Day At The Track

Yesnomaybeso was a good name for a horse, and it is a good way to describe NSW harness racing at present. The industry has been in suspension mode since Tuesday after an official at last Thursday's Penrith meeting tested positive to Covid-19. The harness racing industry has been brought to a complete halt until more people from the meeting have been tested, with it obviously hoped the results come back negative. On Friday, Harness Racing NSW will make a decision on the immediate future of racing. If the all-clear is given, it will be full on for the Inverell Harness Racing Club, which is scheduled to host the Carnival of Cups TAB meeting on Sunday afternoon. The meeting would involve a seven-race program - with no Queensland horses in action after that state closed its borders this week. The feature race on the Inverell program is the $10,000 Inverell Cup, which would involve four last-start winners from Tamworth's meeting last week. They are Corsini (the Graham Moons stables), Tiger Courage (the Ernie Mabbott stables), Manly Boy (trained in Dubbo by Ty Robson) and Bongiorno Boys (trained in Sawyers Gully by Stacie Elliott). Sadly, I can report that the Narrabri Harness Racing Club has lost its non-TAB meeting on April 5. However, its Carnival of Cups TAB meeting is scheduled for April 13. Newcastle is listed to host a meeting on Saturday night, with a few North West contenders set to race, including Narrabri pacer Kid Montana. The State Mini Trot Championships, which were to be held at Paceway Tamworth over Easter, have been called off because of the epidemic. +++ ON A brighter note, the Standardbred Pleasure and Performance Horse Association of NSW held its championships last week in Tamworth. This organisation rehomes ex-pacers and trains them to take part in equestrian and other activities. Cooper James, who is a member of Tamworth Mini Trots, took part in the championships and had a great time helping Tamworth trainer Sarah Rushbrook show off her stable. Young Cooper handled Jackeroo Shannon in the Harness Class. And judging by the smile on his face, he enjoyed collecting ribbons. Cooper also picked up second prize in best dressed contest. There was plenty of praise for Cooper's ability. Harness racing is in his genes. His father, Brendan, is a trainer and driver at Tamworth, and his grandfather, Rod, is a trainer and driver at Newcastle. His great grandfather, Laurie James, was a secretary of Tamworth harness racing.   +++ BATHURST harness racing folk are keeping their fingers crossed that racing resumes, as the city's big finals night is slated for Saturday. The program would include the Group 1 $100,000 Gold Bracelet Final (for three-year-old fillies), the Group 1 $100,000 Gold Tiara Final (for two-year-old fillies) and the Group 1 $100,000 Gold Chalice (for three-year-old colts and geldings). By Julie Maughan Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

Ararat hobby trainer Wayne Ferguson has been thoroughly enjoying his comeback to harness racing even more so now after a recent Maryborough meeting. Ferguson made the 120km drive with his stable team of two horses, hoping that his first runner could win "if everything went right". And to his delight, the popular horseman landed his first-ever training double when it all worked out fine. "Both Ghanasuya and Gottahaveahobbie have been racing well, but I was really pinning my hopes on the first one," Ferguson said. "It certainly was a thrill and when I got home, I went out for tea with my partner Rosemary Preston and had a couple of drinks to celebrate," he said. Ghanasuya (Mr Feelgood-The Princess Poet (Christian Cullen) was driven a treat by one of Victoria's leading freelance drivers in Michael Bellman. After beginning well, they took the sit behind Sassys A Terror (Greg Sugars). With an easy first half of 62.2 secs in a sprint race, the tempo was always going to hot up and Ghanasuya was looking the goods a long way out. The gelding worked home nicely, and courtesy of the sprint lane, got the chocolates by a few metres. "He hasn't been far away in his races this season with four placings prior to the Maryborough victory. I thought his Charlton and Swan Hill efforts last month when he ran third both times were good," Ferguson said. In the very next race, four-year-old Gottahaveahobbie (Well Said-Ay Tee Em (Mach Three) posted one of the eye-catching runs of the meeting with an impressive victory in the Bendigo HRTC Concession Drivers Pace, for those who haven't had 25 winners. Reinsman Jason Ainsworth, handling the pacer for the first time, scored top marks for his exhibition. After settling midfield, he sat quietly until the 450m mark before whipping around in the blink of an eye. The pair powered away to win easily in 1.57-4. Ferguson said Gottahaveahobbie, known around the stables as Louie, just loved the Maryborough circuit. "He's probably had four trials there and won them all. And now I've raced him at the track on three occasions for two wins and a third," he said. Ferguson, who owns both horses in partnership with his brother-in-law Bill Campbell, said they were lucky to end up with Gottahaveahobbie after deciding to bid for him at a Ready To Run sale in Sydney. "We pulled out at $15k, and another bloke ended up going to $20k. We were on our way home and got a telephone call to say the horse had just been left there and the winning bidder was nowhere to be found," he said. "So we agreed to pay $15k which was our last bid. He ran 4th at Geelong at his first start and then 2nd at Mt Gambier before doing a suspensory in his back leg. He was off the scene for over 12 months, but now has four wins and nine placings for over $25k. "He's going to be a nice horse because he has such a powerful sprint." Ferguson followed his father Stan into harness racing and the pair enjoyed a reasonable amount of success more than 25 years ago with such horses as tough campaigner Derricks First, who held a track record at Mt Gambier at one stage, and the talented Reneko. "Dad was the trainer and I did the driving. It worked out really well. I probably drove for about four years and then gave it away when dad was having health problems," he said. "I've been back for 18 months and I was lucky to again race the horses in dad's old racing colors of purple with a green V. My partner Rosemary isn't from a harness racing background, but she is now hooked and enjoying the horses." Ferguson said he was loving the training aspect, and really had no plans to go back to race driving. "I'll leave that to the experts, although it would be convenient so that I could drive at the trials."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

As legalized ways of gambling have almost come to a stop, horse racing remains the only sport still open for business. Despite that unique position, it hasn’t led to a surge in popularity or revenue to the few tracks still operating. The tracks that are still running -- Santa Anita and Los Alamitos are among the four in California -- are closed to the general public and open only to the most essential people. In fact, conducting a race card requires far fewer people than when horses have to get out of their stalls every morning if to do no more than jog or gallop. Santa Anita gets about a third of its pari-mutuel business either on-track or through state inter-track wagering, sometimes called OTBs. However, the lack of other tracks running or no team sports to bet has shifted only about 10% to 20% of new revenue back to the mutuel handle. This past Saturday and Sunday, Santa Anita had $13.2 million bet on its races. In a comparable weekend in February, there was $18 million bet, $6.4 million of that either on-track or through state inter-track wagering. Other date comparisons this year showed the same trends, although figures vary day to day based on the number of races and horses that are entered. Last year around this time, Santa Anita was closed because of an increase in horse fatalities. “No one really thought this would be a great windfall,” said Craig Fravel, chief executive for racing at the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. “I think anybody who is looking at it from that standpoint is missing the big picture. What we’re trying to do is sustain the ecosystem in a responsible manner. … We want to make sure people are following all the protocols while giving them an opportunity to pay their bills.” The Stronach Group is donating 100% of its profits during this time to people impacted by COVID-19. If racing in California were to stop, the owners, trainers and jockeys would have to look to a jurisdiction that is running. Moving between tracks on the East Coast is easier because of geography. If people were to leave California they might never come back and the industry could collapse in the state. The territories running are getting fewer. Racing is currently halted at Aqueduct in New York, Laurel in Maryland and Fair Grounds in Louisiana. However, racing continues at Gulfstream and Tampa Bay in Florida, Oaklawn in Arkansas and two Northern California tracks, Golden Gate Fields and Cal Expo, the latter of which is only harness racing track running in the country. “I haven’t seen any evidence that there is an amazing explosion of sports betting going to horse racing as of now,” said Alex Waldrop, chief executive of the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn. “But if we can continue to be responsible and race, we may start to draw some of those players who had been betting other sports.” Racing has continued at Santa Anita without fans on hand. (David McNew / Getty Images) As for the sport’s economic fuel, wagering, it’s estimated that as much as 90% is done online through advance-deposit wagering (ADWs). Money bet through an ADW while at the track counts as on-track handle, which explains why the math doesn’t always add up. And with at least 20 states having stay-at-home orders, it’s why so much money can still be bet. “Horse racing is better off than other forms of gaming,” said Kip Levin, president of FanDuel and chief executive of TVG, the horse racing television channel. “Our new customers [to TVG’s online betting service] are up substantially. I don’t know if they are people who were betting retail at the tracks or OTBs or new overall. It’s too early to tell.” The same is true at NYRA Bets, the ADW that is run out of the New York Racing Assn. “We have seen an increase in new bettors, but we’re positive they are not big bettors,” said Tony Allevato, president of NYRA Bets. “A significant number are $2 bettors.” There is also an increase of horse racing on television. Fox Sports partnered with NYRA to put on 15 hours of live race programming last weekend. NBC has an agreement with TVG to also provide programming. Both of those shows would contain racing from California. The racing calendar remains a moving target. This is currently the time the last major prep races for the Kentucky Derby would be run. Last Saturday, Fair Grounds ran the Louisiana Derby and then canceled the rest of its meeting. Saturday will be the Florida Derby at Gulfstream, and the following Saturday the Santa Anita Derby is scheduled to be run. Next Saturday would normally have the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, but both have been postponed. The Arkansas Derby has moved to the first Saturday in May — a date reserved for the Kentucky Derby, which had to be moved to the first Saturday in September.   By John Cherwa - Special Contributor   Reprinted with permission of The Los Angeles Times

After careful and extensive consideration, the Hambletonian Society, in conjunction with Meadowlands, The Red Mile, Little Brown Jug Society and other harness racing industry clients, partners and stakeholders, have concluded that the April 15 payment deadline for stake and early-closers will remain intact. All entities fully realize that all members of the racing community are in the midst of extremely difficult and unprecedented circumstances on a global level. We are also aware that financial resources for many people will be stretched and staking horses is not going to be a priority. The staking of horses has always represented a long term investment - from yearling payments to entrance fees, they accompany every horse through the span of the payments, enhance the value of every "staked" horse, and the final number of paid-in (eligible) horses, along with added money from the stake sponsor, determines the value of each stake race. "The Hambletonian Society's 95-year mission statement of promoting stakes event and the Standardbred breed means we remain committed to flexibility in scheduling, placing and moving races if necessary, in partnership with stake sponsors and host tracks," said Hambletonian Society president John Campbell. "We want all owners who have paid into races to stay in the event so they share in the accumulated value to date either by eventually racing or being refunded as the owner at time of cancellation." The racing conditions and payment schedule for each event that are printed and posted are a contract between the owners of each horse and the Stake Sponsor. To change this contract would alter this legal agreement and could be challenged in court as a breach of contract. The Hambletonian Society would like to reinforce our policy that when any Stake or early-closer is canceled [see below] any staking fee will be refunded to the owner of the horse at time of cancellation. CANCELLATION: The Sponsor further reserves the right to cancel either or both of the races if for reasons beyond its control it becomes impractical or undesirable in the opinion of the Sponsor to conduct said race or races. If an event is not raced due to circumstances beyond its control, the Sponsor's responsibility and liability will be limited to refunding without interest: nomination, sustaining and entrance fees collected toward canceled events that have not been disbursed at the time of cancellation. If canceled after the first 2-year-old payment, these monies will be prorated among the owners of the horses eligible at the time of cancellation. If canceled prior to the first 2-year-old payment, the nomination fees will be refunded to the nominators. Since 2009, the Hambletonian Society has successfully refunded to individual nominators and owners more than $700,000 in payments from canceled races. Most recently, the Art Rooney and Lismore were canceled by Yonkers Raceway in late 2019, and all monies for two and three-year-olds eligible at time of cancellation were refunded to owners within 30 days of cancellation. Stake sponsors and host tracks have currently closed February payments for the stakes they service with that deadline, and are finalizing March 15 payments. The racing season and stakes calendar is unknown at this time and it is possible that Stakes may be canceled and others moved and rescheduled [see below.] Our conditions allow for and are clear that dates and venues may be changed. Definite dates will be published in the U.S.T.A. Stakes Guide in the year of the races. If for any reason it becomes impractical or undesirable, in the opinion of the Sponsor, to hold this race at the Track designated, the Sponsor reserves the right to change the date and/or the location of the Track for either any or all races. As soon as racing does resume we all will make every effort to hold as many Stakes and early-closers that we service as possible, and will be involved in rescheduling, moving races and setting up schedules that are in the best interests of everyone involved. We realize that Stake payment decisions may be difficult and will be a hardship for many people, but we request that everyone be cognizant of our obligations. *Accepting credit card payments for staking fees was instituted by the Hambletonian Society this year through a secure PNC bank platform. Should any race be canceled, all collected payments, regardless of method, will be refunded in total, to the owner at time of cancellation. ................................................... The Hambletonian Society is a non-profit organization formed in 1924 to sponsor the race for which it was named, the Hambletonian Stake. The Society's mission is to encourage and support the breeding of Standardbred horses through the development, administration and promotion of harness racing stakes, early-closing races and other special events. The Hambletonian Society currently services 133 of harness racing's richest and most prestigious events held at 12 North American racetracks under seven state jurisdictions. These include harness racing's most prominent race, the Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, its filly division, the Hambletonian Oaks and the sport's championship series, the Breeders Crown. Stakes and early closing races are events where the total purse is generated by eligibility payments from horse breeders and owners as well as funds added by the sponsor, usually the race track hosting the race.   Moira Fanning Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown 109 S Main Street, Suite 18 Cranbury, NJ 08512 609-371-2211 (work) 732-306-6713 (cell)      

Few horses in any code in recent years can boast such remarkable consistency as ten-year-old square-gaiter Lord Liam, whose clash with Mr Sundon, Tenno Sho and Rock Tonight in the $30,000 Mondo Doro Smallgoods Trotters Sprint over 1730m promises to be a highlight on the 11-event program at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He’s done a good job,” was the laconic understatement from Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop, who can lay claim as the West Australian maestro of preparing and racing trotters. Lord Liam was sent to WA to be trained by Mellsop after the powerfully-built, barrel-chested gelding had raced in Victoria and New South Wales 57 times for 13 wins and 18 placings. Now, Lord Liam has had 45 starts for Mellsop for the incredible record of 19 wins, 16 seconds, four thirds, three fourths, one fifth, one seventh and one eighth. In the space of four months last year Lord Liam won eight races in a row and since then his 11 starts have produced one win, seven seconds and three thirds. Mellsop certainly has been a trendsetter and pathfinder in trotting in the past two decades in WA. Among a succession of square gaiters under his care in that time have been Dave Star (43 starts for 17 wins and nine placings), Drop of Gin (25 starts for nine wins and 11 placings), The Beau Brummel (20 starts for four wins, including the 2014 WA Trotters Cup, and seven placings), Sun of Zola (19 starts for 11 wins and five placings), Baby Jack (40 starts for six wins and 17 placings), Gee Invasion (ten starts for five wins and one placing), Our Shoe In (18 starts for five wins and five placings) and Sammy Charles (19 starts for six wins and 11 placings). Lord Liam, with regular driver Maddison Brown in the sulky, is somewhat awkwardly drawn at barrier five in this week’s sprint event. But he should be in the firing line throughout and is capable of extending the warm favourite, the Ross Olivieri-trained Mr Sundon, who will be driven by Chris Lewis from a more favourable barrier at No. 3. Tenno Sho, trained at Pinjarra by Tracy Reay and to be driven by Nathan Turvey, is a smart frontrunner who is ideally drawn at barrier No. 2. Tenno Sho gave a bold frontrunning display when he beat Rock Tonight and Lord Liam over 2130m on Thursday of last week.  Rock Tonight, in the Waroona stables of Nigel Johns, is brilliant but unreliable and unpredictable. He will start from the outside barrier (No. 9) with Morgan Woodley in the sulky. Rock Tonight followed a fast-finishing victory over Mr Sundon at Pinjarra with a strong-finishing last-0start second to Tenno Sho. Johns, a stalwart and trailblazer in trotting in WA, will also be represented by the immensely popular 12-year-old Diamond Geezer, who delights trotgoers with his enthusiastic high-stepping action. The Victorian-bred Diamond Geezer has raced exclusively in WA where his 236 starts have produced 17 wins 30 seconds and 39 thirds. He will be handled by Donald Harper from out wide at barrier eight and will be at liberal odds. Adding interest to this week’s race will be the first appearance in the State of former Victorian performers War Spirit and Princess Mila. War Spirit, trained at Upper Swan by Michael Munro, will start from the No. 4 barrier. A winner of two races in New Zealand, War Spirit raced 37 times in Victoria for eight wins and 12 placings. He has been unplaced at his past two starts, at Melton and Globe Derby Park, but before those failures he set a track record of 2.2.4 in a 2570m stand at Geelong last November.  Five-year-old Princess Mila, trained by Gary Hall Snr, is the only mare and youngest runner in the race. She will be driven by Gary Hall Jnr from barrier two on the back line. She has not appeared since she finished third in a field of six in a 2190m stand at Mildura in April of last year.   Ken Casellas

Champion pacer Chicago Bull will resume racing after an absence of nine months and Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr said that the seven-year-old was ready for a strong first-up performance when he starts from out wide, at barrier eight in the $25,000 Direct Trades Supply Pace over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. “He’s run three minutes and has run home in 55 seconds on the track at home,” Hall said. “But he’s got to run those times; that’s what Free-For-All horses have to run. He’s porky; he’s big and racing will make him better. “I don’t think he will get back to what he was. He has been in work for three months and there’s no problem with his wither. But his off-side fetlock has been troubling him a bit.” Chicago Bull was badly injured in a freak stable accident in New Zealand in October 2018, just a few days before he was due to have contested the New Zealand Cup at Addington. He fractured several bones in his wither when he flipped himself over backwards. He had an anaphylactic reaction to an injection. This kept him out of action for seven months and since that accident he has raced five times at Gloucester Park for three wins, a second and a last-start fourth behind Golden State on June 28 last year when he raced wide early and then in the breeze. Gary Hall Jnr will drive Chicago Bull, who is expected to receive stiff opposition from the up-and-coming star four-year-old Shockwave (who will start from  the outside barrier in the field of nine) and the talented Greg and Skye Bond-trained seven-year-old Galactic Star, who will have many admirers, particularly because of his perfect draw at No. 1. This will be an acid test for the Ryan Bell-trained Shockwave, who has scored effortless victories over 2130m at his past two starts.   Ken Casellas

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is pleased to announce its 2020 ballot. A total of 30 people and horses comprised of 15 Thoroughbred and 15 Standardbred candidates, have been selected to appear on the voting ballot. A 20-person Election Committee for each breed will determine the recipients in their respective categories. Results will be announced Tuesday, April 7th.  The five categories selected by the Standardbred nominating committee to appear on the 2020 Standardbred ballots are: Driver, Trainer, Female Horse, Male Horse and Veteran Horse  The 2020 Standardbred Driver Ballot features Paul MacDonell, Ed Tracey and Randy Waples Paul MacDonell’s driving career is highlighted by both consistency and superstars, with earnings surpassing $1 million for 33 consecutive years, due in part to piloting such horses as Hall of Fame members Somebeachsomewhere, Admirals Express and Invitro. The Guelph resident’s major stakes victories include three Metro Paces, five Confederation Cups, and eight Breeders Crowns as well as a record 16 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals to his credit. The popular and affable driver was awarded an O’Brien Award as the 2008 Canadian Driver of the Year and to date has chalked up more than 15,000 top three finishes, 5,623 wins and has driven horses to in excess of $122 million in purse earnings. Weyburn, Saskatchewan born Ed Tracey received his first driving licence at age 15. After getting his start in three-heats-a-day racing at meets in his home province, his passion for harness racing took him to six Canadian provinces and numerous states in the U.S. Over a span of 55 years Ed had 3,168 driving victories and more than $7,500,000 in purse earnings. The pinnacle of his career came in 1978 when he won the ice racing championship on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. The late Ed Tracey was named Alberta Horseman of the Year in 1978 and the winner of the Dr. Clara Christie Award for his contribution to Alberta’s harness racing industry in 1998. Randy Waples’ career took off in 1996 when he won 150 races in 1,197 starts and he hasn’t looked back since. He is now the all-time leading money winning driver of races held on Canadian soil. The threetime O’Brien Award Driver of the Year winner is the all-time leader for wins at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario. His stakes victories include the 2012 North America Cup with Thinking Out Loud, three Maple Leaf Trot wins with San Pail as well as Breeders Crown wins with San Pail and Dreamfair Eternal, both members of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He also has four Battle of Waterloo wins and was the leading driver in Ontario Sires Stakes earnings in 2001, 2002 and 2010.  Randy Waples after winning 2011 Breeders Crown with San Pail In the Standardbred Trainer category voters will select from John Bax, Jack Darling and Ben Wallace.  Trotting specialist and 2001 Canadian Trainer of the Year, John Bax’s most prominent pupil to date is Hall of Fame gelding Goodtimes, a winner of 50 races and more than $2.2 million in earnings, making him at the time of his retirement the richest Canadian-bred trotter of all time. Other Bax trainees include 2001 Breeders Crown winner Duke of York, Define the World – Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotter of the Year in 2008, and Riveting Rosie - OSS Super Final winner and O’Brien divisional winner in 2013 and 2014. In the 2014 Peaceful Way Stakes, a trio of Bax trainees -- Stubborn Belle, Juanitas Fury, and Southwind Champane – finished one-two-three in this event. John’s training stats include 859 wins and more than $23.6 million in earnings. Ben Wallace of Puslinch, Ont., trained the 1999 Pacing Triple Crown Winner and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Blissfull Hall, Breeders Crown winners Totally Western (2002), Pans Cullottes (2003), as well as a list of million dollar plus winners including Apprentice Hanover, Zooka, Cam Swifty, Camotion and Lookout Victory. Awarded an O’Brien as Canada’s Trainer of the Year in 1999, Wallace has current career stats of 1,947 wins and more than $38 million in purses, surpassing the million dollar mark in 18 consecutive seasons (1996-2013).  Ben Wallace Cambridge, Ontario based Jack Darling has enjoyed a successful career as a harness horse trainer in southern Ontario over three decades campaigning 1,026 winners and conditioning horses to $19.6 million in earnings. In 1995, four fillies put Darling in the spotlight- Diamond Dawn, a winner of $175,000, Low Places (winner of a 1996 O’Brien Award), Faded Glory (winner of more than $250,000 as a freshman) and Diehard Fan (over $200,000 as a two and three-year-old). Other top horses included Northern Luck ($907,984), North America Cup champion Gothic Dream ($1,528,671), and Twin B Champ. Jack is also known for significant fundraising efforts on behalf of racing related causes, and was the 2015 winner of the Lloyd Chisholm Memorial Award presented by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario as well as the recipient of the United States Harness Writers Association Unsung Hero Award and the Good Guy Award.  The Standardbred Female Horse Category features Amour Angus, Great Memories, and West Of LA Amour Angus, bred by Fermes Angus of Bedford, Quebec, made her mark on the Standardbred industry as a broodmare. Her 11 foals that raced, earned in excess of $3.5 million and included three foundation trotting sires in North America – Andover Hall, CHRHF 2019 inductee Angus Hall and Conway Hall, making her the grand dam of such horses as Nuncio, Peaceful Way, Donato Hanover, Pampered Princess, Majestic Son, Wishing Stone and Windsongs Legacy. Her daughter Emilie Cas El (by Garland Lobell) is the dam of Hambletonian winner Trixton.  Great Memories, by Apaches Fame and out of Armbro Emerson daughter Save the Memories, was bred by Glengate Farms and is now owned by Ontario Standardbred nursery Warrawee Farm. Among Great Memories’ offspring are two World Champions: Warrawee Needy, and Warrawee Ubeaut. Warrawee Needy was a winner of 29 races and more than $1.25 million. He took a mark of 1:49.4s at age two, was faster still at three (1:48.4s) and at four was the fastest in the world (1:46.4). Warrawee Ubeaut, won the 2018 Breeders Crown for two-year-old pacing fillies, has a lifetime mark of 1:48.3 and earned $646,995 in 12 starts in her first year on the track. At the age of three Warrawee Ubeaut continued her winning ways earning $1 million, matching her lifetime mark and winning 12 of 19 starts, including the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old pacing fillies. Her win in the Jugette Final equalled the world record for a three-year-old pacing filly over a half mile track. In total Great Memories’ nine racing age progeny have earned over $3.77 million, with three - Warrawee Needy, Warrawee Ubeaut and Big Bay Point -- breaking the 1:50 barrier. West Of LA by Western Hanover and out of the Cam Fella mare Los Angeles, is the dam of horses with earnings in excess of $4.3 million including two horses with earnings of over $1.7 million each. Her Somebeachsomewhere son Somewhere In LA has earned $1.86 million to date and has a lifetime mark of 1:48.4f. Daughter LA Delight, by Bettors Delight was the winner of the 2015 O’Brien Award for TwoYear-Old Pacing Fillies and the 2016 winner of the O’Brien in the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly category. Her resume includes 26 wins in a 66 race career, a lifetime mark of 1:49.1 and earnings of $1.78 million.   Nominated In the category of Standardbred Male Horse are Majestic Son, McWicked and Shadow Play. Majestic Son’s racing career consisted of 38 starts, including 22 wins, a mark of 1:52.2 and $1,993,157 in purse earnings. A son of Angus Hall out of the King Conch mare Celtic Contessa, Majestic Son was trained by Mark Steacy for the Majestic Son Stable. His career was highlighted by wins in the premiere stakes for sophomore trotters including the Champlain, Goodtimes, Canadian Trotting Classic and Breeders Crown. As a sire, his progeny have earned $21.7 million including millionaire Charmed Life, four $750,000 winners, seven $500,000 winners, 24 winners of $250,000 and 61 winners of $100,000. Recently retired from racing, McWicked earned $5.1 million during a race career that began in 2013 and included 40 wins in 110 starts while setting his lifetime mark of 1:46.2 at age 7. The ungelded son of McArdle - Western Sahara was owned primarily by Ed James’ SSG Stables, and trained for the majority of his career by Casie Coleman. McWicked’s stakes wins include the Max Hempt, Adios, Progress, Ben Franklin, TVG Open, William Haughton, Canadian Pacing Derby, Dan Rooney - twice; Roll With Joe, Breeders Crown - twice, Joe Gerrity, Jr - twice, PASS Finals, and the Jim Ewart - twice. He was the recipient of four O’Brien Awards -- Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt/Gelding (2014), Older Pacing Horse of the Year (2018 & 2019) and Horse of the Year (2018).  Shadow Play earned $1,559,822 with 20 wins, 9 seconds and 5 thirds in 49 lifetime starts and took a record of 1:47.4 as a four-year-old. The son of The Panderosa, trained and co-owned by Dr. Ian Moore along with R G McGroup Ltd., and Serge Savard for most of his racing career, won several stakes events including the 2008 Little Brown Jug. As a sire standing at Winbak Farm in Ontario, and now owned by the Shadow Play Syndicate, he has sired the winners of more than $35.6 million including three-time O’Brien Award winner and double millionaire Lady Shadow and millionaire and O’Brien divisional winner Percy Bluechip. Eleven of the horses sired by Shadow Play have racemarks of 1:50 or better.  The 2020 Veteran Horse Ballot offers B Cor Tamara, Rambling Willie and Western Dreamer for the voters to select from.  Before embarking on her second career as a broodmare, B Cor Tamara enjoyed a productive racing career, earning more than $185,000. Bred and owned by Bill Core of Dresden, Ont., the daughter of Dream Of Glory was the dam of 19 foals, including star trotter B Cor Pete, and grand dam of two champion juveniles, Banker Hall and Broadway Hall. Her offspring have earned in excess of $2.8 million. The winner of 128 races in 305 starts during the 1970s and early 1980s, Rambling Willie was a three time winner of the Canadian Pacing Derby – 1975 in a dead heat with Pickwick Baron, 1976 and 1977. At the time of his retirement in 1983 he was the leading Standardbred money winner of the time, earning more than $2 million, with most of his wins coming from overnight and invitational races. Rambling Willie was inducted into the United States Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame in 2003.  Owned by Mathew, Patrick and Daniel Daly of Hamilton, Ont., Western Dreamer’s resume includes 27 victories and earnings of $1.8 million. In 1997 he was voted Horse of the Year in both Canada and the U.S.following wins in the Art Rooney Memorial Pace, and the U.S. Pacing Triple Crown. Western Dreamer holds the distinction of being the only gelding to win a Pacing Triple Crown. Since July 2001 he has been a resident of the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park ....................................................................... The Canadian Horse RacSue Leslie has dedicated the better part of her life to the sport of horseracing -- breeding, owning and training thoroughbred horses in Ontario for over 30 years. As the President/Chair of the HBPA, the President/Chair of OHRIA), on the Board of Directors on the Avelino Gomez Memorial Foundation, a member of the Jockey Club of Canada and CTHS, Leslie has been a proponent for horsepeople across all facets of the industry, most recently working to establish what is now known as Ontario Racing. In 2011, Leslie was honoured with a special Sovereign Award for her lifetime work in horseracing and she continues to be a strong leader and a devoted advocate. The five categories selected for the 2020 Thoroughbred ballot are Builder, Jockey, Trainer, Female Horse, and Veteran Horse A Thoroughbred Builder ballot comprised of Charles E. Fipke, Phillip Kives, and Sue Leslie, is offered for voter consideration.  Edmonton, Alberta born Charles E. Fipke, a successful Canadian geologist and prospector who was involved in the discovery of the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories, has been involved in the Canadian Thoroughbred Industry for close to forty years. Among his accomplishments, he bred and owned three Sovereign Award-winners including 2008 Champion Three-Year-Old Male and winner of the 2008 Queen’s Plate, Not Bourbon; 2010 Champion Older Female, Impossible Time; and 2003 Champion Male Turf Horse Perfect Soul, who went on to become a successful sire. Also, Mr. Fipke bred and owned a number of other successful racehorses including winner of the 2011 Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf (GI), Perfect Shirl.  The late Phillip Kives, based in Manitoba, known worldwide as the owner of K-Tel and the inventor of the info-mercial, became involved in thoroughbred racing in 1977 with the launch of K-4 Stables (later changed to K-5) to recognize the addition of his son to the Kives family. His passion for racing continued for four decades until his passing in 2016. Kives owned-and-bred horses won multiple stakes races at Winnipeg’s Assiniboia Downs as well as in Kentucky, Florida, New York, Ontario, and Alberta. As owner, Mr. Kives won every single stakes race at Assiniboia not just once but multiple times each, including two Manitoba Derbies, (best 3-year-olds) eight Gold Cups (top older horses), three Winnipeg Futurities (best 2-year-olds), and five Matrons (top filly/mare).  Sue Leslie has dedicated the better part of her life to the sport of horseracing -- breeding, owning and training thoroughbred horses in Ontario for over 30 years. As the President/Chair of the HBPA, the President/Chair of OHRIA), on the Board of Directors on the Avelino Gomez Memorial Foundation, a member of the Jockey Club of Canada and CTHS, Leslie has been a proponent for horsepeople across all facets of the industry, most recently working to establish what is now known as Ontario Racing. In 2011, Leslie was honoured with a special Sovereign Award for her lifetime work in horseracing and she continues to be a strong leader and a devoted advocate. Gary Boulanger, Richard Dos Ramos and Irwin Driedger have been selected to appear on the Thoroughbred Jockey ballot.  Edmonton, Alberta born Gary Boulanger began his riding career in 1987, spending his early years at tracks in the U.S. and earning leading jockey status at Longacres Racetrack (1989, 1990, 1991) and Calder Race Course (1994, 1995). In 2000 Boulanger returned to Canada, riding primarily at Woodbine. In 2001, the top money-winning year of his career, he rode Hall of Fame filly Dancethruthedawn to wins in the Canadian Oaks and Queen’s Plate Stakes. Despite suffering what could have been a career-ending injury from a racing accident at Gulfstream Park in 2005, Boulanger fought back and continues to ride, splitting his time between Florida and Woodbine. The 2017 Avelino Gomez Award recipient has to date won 3,578 races, including 41 grades stakes and has earnings of over $78 million (US) and is an elder statesman in the jock’s room.  Richard Dos Ramos retired from riding in 2013 as the senior statesman of the Woodbine Jockey’s Room following a career that began in 1981 at Greenwood, where a total of 142 wins garnered him the Sovereign Award as Canada’s top apprentice jockey. He won a second Sovereign in 1982. During the 1990’s the Trinidadian born jock experienced some of his top career highlights including his 1992 upset aboard Benburb over legendary A.P. Indy in the Molson Export Million and a 1999 longshot victory in the $1.5 million Canadian International aboard Thornfield, both trained by CHRHF Honoured Member Philip England. His success continued through the millennium when he was the recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award in 2002 and followed up the same day with a win in the Canadian Oaks with Ginger Gold. Dos Ramos’ career stats include 2,159 wins in 18, 645 starts and almost $61 million (US) in earnings.  Irwin Driedger, a native of Russell, Manitoba, launched his career at age 11 in 1967, riding at fairs in Western Canada. He began riding at recognized Canadian race tracks in 1973 and competed at major tracks across Canada for the next 17 years achieving leading rider honours at Winnipeg’s Assiniboia Downs from 1979-1982, before re-locating to Woodbine When he retired as a jockey on August 12, 1990, he had won over 1700 races. Upon retirement from competition Driedger became the Secretary- Manager of the Jockeys’ Benefit Association of Canada, serving until 2006. Under his direction, Canadian Jockeys became the first in North America to wear safety vests. Driedger was also instrumental in helping to install safety rails at Woodbine. Following 14 years as Director of Thoroughbred Racing Surfaces at Woodbine, he returned to JBAC as Executive Director in 2019. The three Trainers on the 2020 Thoroughbred Election ballot are Michael Keogh, J.G (Jerry) Lavigne and Daniel J. Vella As longtime private trainer for Hall of Fame Builder Gus Schickedanz, Mike Keogh is a two-time Queen’s Plate winning trainer, first with Woodcarver in 1999 and then with Triple Crown champion Wando in 2003. During that Triple Crown winning season, Keogh was also training stablemate Mobil who would earn a Sovereign Award at age four. Hall of Fame horse Langfuhr, also trained by Keogh, won three G1 Stakes and received the Sovereign in 1996 as Champion Sprinter. As an assistant to Hall of Fame Trainer Roger Attfield from 1986-1993, Keogh worked with a long list of Hall of Fame inductees including Alywow, Peteski, Carotene, Izvestia and With Approval. Since 1993, Mike Keogh stats include 2,689 starts with 330 wins and over $21.5 million in Earnings.  The late J.G. (Jerry) Lavigne’s career as a trainer began in 1958. His achievements included 68 stakes race wins with 22 stakes winners, as well as two Queen’s Plate races with Almoner in 1970 and Son of Briartic in 1982. He was the conditioner of Canadian Champion colt Nice Dancer, a multiple stakes winner on the turf; Lost Majorette and sprinter Park Romeo. His trainee Fabe Count had a stellar record over four years as a multiple stakes winner at nine different distances over both turf and dirt.  Daniel Vella captured the Sovereign Award Trainer title in both 1994 and 1995 while working with the powerful Stronach stable. He has won the coveted Queen's Plate twice in his career thus far, the first in 1994 with Frank Stronach’s Basqueian and followed up in 2012 with Strait of Dover for Wally and Terry Leong. Mr. Vella has scored one hundred and thirty-five (135) career stakes wins in a career that began in 1985. Current career stats include: 5,478 starts (838-804-670) and $37.7 million in earnings.  In the Thoroughbred Female Horse category, voters will select from Hard Not to Like, Marketing Mix and Tepin Bred in Ontario by Garland Williamson, well-travelled Hard Not to Like won at five of the eight tracks she visited during her 22 starts over five years. She earned more than $1.2 million while accumulating eight victories including the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) at Keeneland in 2014, the Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in 2015, and the Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita the same year. It adds up to three Grade 1 turf scores at three different tracks. The striking grey filly by Hard Spun and out of Tactical Cat mare Like a Gem, herself a multiple graded stakes winner, was indeed bred for success. Tepin, under the direction of trainer Mark Casse throughout most of her race career accumulated a record of 13-5-1, including nine Grade 1/Group 1 wins or placings in three countries – Canada, England and the US for owner Robert Masterson. Racing from age 3 to 6, the striking bay filly’s most notable wins, often against the boys, included the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and 2016 Woodbine Mile (G1). A trip across the pond in June 2016 resulted in a win in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. She was twice presented with the Eclipse Award as American Champion Female Turf Horse; 2015 and 2016. Marketing Mix, an Ontario-bred Medaglia D’Oro filly bred by Sean Fitzhenry, was a $150,000 Keeneland yearling purchase in 2009. Her 21- race career for Glen Hill Farm of Ocala, FL., under the tutelage of trainer Tom Proctor, banked $2 million in earnings with 10 wins including stakes victories in the 2012 editions of the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1), Nassau (G2), Dance Smartly (G2) and the 2013 Gamely Stakes (G1) as well as 2nd place finishes in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) and the 2013 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1).  The Thoroughbred Veteran Horse category will be contested by Bold Executive, Formal Gold and Play the King. Bold Executive, a Gus Schickedanz-bred son of Bold Ruckus had a race career of 19 starts that included wins in the prestigious Coronation Futurity in 1986, as well as the Yearling Sales Stake and Shepperton for Owners Romeo, Marcello and Pedigree Stud Farm. As a stallion, he topped the Canadian sires’ list six times between 2001-2012, producing 23 crops which included 518 winners and earnings of $53 million including top earners Sand Cove, Krz Exec, Main Executive, and Sans Sousi. Ontario-bred Formal Gold remains the fastest Canadian-bred in terms of speed figures, even though his final year of racing occurred in 1997. A son of Black Tie Affair, his Equibase Rating is 136 - one of the highest in history. Formal Gold was also ranked among the top handicap horses of 1997 with gate-towire efforts in two Grade 1 victories; the Woodward Stakes in September of that year after winning the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream in February, defeating HOY Skip Away. At stud, he ranked among the top 1% as sire of 2-yr-old winners from starters at 45% and sired progeny with global earnings of nearly $16 million (US) including 19 stakes winners.  Play the King, a Kinghaven Farms' homebred, started his racing career slowly but would eventually become an overachiever and Canadian Horse of the Year. With 29 starts over his four year race career he visited the winner’s circle 19 times and earned just shy of $1 million. While unsucessful as a juvenile, at age three he had wins in the Toboggan Hcp (G3) at Aqueduct, as well as wins in the Jacques Cartier and Vigil Stakes at Woodbine. The following year resulted in an additonal four stakes wins, all at six furlongs – the Suffolk Sprint in Boston followed by the Budweiser BC Stakes, Highlander (G3) and Nearctic Stakes (G3) at Woodbine. An injury forced him to miss the 1987 racing season, he returned the following year in championship form repeating wins in the Budweiser BC and Nearctic (G3) before making his most noted performance, the Breeders Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs. A strong 49-1 second-place finish brought him Sovereign Awards as Champion Sprinter, Older Horse and Horse of the Year in 1988. Additional information about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame may be found at www.canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com Contact: Linda Rainey Managing Director Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Linda.rainey@horseracinghalloffame.com 416-417-9404          

Exciting junior harness racing driver Shannon O'Sullivan is resting at home after being flipped out of the cart in spectacular fashion at Ouyen last Sunday. "I'm counting my lucky stars as I did get out of the whole incident pretty well - I'll be back as soon as I can get medical clearances," O'Sullivan said. The 20-year-old from Heathcote suffered severe facial lacerations and bruising to her back and neck after being thrown high in the air near the finish line in the final event on the program. O'Sullivan was driving bay gelding Better B Nice for MIldura trainer Scott Garraway when she clipped the wheel of another runner while desperately searching for a gap. "The horse was travelling enormous and I remember spotting a bit of a run. It then closed a split second later, but the horse was just wanting to go," she said. "When I saw what might unfold I knew I was in trouble. I got tossed into the air when we fell and then the cart crashed down onto me, although the horse sort of took the brunt of that. I was unconscious on the track for about 40 seconds. "My chin was hurting pretty bad, as well as a few spots in my neck and back, but I've been told that I was more concerned about the horse. Anyway, he's having a few days off, but is okay according to Scott." Shannon O’Sullivan in her dad Jim’s racing colors The youngster was transferred from Ouyen to Mildura Base Hospital and said she was overwhelmed by the support, along with messages and telephone calls from well-wishers. "I was fortunate that Scott looked after me, along with Maddy Tormey (a younger sister of fellow reinswoman Ellen Tormey). Maddy is a Mildura nurse and came to the hospital on her day off-I was pretty scared, but she calmed me down, looked after my welfare and explained everything," O'Sullivan said. "To be honest, I have never been to hospital before, so it was a bit overwhelming without mum and dad there." O'Sullivan, daughter of legendary horseman Jim and his wife Terresa, has been in sensational form this season with a career-best 19 wins, including an enjoyable Elmore Cup victory, as well as 32 placings. In her three seasons as a driver, she has improved immensely. Starting in 2017/18, O'Sullivan had four wins and 32 placings, and followed this up in the next season with 17 wins and 32 placings (footnote: the 32 placings aren't a misprint, something of a coincidence!). "I've formed an awesome association with Greg and Jess Sugars with five wins from not many more drives and I've had a few more for Susan Gloury, who's been using me on her horse Monash and other trainers, including my dad, have also been giving me opportunities," she said. After spending Sunday night at Mildura Base Hospital, O'Sullivan was flow to Melbourne the following day and is now recovering at home. "The concern was that I'd maybe cut a nerve on my chin. The laceration was through to the bone, and while there's bruising and damage, fortunately the nerve didn't get cut," she said. "I got plastic surgery done to the bottom of my chin and the doctors are confident it'll all heal up without any noticeable marks. I was really worried that I would end up with something permanent. "I have to go to Melbourne next Monday for a check-up on the stitches and in the meantime, I just have to keep it all nice and clean. I'm only able to eat soft foods, but thankfully it's nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

James Witherite is known to harness racing fans for his years of race calling and occasional performances as a bugler for major stakes events. Away from the track, though, Witherite's musical talents extend far beyond, most notably as an accomplished composer and jazz musician. This past Monday, Witherite opened that world to an audience on Facebook with the first in a series of streaming concerts, "Live from the Jazz Bunker." Witherite hopes the concerts, which will be 1-2 p.m. (EDT) every Monday and Thursday, can provide a welcomed diversion for people asked to stay at home as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. "It's said that in times of trouble and pain that art is a great uniter and healer, and hopefully that's the case here," Witherite said. "Being that we're all kind of left in the lurch, this is the new normal for right now. I'm not doing anything monumental or earth-shattering, but I hope these little windows of live music, which are intended to be in the background admittedly, can bring some light into an otherwise murky and uncertain situation for all of us." This past Monday, James Witherite hosted the first in a series of streaming concerts, “Live from the Jazz Bunker.” USTA/Mark Hall photo. Witherite has released four jazz albums in his career, ranging in scope from big band to organ trio. His streaming concerts on Facebook Live will feature solo jazz organ. "Everything that you will hear is either written by me, written by one of my friends who has said to go ahead and use the song, or is in the public domain," Witherite said. "I'm a big stickler when it comes to copyright law, so I'm following it to the letter." The 33-year-old Witherite graduated from Duquesne University in 2007 with a degree in composition. He was first drawn to music at the age of 3, when he found his way to his grandmother's Wurlitzer organ. He taught himself to read music, picked up the trumpet in the third grade, and soon added the piano to his repertoire. He recently set up a studio in his home, in part to provide online lessons to students. Once the studio was functional, he decided to offer his twice-a-week concerts. James Witherite recently set up a studio in his home, in part to provide online lessons to students. Photo courtesy of James Witherite. "I saw other musician friends were streaming live music at various times, so I thought why not join in," Witherite said. "I was really happy with the first (concert). I had a good turnout, I thought, and a nice cross section of my very diverse world. "Even though I know jazz isn't everybody's cup of tea, I hope it does put a few smiles on faces and help people get a little bit of a respite from the new day-to-day life. You can listen actively if you want, or you can listen passively if you want. You can have it in the background and it's there. Hopefully it's a pleasant wallpaper for those 120 minutes a week. "A little bit of happiness, a little bit of light, I think can go a long way." To watch a replay of Monday's concert on Witherite's Facebook page, click here.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association www.ustrotting.com

Here we go… With his ‘growing up’ ties to London and now his ‘making a living’ life in Sarnia - Raceway horse owner Stewart McQueen has been going to the horse races for as long as he can remember… “My Dad (Jack) loves the horses and we’d go to Orangeville back in the day…” says McQueen. “And please - call me Stew - the only one that calls me Stewart is my Mom and it’s usually when I know I’m in trouble,” he chuckled. “Dad had horses with trainer Peter Shody years ago and that’s likely how I got the bug too,” notes McQueen. “They raced Brandnew Man, Coyote Spur and Lochboisdale in the mid-90’s and now here I am, years later, racing horses with Dad cheering me on.” Stewart is a licensed Red Seal and 310S technician (auto mechanic) by trade and together with his wife Meghan - they own and operate After Hours Automotive in Sarnia. And from that - they put After Hours Stables in play during the Fall of 2018… So where does the ‘After Hours’ come from? “I had a one-bay shop - doing some undercoating on cars ‘after hours’ and away from my other job at the time…” he remembers. “I was doing it to help pay for our wedding and the business took off from there. That was two and a half years ago.” The competition of racing is nothing new to McQueen as he used to race Camaros around the Delaware Speedway… “That was a fun hobby, at the time, but those cars were more expensive than these horses.” The claiming game is Stew’s game and when looking to buy into harness racing, in that Fall of 2018, he was in need of a trainer. “I convinced my wife to look into buying a race horse,” he explains. “I got looking, for a trainer, around Sarnia - my friend Jimmy MacDonald led me to the (Peter) Core barn and around that same time - I happened to run into Danielle and Marc St Louis on the grounds there and asked them who their trainer was - they both looked so young and I thought they were grooms for another stable… Well we hit it off up front - I liked what I saw in them and the rest is history… Not long after - we’d team up and claim LDL Gem out of London.” Claimed for $7,000 - LDL Gem would try the $8,500 level next start out and finished well back. “She was OK for us… I tried to make some calls in the early going - bumping her up in class, but when we put her back where she belonged - she won for us and she’d win a few more for us too - before being claimed,” he said proudly. “That was a great learning experience and it was nice to get a win, so early, after becoming an owner.”  Favourite horses - past and present? “The past is easy - Hopetobefirst! I was maybe too naive, at the time, to understand just how special he was and what he was doing for us on the race track.” McQueen would claim the son of Sagebrush for $7,000 and the veteran pacer would go on to win his next six starts in London and then add another five ‘Forest City’ victories, in 2019, before being claimed away. “He’s the one that made me say ‘yes I want to back Danielle and Marc’ with the horses. His win at Flamboro (April 25) was the most amazing mile I had ever seen - parking first-up all the way and he just wouldn’t give up.”   McQueen ‘hopes’ to maybe get him back someday as Hopetobefirst now finds himself racing for a $20,000 claiming tag at Yonkers.  “The present - Oh K Man! And I picked this fella…” mentions McQueen. “I remember being in the paddock with Marc and we’re looking over the program and we see that Oh K Man is way down in class and priced at $7,000 and I say ‘how did we miss this horse?’ Well he won easily that night and then I watched and I waited for him again and again - I wanted him! He raced a few more times and I just said to myself ‘I don’t care how much he is - I’m going to buy him anyway’… Well I claimed him for $9,000 and picked him up - bathed him myself at Mohawk and he was in the barn for them (Danielle and Marc) when they arrived the next morning.” Since being claimed, in late November, Oh K Man has gone on to win nine of sixteen starts and banked over $30,000 - with all victories coming at The Raceway - his latest win being a gate-to-wire Preferred 3 score at the 1-1/16M distance. And moving forward with ‘After Hours’… “We want race horses. I like to claim and I hope for improvement…” states McQueen. “And we’d like to duplicate last summer… We were the leading owner at a few tracks, but what I really want - is to be the leading owner at The Raceway for 2020. We just missed to Jack Wray last season.” McQueen’s Hopetobefirst would take home the ‘Claiming Pacer of the Year Award’ at The Raceway’s Annual Awards Banquet last month. His team St Louis, of Danielle and Marc, would also take home The Raceway’s Trainer and Driver of the Year Awards respectively. “There’s no substitute for hard work,” states McQueen. “Marc, Danielle, Tyler and Kandee (St Louis) - they all put so much time and effort into looking after the horses. And that’s why we came away with the awards we won for 2019.”   The Raceway at Western Fair District  

East Rutherford, NJ - Be advised that any horse that was being trained by a harness racing trainer named in the recent Federal indictments at the time those indictments were handed down will not be accepted to race at The Meadowlands, Tioga or Vernon Downs in overnights or stakes for 60 days from the date that the tracks reopen for live racing.    

Amy and Stacy Butewicz have been around horses for nearly their entire lives. Amy began riding at the age of 4 and Stacy followed in her older sister's footsteps. Several years ago, they were introduced to harness racing and fell in love with the Standardbred, the sport, and the people. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closing of New Jersey's racetracks earlier this month, Amy and Stacy knew there would be people in the harness racing industry in need of assistance because of the loss of income. Last week, with cooperation from the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, they announced a food assistance program for those in the industry in the state. The program allows an individual or family to obtain a food assistance bag, every other week. The bags will include non-perishables, canned goods, household products and more. As of Tuesday morning, 13 individuals/families were enrolled in the program. "We expect that number to grow as people find out about the program and we will continue to accept anyone in need from the industry within New Jersey," Amy said. "Just in the days that we've rolled out this program, it's really been a tremendous help. We're going to have our first deliveries go out this week and we will keep it going every other week until live racing resumes." Amy and Stacy, who work together at Butewicz Equestrian Lifestyle Real Estate - Keller Williams Princeton, have received support from others in harness racing, including trainers and veterinarians, in the form of donations or supermarket gift cards. The sisters are no strangers to helping others. Among their philanthropic endeavors, they volunteer at a food pantry in central New Jersey. "I think our experience definitely made us feel more capable in taking this on, but Amy and I are always looking for ways to help people," Stacy said. "The opportunity to be able to help people one-on-one is what we love the most. Once we realized what was going on with the industry and how many people could be affected, we realized some of those people would be struggling. We thought of those people and jumped into it." Stacy and Amy hope the program reduces the financial impact on people, who must feed not only themselves and their families, but their horses. "The horse people we know care so much about those animals that they're willing to give up a meal for themselves," Stacy said. "We are thinking about the horses, too, and wanted to do whatever we could to lighten the burden on what is coming out of people's pockets in their personal situation." To register for the program, please use either following method, and include your name, address and training center/stable location. Requests will be kept confidential. TEXT "ASSIST" to 732.887.5649. EMAIL "ASSIST" to albutewicz@gmail.com. Items will be delivered directly to individuals/families or placed in a secure location for pick up. Arrangements also can be made for anyone wanting to donate dry goods or supermarket gift cards by contacting the above number or email address. "Both of us in the past three or four years have absolutely grown to love the Standardbred as a horse," Amy said. "Horses have always been in our blood. We got into this fairly late in our equestrian careers, but we absolutely love it. "The other thing we have seen is this is an industry that is so much like a family. One person really and truly cares about another; one stable is friendly with another. With what is going on right now, we've seen people really uniting and working together. It's been great." Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

All Stars stable is to follow the example of many leading barns in virtually “wiping” the rest of the 2019-2020 season as a result of the corona-virus. “From now until we hopefully prepare for the new season we are virtually an agistment farm here in Rolleston”Mark said. “The last of the yearling purchase group is at Steve Boyd’s being educated and we have some here and the racing team. Most of them will just be looked after here until we can hopefully return to our normal programme” Mark and Natalie met with the staff on Tuesday and as a result have come up with a package which will cost the partners several thousand dollars a week. “We have applied for grants for them and we will bring up the balance so that they earn 80 per cent of their present wage. In the meantime they will be using holidays and other benefits for the next 4 weeks and we will reassess things then” “We have to say we think there is more in the Government’s package for the employee than the employer. That’s certainly how it looks to us at the moment as we look at the financial input required” “But at least we have given our staff reassurance over their greatest concern which was that they would lose their jobs. We will be retaining all of them” The All Stars operation has been hit hard financially also by the shutdown of racing where the Easter carnival and the Harness Jewels as well as Sales races and the NZ Derby falls within a normally profitable period. “We probably hope to earn into the 6 figures in percentages over that period and it is a big hit for us” Mark and Natalie have joined with others in proposals that certain age group races, especially the Sires Stakes and Sales Races where owners have already subscribed toward the stake, could be run in the spring. “We have made a verbal submission to Harness Racing New Zealand and there seems a positive response. If those races were held in,say, September when many of the horses will be in racing trim again it would be something back for the owners some of whom have taken a big hit with these developments, and trainers even if the horses are officially a year older than their present eligibility. It certainly seems feasiible but that is for others to decide” While the racing shutdown is for four weeks at this stage there seems to be little optimism inside the industry that it will resume at the end of that period. And with leading stables in both codes spelling their present racing teams the number of horses available to race after that time could be limited. “We are not alone and appreciate that many people will be hurting over these developments but as a mid range business we are fully aware of the organisation required and the financial impact of the decisions made”Mark said “We just have to make the best of it like other people have had to do. Our horses are a vital part of our operation of course but our staff is just as important to us and at least they have some certainty about the situation Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables

Imagine qualifying seven harness racing Group 1 finalists at the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival but not being sure if they will get the chance to run. That is the situation that Brooke Wilkins finds herself in. On Tuesday morning Wilkins, who is looking after the Gold Crown Carnival hopefuls of Victorian trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, used the word "insane" to describe her fortunes. She had little idea that it would become even more apt later that afternoon. It was on Tuesday afternoon that Harness Racing NSW temporarily suspended meetings in the state after it was revealed an industry participant was in direct contact with a person confirmed to have contracted the COVID-19 virus. The suspension was put in place until Thursday, at which stage the results of medical testing should become available. All those involved with the sport - Wilkins amongst them - hope the test is negative and racing can go ahead. If it does, Saturday night could be one the 22-year-old long remembers. It was just over three years ago that Wilkins was celebrating the first winning drive of career, saluting aboard $17 chance Hezbuyindiamonds at Penrith. It was a proud moment and one that eased some pressure too given she followed in the footsteps of her father David and late grandfather Bill in becoming involved in the harness racing industry. Back then she worked for David Aitken's stable, but now she is assisting Stewart and Tonkin. Wilkins has eight of their horses with her out at The Lagoon, where she is based for the Gold Crown Carnival. Her job with the Victorian stable - one which has ranked top three nationally for the last four consecutive seasons - began just over two months ago. "I was training my own team at Menangle, but I saw the job come up down there and it was a pretty good job, so I thought I may as well go and do it now while I am still young and still can," she said. "Unfortunately Emma and Clayton can't come up with all the [COVID-19] restrictions, even our drivers Greg Sugars and Chris Alford, they can't make it either due to the border being shut. "I said to them 'You might just have to send a bigger team up and I'll stay up here'," she added with a laugh. But jokes aside, Wilkins can take credit for helping to qualify a remarkable seven finalists. All of them were heat winners as well. Joanna and Dangerous Hand will line up in the Gold Tiara Final for two-year-old fillies, while Amelia Rose qualified for the three-year-old fillies Gold Bracelet decider.  FINE FILLY: Amelia Rose has qualified for the final of the three-year-old Gold Bracelet. She will be driven by The Lagoon's Amanda Turnbull.   With the colts and geldings, Wilkins watched as Ideal Dan and Idyllic qualified for the two-year-old Gold Crown Final, while both Mac Dan and Yianni earned their spot in the Gold Chalice Final for three-year-olds. It was a string of results Wilkins had not anticipated. "They are all nice enough, especially the two-year-olds, but I wouldn't say they're the best two-year-olds we had in the stable," she said. "They all had bad draws for their heats, I don't think any of them drew good, so they all had to do a bit of work and were up against it, but yeah, they've done good. "They are all pretty even, the two boys, I don't think you could split them. They actually raced each other their very first start, Ideal Dan beat Idyllic but it was only just. "To have have that amount of horses qualify is amazing and just to be there on the night amongst that calibre of horses is just insane." While admitting the carnival feels different this year without the bumper crowds creating atmosphere - a spectator ban is in place due to the coronavirus - she would still love to be hoisting a trophy come Saturday night. "I have been up here for the carnival nearly every year since I was real young, the Gold Crown is a race I'd love to win," she said. "I'd love to just get a trophy, just one would be good." By Anya Whitelaw Reprinted with permission of The Western Advocate

Four harness racing participants have been stood down as a precautionary measure due to potential exposure to Coronavirus. Harness Racing NSW on Tuesday declared that a participant was found to have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. READ: Harness racing cancelled in NSW The flow-on effect from that has directly affected participants north of the border, who are now awaiting test results now. "The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has this afternoon stood down four Harness racing participants as a precautionary measure pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic," the QRIC statement read. "QRIC Stewards became aware today, that a New South Wales harness driver who had driven at Penrith on Thursday night and Bathurst on Friday night had been in contact with a person who is currently awaiting test results for the Covid-19 virus. "The New South Wales driver has been staying with a Queensland harness driver and subsequently has been in close contact with three Queensland participants. "Acting Commissioner Mark Ainsworth said the New South Wales Harness driver has gone into immediate self -isolation, and the other three men are also considering self-isolating. "None of the men are currently exhibiting any symptoms and Queensland Health has been providing advice to me since I became aware of the situation. "QRIC Harness Stewards have taken the appropriate precautionary measures to protect participants and the Industry." Reprinted with permission of Punters.com.au

Young Mildura harness racing trainer Cassandra O'Brien has got her career off to a flying start after having a licence for only a short time. O'Brien took two pacers to the Ouyen Cup meeting last Sunday. She landed her very first winner when Tell Us We Dream was victorious-and then made it a memorable double an hour later with Graceful Art getting the money. The 24-year-old has been registered as a trainer since October, taking the reins for her veteran horseman uncle Peter O'Brien, when he suffered a stroke - just months after the passing of both Peter's father Jim and brother Gary. Cassandra had been Peter's strapper for about five years. But when Peter was sidelined, she was never going to let the horses slip out of her uncle's life. "He'd been at me and at me to get my trainer's licence, then when he had his stroke, I just had to jump in the deep end - there wasn't anyone else to do it, and the horses are Pete's life," Cassandra said. "I was so lucky that we had a terrific owner in Alan Cordy who just said to me he wasn't going to take his horse somewhere else...he knew I could do it. He had faith in me when others didn't and I appreciated that and it gave me confidence." But nonetheless, Cassandra said it was a steep learning curve, moving "from the passenger seat to behind the wheel". "I always thought I could do it, and Pete had taught me so much that I was confident, but it was still a bit of a whack in the face to be suddenly in charge!" Cassandra said. "I'd never even towed a float before and I'd just learnt to drive a manual car, so I was pretty nervous taking the horses to the track the first time - I think I was driving about 40 kmh!" she laughed. "Then I had to get another trainer to back the float out after we raced that night, but we got there and home safely and that was the main thing." Since then, Cassandra has had 35 starters, and eight placegetters, before Tell Us We Dream (Real Desire - Lils Dream (Badlands Hanover) broke through to record her maiden win as a trainer in the Brow and Body Maryborough Pace at the Ouyen Pacing Cup meeting on Sunday. Two races later, the first success became a winning double, with veteran 10-year-old Graceful Art (Artesian - Denver Grace (Armbro Operative) scoring comfortably in the Nutrien Ag Solutions Pace. "I was so nervous the night before the race, just thinking 'what if I get my first winner?', because I thought Graceful Art was a good chance," she said. "But never in a million years did I think about a double! Tell Us We Dream is a capable enough horse, but you just never know which Tell Us We Dream is going to turn up! "It was an absolutely awesome day. I couldn't stop crying after the first winner and I couldn't stop smiling after the second. It was unbelievable." The O'Briens are now stabled at Merbein South with well-known trainer Ian Watson, and Cassandra said the change had done the horses a world of good. "They've blossomed out there -- we have to put them in the cart every day to work them, and we've changed the way we feed them, and they're a lot happier. The environment out there is terrific as well. It's quiet, and Ian is fantastic. He's happy to answer any questions or give me a bit of advice when I need a hand," she said. Cassandra, who is in the final stages of training as a registered nurse, said Peter was lucky to survive the stroke and, as anticipated, the lure of getting back to the horses was a big motivator in his recovery. Peter O'Brien has spent his entire life around horses, first as a youngster on the show circuit, including at the Royal Melbourne, then in later years as a jumps jockey, before injury forced him to change direction into harness racing. "When we got the horses to the races the first few times he really didn't know much about it, but as he got better, all he wanted to do was get back to the horses. He wouldn't have got anywhere near where he is now if it hadn't been for them." Cassandra said, as well as being a tonic for Peter, the horses had provided a welcome distraction for both herself and her mum Kerri. "We had a shocking year last year with losing Pop and Uncle Gary, then Pete having his stroke - hopefully this is a sign of better things ahead," she said. "We're all still here, we've just changed roles a bit. I used to get angry at Pete for being a grumpy trainer, now it's me that's the grumpy one - but I couldn't do it without either Pete or mum. And the horses kept us all sane through all of it, I think."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura