Day At The Track

When Kurt Sugg looks back on his childhood, some of his fondest early memories of harness racing involved climbing into the family's Ford Ranchero and accompanying his father, Ivan, on trips to the county fairs in Ohio. Sometimes, they would stop on the way to pick up driver Jeff Fout, then continue on their journey to the races. One horse in particular at that time, a pacer named On Bret, was the center of Kurt's attention. The reason was simple. On Bret found his way to the winner's circle on a regular basis. The colt won 13 of 19 starts as a 2-year-old in 1978, just as the then 9-year-old Kurt was becoming immersed in the sport. "I remember going to the fairs and (On Bret) would win all the time; at least it seemed that way when I was there," Kurt said, adding with a laugh, "I guess I got to thinking it was pretty easy back at that time. Being a kid, you don't realize it's not as easy as it appears. But from a child's eyes, that's the way it appeared to me." Kurt jogged his first horse that same year. "My toes just barely could touch the stirrups and my butt was just on the edge of the seat," he said. "This is kind of all I ever really wanted to do. After school, we were always down at the barn helping dad when we got old enough to clean stalls and harness horses and things like that. That's kind of where it started. "And I always liked the competitiveness. That really got me into it. I like being competitive." Eight years after On Bret's rookie season, Kurt won his first race as a driver. In the ensuing 34 years, he has added 4,319 more, plus 1,067 as a trainer. Not surprisingly, he has cited his father as the biggest influence on his career. Ivan was the 2003 Trainer of the Year after guiding No Pan Intended to the Pacing Triple Crown and was inducted into the Ohio Hall of Fame in 2006. "I didn't work for my dad back then (when No Pan Intended raced) so it was kind of different, but I was happy to see my dad have that success in the business, which I think he deserved," Kurt said. "He did this his whole life. "When I was a kid, we went to the horse sales and dad would buy some yearlings, but they were always on the cheaper side, and he developed them into good stakes horses. When he got some little better horses, he proved what he could do with his training ability. That was a thrill for me to watch." Last year as a driver, Kurt won 361 races, the second-highest total of his career and not far from the 375 victories he posted in 2016. His $2.78 million in purses in 2019, though, were a lifetime best. He was off to a strong start this season, with his 96 triumphs tied for seventh among all drivers in North America, before racing was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was second in the driver standings at Northfield Park, trailing only five-time national dash champ Aaron Merriman. "This was by far the best start to a year I've ever had," Kurt said. "Everything was going along very nicely for me. I'm anxious to get back to racing, but I understand we need to do what we need to do to protect ourselves and the whole nation as far as this goes. "We have a big farm here, so we can get out and move around. But, still, not being able to go and do anything is really tough." Kurt has 10 horses at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster and another five horses at home. "We can sit in the living room and look out the window and see the horses in the field, so we really enjoy that a lot," he said. Although the sport faces an uncertain time, Kurt said people in the industry will work together to come through it. "We're pretty competitive on the track but when it comes down to somebody needing something and the welfare of the horses, people are going to band together to help them out," Kurt said. "That's good to see." Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association

Trainer Cran Dalgety’s Bathurst Gold Crown celebration party isn’t going exactly as planned, but it is going to be a long one. Two weeks in fact. That is how long Dalgety will be trapped in the Novotel Hotel at Auckland Airport after being forced into quarantine when returning from overseeing Dr Susan’s Group 1 $100,000 win at Bathurst on Saturday night. Dalgety, who trains the filly in partnership with Nathan Purdon, flew back from the successful Sydney campaign expecting to continue through to Christchurch and then into isolation at home in Canterbury. But the jovial horseman got a shock when he was informed of the new Covid-19 protocols at Auckland airport that meant if he didn’t have somewhere to self-isolate within a five-hour drive he had to go into forced quarantine at the Novotel, which is 50 metres from the Auckland Airport International Terminal. “I think I missed the cut off by a day of two,” laments Dalgety. “So basically I am in lock down in the Novotel, which could be worse, at least I got a nice hotel. “But the rooms are quite small and has no opening windows and I am only allowed outside for 20 minutes a day. I was hoping to be able to use the gym but we aren’t so I am going to try to get the running shoes on and make the most of the 20 minutes. “My daughter has sent me an exercise app so I can work out in the room, but there isn’t much room to do that either.” Dalgety gets food brought to the room three times a day but it is left at the door and he isn’t allowed to collect it until the staff member who drops it off is gone. For a country boy, and one who loves his fitness so much he has completed the famed Coast to Coast, this is a less than ideal situation. “It is not great but I understand the situation and I just have to make the most of it. “I have my phone and my laptop, so I can work a bit, but I have watched Dr Susan’s win on Saturday night plenty of times already.” Dr Susan has travel problems of her own as well as Dalgety was keen to get her to Perth for the West Australian Oaks but those plans have been shelved. “We could fly her but no groom cause it also would have meant whoever flew with her had to self isolate 14 days both there and on the way back, which is not practical. “So she has gone for a spell at Benstud, which is hardly ideal because she is fit and ready to race on. “Technically we could have kept racing her in NSW but she would have been rated a free-for-all grade horse and that is not fair on her. “The real shame is she is racing so well and could have gone there and then the Queensland Oaks but that carnival has been canned. So will have a break and we will have to look at next season.” Dalgety laughs when he thinks of how Dr Susan nearly threw away both her Group 1 wins this season, in the Victoria Oaks and on Saturday. Both time she galloped in the score up and caused false starts before recovering to lead throughout at the second attempt. “She does that when she is really well, she clenches her tail between her legs and gallops,” says Dalgety. “And you wouldn’t believe it it is hereditary. Her grand dam Sparks A Flyin (who won a NSW Oaks) did it and so did her dam Safedra. “I sent her (Safedra) to Luke McCarthy to be trained a few years ago and she was hot favourite for a $50,00 race in Queensland and she did the same thing and blew the start. “It is funny because Dr Susan is a lovely quiet filly most of the time but she gets too well for her own good some race nights.” Dalgety might be feeling the same for much of the next two weeks. So if you are a mate of the man in the colourful shirts don’t be scared to reach out over the next 13 days. Dalgety will have plenty of time on his hands.   HRV Trots Media - Michael Guerin

Three Victorian harness racing trainer-drivers who travelled interstate to contest the prestigious Gold Series finals at Bathurst, NSW, have been the first caught up in changed Victorian quarantine arrangements, announced Sunday. The three were racing in the rich finals of the Bathurst Gold Crown juvenile race series but have subsequently been caught up in the ever-changing and necessary requirements for racing under COVID-19 restrictions. Permissions were granted by both NSW and Victorian authorities on Friday for David Miles, David Moran and David Farrar to travel to Bathurst to drive and race their qualifiers for the Group One Gold feature events for two and three-year-olds. It's believed the trio was advised on Saturday afternoon, after they had already got on the road, that a change in the interpretation of the requirements meant they would need to go into isolation after their return to Victoria. They were further told that they would be permitted to complete their NSW engagements, but on their return, they would be stood down for a period of 14 days and would not be permitted to enter any Victorian racetrack for that period. They initially thought their stables would be shut down for the same period, but they've now been advised they will be permitted to continue preparing their teams, but cannot attend any race track for a period of 14 days and must receive a medical certificate before resuming. The David Miles-trained Focus Stride (Art Major-Sparkling Stride (Christian Cullen) was a boilover winner in the $100,000 Colts and Geldings Gold Chalice Final for three-year-olds. Focus Stride, an impressive winner of the $100,000 Gold Chalice David Moran's Lochinvar Chief was beaten a head, finishing second to Tasty Delight (Bettors Delight-Gentle Audrey (Artsplace) in the $100,000 Group One Gold Crown Final for two year old colts and geldings; and Dave Farrar had made the journey north with The Kew Legend to contest the Gold Crown Consolation, finishing sixth. Although disappointed, the affected trainer-drivers are philosophical about their predicament. "If that's what it takes to do for us to continue racing, I'm more than happy with the decision," Miles said. David Miles after his Bathurst win HRV yesterday released a statement advising that licensees who fail to comply with the requirements face significant penalties, including disqualification. HRV Stewards advised all industry stakeholders, effective immediately: All Licensed persons whom have competed interstate must not attend race or trial meetings in Victoria for a period of 14 days from the date of competition, and must provide a medical clearance to HRV within that 14-day period; Trainers, who are subject to the above restriction, will not be permitted to present a horse to start in a race or trial during this 14-day period; All persons are advised that should they fail to comply with these requirements significant penalties, including periods of disqualification, may be imposed under Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR). AHRR 238 states: A person shall not fail to comply with any order, direction or requirement of the Controlling Body or the Stewards relating to harness racing or to the harness racing industry.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

It is testament to the sort of man Father Dan Cummings was that after decades of enormous success in harness racing that is rarely the first thing which comes to mind when you think of him. Father Dan went to see his big boss upstairs on Saturday afternoon, taking his last breath after a battle with cancer that eventually moved to his lungs. There was little shock in his death, it had been coming for 15 months, since he was diagnosed with the illness and decided to not go down the treatment path. “He wanted to enjoy what time he had left and he did,” said his brother Peter after “Danny” passed away aged 75. “He made the most of his last year but when he got back from the sales he started to get worse and struggled with his breathing at the end.” That Father Dan made the most of his final year is hardly surprising because that was how he lived his life. He entered the priesthood straight out of school and upon being ordained spent much of his working life in the Dunedin diocese (the church’s region). A priest can affect a lot of lives in that time, especially one as popular as Father Dan and he was also at the centre of one of New Zealand’s great tragedies, being the parish priest at Port Chalmers when David Gray shot and killed 13 people in the Aramoana massacre in 1990. “That was a pretty intense time for Danny, being the parish priest during something that bad,” says Peter. But away from a life of service, Father Dan was Danny to his family. Danny loved animals, a love he got from his mother Joan who set up Tuapeka Lodge in 1965. While that extended to harness racing it was originally focussed on rodeo, where Danny held the New Zealand record for bulldogging, which is when a rodeo rider jumps from a horse on to a steer or calf and wrestles it to the ground. This would suggest Danny was a bit of a hard bugger. “He loved the rodeo and was very good at it,” says Peter. But after Mum passed in 1977 Danny (the third of eight children), Peter and sister Julie (Davie) took over the stud with enormous success. “Danny was the breeding and horse expert, I was the farmer and Julie managed it and sometimes prepared the yearlings,” explains Peter. Tuapeka Lodge generally kept their yearlings to 10, selling almost all the colts and keeping the fillies. Dan would train some, including one of their flagship horses in Maureen’s Dream, but it was mainly the colts who made Tuapeka Lodge the respected nursery that went on to prepare 10 yearling sales toppers. Many of them traced back to unraced mare turned superstar broodmare Sakuntala. The family bought her in 1974 and she left 13 winners from 18 foals, including Tuapeka Star who numbered the 1979 Tatlow Stakes at Moonee Valley among her 22 Australian victories and she went on to leave the great Iraklis. “He was one of our favourites,” remembers Peter of the stallion who won the NZ Cup and Miracle Mile and over $1million. He was one of two NZ Cup winners from the Tuapeka breed, the other being Monkey King, even though he wasn’t bred on the farm he was from a mare who was. Sakuntala’s progeny or their progeny have resulted in over 30 horses to win more than $100,000. But good horses alone do not legends make and Father Dan was a harness racing legend. He was ahead of his time with his website and yearling pics and as a man who commanded respect without trying. Come sales time he would be sitting on his lawn chair outside the stables of the Tuapeka Lodge draft, a parish priest to an entire industry. “He could be hard when he needed to be. He was very demanding,” laughed Peter. “He liked things done the right way but we never had a cross word and neither did Julie with him. “But he loved the horses and really enjoyed his involvement with Southern Bred Southern Reared in recent years.” Tuapeka Lodge will continue, with younger family members keen to help Peter and Julie. “I think we have a lovely bunch of horses to take to the sales next year,” smiles Peter. And they will have somebody looking over them from above. A legend. ** Father Dan’s funeral can not be planned yet because of the current Covid-19 restrictions.   by Michael Guerin

Down Under winners with Carter Dalgety will be taking a break for a while because of the reduced number of harness racing meetings that are currently being held in North America due to Covid-19 restrictions.   Sprinter N picked up a win on Monday at Dover Downs.   The Down Under gelding clocked a nice mile in 1:50.4, for Trainer Dylan Davis and Driver Cory Callahan. The son of Mach Three continued on his successful career in the $9,000 Pace. It was his 33 rd career victory and took his stake earnings to a large $448,000.   Sprinter N holds a lifetime mark of 1:48.6. His Down Under career consisted of three Group race placings and was the winner of the Group 1 Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park.   Teo Enteo A scores a victory at Saratoga. Down Under pacer picked up another victory on Sunday in the state of New York. The 12yo clocked a time of 1:54.3 around the half mile (800m) track of Saratoga. Tracy Tarantino did the training along with Larry Stalbaum doing the driving and owning.   It was also the Ambro Oberative geldings 33 rd career victory and extended his stake earnings to $441,000. He was the winner at Group 2 level twice when racing Down Under and placed at Group level on nine occasions.   Monday 16th March   Dover Downs DE Sprinter N – Time: 1:50.4, Stake: $9,000   Miami Valley Raceway OH Onspeed N – Time: 1:54.2, Stake: $10,000     Wednesday 18th March   Saratoga Harness NY Nerve Of Steel N – Time: 1:55.3, Stake: $5,000 Never Say Never N – Time: 1:56.1, Stake: $4,000     Thursday 19th March   Saratoga Harness NY Bontz N – Time: 1:55.0, Stake: $15,000     Sunday 22nd March   Saratoga Harness NY Teo Enteo A – Time: 1:54.3, Stake: $8,030 Khun Ratha A – Time: 1:55.2, Stake: $10,700     Click here for previous weeks articles     by Carter Dalgety

THE Sydney Inter Dominion seems so far away in this climate, but one horse sure to be a major player is WA’s new pacing star Shockwave. Ryan Bell’s four-year-old continued his rise with a narrow, but outstanding free-for-all win at Gloucester Park last night. Shockwave started from the outside (gate eight), did all the work and had to parked outside leader and hot favourite Galactic Star, but still snatched victory. The 1min57.4sec mile rate for 2536m wasn’t blistering, but the closing three splits were: 28.8, 27.3 and 27.7sec. “I’m gutted the Queensland Winter Carnival is off, but obviously there’s a much bigger picture,” Bell said. “We’ll just stay here racing and keeping an eye on what’s happening on the eastern states. “The (Sydney) Inter Dominion is absolutely a target. He’s grown-up a lot since our Carnival (in January).” ____________________________________________________________________________________________ DON’T panic if you’re a Chicago Bull fan. Yes he was scratched from his highly-anticipated comeback run at Gloucester Park last Friday night, but trainer Gary Hall Sr said it was precautionary. “There was some filling, nothing serious, but we’ve come so far to get to this stage I wasn’t going to take any risk,” Hall Sr said. Chicago Bull hasn’t raced since his freak accident in Auckland in October, 2018 which left him with six fractured vertebrae. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ VICTORIAN trainer Mick Stanley just keeps unleashing exciting juveniles this season. Soho Lanikai, Soho Almasi and now Bar Room Banta have all looked outstanding. Bar Room Banta, a colt by A Rocknroll Dance out of Christian Cullen mare Jerada Ace, sparkled winning the Shakamaker Classic at Melton last night (Saturday). Stanley used gate two to lead and never looked in doubt, cruising away to win by 9.3m over the regally-bred debutante Keayang Kamikaze (Bettors Delight-Libertybelle Midfrew). The time was blistering, a 1min53.8sec mile rate for 1720m, including closing splits of 56.3 and 28.3sec. “We’ve got a fantastic crop and he’s right up with any of them,” Stanley said. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ IT’S hard to believe star trotting mare Red Hot Tooth went more than 14 months without a win. She’s been one of the best trotters in Victoria for about two years, but has kept bumping into stars like Tornado Valley in our best races. But trainer Kari Males found the perfect race, a drop back to her own sex in the Group 3 Carlotta’s Pride free-for-all for mares only at Melton last night. And Red Hot Tooth made the most of it, blowing her rivals away after doing all the work to win by 9.7m in a slick 1min56.2sec mile rate for 1720m. It was her first win since the George Gath at Shepparton on January 12, last year. Despite being winless since, she’s earned over $120,000 and run some fantastic races, including a second in the recent Group 1 Great Southern Star. Red Hot Tooth’s now won almost $440,000 with 20 wins and 26 placings from 73 starts.   by Adam Hamilton

The California Horse Racing Board conducted two separate meetings on Thursday, March 26, by teleconference. The public participated by dialing into the teleconference and/or listening through the audio webcast link on the CHRB website. Both meetings were chaired by Dr. Gregory Ferraro, joined for the first meeting by Vice Chair Oscar Gonzales and Commissioners Dennis Alfieri, Damascus Castellanos, Wendy Mitchell, and Alex Solis. Commissioner Mitchell did not participate in the second meeting. The audios of these two meetings are available on the CHRB Website ( under the Webcast link. In brief, during the first, regular meeting: Chairman Ferraro opened the meeting by welcoming Commissioner Castellanos to his initial meeting as a member of the Board. Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Commissioner Castellanos on March 10. In two separate but related actions involving both emergency and permanent rules, the Board voted to re-establish the 48-hour restriction on the administration of medications or other substances to horses entered to race unless otherwise authorized by regulation. The change to the emergency regulation went into effect immediately, while the permanent rule was approved for 15-day public notice. The Board approved a regulatory amendment prohibiting the administration of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide to 2-year-olds. The amendment also reduces by half the level that can be administered to horses permitted to race with furosemide. The Board put over to the April 22 meeting further discussion of a regulatory amendment clarifying that racing veterinarians are under the direction of Official Veterinarians, allowing racing associations input, as requested by The Stronach Group. The Board approved for public notice an amendment to the rule governing penalties that makes veterinarians and other licensees who violate shock wave therapy regulations subject to the same penalties as trainers. The Board approved a regulatory amendment requiring individuals to hold an assistant trainer's license in good standing for one year as a qualification for a trainer's license. The Board approved a requirement for practicing veterinarians to use an electronic on-line form prescribed by the Board when submitting their required veterinarian reports to the Official Veterinarian. The Board approved a regulatory amendment requiring trainers to maintain treatment records of all medications they administer to horses in their care at facilities within the CHRB's jurisdiction. The Board authorized the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club to distribute $90,839 in race day charity proceeds to nine beneficiaries and another $13,744 to four beneficiaries. The Board designated the 2020 fair racing sessions in Pleasanton, Sacramento, Ferndale, and Fresno as a combined meet for pari-mutuel purposes. The Board approved an industry use a designated portion of Advance Deposit Wagering revenue that would ordinarily go to horsemen's purses and racetrack commissions to be used to fund a California co-op marketing program. After the conclusion of the first, regular meeting, the Board reconvened the teleconference to hold a special meeting to address a single agenda item. The Board approved a change to the license application of Watch & Wager LLC, allowing harness racing at Cal Expo to switch race days from Fridays and Saturdays to Tuesdays and Wednesdays.   Reprinted with permission of The Paulick Report

CHICAGO — The daily schedule of harness racing trainer Hosea Williams hasn’t changed much since COVID-19 started to batter Illinois’ economy. He still rises at 4 a.m. each day and heads for the stables of Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero where his six Standardbreds await their daily exercise. There is one difference, though. Once the weekend comes, there will be no racing — and thus, even as his expenses mount, no income. “I’ve got a payroll — not a huge one, but I pay three people every week,” Williams said. “I will be OK. But you’ve got people there who are not OK.” Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order issued to combat the coronavirus outbreak has hammered many trades, but none more than the equine industry. From racetracks to trail rides, many who make a living through horses have seen their incomes dry up almost entirely. But unlike other businesses, horse owners say, they can’t merely hunker down and wait for things to get better. Frizell Thomas, left, is shown at Hawthorn Race Course on Thursday. The Pandemic is expected to have a devastating impact on the Industry “If you’ve got a movie theater, you shut it down and put a closed sign in the window,” said Gerald Hansen, a Monee-based owner and trainer of harness horses. “With horses, they’ve got to eat every day. They’ve got to be worked every day. If this thing goes more than a month, we’re in deep trouble.” Hawthorne began its season the second week of February but got in only five weekends of harness racing before it had to close. No racing means no betting, no purses and no way to offset the roughly $1,500 in monthly expenses each horse racks up. Hosea Williams with his horse, Rollin Coal, at Hawthorn Race Course on Thursday in Cicero. STACEY WESCOTT, CHICAGO TRIBUNE The track briefly planned to keep racing without fans in the stands -- betting would have continued online -- but shut down entirely after Pritzker limited the size of public gatherings. About 600 horses are still boarding at the track, Hawthorne spokesman Jim Miller said, and the backstretch workers who care for them are still there too. He said the Cicero school district, which many of the workers’ children attend, is providing meals for the kids. The stay-at-home order runs through April 7, meaning the track will be idle for at least two more weekends. But Pritzker has suggested the order could be extended, a thought that unnerves the harness racing community. “As this goes on, two weeks, three weeks, we could be OK,” said Tony Somone of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association. “But as it hits four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, we’re going to see some horsemen struggle to feed themselves and feed their horses.” Should it come to that, some will have to sell their horses in a glutted marketplace, though Hansen said the destination of last resort isn’t the proverbial glue factory — it’s Amish country, where families use harness horses to pull buggies. Somone said some in the sport are pursuing emergency small business loans offered by the state, though he questioned whether the money would arrive before racing resumes. The situation isn’t much better with thoroughbreds. The racing season at Arlington International Racecourse is supposed to begin May 1, but that start date seems unlikely. The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which represents owners and trainers, was still negotiating a contract with the track when major sporting events began to be canceled. The talks have remained on hold since no one is certain when public gatherings will again be allowed, said executive director David McCaffrey. “It’s very much shooting in the dark,” he said. Churchill Downs Inc., which owns Arlington International, did not return a request for comment. Though some tracks elsewhere in the country remain in operation, Chris Block, an Illinois-based trainer and breeder, said many horses have nowhere to race. Thoroughbred sales have also felt the impact of the virus: Upcoming auctions have been postponed after the last one saw many horses sold for a fraction of their value, if they sold at all. “A lot of those buyers are heavily involved in the stock market and were hesitant to buy horses (after the market tanked),” he said. Other corners of the industry are also feeling the pain. Paula Briney, president of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois, boards and trains 30 horses near Springfield, and said while fees for those services have continued to come in, that won’t last forever in the coronavirus economy. .............................................................................. Horsemen's Council of Illinois March 24 at 3:26 PM ·  Horsemen’s Council of Illinois - Statement on COVID-19 The Governors executive order states that all Illinois residents are to stay at home if at all possible. If they are using outside space, they must maintain social distancing of at least six feet. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside of a single household or living unit are prohibited. Any gathering of more than ten people is prohibited. All places of public amusement are closed to the public. Horse stables should be considered as such and should be closed to the public except for facility owners and/or essential staff unless arrangements with facility owners have been made to limit exposure to all parties. Only maintenance of the animals (they should be fed and watered as appropriate) housed on these properties should be conducted at this time and this maintenance should be conducted by a limited number of people. All recommendations are to be considered guidance and not legal advice. For further questions pertaining to your situation please contact your Local Health Department or the Department of Public Health. • Closure of facilities to boarders and guests • Cancel riding lessons and training sessions • Essential care of horses should be performed by facility owner(s) and essential staff • Emergency Veterinary and farrier care should be allowed. Facility Owner(s) and staff will assist vet/farrier. Boarder participation should be evaluated on a case by case basis. • Boarders wanting to pick up equipment, tack or personal belongings should contact the facility owner(s). Where possible, boarders could arrange “curb-side” type pickup. For more information please visit the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois Website at ................................................................ The “Shelter in Place” order is difficult for many but please remember that although you can likely survive the Coronavirus, you might carry it to someone who might not be able to survive. This is a temporary situation but with compliance from all we can flatten the curve and return to the full equine lifestyle we share. “The longer this drags out, the more (parts of the industry) this is going to affect, and people will struggle to stay in business and/or keep their horses,” she said. Stables that provide trail rides or lessons are already hurting, she said, though some patrons are underwriting the care of favorite horses despite being unable to ride them. The carriage business run by Tony Troyer near Mendota has taken a big hit, too, with all of his events in April and May on hold. Still, he expressed a note of optimism, saying people in the equine business are naturally resilient and resourceful. “At some point this is all going to turn around,” he said. “We just don’t know where the end of the tunnel is yet because we’re still right smack in the middle.” BY JOHN KEILMAN  Reprinted with permission of The Chicago Tribune  

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys believes racing can continue even if the state escalates coronavirus lockdown restrictions in coming weeks. The biggest meetings of the autumn carnival, The Championships, which will be run at Randwick over the first two Saturdays of April, copped a $10 million cut in prizemoney on Sunday as racing felt the pressure of falling betting turnover. We are sure that we can keep going, we just need the government to understand that. Peter V'landys “We have taken responsibility to run our meetings in a secure environment, and I don’t think that would change in a lockdown and, if anything, we would tighten our protocols. “The government understands what racing brings in revenue and that if we stopped they would lose that, and there would be another 100,000 people affected and a lot of them would be out of jobs . . . we are sure that we can keep going, we just need the government to understand that.” To read the full article written by Chris Roots click here

Saturday March 28, 2020 - Charlottetown, PE - Members and stakeholders of the Prince Edward Island harness racing community combined forces and talents to launch a new program during the COVID - 19 pandemic. The Virtual Tack Room, created by former Standardbred Canada director Kent Oakes, features race videos, a photo parade and special guests sharing memories and stories on the Universum Media Facebook page. The concept was to continue to bring the harness racing community together through technology while practicing social distancing and self-isolation. Co-creators and Red Shores hosts Lee Drake and Peter MacPhee along with race historian Jerry McCabe assist in anchoring the broadcast. Scott MacLean, owner of UMI Sports, handles the production duties. This weeks edition with the 1993 Dairy Queen final with guest Garry MacDonald while Mike Campbell speaks about the Clipper Seelster miracle mile at Fredericton Raceway. The segment also has Winner's Accolade smashing the 2:00 barrier at Summerside Raceway in 1984. The final set highlights pacer of the decade Sock It Away. Lee Drake  

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) advises this week’s Mildura Cup has been postponed. The decision was made to discourage participant travel throughout Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic.   The Mildura meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday night has now been cancelled. Thursday’s Bendigo meeting has been moved to Tuesday night. Trainers are reminded that those nominated at Bendigo not wishing to accept have the option to scratch by 8.30am tomorrow morning. Wednesday’s meetings at Stawell and Shepparton will go ahead as scheduled. HRV will tomorrow morning provide a more detailed view of how the racing calendar will look from Thursday onward. HRV's Trots Media

Harness Racing Victoria has moved quickly to be part of SENTrack, becoming the ‘pop-up’ station’s first rights partner. Crocmedia launched SENTrack today in support of Australia’s racing, harness and greyhound industries - while those sports are still able to operate under COVID-19 guidelines. Harness Racing Victoria chief executive Dayle Brown said the code was thrilled to be part of SENTrack. “We are excited to be a founding partner in the launch of SENTrack, Australia’s newest audio and digital racing platform,” Brown said. “HRV has enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Crocmedia, with programs such as Off the Bench and Trots Talk delivering trots media content throughout all parts of Victoria. “This extension of that relationship with one of Australia’s preeminent sports content innovators gains us new opportunities to boldly promote our content, including race broadcasts, stories, news and views, colour and fun projected nationally to new audiences. “This launch of three pop-up stations is a great start and we’re confident it will be celebrated by our audience and will help us tell the sport’s stories and grow our reach for years to come.” Crocmedia Chief Executive Officer, Craig Hutchison welcomed Harness Racing Victoria to SENTrack. “Harness racing is a vibrant part of our sporting fabric and we are honoured to support the hard-working industry participants who – like others - have been tremendously resilient during this challenging time,” Hutchison said. “At a time when fans are starved of sport due to COVID-19, it’s great to shine a light on the sport to increase community interest and mainstream appeal,” he added. Harness racing directly contributes $380m in economic value and 5,000 plus jobs to Victoria. There are 48 harness racing clubs across Victoria that employ trainers, drivers, stablehands, veterinarians, track maintenance personnel, country club officials, judges and many more. Catch all the action of the eight-race card at Tabcorp Park Melton including the $24,000 IRT Australia Shakamaker Classic tonight on SENTrack in Melbourne on 1377 SEN+; in Perth on the 657 AM frequency; in Wollongong, NSW, on 1575 AM and via the SEN app.  

STAR filly Dr Susan added some serious Kiwi flavour to Bathurst’s huge Gold Crown night, but not without a scare. Just as she did in the Victoria Oaks, the Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon-trained filly galloped in the score-up and caused a false start. Thankfully, she got everything right in the Victoria Oaks and did the same at take-two at Bathurst when she surged through from the pole to hold the lead. That was effectively the race because driver Anthony Butt then rated things to his own terms in front then fended off a challenge from Amelia Rose and later Vincenzina to win easily. It’s continued a fantastic Aussie campaign for Dr Susan (Bettors Delight - Safredra - Mach Three). Her eight runs over here have netted six wins, a second and a fourth. She’s earned over $200,000 during the raid. Butt just missed a Group 1 double when former Kiwi pacer Perfect Stride was just edged-out by the much-improved Focus Stride in the Gold Chalice for three-year-old colts and geldings. It continued Perfect Stride’s frustrating run of minor placings in major races after his Victoria and NSW Derby placings. Perfect Stride had to burn to hold the front, copped some midrace pressure and was out-slugged by Focus Stride in slick 1: 55.7sec mile rate for 2260m. It was a big result for leviathan owner Emilio Rosati, who owns the first two. Focus Stride (Art Major - Sparkling Stride - Christian Cullen), trained and driven in Victoria by David Miles, managed just one placings from 11 runs as a two-year-old, but has gone to a new level this term with seven starts netting six wins and a second. Miles put the improvement down to having Focus Stride gelded. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ WHEN Victorian owner Danny Zavitsanos won last November’s NZ Cup with Cruz Bromac he threw Mark Purdon in the air after the race. He’s have done the same with the first person he saw if Covid-19 restrictions didn’t keep him away from Bathurst last night to watch his two-year-old filly Joanna win the Group 1 Gold Tiara final. “This is a fairytale come true,” he said. “Bathurst means so much to me. I won a consolation with one of the first horses I ever bought, Jodila in 2012 and I’ve gone back every year trying to win one of the big ones. “Add to it we’ve named this filly after Joanna (Danny’s wife) and it’s just the most amazing feeling.” Joanna led, copped plenty of midrace pressure from a headstrong Orchid Stride, and just kept finding to win in fantastic style for driver Amanda Turnbull and trainer Emma Stewart. Such was the pressure, Joanna (Somebeachsomewhere - Replem - Dream Away) took a full second off the class record with a 1min53.7sec mile rate for 1730m. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ BRIAN Portelli’s fairytale ride continued at Bathurst last night. Portelli was on cloud nine after his Bettors Delight colt Tasty Delight scored an upset win in the Group 2 Sapling Stakes at Menangle on March 7. It took him three weeks to raise the bar. Tasty Delight overcome a tricky draw and the hardest run in the race to win the Group 1 Gold Crown final. Hot favourite Lochinvar Chief led and dictated, but just when he looked set for victory, he started to wilt and Tasty Delight raised another effort after sitting parked. Tasty Delight grabbed victory right on the line from Lochinvar Chief with Clayton Tonkin’s Idyllic roaring home from a mile back for an eye-catching third.   By Adam Hamilton

Members and stakeholders of the Prince Edward Island harness racing community combined forces and talents to launch a new program during the COVID - 19 pandemic.  The Virtual Tack Room, created by former Standardbred Canada director Kent Oakes, features race videos, a photo parade and special guests sharing memories and stories on the Universum Media Facebook page. The concept was to continue to bring the harness racing community together through technology while practicing social distancing and self-isolation. Co-creators and Red Shores hosts Lee Drake and Peter MacPhee along with race historian Jerry McCabe assist in anchoring the broadcast. Scott MacLean, owner of UMI Sports, handles the production duties. The next edition airs Saturday March 28th at 9pm AST with the 1993 Dairy Queen final with guest Garry MacDonald while Mike Campbell speaks about the Clipper Seelster miracle mile at Fredericton Raceway. The segment also has Winner's Accolade smashing the 2:00 barrier at Summerside Raceway in 1984. The final set highlights pacer of the decade Sock It Away. The Virtual Tact Room Show 1 By Lee Drake

A showcase night for Ryan Duffy and a double for his mate Mick Stanley took the headlines as racing returned to Tabcorp Park Melton. Duffy entered with three drives and made them all count, saluting on Shoshone Brave, Sundons Courage and Kasbah Kid, while Stanley extended his stellar season with two-year-olds as Bar Room Banta took the honours in the IRT Australia Shakamaker Classic. Every winning moment was enjoyed on Trots Chat, which debuted tonight as an accompaniment to Trots Vision. Here's a wrap of the winning moments: Race One: DNR Logistics Pace Who got up? Shoshone Brave (Isabel Walsh/Ryan Duffy) What happened? Shoshone Brave from the inside gate found leader's back behind Cocosfella. They found separation at the last bend and Shoshone Brave won handsomely. Ryan Duffy: "He did what he set out to do today. He showed in the end he was the best horse in the race and finished off that way."   Race Two: VHRC Carlotta's Pride Trotters Free For All Who got up? Red Hot Tooth (Kari Males/Kerryn Manning) What happened? Red Hot Tooth cruised on to I Am Pegasus' back out of the gates and then advanced to the breeze with little trouble. Comfortably accounted for Auntie Poppy in the straight to show her class in a comfortable win. Kerryn Manning: "I'm pleased to actually win a race on her, been so close so many times. She's a horse who gives everything every time. She got into another gear when she found the straight and just tries her best."   Race Three: TAB Multiplier Trotters Handicap Who got up? Sundons Courage (Brad Angove/Ryan Duffy). What happened? Nothing, and then everything. Father Christmas put them to sleep early with Izmok tucked nicely on his back, before Anywhere Hugo led up the three-wide line ahead of Sundons Courage and Majestuoso, with the latter two bristling late to try and mow down the fresh front runners. Majestuoso got his nose in front in the dying stages only to gallop with a few metres to run and being relegated, with second-placed Sundons Courage instead claiming the win. Majestuoso was relegated to third, with Izmok elevated from third to second. Owing to the protest there was no post-race interview.   Race Four: IRT Australia Shakamaker Classic Who got up? Bar Room Banta (Michael Stanley) What happened? Bar Room Banta held out Jilliby Retro's early challenge to lead and cleared out as they entered the home straight. Keayang Kamikaze was the best of those running on but Bar Room Banta proved much too good, winning by 10 metres.   Race Five: Hygain Captain Sandy Free For All Who got up? Kasbah Kid (Geoff Webster/Ryan Duffy) What happened? Ryan Duffy made it a third salute from five outings with Kasbah Kid tucking behind Forty Thieves out of the gates. The pace stayed honest as Born To Rocknroll ran along in the breeze and when the sprint lane opened Kasbah Kid was ready to pounce. Ryan Duffy: "It's always good to get the support of the trainers and getting the opportunity to drive horses like this is something you dream of being able to do."   Race Six: Allied Express 3YO Classic Who got up? Keayang Jackie (Marg Lee/Glen Craven) What happened? Maajida worked to the lead ahead of Soho Gloria Jane, which meant she parked her main danger - Its Beaujolais - for the last lap. The Emma Stewart runner looked to be cruising at the final turn but paid for her early effort as the pack swarmed, with Keayang Jackie saluting for a third win from as many starts. Glen Craven: "She's a lovely filly. She's got really high speed. She's a better sit-sprinter, and with a smaller field we were able to get a good trail and she was able to do the job up the straight."   Race Seven: Alabar Pace Who got up? American Zest (Michael Stanley) What happened? It was a procession early as Kualoa led with no pressure until the final turn. While Idealsomemagic loomed large on her back, it was American Zest who finished off the best from the one-one to salute ahead of the four-year-old mare, with Repeat After Me running well into third.   Race Eight: Apco Service Stations Pace Who got up? Ellmers Hoofing It (Amanda Turnbull/James Herbertson) What happened? The punters came late and got plenty as Ellmers Hoofing It mowed down leader Blingittothemax late. The latter had worked to the front in the early stages and led for all but the closing stages, with James Herbertson swooping in late to win. James Herbertson: "Lucky to get off the pegs there at the start and we just had to make it a dash home, which we were able too."   HRV Trots Media

The Central Victorian community of Avenel is perhaps best known as the hometown of one of our most famous bush rangers - but the town's pin up boy of harness racing is also as "game as Ned Kelly". The town's famous bushranger terrorised country Victoria in the late 1800s, and the Avenel-based gelding Reactor Now (Auckland Reactor-Who's Sorry Now (Western Ideal) now seems to be following the same path, but with his eye on even greater deeds. Father-and-son combination David Aiken and his reinsman son Josh have produced the gelding for three eye-catching wins from four outings. At his most recent race start at Kilmore, the four-year-old sat parked outside the leader and then ran away from his rivals to win by 22 metres-setting a new track record along the way of 1.53-4. The time shaved .01 of a second off the previous best performance, set back in October of 2014, by former Scott Stewart-trained champion Bitobliss, a winner of 24 races and nearly $500k. Click here to watch the race. And at his two starts prior to venturing to Kilmore, Reactor Now set tongues wagging at Shepparton. On the first occasion he spread-eagled the field with a 33.3 metre win on February 27, following up with a more "sedate" 2.9 metre victory a fortnight later. Click here to watch the 27th February race. Click here to watch the 13th March race. Reactor Now has five wins from eight lifetime starts for earnings of $21,450. He's without doubt a magnificent looking horse destined for bigger things. He was fortuitously purchased after the APG Gold 2016 sale by Graeme and Liz Old, their nephew Frank and his wife Robyn, and their daughter Narelle Hall and husband Steve. The deal was sealed when the group decided to go looking at what had been passed in at the end of the day. Reactor Now was purchased with the input of Craig Wight, husband of well-known Great Western trainer-driver Michelle, who is a keen student on breeding, and Frank who prides himself on picking them on looks. The gelding made his debut in February of last year and after giving Wight's brother-in-law, reinsman Grant Campbell a tough time through being over excited, got around, albeit unplaced and 27 metres from the winner. Reactor Now was back at the track a month later and showed his better qualities with a strong win at Ballarat after being "a mile" off them in the first lap. He then continued on his winning way 13 days later at Terang with a sub-two-minute mile rate. The pacer was far from disgraced when fifth (beaten 11m) in the VHRSC Vic Sires Classic at Melton in 1.55-7 and was then sent for a spell. Reactor Now is undoubtedly destined to be one of the smart ones from a fine crop of Auckland Reactor progeny of his season. Auckland Reactor now has 149 individual winners with more than $4 million in earnings in Australia and New Zealand combined. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura