Day At The Track

The Southland Trainers Premiership went right down to the wire today but Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson with two winners fended off Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis to take out the season’s title by two wins. Williamson’s first winner was Southland’s rising trotting star Chinese Whisper who came from a long way back after pacemaker Davey Mac shot away to a big lead. “You don’t want to be too far back but I knew when I asked him he’d close the gap pretty good,” Williamson said after the four year old won by three and three quarter lengths. “Well probably give him another start in a few weeks’ time. I might ever take him away at his next start to give him a trip away.” The premiership was sealed later in the programme when pacing filly Flight Crew showed plenty of toughness to overcome a wide draw. The winning crew with sponsors Craig Heyrick                – Photo Bruce Stewart “She did plenty of work, came off the unruly and they went 43 (2-43.1). I managed to get a good run early and get into a reasonable spot without her getting too worked up. I was four wide with a lap to go and worked up to sit parked. I was quite impressed with the run.” The wins qualifies the Panspacificflight filly for the Southland Oaks in October. Flight Crew navigating her way to the finish                  – Photo  Bruce Stewart This was the Williamson fourth Trainers Premiership. He’d previously won it in 2013, 2015 and 2016. “Win as many as you can is always the goal. It’s great to do it again. I thought this year I’d have a good shot because we had a lot of nice horses then Covid mucked everything up. We managed to last which was great.” The win also sealed his twelfth Southland Drivers Championship with fifty wins, ten clear of Brent Barclay. The day was capped off for Williamson when he won the Southern Harness Website ‘Drive with Five’ betting competition. He didn’t have a win on the board and was last in the five driver competition. His last bet of $10 each way was on rank outsider Mr Olympus which won and paid $60-30 and $10-50 netting Williamson a cool $738.00   Bruce Stewart

Superstar pacer Chicago Bull is thoroughly enjoying racing every week, and his Hall of Fame trainer Gary Hall Snr declared that the little champion, who has triumphed on the past two Friday nights after racing without cover, will be seen in the role of pacemaker in the $20,000 TABtouch Race Replays Pace over 2130m at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Chicago Bull, with champion reinsman Gary Hall Jnr in the sulky as usual, will start from the outside barrier in the field of six and is poised to notch his fifty-second victory. “There will be a bit of a war early, and whoever wins that war will sit on Chicago Bull,” said Hall Snr. “He’ll lead for sure. He doesn’t do hoppled work during the week and is happy to race every Friday night.” The Murray Lindau-trained Chiaroscuro, who was an easy all-the-way winner of the Kerry Clarke Four And Five-Year-Old Westbred Classic at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago, will begin from the No. 1 barrier on Friday night and Dylan Egerton-Green will be determined to win the start from noted speedy beginner Saleahs Comand (barrier four). Obviously, Chiaroscuro’s best chance of winning would be to sit behind Chicago Bull. The Hall stable will also be represented in Friday night’s event with Ideal Liner, who will be driven by Stuart McDonald from the No. 2 barrier at his second start after resuming from a spell. Ideal Liner enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail last Friday week before wilting to sixth behind Chicago Bull, who raced in the breeze and got up in the final stride to beat the pacemaker Handsandwheels by a nose over 2536m. “Ideal Liner (who has won at 13 of his 27 starts) will improve on his first-up effort and should run second to Chicago Bull,” said Hall snr. Hall is hoping, but not optimistic, for a change of fortune for Our Rhythm N Blues, who will start from barrier two on the back line in the Community TAB Pace. Our Rhythm N Blues has managed just one win (seven starts ago) from his past 28 starts and Hall bemoans the fact that the six-year-old is a non-winner. “Working together at home Our Rhythm N Blues beats Tuas Delight easily, and he can work with Ideal Liner and beats him from time to time. But put him in a race and he won’t poke his head in front. Our Rhythm N Blues will clash with Tuas Delight (Michael Grantham) on Friday night and Hall gives the seven-year-old Tuas Delight “some chance” after working hard and being placed at his past two starts. In this event the Ross Olivieri-trained Madame Meilland is handily drawn at barrier three and has some hope of ending a disappointing losing sequence of 30. Reinsman Chris Voak said: “I think that she will improve sharply, maybe not this week, but in the next two to three weeks. If she was in her best form, she would win this race; she’s got wins over Major Reality and Gotta Go Gabbana.” Voak has sound prospects later in the program with Stroke Of Luck in race seven and Kiwi Bloke in the following event. Stroke Of Luck, an impressive first-up winner three starts ago, maintained his excellent form with close seconds to Son Of A Tiger and Chicago Bull, and he has bright prospects of beating in-form runners Robbie Easton and Machs Gold. Kiwi Bloke, resuming after a spell, will start from barrier one on the front line and should fight out the finish with Im Rocknroll Magic and Rebel With A Grin   Ken Casellas

Punters would be best to remind themselves that it’s not Groundhog Day on Friday night at Addington with the feature pace of the night, the Mico Plumbing Hornby Handicap Pace, mustering the same exact field as the week before. On that occasion Self Assured proved a little too strong from a parked position to pip the brave Classie Brigade who had dictated the mid-race tempo. As punters may appreciate it tends to be a little difficult to make much of the small fields with tempo generally coming out of the event with a dictator of speed likely to score some easy mid-race sectionals. The improvement of both Princess Tiffany may represent the interest factor here along with the form of Self Assured. The feature trot of the night, the Allied Security Handicap Trot,again lacks numbers but does see the clash of the R Dunn trained stablemates in Sundees Son and Pres The Belle. Both have been seen doing sound work in recent workouts and trials with Pres The Belle offering the value in a field that also includes Enchance Your Calm who was well beaten behind the flying Cracker Hill last week. Other animals of note that fill out the card on Friday include the Dalgety / Purdon trained Krug who goes around in race four and looks to continue his strong form. The son of Bettor’s Delight looks to bring up his 5th race day victory from just the 7 starts. An All Stars quinella looks likely in the last of the night the Thanks For Your Support Blue Stars Taxis Pace with Italian Lad drawn on the back of stablemate Aqua Sancta. Main threats in the race may lie with the Mitchell Kerr trained Koenigsegg with a watch on the effort of Cardinal Sin.   Ben McMillan     

The afternoon harness racing card is set for Grand River Raceway’s 30th annual Industry Day event on August 3. The lineup boasts purses of $669,663 with nine stake races, featuring the track’s marquee dashes — the Battle Of Waterloo and Battle Of The Belles — and sophomore pacing fillies in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS). 23rd annual Battle Of Waterloo The Battle Of Waterloo is the tenth and final dash of the day. Elimination winner Bettor Sun drew the rail in the $200,964 contest for freshman Ontario-sired pacing colts.  A 35-1 champ in his maiden-breaking effort, Bettor Sun’s 1:54.1 finish with Doug McNair set a Canadian season record for two-year-old pacing geldings over a half-mile oval. Gregg McNair trains the Sunshine Beach colt for breeder/owner Willow Oak Ranch.  The runner-up by a head in that elimination dash was betting favourite Springbridge Duel. He starts from the second tier (post nine) in the final. Trained by Casie Coleman Herlihy, the son of Big Jim is owned by West Wins Stable, Steve Heimbecker and Mark Kantrowitz and is the richest of the field with $110,150 banked in three starts, including two OSS Gold wins. The other elimination race winner, Candy Trader, starts from post seven. His second consecutive victory for trainer Anthony Beaton came in rein to Sylvain Filion when the pacer popped out from the rail to rush by stretch leader Avion Seelster (post six in the final), winning by a neck in 1:55.2. This mile was also a Canadian season record for two-year-old pacing colts over a half-miler. Past winners of the Battle Of Waterloo contending in this year’s final include: Blake MacIntosh, trainer of Armor Seelster (post three) who won the race with Sports Column in 2016; and the McNair father-son duo won with Magnum J in 2017, Three Of Clubs in 2013, and Trail Boss in 2008. 12th annual Battle Of The Belles Andra Day was an impressive four-length winner in her elimination division, capturing her third consecutive win for trainer Dr. Ian Moore. The in 1:55 clocking set a Canadian season record for rookie pacing fillies over a half-mile track.  She did it all after leaving from the far outside (post eight), which is where she starts again for the $128,149 final. The Shadow Play filly is owned by Let It Ride Stables and Bottom Line Racing. Scarlett Hanover wired the field to capture her maiden win in her elimination division. With Ed Hensley in the bike, the pair clocked the mile in 1:55.3. She’ll start from the second tier (post nine) in Monday’s big dance.  Ashleigh Hensley trains the Bettors Delight daughter, a $45,000 yearling purchase and winner of $37,781 in three career starts for owners Burke Racing Stable, Frank Baldachino, Jandt Silva Purnel & Libb, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Trainer Anthony Beaton was third in the 2018 edition of the Battle Of The Belles with Village Joules and has two fillies in contention this year. Ring Of Kerry (Betterthancheddar) and Turning The Table (Bettors Delight) leave from posts one and two, respectively. Gregg McNair won last year’s edition of the Battle Of The Belles with Karma Seelster. In 2013, he won this race (with Lady Shadow) and the Battle Of Waterloo (with Three Of Clubs). This year he campaigns Siri Blue Chip, a runner-up in her elimination division. She leaves from post three in the final. OSS undercard The day starts with a bang at 12:30 p.m. with the first of two OSS Gold races, this one headlined by current division leader Sex Appeal and last year’s freshman division champ (and O’Brien Award winner) Alicorn. Undefeated in both OSS Gold starts this year, Sex Appeal drew the rail for Monday’s $105,600 contest with Trevor Henry for trainer Bob McIntosh who shares ownership of the homebred daughter of Bettors Delight with Al McIntosh. She has finished first or second in all six season starts for earnings of $115,583. Her last OSS victory at Woodbine-Mohawk Park established a new career mark and Canadian season record of 1:50.2. Starting the race to Sex Appeal’s right from post two, Alicorn is currently tied for third in the OSS standings and jogged in a seven-length qualifying win over the Elora, ON track last week in 1:55.2 (a Canadian season record over a half-mile track). Trained by Chantal Mitchell and driven by Louis Philippe Roy, the Bettors Delight filly is a current track record holder at Grand River Raceway. In 2019, she matched the 1:54.2 clocking for rookie pacing fillies during her elimination win in the Battle Of The Belles. Alicorn was second in that final, beaten a half-length by 27-1 shot Karma Seelster. She too is back in Elora for this 2020 Industry Day opener, leaving from post four with Doug McNair for trainer Gregg McNair. The second OSS Gold division is carded as Race 7 and includes all of the fillies currently holding division standings from second through sixth. Rod Boyd trainee Rose Run Victoria is the most recent OSS Gold winner of the bunch. She set a new career best of 1:51.2 two weeks ago over Woodbine-Mohawk Park and leaves from post two with Robert Shepherd in Monday’s outing. Five divisions of three-year-old pacing fillies in the OSS Grassroots division round out the action-packed card. WAGERING & BROADCAST DETAILS The 10-race Industry Day card kicks off at 12:30 p.m. EST  The Early Pick 4 (starts in Race 3) and the Late Pick 4 (starts in Race 7) both feature guaranteed pools of $7,500 each. Race programs and live streaming video in HD are available for all cards at and wagering is available through COSA-TV (managed by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association) will present exclusive Industry Day coverage in a live two-hour special hosted on its social media platforms. The show is hosted by Greg Blanchard, Mark McKelvie and Jaimi MacDonald and will include coverage of the Battle of Waterloo and Battle Of The Belles, feature stories about the contenders and prizing opportunities for viewers.    SPECTATORS Grand River Raceway is currently allowing 100 guests on the tarmac during live races. Attendees are still required to follow strict physical distancing requirements. The grandstand and main building remain closed. Attendance is restricted to AGCO licensees and pre-registration is required. Tickets are available through Eventbrite at Tickets for owners of horses racing on August 3rd will be made available July 29 at 12:00pm, AGCO Licensees on July 31 at 12:00pm, and General Admission, if tickets remain, on August 3rd at 9:00am. Owners and their guests of the finalists in the Battle Of Waterloo and Battle Of The Belles will be given first opportunity to secure tarmac attendance. From Grand River Raceway  

Ake Svanstedt believes Back Of The Neck has got it all, which is everything a harness racing horse needs in the Hambletonian. Back Of The Neck is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the first of Saturday's two $50,000 Hambletonian Stakes eliminations at The Meadowlands. The colt is a nose from being unbeaten in three races this season and will start from post one with Scott Zeron in the sulky for trainer Svanstedt. The top-five finishers from each elimination advance to the $1 million Hambletonian final Aug. 8 at the Big M. Elim winners draw for post one through five for the final. The Hambletonian is racing's premier event for 3-year-old trotters. Svanstedt will send out a total of four horses in the eliminations, with Third Shift joining Back Of The Neck in the first, followed by Jula Trix Treasure and Moon Bridge in the second. First post is at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) and the Hambletonian eliminations are races six and eight on the 13-race card. Back Of The Neck, trained by Marcus Melander in 2019, won three of nine races last year, including a division of the W.N. Reynolds Memorial and an elimination of the Willliam Wellwood Memorial. He finished third in the Wellwood final. This year, the colt was second in a 3-year-old open before winning divisions of the Reynolds and Stanley Dancer Memorial, both in 1:52. All three starts were at The Meadowlands. "He has won with power left every time," Svanstedt said. "He feels good and he trains good. I think he's in good condition. "He is a strong horse. He has a big engine and is good gaited. I think he has a good head also. I think he has everything. But for a horse to have a chance to win the Hambletonian, they must have everything. They must have the power, they must have the speed, and they must have the heart. They must want to win." Back Of The Neck raced on the lead in his first start in 2020, but from off the pace in his most recent outings, winning with strong stretch drives. "Scott said he was grabby the first time, but the last two races he hasn't been grabby," Svanstedt said. "It was no problem to back off. He is very nice to drive and he can come home very fast." Zeron is already a two-time winner of the Hambletonian at the age of 31. He won in 2018 with Atlanta and in 2016 with Marion Marauder, who went on to sweep the Trotting Triple Crown (Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, Kentucky Futurity). Back Of The Neck is owned by Howard Taylor, Judy Taylor, and breeder Order By Stable. The colt is a son of French star Ready Cash out of Big Barb. Ready Cash also sired the favorite in the second Hambletonian elimination, Ready For Moni. Third Shift heads to his Hambletonian elim off a second-place finish behind Back Of The Neck in the Dancer. In his other two starts this season, he won a division of the New York Sire Stakes and a division of the Empire Breeders Classic. Last year, the son of Chapter Seven-Overnight Command won three of eight races, including the New York Sire Stakes championship. He will start from post two in his Hambletonian elim, with Svanstedt driving. "I think Back Of The Neck is a better horse, but Third Shift is not so bad," said Svanstedt, who owns Third Shift with Mellby Gard Inc. "I raced him (on the lead) last time, drove him tough, because I wanted to stretch him out before the Hambo. I think he can do better." Svanstedt also will drive Jula Trix Treasure in the second Hambletonian elimination. Jula Trix Treasure, by 2014 Hambletonian winner Trixton out of Victory Treasure, won a division of the Reynolds on July 11 in 1:51.2, which is tied for the second-fastest victory time by any of the 17 horses entered in the Hambletonian. For his career, he has won four of 10 races for owner Jula Racing. He enters his Hambletonian elim off a fifth-place finish in the Tompkins-Geers Stakes last week. He will start from post three and is 6-1 on the morning line. "The last race he wasn't a hundred percent gaited and lost ground in the last turn," Svanstedt said. "We're going to do some small changes to try to make his gait better. He's always been strong and comes home good. He's a fighter." Moon Bridge, who will have Andy Miller in the sulky, has a win and a second in three starts this year. His triumph came in his most recent race, July 17, by 12-1/4 lengths in 1:52.2. The Hambletonian elim will be his first Grand Circuit race of the season. Last year, he won two of eight races, including the Ontario Sire Stakes championship. Moon Bridge, a son of E L Titan-Classic Belle, will start Saturday from post nine and is 20-1. He is owned by Esa Lahtinen, Janne Korpi, and Jussi Hietalahti. "He's good gaited and he always does the job," said Svanstedt, who won the 2017 Hambletonian with Perfect Spirit as the result of What The Hill's disqualification for interference. "I think he's as good as he can be. We'll see how far he can go." Eliminations for the Aug. 8 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old filly trotters were unnecessary, but eight Oaks finalists will be in action in an open for 3-year-old filly trotters. Also in action will be Meadowlands Pace champ Tall Dark Stranger in the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers. For complete entries, click here.  Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

What was billed as the final race for champion Bold Eagle on August 1 shapes up as just that as nine rivals will challenge the Hugues Monthule driven and Sebastien Guarato trained winner of 46 races for 4,990,967€ earned and a speed record of 1.08.9kr. Driver Monthule is a long time lad that has looked after Bold Eagle during his career and who now is driving regularly and has 58 victories. The race is the Gr. I Grand Prix de Wallonie to be raced over 2300 meters at Mons Ghlin (Belgium) for a purse of 120,000€. Bold Eagle, the nine-year old son of Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet will face a top field that includes his son Face Time Bourbon (5m Bold Eagle-Vita Bourbon) that will have Bjorn Goop at the lines along with Valokaja Hindo and Tony Gio among the contestants. FTB has posted 21 victories so far worth 1,716,300€ in career earnings. Hippodrome de Wallonie Mons Ghlin files/images by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

While all eyes have been on the harness racing return of crack reinsman Daryl "Dasher" Douglas, his younger brother Glenn has bobbed up with a career highlight to steal the march on Dasher's comeback victory. Glenn, based at the Bendigo suburb of Strathfieldsaye, landed his 2000th training victory at his home track on Sunday night. "I really had no idea that I was getting near that number. I guess I'd never really thought seriously about it," the laid-back trainer said. "I suppose in years to come I might look back on it and think it was a bit of an achievement - it's a bit like footballers who kick a winning goal. You don't think much about it at the time, but it's brought up by fans years and years later." The multiple Victorian premiership trainer said while he wasn't aware of the significance of the win, members of his family were. "I think (longtime family friend) Steve Warren might have tipped off our eldest daughter Laura that I wasn't far away from reaching 2000. And of course, I'm happy to have achieved it. "Steve got to know us after he was left to baby-sit us at Bathurst years ago. We were quite young, but he's watched us grow up and taken a personal interest. He's a great mate, who is just passionate about harness racing." Glenn reached the magical 2000-win milestone with stable newcomer You Ninety Two (Auckland Reactor-Numismatic (Elsu). He later made it a double when successful with Van Niekerk (Net Ten Eom-Rosie Lindenny) which took him to 54 wins and 127 placings for the season. But not to be outdone, two nights later again at Bendigo, brother Daryl posted his first comeback victory after stepping away from the sport more than five years ago. Daryl has over 4000 wins to his credit and is one of our country's most successful reinsmen - and got the money with six-year-old trotting mare Bacardi Jess prepared by Glenn. It was only a matter of time before Daryl got back into the winner's circle. He drove at Shepparton last Saturday night and then had one engagement at Bendigo the following night, prior to competing at that venue again on Tuesday. He had posted a third, two fourths and a fifth from 10 attempts, but in fairness they ranged in double figure starting price from 12/1 to 50/1. "We were giving Daryl heaps of ribbing about not being able to get a winner," Glenn laughed. "Someone even suggested he should try and apply for a five-point concessional claim! He took it all on the chin, and he got there in the end. He's never someone who's full-on with emotion, but he was entitled to feel that it was some sort of achievement," Glenn said. Glenn said former training great Peter Tonkin, father of Clayton, would have been one pleased to see Dasher's success. "He's always been a great support to Daryl and was another one who did a lot behind the scenes to get him back driving." Bacardi Jess (Bacardi Lindy USA-Strapon (Straphanger) led all the way to win the $7000 TLC Carpentry Trot for owners Margaret Cameron and Roma Pocock, who helps out at the Douglas stables. Glenn said he was elated to see Bacardi Jess, not only win for his brother, but also for the connections. "They both love the sport and Roma in particular has been involved in a number of roles over many years. She is an absolute gem to have around our stables. We have between 25 and 30 in work and without her help and support, we'd be lost," he said. "Roma comes and gives us a hand for three hours on most days and keeps things rolling along."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Guelph, ON - July, 29, 2020 - A generous donation of $100,000 to Equine Guelph has been made by the Kerr family to establish an equine education and community outreach endowment. A portion of the Kerr Fund for Equine Education and Community Outreach will support much needed ongoing operational funding for the University of Guelph’s not-for-profit Centre for the horse owner.   Sheryl Kerr was inspired to set up the fund through her positive experience taking courses on, Equine Guelph's online learning platform. After taking the Horse Care and Welfare course, quoting from the National Equine Code of Practice came naturally for creating a Covid-19 response plan for her 150-acre farm and training facility. Kerr was impressed with the practicality of the Equine Guelph course and how lessons learned could be directly applied to daily operations.   Having learned so much myself from Equine Guelph's online courses, I know first-hand how much value they bring to the horse community," said Kerr. "Our horses deserve the very best, and Equine Guelph has access to the latest advice from experts across a range of topics that are essential for any horse owner from beginners to barn owners."   Equine Guelph Director Gayle Ecker expressed gratitude and says, “the funding will help us to continue to build our practical and affordable educational programs and industry resources that help improve horse welfare.   The global reach of Equine Guelph's programs was recognized recently by Equestrian Canada as the 2019 recipient of their National Health and Welfare Award. Equine Guelph has been a pioneer in the development of evidence-based, award-winning online education since 2002.   Many student testimonials resonate with Kerr's sentiments, extolling the merits of a wonderful online learning community, the quality of content and expertise of the instructors and guest speakers.   "My hope is that the Kerr Fund for Equine Education and Community Outreach will bring greater awareness for the excellent programs and resources that Equine Guelph has to offer, as well as to inspire others in the horse community to give," said Kerr. "Any horse enthusiast can benefit from what Equine Guelph has to offer, and programs like this rely on donations to survive and thrive."   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph    

Sister Sledge might not have attracted overwhelming attention heading into this year's Hambletonian, but as one of two harness racing fillies in Saturday's (Aug. 1) eliminations at The Meadowlands, she should find plenty of eyes on her now. The Ron Burke-trained Sister Sledge has won three of four races this season and 11 of 16 lifetime. She has hit the board in every start, finishing worse than second only once, on her way to $622,058 in purses. Sister Sledge finished second to Ramona Hill in Dan Patch Award voting for best 2-year-old female trotter of 2019. Ramona Hill also was entered in the Hambletonian, which is the sport's premier race for 3-year-old trotters. This is the first time multiple fillies will take on the boys in the Hambletonian since Act Of Grace and Continentalvictory in 1996, and only the second time since 1983. Continentalvictory won the 1996 Hambletonian and was the last filly winner until Atlanta in 2018. Sister Sledge is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line in the second of Saturday's two $50,000 Hambletonian eliminations. She will start from post two in a nine-horse field. Ready For Moni, trained by Nancy Takter, is the 5-2 favorite after winning his only start of the season, a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on July 18, in 1:51.4. The top-five finishers from each elimination advance to the $1 million Hambletonian final Aug. 8 at The Meadowlands. "We're in a very good spot," Burke said. "(Post two) gives her options. It's going to be tough, but I at least like where we're starting." Burke decided Tuesday morning to put Sister Sledge up against the boys in the Hambletonian, rather than entering the fillies-only Hambletonian Oaks, but it was something he had been considering all year. "I don't think the Hambo is any tougher than the Oaks," Burke said. "I think if you graded the races out, they would be equal. If anything, I thought the fillies were a tad tougher. So even if you say they're even, one race goes for $1 million and the other goes for ($600,000). It doesn't take a lot of brain work to realize that if I can race for a million in basically the same class, I'm going to go for the million. "I think there are a lot of very nice horses (in the Hambletonian) but I don't think anyone is tons better than the others. So, I'll take my shot. It wasn't like you were going to go to the Oaks and just go a training mile around there. They're going to go too. Hopefully, we get past the elimination. I like the decision I made. Even if it doesn't work out, in my mind, I put time into it and thought it out and I had reasons for what I did." Another factor was the return to Hambletonian eliminations being contested the week prior to the final, rather than the single-day format for elims and final in recent years. "If there had been two heats, it would have been a different decision," Burke said. In the build up to this year's Hambletonian, several fillies were mentioned as possible contenders to challenge the boys, with Ramona Hill, Sorella, Hypnotic AM, and Panem among that group. Sister Sledge was not. "I don't know where she fell out of favor," Burke said. "To me, she was the best filly last year; you could rate her or Ramona Hill. This year, everyone is talking about different horses. We beat all them last year and all we've done basically this year is win. If you look at her lines, she's consistently good. Even when she's been beat, there have been excuses. I think she's classy. I think she deserves the shot." Sister Sledge, a daughter of Father Patrick out of Behindclosedoors, won her first two races this season at The Meadows, both Grand Circuit stakes, by a total of 10 lengths. She finished second by a quarter-length in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Harrah's Philadelphia before winning a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes by 4-3/4 lengths in 1:51.2 at The Meadowlands last weekend. "We've gone where her races are," said Burke, who trains the filly for Burke Racing, Jason Melillo, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. "She's a Pennsylvania-bred, I'm not going to race her at The Meadowlands every start. I've got to make money with her. The money was in Pa., knowing I would come (to The Meadowlands) the week before the Hambo. "She's been great. Maybe she didn't get around Philly great, but she was great at The Meadows and, to me, she has every right to improve off that (last start). She's only been (at The Meadowlands) one week and she needed to stretch. I think you'll see her be better." Among the 17 Hambletonian entrants, Sister Sledge's 1:51.2 mile is tied for second fastest this year. Ramona Hill holds the fastest win time in the group, 1:50.3. Ramona Hill is 5-1 in the first Hambletonian elimination, starting from post seven in the eight-horse field with Andy McCarthy driving for trainer Tony Alagna. Back Of The Neck, trained by Ake Svanstedt, is the 2-1 favorite. Amigo Volo, last season's male 2-year-old Breeders Crown champion, is 7-2 and Beads is 9-2. Last year, Ramona Hill won six of seven races, capped by her victory from post 10 in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly trotters at Woodbine Mohawk Park. She has raced twice this year, finishing third in her debut before winning the Del Miller Memorial with her 1:50.3 score from post 10 on July 18 at The Meadowlands. "I have a lot of confidence in Ramona Hill; she'll get me where I need to go," McCarthy said. "When you have a horse that you know whatever happens, I know I'm going to leave fast enough to either make the front or get close and we can figure it out after that, it does make you feel better no matter what the draw is. "Pulling up after that mile (in the Del Miller), and it doesn't happen very often, but I actually got goosebumps. Hats off to the horse. I've just got so much respect for her. She's just a game, tough horse, and will do whatever you ask her to do. And she enjoys it." Ramona Hill, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy, is owned by Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert LeBlanc, and In The Gym Partners. Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at The Meadowlands. The Hambletonian eliminations are races six and eight on the 13-race card. Eliminations for the Aug. 8 Hambletonian Oaks were unnecessary, but eight Oaks finalists will be in action in an open for 3-year-old filly trotters. Also in action will be Meadowlands Pace champ Tall Dark Stranger in the Tompkins-Geers Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA    

In accordance with Governor Mike DeWine's latest directive, the Delaware (OH) Grand Circuit harness racing meet, including the 75th Little Brown Jug (September 24), will be conducted without spectators. The Delaware County Fair will conduct only a Junior Fair this year. "It is a disappointing day for us. We have been working diligently with the Delaware County Health Department and we felt we could put on a safe event on a smaller scale," said Tom Wright, director of racing and president of the Delaware County Agricultural Society Board. "We respect the directive and will do our part to make sure we have a safe event for all." The Little Brown Jug typically draws upwards of 40,000 spectators from across North America. Fans will be able to watch and wager on the 2020 Grand Circuit Meet (September 20 - 24) and the Little Brown Jug through its simulcast network. The harness racing will be conducted in accordance with the protocols of the "Safe Return to Racing" as established by the Ohio State Racing Commission. The Delaware County Fair will hold a virtual, online sale for the 2020 Junior Fair. The Junior Fair Sale Committee is still finalizing details and will announce more information as it becomes available. Further information regarding previously purchased tickets will be mailed in the near future. Supporters of the Little Brown Jug and the Delaware County Fair are urged to visit and for the latest news. by Jay Wolf, for the Little Brown Jug

With his first metropolitan winner under his belt, young NSW harness racing driver Justin Reynolds now wants to "tick another box" tonight. Reynolds, 20, of Oberon, on the edge of the famous Blue Mountains, has been booked for five drives at nearby Bathurst and only needs one more winner to go to a career milestone of 50. "I'm on some long shots, but if I can give them an easy time, they could surprise. One of them has winning form and a few of the others have been recent placegetters," he said. Reynolds, who has been driving for a little over three years, broke his metropolitan maiden status with four-year-old gelding Kanena Provlima (A Rocknroll Dance-Mes Ti Tsepi (In The Pocket) at the Menangle meeting last Saturday week. "It was pretty exciting because the pacer is trained at The Lagoon, near Bathurst, by Ben Settree. We just held on by a narrow margin after leading all the way," Reynolds said. "Although I won on the horse at its previous start at Dubbo, I was so lucky to get the drive. I only picked it up because Anthony Frisby, who normally drives him at city meetings, is away in Queensland," he said. "He paid $15 for the win which I thought was a 'bit overs'! His form read okay, and we travelled down thinking that he certainly had some claims. "I have had one other Menangle victory-but it was a country Tuesday meeting. I landed Jerulas Grin for hobby trainer Wayne White, who lives in the same town as us." Reynolds last year competed around the State in the NSW Rising Stars driving competition, finishing third, and is showing he's certainly a young man to keep an eye on in the future. Justin Reynolds on the track at Parkes earlier this year      --Clarinda Park Photography He is the third generation of the Reynolds family to be involved in harness racing, following his father David and grandfather Russell into the sport. "When I was probably about 12 years old, I would give my grandfather a hand. He would get me to clean out the boxes. Then a bit later, he let me to do some of the fast work," he said. "Now I work in with dad and between us we do six to eight horses. It can be busy at times because dad also works for the State Forests, and I have a part-time laborer's job at Spark Electricals. "They are very good and give me time off to drive at trots meetings, but I am hoping to get an electrician apprenticeship with them one day."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - With each having recorded a sharp score in their respective divisions of the Stanley Dancer Memorial, Back Of The Neck and Ready For Moni have been installed as the morning-line favorites in their respective Hambletonian eliminations, which take place Saturday (August 1) night at The Meadowlands. The Hambo Final is August 8. In the first of two $50,000 elims, Back Of The Neck is listed at 2-1 from post one for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Ake Svanstedt. After missing a nose in his seasonal debut on June 27 to Sorella - one of The Hambletonian Oaks favorites - the son of Ready Cash-Big Barb has reeled off two straight wins from off the pace in impressive fashion, scoring in the July 11 Reynolds in a lifetime-best 1:52 before his Dancer win on July 18, also in 1:52. "No, he is not one dimensional," said Zeron after being asked if his horses' best game is coming from behind. "His best effort was on the front end in his first start. To have come home in :26.1 and get picked off at the last second, that was a great effort. "I avoided the front end going forward because I wanted to teach him to do other things. [Having drawn post 1] Gives me options. I definitely don't have one trip in mind. I avoided the front in his last two on purpose, but we will play it by ear. I'm happy with the post position." Ready For Moni will start at 5-2 on the big board from post 8 in the second elim as Nancy Takter and Yannick Gingras look to become the first trainer-driver team to sweep The Meadowlands Pace and The Hambletonian in the same year. The son of Ready Cash-Nothing But Moni went a perfect cover trip in his only outing of 2020 when he won his Dancer split in a lifetime-best 1:51.4 after kicking home in :27.1. So, what about the outside post position? "I'm a little indifferent about it," said Takter. "On paper, it looks like we are in the easier of the two eliminations. I think we are in good shape. I think the eight is a good spot." Takter is not concerned about Ready For Moni having only had one outing this season. "It's just the way his schedule played out," said Takter. "I would have preferred one or two more starts but all of our horses have a good foundation. I think it's a myth that these horses need a lot of races. They go so fast. I think [having too few starts] is better than having too many." For the complete post-position draw of both Hambletonian eliminations, go to HAMBLETONIAN – 1st ELIMINATION (Purse $50,000): 1. Back Of The Neck (Scott Zeron, Ake Svanstedt), 2-1 2. Third Shift (Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt), 8-1 3. Amigo Volo (Dexter Dunn, Nifty Norman), 7-2 4. Big Oil (Andy Miller, Julie Miller), 10-1 5. Maesteraemon (Brian Sears, Marcus Melander), 12-1 6. Hollywood Story (Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander), 10-1 7. Ramona Hill (Andy McCarthy, Tony Alagna), 5-1 8. Beads (Jimmy Takter, Per Engblom), 9-2 HAMBLETONIAN – 2nd ELIMINATION (Purse $50,000): 1. Capricornus (Tim Tetrick, Marcus Melander), 15-1 2. Sister Sledge (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 3-1 3. Jula Trix Treasure (Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt), 6-1 4. Rome Pays Off (Mattias Melander, Marcus Melander), 9-2 5. Threefiftytwo (Scott Zeron, Luc Blais), 8-1 6. Chestnut Hill (David Miller, Nifty Norman), 6-1 7. Sky Castles (Corey Callahan, Andrew Harris), 20-1 8. Ready For Moni (Yannick Gingras, Nancy Takter), 5-2 9. Moon Bridge (Andy Miller, Ake Svanstedt), 20-1 FABULOUS FILLIES: Attempting to become the next filly to win the Hambletonian (Atlanta was the last in 2018) are Ramona Hill (5-1 in the first elim) and Sister Sledge (3-1 in elim two). OAKS A SINGULAR EVENT: The $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks saw 12 horses enter, meaning that event for 3-year-old fillies on the trot will not need eliminations and will be one dash for the cash on Saturday, August 8. To view the complete list of horses entered, go to POST DRAWS LIVE: The post-position draws for both The Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks will take place during Saturday night's program at The Meadowlands and will be broadcast on the track's in-house simulcast feed live. by Dave Little, for the Meadowlands  

Double Exposure (7f Donato Hanover-KD Girl-Self Possessed) easily won today’s 2020 Hugo Abergs Memorial in Sweden (first prize 1,609,000SEK, distance 1609 meters autostart, 10 starters before one scratching) with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer Daniel Reden and Stall Zet. She reached the lead quickly from post four and it was over. This was her fourth 2020 win in five outings and she now has a 23-5-3 sale in 46 starts for 7,773,834SEK earned. Cokstile (7m Quite Easy-Joystile-Coktail Jet) was second for trainer/driver Wim Paal, his first start in the Paal stable. Tae Kwon Deo (5m Muscle Hill-Brigham Dream-Kaisy Dream) made a big challenging run and held on for third with trainer Adrian Kolgjini up. The previously unbeaten Ecurie D (4m Infinitif-To Seen-Muscle Yankee) was fourth and until very late never was in the hunt from second tier post 10. Vitruvio made a miscue in the final turn with Ecurie D behind him and post nine second tier Ble du Gers made a break before the start. Campo Bahia was scratched. In any event, Double Exposure this day was much the best. She was bred in the US by J&T Silva Stables LLC and she is from an outstanding Lady Suffolk winner KD Girl, she from True Love by Pine Chip. KD Girl won US$297,080 much of it in her three year old campaign in America. Double Exposure   After the big race was the marathon Malmo Stads Pris 2020 (first prize 250,000SEK< distance 3140 meters distance handicap) and Who’s Who (6m Maharajah-Reality Pride-From Above) swept past rivals in the late lanew to score in 1.13.4kr for Orjan Kihlstrom, trainer Pasi Aikio and owner Travkompaniets Stall AB (public company). He overcame a 40 meter handicap to take his first 2020 win in two starts and 16th in a 29 race career. His life earnings are now 7,229,759SEK. He was off at 5.1/1 and bested favorate Unoicsdue Gnafa (7m Goetmals Wood-Minuit-Daguet Rapide) and Etenclin (6m Jag de Bellouet-Volpaia-Ganymede). Well-regarded Vikens High Yield made a miscue early, circled the field to gain second and then faded late. Whos Who ATG, Maharajah, Jagersro files/photos by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink    

WASHINGTON, PA, July 28, 2020--When Papi Rob Hanover blazed to a world-record 1:47.1 in last week's eliminations for the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids, the harness racing world eagerly anticipated what he might do for an encore in the $375,000 Adios final on June 1. Alas, it won't happen, as Papi Rob Hanover has been withdrawn from the final with what his owner, David McDuffee, describes as a stress fracture of his left front coffin bone.   With Papi Rob out, attention turned to Catch The Fire and The Greek Freak, the other elimination winners, who got to select their post positions.The connections of Catch The Fire, after winning the draw for selection order, choose post 3, while The Greek Freak's camp opted for post 4. Papi Rob Hanover's withdrawal opened a spot for Captain Barbossa, who drew in as the fourth place finisher with the highest career earnings.   The Adios, which goes as race 15 with an approximate post time of 4:02 PM, anchors a powerhouse card that also features the $107,320 Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, a $59,088 Arden Downs stake for freshman colt and gelding pacers, and a $35,690 Arden Downs event for 2-year-old filly pacers. Other highlights include a pair of stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters: a $187,182 Pennsylvania Sires Stake and an $80,000 PA Stallion Series event. The card gets underway at the special post time of 11:25 AM.   McDuffee said Papi Rob Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere-Panera Hanover nearing $1 million in earnings after only 16 career starts, including a second-place finish in the Meadowlands Pace, won't race again this year.   "I don't think his injury happened at The Meadows," he said. "I believe it occurred in the Meadowlands Pace when he hopped for a moment and David (Miller) had to take hold of him. If he'd shown any signs of injury, we wouldn't have raced him at The Meadows. You saw how easily he won his elimination."   He said he won't make a hurried decision on the horse's future.   "It's not a life-threatening injury; it will heal in time," he said. "There could be a lot of records he could set at 4. Stallion-wise, he's also generating a lot of interest. He's a very special, smart horse. Papi Rob will be heard from again."   Trainers Tony Alagna and Ron Burke each will be represented by three horses in the Adios. Here's the field with post positions, trainers and drivers:   $375,000 Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids   1. Later Dudes Brian Brown David Miller 2. Capt Midnight Tony Alagna Andrew McCarthy 3. Catch The Fire John Ackley Mike Wilder 4. The Greek Freak Ron Burke Matt Kakaley 5. No Lou Zing Nancy Takter Josert Fonseca 6. Sweet Truth Ron Burke Yannick Gingras 7. Chief Mate Tony Alagna Scott Zeron 8. Captain Barbossa Tony Alagna Brian Sears 9. Elver Hanover Ron Burke Chris Page   By Evan Pattak, for the MSOA  

A total of 17 three-year-old trotters have entered the harness racing $1M Hambletonian on August 8. There are 15 colts along with two fillies, Ramona Hill (Tony Alagna) & Sister Sledge (Ron Burke) have opted to try the open competition. There will be two $70,000 eliminations carded for this Sat., Aug. 1 and posts will be drawn on Meadowlands Facebook at 1:30 p.m today. There are a total of 12 filly trotters entered for the 50th edition of the Hambletonian Oaks. All 12 will go directly to the $500,000 final slated for Saturday, August 8. Post positions for the Oakes will be drawn during the race card Saturday, Aug. 1 at the Meadowlands. Habletonian Oaks by Ken Weingarter, for the USTA  

Columbus, OH — Papi Rob Hanover has suffered a broken coffin bone and his owner David McDuffee indicated that he is done racing for the rest of the year and is probably headed to stud according to a story posted on the Harness Racing Update Facebook page. On Saturday (July 25), Papi Rob Hanover and regular driver David Miller recorded a 1:47.1 world record for a 3-year-old colt on a five-eighths-mile track when he won his Adios elimination at The Meadows by 10-1/2 lengths. “There’s no question there is a fracture there that will prevent him from racing this year, anyway,” McDuffee said of the career winner of $927,979 trained by Brett Pelling. “It’s, obviously, a very tough thing to even think about for him because I think everybody started to realize what a great horse he is and that his best days were, obviously, ahead of him.” McDuffee said while it is possible Papi Rob Hanover could race next year and beyond, his preference is to find a good stallion home for the son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Panera Hanover. To read the complete story on Harness Racing Update’s Facebook page, click here.