races, John is busy with his family and his job in sales. Like the pacers and trotters, he does a little running himself and you’ll occasionally find him “going to post” in a local 5K race. Reprinted with permission of US Racing

LEBANON, OH - The betting public got it right on Saturday night at Miami Valley as Dislocator (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.), dispatched as the 3-5 harness racing favorite, captured the $40,000 James K. Hackett Memorial for Ohio-sired three-year-old pacing colts. Wrenn floated Dislocator from the gate, allowing stablemate High On Paydaze (Brett Miller) to trip the first timing beam in :27. Rushing to the top immediately thereafter, the winning son of Big Bad John had control at the :55.1 halfway point. Although Dislocator still had the inside advantage at the 1:23 third quarter station, Ohio Vintage (Kayne Kauffman) had ranged up on the outside and stuck a neck in front. Shortly thereafter another challenger, Seattle Hanover (Chris Page), came calling three wide off the final bend and Dashing To Da Wire (Tyler Smith) entered the championship fray. In the end, Dislocator was able to hold the others at bay for a 1:52.1 triumph. Dashing To Da Wire, Seattle Hanover and Ohio Vintage were next across the finish line to also earn automatic bids to next Saturday's $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational at Miami Valley. Dislocator, trained by Brian Brown, earned $113,116 at age two and finished third in the $275,000 Ohio Sires Stakes final to stablemates High On Paydaze and Rock Candy. He is owned by Jolynn Ridder, Scott Davis, Sharon Sopronyi and the VIP Internet Stable. Dislocator A race earlier, GD Western Joe (Page) scored the nation's fastest win by a four-year-old on a five-eighths mile track thus far this year. His 1:49.3 triumph in the $24,000 Open I Pace was his first in three tries at the top level, following a pair of runnerup efforts. My Hero Ron (Dan Noble) got a garden trip behind the winner the entire way to earn the place finish, while Granite (Wrenn Jr.), assigned the outside after winning the last two Opens, was forced to do some heavy lifting to pick up the show dough. There will be no racing at Miami Valley on Easter Sunday, but the final two weeks of the 2019 meet will commence on Monday with a 2:05 p.m. matinee. Gregg Keidel

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Wally Hennessey appeared destined to be a harness racing driver from a young age. It was in his blood and all he ever wanted to do. But it almost never happened. Hennessey left Charlottetown in the mid-1970s for a job outside of the industry in Saint John, N.B., but he quickly determined it wasn’t for him. He made his way to the track in the Port City and a handful of years later was atop the drivers’ standings in his early 20s. “I was in the barn from the time I was hatched,” he said during a recent visit back to Charlottetown from his Florida home. “I would always be peeking through the fence at my father racing.” His parents, the late Joe and Shirley Hennessey, raised nine children from their Euston Street home. The family name is synonymous with the harness racing industry throughout Atlantic Canada and includes Wally’s grandfather, Walter, who he was named for. “When I was looking through the fence, I was envisioning myself being out there, just driving,” said Hennessey, 62. He wasn’t much for school, as the pull of the track always attracted him. “My education was right here on the grounds of the Charlottetown Driving Park,” he said, looking out onto the grounds and describing the differences from what people see today. But his start in the business wasn’t as smooth as some might think. “I was horrible,” he admitted, but “it’s probably the greatest thing that happened to me.” Hennessey said he was putting himself and the 850-plus-pound horses he was driving in bad spots, trying to get through holes that didn't exist. “You do have to be aggressive, but you have to be aggressively smart, not aggressively stupid,” he said. Wally Hennessey looks at some of the photos of his family that adorn a wall at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Hennessey wanted so badly to be good, but he had to learn, just as anybody starting a career does. “My father was probably the most well-respected horseman of his era in Atlantic Canada,” he said of the man known as Two-hole. “My father was a proud, proud person, and I was letting him down. I said if I want to continue to do this, wake up.” He knew he could be better. He had a great teacher in his father and others he learned from at a young age. He was committed to not just getting better but being the best. “You just can’t be mediocre. You have to be at the top. Mediocre is not good enough. The bar had already been set.” Well, Hennessey has met and surpassed the bar. He has been inducted in harness racing hall of fames in Canada and the United States and earlier this year surpassed the 10,000-win plateau in North America. “It didn't come easy,” his brother, Jody, said. “They weren’t passed to him, he had to go get them.” And while proud of the success his brother has had, he is just as proud of the person Wally remains to be. “Wally is the same today as he was 25 or 30 years ago. He’s just happy-go-lucky.” Wally left Atlantic Canada for Florida when he was 29 years old, with the backing of owners to go for a winter. He made a name for himself there, and Pompano Park became his home track. “You don't just get to the top because they like your racing colours or the way you speak. Results, in anything, is what matters,” Wally said. “Another key is to stay hungry. Never be satisfied with what has happened. Drive on. Maybe the next one will be better.” And that’s the way Wally approached win No.10,000. He enjoyed the night as the milestone came in the evening’s finale, but he didn’t rest on his laurels. “I had to go right to work the next night and go to work on the next win – that’s my job,” he said. “I’m so happy and grateful for the accomplishment, but I want more. . . I haven’t stopped at 10,000.” His success has led to other opportunities, such as being the guest speaker at the recent Prince Edward Island Standardbred Horse Owners Association awards banquet. “Forty years ago, nobody would be inviting me to speak anywhere,” he chuckled. “Here I am 40 years later, and I am not only humbled by it, but it just makes me proud.” He looks around the track and speaks glowingly about what the industry has done to promote itself on the Island. He stands inside the main entrance at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park and relives his past as he looks at the photos that adorn the atrium heading up to the second floor. He points at pictures of his father and other family members and with guys he grew up with. “You’re looking at history here,” he said. As Hennessey reflected on his milestone victory, he thought of his parents and all they had done for him. “He was a proud, proud man. As proud as he was of himself, he was more proud of us. Along the way, that’s something that drives you. You have that support behind you,” he said. “I had a mother (that) if you had done very well wasn't going to be patting you on the back but when you’re on the track dusting yourself off, she was the one giving you the hug.” Jason Malloy (Jason.Malloy@theguardian.pe.ca)  Reprinted with permission of The Journal Pioneer

April 20, 2019 - The day’s initial groupe test at Enghien-Soisy was the harness racing Quite+ Gr. II Prix Casino Barriere (purse 100,000€, 2875 meters, 13 starters, all four year old mares). The 9/10 favorite Freja du Pont (4f Quinoa du Gers-Parade du Pont) scored for trainer/driver Jean-Michel Bazire, her ninth career victory in 15 outings. Race time was 1.16kr off slow fractions. This began a great day for Bazire and increased this winner’s career earnings to 199,650€ for owner Albert Rayon. Celine Bazire bred Freyja du Pont. 11/1 Fanina des Racques (4f Ready Cash) was second with Eric Raffin teaming for owner/trainer Alexandre Buisson. 11/1 Fend la Bise (4f Prince Gede) was third with trainer Franck Anne driving. 15/1 Ferreteria and 107/1 Flore de Janeiro were next to the line. The Q+ payoff for a 2€ was 5,542.60€ paid to 169 winning tickets. The Quinte+ pool was 4,189,036€ and the total of all wagering pools on the Q race exceeded 8,562,000€. Freyja du Pont The day’s featured event was the Gr. I International UET Masters Series Prix de l’Atlantique (purse 170,000€, 2150 meters autostart, 11 at the start after scratching of Bold Eagle). Starting from post 12, the 2.1/1 second wagering choice Looking Superb (6m Orlando Vici-Classical Pine) was just that for pilot and trainer Jean Michel Bazire. The Norwegian invader, owned by Kolbjoern O. Selmer, now has three wins in 10 starts in France and increased his life earnings to 500,082€. Race time was 1.10.6kr off honest fractions (1.12.1kr at 1000 meters to go; 1.10.9kr at the 500) set by 2/1 favorite pacesetter Dijon that ended sixth for Romain Derieux. Bazire was away mid-pack with Looking Superb before a three wide surge to the leaders. It was from then no contest. 3.9/1 Uza Josselyn (8f Love You-Tea Josselyn) vacated the Dijon pocket to be second with Gabriele Gelormini driving for trainer Rene Aebischer. Tessy d’Ete (7f Ganymede) took third with Franck Nivard up, ahead of 38/1 Billie de Montfort (8f Jasmin de Flore) and 96/1 Valko Jenilat (10m Kepler). Then it was Dijon and 56/1 Cash Gamble earning the last checks. Looking Superb The Bazire team was back in action in the Prix de la Ville d’Enghien (purse 56,000€, 2150 meters autostart, 12 European fast-class trotteurs). The 4.6/1 Bazire trainee Valokaja Hindo (8m Great Challenger-Hindo Enghave) scored timed in 1.11.4kr with Alexandre Abrivard aboard. The Norwegian owned campaigner won for the eighth time in 13 starts in France and now has life earnings of 335,264€. The Bazire trained Dreambreaker (6g Offshore Dream-Brooke Boko) was placed second and had Eric Raffin at the lines. The 7/2 Prix d’Amerique starter Orlando Jet (6m Orlando Vici) was placed third for teamster Rudi Haller when placed fourth 6.8/1 Colonel (7g Goetmals Wood) was set back two positions. Nicolas Bazire teamed this JMB trainee. Finishing fifth was 33/1 Usain Henna (9m Super Light) with Gabriele Gelormini aboard. Valokaja Hindo The prestigious Gr. II Prix de la Ville de St. Gratien (purse 100,000€, 285 meters, 12 starters four year old males) was next and, as expected, the 3/10 favorite Face Time Bourbon (4m Ready Cash-Vita Bourbon) prevailed but not after a long battle to gain command in the lane. Bjorn Goop teamed this Sebastien Guarato trainee for Scuderia Bivans Srl, as he recorded career win 13 in 15 starts, now for 577,150€ earned. Race time was 1.13.5kr, impressive because the pace was slow and Face Time came from sixth on the outer at the halfway point (fractions 1.16.2kr at the 1500 to go mark; 1.14.6kr at the 1000 and 1.14.3kr with 500 meters remaining). 4.9/1 odds Falcao de Laurma (4m Uniclove) was second for pilot Franck Nivard and third was 43/1 Fric du Chene (4m Nobody du Chene) for Francois Lagadeuc. Face Time Bourbon The Prix de l’Argone (purse 63,000€, 2150 meters autostart, 15 European starters) completed the fast-class action today and it went to 4.3/1 Alcoy (5m Ready Cash-Divann) for Christophe Martens, trainer Vincent Martens and owner Ceke Farm BVBA. Off at 4.3/1 odds, the winner scored in 1.12.6kr to increase his career earnings to 208,732€. He was impressive in defeating 5.6/1 Broadwell (5m Conway Hall-Boria) handled by Robin Bakker for trainer Erwin Bot and third finishing 6.8/1 Ghazi BR (5m Cantab Hall-Fiery Chip) that is trained by Jean-Michel Bazire and was reined today by Alexandre Abrivard. Alcoy   Thomas H. Hicks  

East Rutherford, NJ - Foul weather caused the postponement of today's Meadowlands qualifiers until 3:00 pm. By then, despite overcast skies and a slight helping breeze in the stretch, the harness racing track was fast and dry with a temperature of 64f at post time. The session quickly turned into Nancy Johansson day as she brought big power to the table and got the results she and driver Scott Zeron were hoping for from several potential stars of the 2019 Grand Circuit season. Nancy unveiled the sophomore edition of her Dan Patch award and Breeders Crown winning freshman pacing sensation Captain Crunch (Zeron) and he was absolutely fabulous. Moving comfortably on the lead through a 56.1 half and 1:24.4 three quarters, "Crunch" sprinted home in a sizzling 25.2 under his own power to win by 4 or 5 lengths over Major March (Tim Tetrick) in 1:50.1 with Zeron motionless in the sulky. The Captaintreacherous colt won more than $600,000 at two for owners 3 Brothers Stable, Christina Takter, Rojan Stable and Caviart Farms who plucked him from the Standardbred Horse Sales (SHS) for the bargain price of $85,000. Walnridge Farm and Sherri Meirs are the breeders. The 2018 Doherty Memorial winner The Ice Dutchess (Yannick Gingras) returned to the racing wars today for Johansson and looked fantastic in her debut. Gingras sat in third with the filly as stable mate Can't Touch It (Zeron) rated even fractions while Speed Titan (Mattias Melander) ground up uncovered. As they trotted home, the rail opened and The Ice Dutchess bolted through to score an four length win moving away from her rivals unasked in a 26.1 close to the 1:54.4 mile. Speed Titan was second while Can't Touch This stayed on for third. The Muscle Hill lass was a $320,000 Standardbred Horse Sales (SHS) purchase by Canyon Wind Farm from breeders Stephen Dye and David Reid. She paid for herself as a 2-year-old and appears ready to add to that booty at age three. Six Pack is back! The Dan Patch award winner and fastest 3-year-old trotter in history by virtue of his KY Futurity win was awesome in his returning qualifier for Ake Svanstedt. The pair sat a pocket to an old rival in Fashionwoodchopper (Gingras) past the 1:28.3 six panels and roared by that rival when tipped out at that station to a 1:55.2 mile easily. The Muscle Mass 4-year-old is owned by Svanstedt in partnership with Little E; LLC, Knutsson Trotting, Stall Kalmer and I. Berg this season. Svanstedt also won with Galixton in 1:59 for himself, Little E and Joe Sbrocco. Kissin In The Sand may have looked better this week than last, if that's even possible. Zeron sat behind the early pace of Izzy Hanover through a 56.1 half, passed that rival and the three quarters in 1:24.3 with top pacing mare Caviart Ally (Andy McCarthy) following up and dropping in behind as they sprinted home in 25.3 for a 1:50.1 mile. Both mare had plenty left and were well ahead of the others. Marvin Katz and Bud Hatfield own the exciting Somebeachsomewhere 4-year-old returning divisional award winner and Nancy Johansson trains. Blood Money (Zeron) closed in 25.2 to run down Buddy Hill (Brian Sears) the mile in 1:52.2. Johansson trains last year's Matron Stakes winning homebred for Diamond Creek Racing. Johansson and Zeron capped their memorable afternoon with Thinkbig Dreambig zipping around the oval in 1:52.2, holding American History (McCarthy) at bay with a 26 flat final stanza while both were in hand. This imposing Bettor's Delight 4-year-old was a winner of multiple Grand Circuit stakes in 2018 including a division of the Tattersalls Pace in 1:48.2 for Brixton Medical, Fielding, Anderberg and Falk. Sharp Action Money (Gingras) won the last of the day's races, ending a 1:52.4 mile with a 25.3 final quarter for the Burke barn. Charted results may be found on the Meadowlands website. Nick Salvi

Young harness racing driver Ben Hope won his first Group race yesterday when Muscle Mountain was successful in the Gr3 "Majestic Son" NZ 2yo Trotting Stakes at Addington Raceway. Hope who is sitting third on the National Junior Drivers premiership table drove another calculating race with the unbeaten Muscle Mountain (Muscle Hill - Paramount Faith) when after finding the front shortly after the start he decided to hand up to second favourite Ultimate Stride with a lap to go.  Ultimate Stride was all done at the 400m and Muscle Mountain looked like being a chance of being carted back behind him, but Ben Hope managed to extract the speedy gelding out of a tight spot on the turn and from there he cruised home to win easily without being pushed. Muscle Mountain ran the 1980m mobile in 2-29.1 a mile rate of 2-01.1 with the winner coming home his last 800m in 58.6 with a closing 400m in 27.98 seconds. One Majic Kenny was brave in second for driver John Dunn and the Purdon/Rasmussen trained filly Tailored Elegance rattled home late for third. There were two false starts in the event with multiple offenders breaking stride in the runups to the start.   In the other 2yo (pacing) race on the day there was also sensation when raging hot favorite Smooth Deal galloped out of contention shortly after the start dashing his chance and also the hopes of punters many of whom had included the son of Bettor's Delight in multi bets during the day. Mark Purdon wasn’t sure what happened when Smooth Deal went out of his gear early in his Sires Stakes heat at Addington. “He’s done it before but there was no apparent reason for it this time. He might have touched a knee it is just hard to say” Mark said. Smooth Deal had already qualified for the Sires Stakes final during his Auckland campaign, so Saturday’s failure was not as crucial as it might have been if he had not qualified. All Stars Stables had better luck later in the day taking home wins with Princess Tiffany, Winterfell and Ashley Locaz. Star 3yo old filly Princess Tiffany looked to have come back to racing in great order, winning Heat 7 of the Nevele R Fillies Series with an easy all the way win. Driver Natalie Rasmussen gave nothing else a chance when shooting Princess Tiffanyto the lead from the start and then blazing home her last 800m in 55.2 to win untouched by more than 2 lengths. Winterfell also was back in winning form easily accounting for a tidy field of trotters in the Rating 70 and faster Trot. The son of Majestic Son settled back in the running for driver Mark Purdon and despite trotting a fraction roughly at the last bend he had too much speed for the opposition in the straight going straight past them and posting a quick 3-17.8 for the 2600m stand. Ashley Locaz gave Purdon a race to race double when gaining a deserved win in the R90 and faster pace. He too led for most of the way in his win holding off a good field with a sizzling last 800m in 54.9 seconds.   Harnesslink Media

YONKERS, N.Y. – Harness racing trainer Tahnee Camilleri couldn’t have been more excited to start racing Ideal Lifestyle. The Australian mare came to Camilleri’s barn off a career-best 1:50.3 victory at Menangle in September 2018 and by late fall, Camilleri had the Western Ideal mare ready to qualify at the Meadowlands. However, Ideal Lifestyle’s North American debut suffered a delay. “I had her ready to qualify at the Meadowlands roughly in October or November, but she had a bit of a mishap in the paddock when I had her in to qualify,” Camilleri said. “She kicked and got her leg caught over her hopples, so she ended up doing a little tear in her hamstring and she needed time off then.” For Camilleri, the injury proved to be a low point. After embarking on a career as a lawyer, the Australian native changed course and came to the United States to pursue her passion of harness racing. After a brief stint here in 2009, Camilleri returned last year. Her growing stable of Australian imports have posted 20 wins from 54 starts since April 2018 and Ideal Lifestyle looked to be the star of the stable. “It was really disappointing because I was quite excited to start racing her and just to have a horse of that caliber,” Camilleri said. “Her last start in Australia, she made a bunch of very good mares look ordinary, she absolutely destroyed them. I was pinching myself to be able to get my hands on a mare of that caliber and for it to all go pear-shaped her first time she set foot on a racetrack here was a little bit disappointing, but I suppose that’s racing.” A multiple Group 3-placed performer Down Under, Ideal Lifestyle came to Camilleri off an open-length victory in a 1-mile mares FFA. After leaving from the far outside post, Ideal Lifestyle set and opening fraction of :25.8 and came home with a :27.6 quarter to post her lifetime mark. When she arrived in Camilleri’s barn, her impression in the flesh was even more impressive than that on the track. “She’s built like a breeding stallion, she’s a very big Western Ideal mare, extremely highly-strung, but a lot of the good mares are,” Camilleri said. “Just looking at her, she’s a very impressive looking individual. I’ve never trained a Standardbred that big, let alone a mare. She’s quite impressive to look at. She was very hard to get out of the stall when I first got her. She’s very high-strung and you just have to train her with sheepskin gloves, I guess. She’s a little bit temperamental, but she’s entitled to be.” After her arrival, Camilleri and Ideal Lifestyle quickly got off on the wrong foot. However, over time, the daughter out of the Albert Albert mare Trebla Trebla has become easier to work with. “I got her off the truck when she had just come from quarantine and I put her in a stall. I let her rest in there for a little while, let her have something to eat and drink,” Camilleri recalled. “And then I went and hour or two later to let her out in the field and she wasn’t having it. She chased me out of the stall. That was basically my introduction to Ideal Lifestyle. It’s not very fun being chased out of a stall by a horse that size. “She’s definitely taught me a lot,” Camilleri said. “She hasn’t been an easy horse to train, but I’m now starting to reap the rewards of the patience I’ve put into her. It’s been a bit of a ride, but it’s been an exciting one, anyway.” Camilleri gave Ideal Lifestyle time to recover from her injury and by January, she was ready to qualify again. After two successful trials at the Meadowlands and a runner-up finish in 1:52.0 on debut February 1, Camilleri decided to nominate to the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series despite her concerns about the half-mile track. “I had my doubts about whether she would get around Yonkers,” the trainer said. “I paid up for the Matchmaker and just thought I would put her around Yonkers and see how she goes. She’s a very big mare, a very long mare.” Ideal Lifestyle made her Hilltop debut February 15, the evening after payments were due. She wired the field in a $29,000 overnight, scoring in 1:54 with Jordan Stratton in the sulky. Ideal Lifestyle subsequently posted two straight runner-up finishes in the $44,000 distaff feature before taking aim at the series. Ideal Lifestyle continued to surprise her trainer with a 1:52.3 victory in leg one of the series March 15. After two straight second-place finishes in weeks two and three and a fourth April 5, Ideal Lifestyle accumulated 208 points, enough for an eighth-place ranking in the standings, earning her a spot in the $402,600 Final Saturday night (April 20).  “Probably half-mile racing isn’t really her go, but it’s a testament to her ability that she qualified for the final when it’s very obvious she struggles around a half,” Camilleri said. “I’m very proud of her; she does a lot of things wrong, but she still qualified for the final and she’s a great trier, so it’s going to be fun.” Ideal Lifestyle drew post seven in the final and will be reunited with Jordan Stratton after George Brennan drove throughout the preliminary legs. Although she is a 20-1 outsider, the long odds take the pressure of Camilleri in her stakes debut. “This is my first stakes race I’ve ever been in. She’s a bit of a forgotten horse and it’s a lot less pressure on me and her and I’m going to go into (Saturday) night and just enjoy myself,” she said. “I’m still pinching myself. It’s very, very exciting and I’m very excited for the mare,” Camilleri continued. “George came off and said she was a little tired her last start. I skipped last week and freshened her up, she’s jumping out of her skin, so I’m expecting her to run a good race. I’ve got a great tactical driver on board in Jordan Stratton and I’ll just leave it up to him. Win, lose, or draw, I’m so proud she qualified for the final and I’m thankful to be there.” The field for the Matchmaker Series Final is listed below: Post Position     Horse         Sire                                Driver                 Trainer 1       Kaitlyn N                      American Ideal            Matt Kakaley        Rich Banca 2       Apple Bottom Jeans    Mr Apples                   Corey Callahan      Dylan Davis 3       Feelin Red Hot            Feelin Friskie              George Brennan    Ron Burke 4       Don’t Think Twice        Armbro Operative       Jason Bartlett        Andrew Harris 5       Bettor Joy N                 Bettors Delight            Dexter Dunn         Jim King Jr. 6       Shartin N                      Tintin In America        Tim Tetrick             Jim King Jr. 7       Ideal Lifestyle A            Western Ideal             Jordan Stratton     Tahnee Camilleri 8       Seaswift Joy N             Bettors Delight            Jim Marohn Jr.      Tony Alagna  Saturday night’s card also features the $664,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series Final, the $100,000 Levy Series Consolation, the $75,000 Matchmaker Series Consolation, and a $50,000 Open Handicap Trot. First post time is 6:50 p.m. For entries to the races, click here.  By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

YONKERS, NY, Friday, April 19, 2019 - Made of Jewels AS (Jordan Stratton, $8.20) prevailed off a live tow Friday night (Apr. 19th), winning Yonkers Raceway's harness racing $35,000 Filly and Mare Preferred Pace. Unhurried from assigned post position No. 5, Made of Jewels AS was away sixth before hooking herself in back of the second move of Alexa's Power (Jason Bartlett). That latter, advancing from third, ground down narrow 2-1 choice Bettorhaveanother (George Brennan) early in the lane after that one led through intervals of :27.4, :56.2 and 1:24.1. While 'Alexa' was good, Made of Jewels AS proved better, doing so by a half-length in a season's-best 1:53.1. Third went to a tiring Bettorhaveanother, with Queen Lostris N (Mark MacDonald) and Betabcool N (Joe Bongiorno) rounding out the payees. For third choice Made of Jewels AS, a 6-year-old daughter of Panspacificflight owned and trained by Ricky Bucci, it was her fourth win in 11 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $34.20, the triple returned $152 and the superfecta paid $518. Saturday night's (Apr. 20th) card, with a dozen races worth $1,530,320, features the $402,060 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker (9th race) and the $663,260 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (11th race). They're the two richest North American harness race of the season to date and the richest ever among the 11 Matchmakers and 32 editions of the Levy. Post time is the usual 6:50 PM. Frank Drucker

April 19, 2019 - Friday night harness racing action at Paris-Vincennes featured the Prix Aletheia (purse 64,000€, 2850 meters distance handicap). The 25 meter handicapped and 1.1/1 odds favorite Chica de Joudes (7f Jag de Bellouet-Queschia Love) proved the point with a decisive 1.13.5kr timed score. Alain Laurent owns, trains and drove the winner that now has 12 career wins good for 452,720€ earned. She defeated 4.8/1 Defino (6m Speedy Blue-Miss Volo) reined by Mathieu Mottier for breeder/owner/trainer Dominique Mottier. Third was another 25 meter penalized starter, 10/1 outsider Drole de Jet (6m Coktail Jet-Likely Jet) piloted by trainer Pierre Vercruysse. Detroit Castelets finished fourth. This race was the Quinte_+ race of the day and 2,765 winning ticket holders of exact order top five tickets collected 448.60€ for a 2€ wager. The Q+ pool was 3,942,506€ and the total of all wagers on this race exceeded 7,982,000€. Thomas H. Hicks  

Charlton’s Joey Thompson has always been known as a passionate harness racing participant – and now his enthusiasm is spilling over with the building of a $4.2 million multipurpose sport and recreation facility at the town’s trotting headquarters. “This project is going to see a big change in the dynamics at Charlton Park – something that I believe has been missing for a long time,” an excited Thompson, who is club president, said. “From a harness racing point of view, the building being right on the track is going to add heaps more atmosphere and I can only imagine the echo when the bell sounds for a lap to go,” he said. “Fans just enjoy being up close to the action. That’s one thing I’ve noticed when I go to Mildura that being right on the track brings such energy to the racing. “That’s a little something that’s been missing at our meetings I think.” As well as current club president, Thompson is a well-regarded horse breaker and trainer and has been involved in harness racing for nearly 40 years. He is a Charlton person through-and-through, and can barely contain his excitement that electricians, plumbers and builders are now on-site, putting the finishing touches to an impressive-looking complex, with a plan for completion by early July. “We hope to stage our September 29 meeting there so the building will be ‘on show’ for all harness racing people and the community,” Thompson said. “It’s going to be a huge day and it really completes the package for harness racing here at Charlton.” Charlton Harness Racing Club was one of the spearheads for the Multi-Purpose Facility and it’s just one of many major projects this energetic regional club has managed to achieve. In addition to negotiating its 2015 track upgrade, the club successfully established a nearby Charlton Training Complex in 2012.  The community complex is available as a base for local trainers, or those wanting to relocate to the area with tenants having access to individual stabling complexes.  Each has a fully serviced 60 x 30 shed, lock-up harness and feed area, internal yoke up and wash areas, two internal boxes and eight adjoining day yards. They also have unrestricted use of the 820 metre Training Track, 2,000 metre Straight Track and a swimming dam on site. “This puts us in a really good position going forward,” Thompson said. “The new multi-purpose centre is going to take our 12 meetings a year to the next level, which we’re really excited about,” he said. “But there are also eleven tracks within 120 kilometres of Charlton, and they host something like 150 race meetings a year, so the racing opportunities from a base here at Charlton are huge.” As the construction has been underway on the new multi-purpose centre, Charlton meetings have been transferred to Maryborough, and Melton hosted the club’s Pacing Cup. The completed hub will also be home to other sport and recreation clubs with shared administration club rooms for football, netball, hockey, tennis, cricket, golf and fishing as well as the Agricultural and Pastoral Society. It will benefit the whole community with provision of state-of-the-art social and conference facilities with seating for 250 people and event catering, with a commercial kitchen. Thompson said a local fundraising campaign had raised $1.2M from a town of just over 1000 people and the project had been made possible with contributions from the Victorian and Federal Governments, the Buloke Shire, the Charlton and District Community Bank and Harness Racing Victoria.  “Some of the previous buildings on the site were in pretty poor condition being about 70 years old, and they were also badly damaged by floods,” Thompson said. “To be honest they were all disjointed buildings and now they will be all in the one large facility,” he said. “It has been a long time coming.  The community has been working towards this facility for the past 13 years and it’s been an amazing effort.  “There have been some wonderful, big donations and those people are very humble. But that signifies the community spirit of Charlton. Thompson said going forward, he could see increased visitor numbers to the precinct, with an emphasis on RV travelers staying on the nearby river. “Little towns like Charlton live off these people.  This complex will be a great thing for our whole community, so we’re excited and proud that we’re seeing it take shape.” he said. “We are still short of our target to fully complete stage one of the redevelopment, but we’ll get there.” Donations are tax deductible, and people making a donation of $100 or more, can stamp their mark on the building with a $20 purchase of a paver. More information and donations can be made through the Charlton HRC website www.charltonharnessracingclub.com.au Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura  

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Considering the talent level of the field he was facing, even harness racing driver Andy Miller must have been surprised at how easily his Sutton won his second straight Friday night feature at the Meadowlands, the $30,000 Preferred Handicap for trotters. After all, Sutton was taking on arch-rival Trolley, the only horse to defeat him (twice) this year. In addition, there was $2.7-million lifetime earner Pinkman to contend with, as well as Dover Downs shipper All Champy, who was looking for his third straight win, not to mention Sutton's stablemate, Top Flight Angel, who was second in last year's Breeders Crown. But there was Sutton, leaving the gate alertly before yielding the top to Pinkman at the quarter, and even though the track was unforgiving to speed all night long, Miller put the 6-year-old son of Donato Hanover-I Wanted Wings right back on the point at the three-eighths. After a sleepy :29.4 second quarter, Sutton was in full control as Trolley was the first to pull off the rail - from sixth - after the half. His attempt to beat Sutton - as well as everyone else's - would prove futile. Sutton raced on a clear lead around the far turn as Trolley picked up cover from longshot Sortie, but no one ever got close. Sutton trotted his final quarter in :26.3 and hit the wire in 1:53. It was 2¼ lengths back to Pinkman. Sortie was third while Trolley finished fourth. The winner, trained by Julie Miller, paid $4.20 to win as the even-money favorite and now has 13 wins from 40 lifetime starts and earnings of $557,288 for owners Andy Miller Stable and Jason and Douglas Allen. CAP4 REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: The fifth edition of the Can-Am Pick-4, which requires a bettor to select two winners at the Meadowlands and two more at Woodbine Mohawk Park, provided the wager's biggest pool yet, as a total of $65,333 was put in play. After a sequence that saw winner's odds of even-money, 8-1, 8-5 and 2-1, the return for the bet with the 20-Cent base was $87.17. The Meadowlands' Dave Brower and Woodbine's Jason Portuondo gave out winning selections to their followers. BIG HIT IN JSH5: One lucky patron wagering on the Meadowlands' signal into the Oregon hub went home with a huge smile on his or her face Friday night. In the 13th race 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five, 10-1 shot Knightofvictory held off 5-2 favorite Prince Of Minto after a stirring stretch duel and that player holding the only ticket with the winning combination of 6-8-1-10-3 cashed in for $68,059. A LITTLE MORE: Five drivers won two races on the program: Yannick Gingras, Dexter Dunn, Corey Callahan, Dave Miller and Andy Miller. ... Ron Burke had a training triple while Mark Harder scored twice. ... Tyler Buter found a late seam to win the ninth race with Parkin In Heaven, giving him 2,999 driving wins for his career. ... All-source handle totaled $2,717,504. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

LEBANON, OH - Rylee Roo (Aaron Merriman) upset Queen Of The Pride (Tony Hall) following a stirring harness racing stretch duel in the $40,000 championship of the James K. Hackett Memorial for Ohio-sired sophomore pacing fillies at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night (April 19). The daughter of Pet Rock, trained by Steve Carter, sat a cozy two-hole throughout before Merriman angled her to the outside and took a shot at the 1-5 favorite in the final eighth of the mile. Rylee Roo returned $15.80 for her 1:54.1 score over a rain-soaked sloppy racing surface. Coupled with Queen Of The Pride, the defending Ohio Sires Stakes champion, the exacta was worth $27. Queen Of The Pride, who won her elimination heat last week in a national season's best 1:51.4, cut reasonable fractions of :27.1, :56.3 and 1:26.1 before falling prey to the howling winds and wet weather conditions at the end of a :28 flat final panel. Bad Sammie (Brett Miller) and Avaline Hanover (Chris Page) also raced creditably to finish third and fourth, respectively, and earn automatic berths to next Friday's $50,000 Scarlet & Gray Invitational at Miami Valley. Rylee Roo earned $74,375 as a two-year-old with two wins and two place finishes in just six starts. With the $20,000 Hackett paycheck she is currently sitting on the cusp of $100,000 in earnings. Steven Price of Sandy Springs, Georgia, owns Rylee Roo-who is a homebred result of breeding his Western Hanover mare Moonlite Delite to Pet Rock. Rylee Roo The $25,000 Mares Open Pace on the program was captured by Golden Paradise (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.) in 1:53.3, besting Rosemary Rose (Chris Page) and Big Bad Jane (Dan Noble). The five-year-old daughter of Allthatgltrsisgold flashed terrific early speed to grab an easy early lead in :27, then continued at a catch-me-if-you-can pace through subsequent timing stations in :55.3 and 1:25 before coasting to the line an open lengths winner. Wrenn Jr. co-owns the winner with partners Sam Schillaci and trainer Tyler George. A $30,000 claimer through most of the current meet, Golden Paradise now sports six wins in 11 seasonal starts and $57,760 in 2019 purse earnings, all at Miami Valley. The final $40,000 Hackett Memorial final, for three-year-old Buckeye bred pacing colts, will go postward Saturday night (April 20) as the tenth race on the 14-race program. Seattle Hanover (Chris Page, 3-1) and Dislocator (Ronnie Wrenn Jr., 4-1) are the morning line favorites but a contentious race is expected as all nine finalists paced in 1:52.2 or faster in last week's eliminations. Gregg Keidel

Plainville, Ma --- After taking advantage of quick early fractions while he sat off the pace, Northern Skyway made a strong closing move to capture the $16,000 harness racing Open Handicap trot at Plainridge Park on Friday afternoon (April 19). Last week's feature winner Namesmuscle (Matt Athearn) went right back to work and led the field to the quarter in a moderate :28.4 split. At that point Nows The Moment (Mike Stevenson) was looking to turn up the heat and pulled from third to go after the leader and that's when the battle ensued. Namesmuscle had no intentions of giving up the front and Nows The Moment didn't have enough trot at that point to outmuscle Namesmuscle. So the two trotted side by side heatedly to the half in :57.2 and three quarters in 1:25.1. While that melee was in progress Northern Skyway (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) who had been coasting along fourth, pulled from that spot and started tracking the leading pair from a parked third position. As that trio rounded the last turn, Nows The Moment had finally gotten the best of the fading Namesmuscle, but Northern Skyway had tipped to the middle of the track and was fully underway. Aldrich kept driving Northern Skyway down the lane and he incrementally drew alongside and then passed Nows The Moment to win by a length in 1:55.1. Northern Skyway ($3.40) who had been making hay in the top trotting conditions at the Meadows since February got his first Plainridge win of the year in his second attempt of the meet for owner William Mc Elvain Jr. and trainer Mike Hitchcock. In the co-featured $14,000 conditioned trot, Mayfair Johnny B (Jay Randall) took the lead past the quarter and then never looked back; eventually trotting home in a brisk :28.4 to win by a length in 1:56. It was the second straight win at Plainridge Park for Mayfair Johnny B ($3.40) and his owner the Kellogg Racing Stable. Jackie Greene trains the winner. The driver and trainer combination of Wally and Lisa Watson led all horsepersons competing on Friday, each scoring a double in their respective category. Racing resumes at Plainridge Park on Monday afternoon (April 22) at 4 p.m. For more information about Massachusetts harness racing log onto the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts at www.sominc.net or Plainridge Park at www.plainridgeparkcasino.com. By Tim Bojarski, for the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts

April 19, 2019 - Tomorrow’s Enghien-Soisy harness racing headliner is the Gr. I International UET Master Series’ Prix de l’Atlantique to be raced over 2150 meters autostart. Now, 11 horses will be at the start. Presumed favorite Bold Eagle has been scratched. The Jean-Michel Bazire trainee Looking Superb (starting from second tier post 11 based on career earnings) along with the top performing Dijon with trainer Romain Derieux the pilot from post six (now in one slot) are likely to be in the hunt.  Comments from the connections of Bold Eagle follow: “The announcement was made on Friday night on Equidia: Bold Eagle will not participate in the Prix de l'atlantic Casino Barrière Enghien-les-Bains, his last blood test having revealed a white blood cell count too high. Thomas Bernereau, co-owner of the winner of two Grand Prix of America, said on Equidia:  "the horse was very well at work but by acquired conscience, so as not to repeat the scheme of Cagnes, we realized this blood sample that revealed this rate very high. The vet is thinking of a viral episode. We prefer to abstain and then we will see if we go on the Prix of the Dukes of Normandy or the Prix René Ballière. In fact, we decided to put this protocol of blood before any potential race.” The Enghien card remains sensational with other races including Face Time Bourbon, Fleche Bourbon, Ferreteria and Orlando Jet among a host of top tier trotteurs. In the days ahead (April 25) in Italy will be the Gran Premio Nazionale and its Filly Division counterpart. The lineups for these prestigious events are shown below. Axl Rose is a likely favorite in the open.   Thomas H. Hicks  

CHESTER PA - The Big Jim gelding Tiger Thompson roared to the fastest mile of the young season at Harrah's Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, fronting a good field at every call to win the $18,000 harness racing pacing feature in 1:50.1. Dexter Dunn got the strong Kiwi-bred to the lead before a 26.1 quarter despite the outside post seven, then got a breather to the half in 56. There was no catching the Tiger after that, by the tail or by anything else, as he streaked home in 54.1 - 26.4 to be 2¾ lengths clear of pocketsitter and countrymate Crockets Cullen N for his second straight win. (Yes, if you toss out that 29.4 second quarter, Tiger Thompson paced his other ¾ of a mile in 1:20.2.) Joshua Parker trains the razor-sharp Tiger, and he shares ownership in him with Nanticoke Racing Inc., Stephen Messick, and Prestige Stable. The top pacing mares event on the card, a $14,500 contest, also fell to Team Dunn / Parker, as Better Decision N followed the example of her stablemate and set sail on the lead, winning for the fifth time in her last eight starts, here in 1:53. A daughter of Bettor's Delight, Better Decision N blitzed home in 55.4 for trainer/co-owner Parker, Nanticoke Racing, and Donna Messick. And while they were at it, trainer/owner Parker, driver Dunn, Nanticoke, and Prestige thought they might as well take the other $14,500 high-level conditioned pace, with the pocketsitting Live Or Die gelding Robbie Burns N having his plans to catch pacesetting Great Vintage not go awry by a neck in 1:52.1; Barry Spedden is also co-owner of this winner. The $16,000 top trot saw Spee Club force wholesale tucks with an alert start from the rail, then continue on unpassed until crossing the wire in 1:56, tying his personal best. The son of Cantab Hall was driven to his second straight victory by Art Stafford Jr. for trainer D. Erin Neilson, co-owner with David Neilson. While it doesn't quite yet have the Saturday night appeal of its counterpart 100 miles up the Northeast Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension, the Philly claiming box got a lot of use today. Because of Sunday being dark for Easter, more claiming events than usual - five - were put on the Philly card, with every selling race seeing at least one horse change hands, and a total of eight claims totaling up to $109,000. PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia