Day At The Track

High Gear No Fear picked up where he left off last season, winning the Thursday, Mar. 25 conditioned harness racing feature trot at Woodbine Mohawk Park in his seasonal debut to extend his streak to four.   With Doug McNair at the controls, the four-year-old gelding assumed the third position going into the turn. McNair activated him just past the quarter in 27.1, and he rolled to the front going to the half in 56.4. The pair then took a third-quarter breather, finishing the panel in 1:27.1.   Tymal Riggs (Louis Philippe-Roy), the earlier leader, made his move rounding the turn and matched speed with High Gear No Fear as they trotted for the line. The latter was better on the night though, edging a three-quarter-length victory in 1:56.   Tymal Riggs finished second, and Tymal Tarot (Sylvain Filion) made up ground in the final quarter take the show spot.   HIGH GEAR NO FEAR REPLAY     High Gear No Fear, the 1/5 favourite, grew his tally to seven from 18 attempts and surpassed $60,000 in earnings with the win. Stephen Bossence trains the Whom Shall I Fear gelding for Stephen Palermo of Etobicoke.   Also on the card, Leo Fleming trained his first winner since 2009. Marlbank Road went wire-to-wire for him in the third for a 1:53.1 score.   MARLBANK ROAD REPLAY     Marlbank Road, a three-year-old Sportswriter gelding, broke his maiden with that win, making his record one-for-four with $13,650 earned. Fleming co-owns with Steven Papillon and Gerald Lilley of Rockwood.   Fleming's last trip to the winner's circle as a conditioner was on Jul. 27, 2009 when Overdue took a conditioned event at Mohawk. Prior to 2021, he most recently raced in 2011.   Trainer Francis Guillemette procured his first 2021 win with Tiki Taka in the fourth. Guillemette claimed the son of Manofmanymissions on Mar. 4 and owns him outright. Fellow conditioners Paul Macdonell and Jonathan McKinnon also opened their yearly accounts with wins from Alwaysabeachday in the opener and Iglare Am in the eighth, respectively. Macdonell also drove his filly.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Astute South Australian harness racing trainer Paul Cavallaro isn't letting a sparkling run in a track-record trial tempt him into rushing a comeback from serious illness for his stable star Culture King. The pacer returned to South Australia earlier this year after recovering from a life-threatening bout of enteritis, but Cavallaro is content to proceed slowly in getting him back to the track. "He looks a million dollars and although he got narrowly beaten in his trial at Gawler on Sunday, he was terrific. But I'm a bit cautious with him because I just love him and want everything to be right," Cavallaro said. "We'll trial him again this weekend and take it from there," he said. Culture King (Art Major - Tessace (Aces N Sevens) is a winner of 17 races from 37 starts and in excess of $92,000 in stakes. After winning 11 races for Cavallaro, the pacer was transferred to Craig Cross early in 2020 and campaigned successfully winning six races in New South Wales and Queensland. He was brought back south to Victoria to contest the rich VicBred Super Series, before becoming ill. "The enteritis (infection of the stomach and intestine) was the reason he was scratched from the VicBred Super Series in December and he ended up having four or five days in the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital," Cavallaro said. "Thankfully they saved him, and they didn't have to operate, which was good. But he lost a lot of weight and the whole thing knocked him around. So we've just taken things very slowly since he got back here in January." Culture King is raced by a 10-member Ready To Run Syndicate, which has members from Perth, Sydney, Victoria and South Australia. The entire was purchased from the Menangle Ready to Run Sale after Cavallaro felt there was "something special" about him. Culture King and the Jonathan Kingston-Mayne-trained Captain Mannering went head-to-head in the weekend's trial, with the winner stopping the clock at 1:56.3, and a last half of 56 seconds. Cavallaro admitted the $60,000 South Australian Pacing Cup on April 17 was Culture King's main mission - the race hasn't been won by a local horse for more than 20 years. But a border hop to Victoria for the $60,000 Mildura Pacing Cup Carnival (April 6 -10) also isn't out of the question. "After the trial I would say he's close to the mark, but I just want to make sure I don't flatten him," Cavallaro said. "We had his bloods done, and they're all spot on, he's put on all his weight again and super, but I'm just being very cautious." Culture King's more than handy younger brother Artillery (a winner of six races from 10 starts) is also set to resume soon, after winning a trial in handy time at Gawler on Sunday. "We're aiming him for the South Australian Derby, but if we do go to Mildura, he would probably go over for the Mildura Guineas three-year-old race as well," Cavallaro said.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Josh Dickie has a shot at a special 10 minutes tonight most young trainers could only dream of. But while he will have the best seat in the horse for the first leg of a special trotting double he might not even see the second leg. This is Dickie’s first season training is his own accord, even though father John is still around the stables to help out, and he has quickly established himself as one of the stars of harness racing’s future. So much so he is the new trainer of Winterfell, last season’s trotter of the year, who makes his debut from Dickie’s stable off a 50m backmark in race six at Alexandra Park tonight. Further confirming just how strong a team Dickie has compiled is the fact he also has Paramount King and Kay Cee off 30m in the same race. But even with three open class reps in the handicap trot Dickie may not even get to see it. Because he won’t be at Alexandra Park but Addington where he will partner Mexicana, owned by the same connections as Winterfell, in the $50,000 NZ Trotting Oaks, which starts just 10 minutes before the Alexandra Park race. So if Mexicana wins the Oaks and Dickie has to go via the winner’s circle he is going to be pushing it to see his three open classers at Alexandra. “It is a great position to be in, having horses like this racing at our two biggest tracks,” says Dickie. “I was thrilled to get Winterfell and while everybody knows he has had his issues with one thing and another he seems to be a really good space and has been trialing well,” says Dickie. “Maurice McKendry drove him for me at the workouts last weekend because he is driving him tonight and said he trotted home (last 400m) beautifully in 26.7 seconds. “So he will go a big race but off 50m that might mean running on well for fifth or something because it is so hard to win off a big mark fresh up. “Kay Cee will be an each way chance because he is so honest while we are really, really happy with Paramount King, who Dad has done much of the work on. “Being off 30m he is a winning chance but we are a still not getting too carried away because while he is very good he had a poor campaign last time.” Dickie says he would also love to be at Alexandra Park to partner The Honey Queen (R4, No.2) who he rates very highly and expects to win tonight. But the fact he is driving at Addington shows how much he thinks of Mexicana’s chances in the Oaks, in which only Wanna Play With Me and Time Up The Hill look real dangers. Mexicana flew home fresh-up in a good form race at Alexandra Park two weeks ago and Dickie expects her to improve but drawn wide on the front line she could face having a tough run either of the other two favourites have designs on the lead. “The top three there stand out so it might be the one out of us who gets the most luck, which is why our filly is only third favourite.” How to attack harness racing's huge double header 1: TAIPO (Alex Park, R7, No.6) Comes in well here and has the gate speed to go forward and get crucial tactical advantage over stablemate Kango. Both are open class pacers in the making but Taipo looks the one tonight. 2: THE HONEY QUEEN (Alex Park, R4, No.2): It took a very good filly in Bettor Twist to beat her in the Oaks last start and she showed gate speed there that could see her lead and control her own destiny in a far weaker field. 3: SHAN NOBLE (Addington, R2, No.5): Smart 3-y-o who trialed well last week and big drop in grade tonight. The $2.40 opening quote very fair for a horse who could dominate and looks a potential the multi anchor. 4: MEXICANA (Addington, R6, No.8) Not much between her and the two favoured southern fillies but at $5.50 the northerner makes great each way sense. A lot may depend on his much gate speed she can show from out wide compared with the other pair. 5: SELF ASSURED (Addington, R7, No.4): Has been beaten last two but that was after hard runs whereas tonight in a five-horse field he can probably lead if Mark Purdon chooses to get serious. Quite remarkable to think he was paying $2.80 this week as the New Zealand Cup winner and has so rarely been beaten at Addington. View the Addington fields click here! View the Auckland fields click here! by Michael Guerin

Over 65 years ago, a Standardbred trainer at the Gratz Fairgrounds approached an impressionable young 14-year old that he had seen hanging around, and offered him a job helping with his stable. Today at the age of 90, that hard-working man is still dedicated to harness racing. With a constant smile and friendly personality, trainer Don Wiest is still doing what he loves, and he’s not slowing down! Looking back, Don remembers it as if it were yesterday. “This older gentleman at the fairgrounds had 5 horses, and his boy was drafted into the army. This was during World War II. I used to run around and play on the fairground, so he offered me a job pumping water for his horses twice a day. He gave me a dollar a week! That was great! My family didn’t have a lot of money, and that money went a long way in the 1940’s. That’s how I got started in the horse business.”   In 1946, right after World War II, Roosevelt Raceway opened, and the trainer was getting ready to move his horses there, and he invited Don to come along and work for him. “I was still in school,” he said, “but I didn’t like school anymore, so I quit and headed to Roosevelt!” He was thrilled to get a raise, now making $50 a week taking care of the 5 horses.   In 1947, he drove his first race at Roosevelt Raceway, along with Stanley Dancer and Eddie Wheeler. “We were three young kids getting in the racehorse business. In those years, it was an old man’s game, and they were thrilled to see us young guys. I finished last,” he laughed. Through his Alabama friends that he knew while working there, he met Sanders Russell, one of the leading drivers in the country, who was looking for a second trainer, and he was offered a job with him. Soon after, he headed down south to begin working with the new stable.   Don got drafted into the Korean War while in Alabama, and his plans were to return to work for Mr. Russell after he served his time. On February 23, 1953, he was discharged, but Roosevelt Raceway didn’t open until May 30th, so he and Mr. Russell decided to meet there in April to get ready for the season. In the meantime, Don met a pretty girl named Beverly, but she didn’t think working back in New York was a good idea. “Well, love won out,” Don said, “and we got married in the fall of 1953. I stayed in Pennsylvania and got a job as a tile setter, but was driving horses at the fairs for people. In 1965, when we got parimutuel in PA, I said I was going back in the horse business and in a week’s time, I had 20 horses and went back to racing horses.”   His wife worked side-by-side with him, caring for the horses, all while raising a family.   Chris Tully Photo He considers Pocono Downs his “home track”, and has always looked forward to racing there. “I was at Pocono Downs when they opened in 1965, and I’ve raced there every year since they opened, and I’ve won a race there every year since they opened!” During the track’s 50th Anniversary celebration of in 2015, Don drove in the Legends Race alongside fellow long-time harness racing greats Bill Mullin; Hall of Famer Bill Popfinger; Joe Antonelli; Eddie Nickle; and Jim Williard; winning the race in front of a cheering crowd of fans and horsemen from the past and present in the Winner’s Circle.   Often asked what the biggest change he’s seen in the last 50 to 60 years, he’s quick to respond that it’s catch drivers. “Years back, there were older men driving horses. Back in the mid-’80s, Billy Haughton, the leading driver in the country, got Bill O’Donnell to drive one of his best horses in the Adios at the Meadows, and that started the catch driving business.   "Before that, trainers drove their own horses and they knew their horse. Today, catch drivers jump right on them and go all they can go because that’s their living. You have to find a catch driver that you know will listen to you, especially with a young horse.” Don also points out that speed has changed dramatically, remembering that when Pocono opened, the races were going in 2:09 or 2:10 with a good one may be going in 2:06; today you have to qualify in 2:00, and trotters are clocking times of 55 or less in races.   Chris Tully Photo On July 18, 2020, Don set a track record of 2:03.01 for two-year-old trotting fillies with the Winbak Farm-bred Andover Hall filly Divainthereddress at Silver Springs Ranch. When the gate opened, she took off and won by 18 lengths – and in her first start! Coming off the track, he was met by the “paparazzi” from Penn Horse Racing Association and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame who captured the moment and his comments for posterity. “The filly was doing all the work, I was just trying to hold her!” he told Chris Tully from the Museum. He also announced his decision to retire from driving, making that winning one his last official drive.   He’s passed his love and passion for harness racing onto his son David and grandson Justin, who are following in his footsteps and making a name for themselves in the business.   “My clock is ticking,” Don said with a laugh, “I’m turning 91 in October, and David stepped right in.”   His son drove at the fairs from when he was 16 years old and then got a job at a trucking company. Since retiring from his job, he’s back in the biz, with 10 horses in training. The younger Wiest works with several good owners, one who is a doctor from the Shamokin area who recently got into the business.   “They’re getting in the business the right way, buying the horses with the pedigree, and his son Justin helps him.” In 2017, all three drove in the same race at the Gratz Fair, with Don’s daughter Jill and wife Beverly, who has since passed on, right in the front row of the grandstand cheering them on. Jill was never in the business with her dad and brother but has always been his and the family’s biggest fan.   Whether he’s at the county fairs this season, or in the paddock at Pocono, the easy-going “Donnie” is excited to continue training and racing his beloved horses, especially alongside his son and grandson. What keeps him going every day? “He always said it’s not really a job, it’s what he loves,” Jill said. “Caring for the horses keeps him young. It’s all for the love of horses.”   Don Wiest STATS  *477 driving wins since 1977 when records were first recorded *Won at Batavia on 9/1/07 with Icy Cream in a stakes race *Won a race for purse money in each of the last four years (2017-2020) *Trainer of Tui, World Record for four-year-old Trotting Mare on 5/8 mi. Track 1:52.3. (Pocono)   by Jennifer Starr, for the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association  

Harness Racing This Week: Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata Pacing series third legs, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y. Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit at Yonkers features two $35,000 divisions on Friday (March 26) in the third round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series for open pacing mares. The Monday (March 29) card at Yonkers will see three $40,000 divisions in the third round of the MGM Borgata Pacing series for open pacers. Each series offers five preliminary rounds leading to the finales, both set for Monday (April 19). Complete entries for the races can be found by clicking on this link. Last Time: Leonidas A and Hesa Kingslayer N repeated in Monday night's (March 22) $40,000 divisions of the second leg of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway. Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. Chris Brokate photo. Driven by Austin Siegelman, Leonidas A landed in the pocket from post one early in the third of four sections, then moved around fellow round one winner San Domino A (Todd McCarthy) for command passing the :28 opening quarter. After that, Leonidas A got away with a soft :57 half, and it was pretty much over once that happened as Leonidas A kicked into high gear, pacing a :55 back-half to win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1:52. San Domino A held second over Chief Mate (Scott Zeron), who put in a good try from first-over given the early tempo. Sheena McElhiney trains Leonidas A, a 6-year-old Mach Three gelding, for owner Jesmeral Stable. Leonidas A posted his 27th career win and he has earnings of $271,848. This Is The Plan (Yannick Gingras) rolled to the lead in the last split and he would lead through fractions of :27.3, :56.2, and 1:24, with Hesa Kingslayer N (Jim Marohn Jr.) going first-up from third prior to three-quarters. Hesa Kingslayer N advanced into second on the final turn, then sustained his bid through the stretch, wearing down This Is The Plan on his way to the victory by a half-length in 1:51.4. Stars Align A (Todd McCarthy) was the third-place finisher after a pocket trip. Let It Ride N (Dexter Dunn) saw his seven-race undefeated streak in the U.S. end in this race as he couldn't get involved from post eight and had to settle for a dead-heat for sixth. Trainer Michael Deters also co-owns Hesa Kingslayer N, an 8-year-old gelded son of Christian Cullen, with Joel Warner. Hesa Kingslayer N now has 19 career triumphs and he has put away $169,962. Having gained enormous respect from her blowout victory in the opening leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Alexa Skye had a much easier time putting away her rivals on Friday night (March 19), capturing the first of three $35,000 divisions at Yonkers Raceway in a 1:53.4 clocking. Sent off as the prohibitive 1-10 betting favorite, Todd McCarthy wasted little time seizing command on the opening bend from an accommodating My Ruebe Star N and driver Jordan Stratton. McCarthy kept an easy clip, going to the quarter in :28.4 and reaching the half unchallenged in :58.1. From there, the field of six stayed very much in line as Alexa Skye picked up the pace on the backstretch, hitting three-quarters in 1:26 on her own power. McCarthy hardly moved a muscle edging into the homestretch and the powerful 4-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere finished out her mile with a :27.4 final quarter as the rest of the field battled hard for the place spot. My Ruebe Star N held her ground and won the competition for the second position, while Siesta Beach (Matt Kakaley) closed along the pylons and finished in a dead-heat with Keep Rockin A (Tim Tetrick) for show. Alexa Skye, who picked up her 14th victory overall and has now banked $192,390, is owned in partnership by Pollack Racing and trainer Jeff Cullipher. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2021, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2021 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders (through the races on 3-22-21): Drivers: 1. Andrew McCarthy - 42; 2. Todd McCarthy - 38; 3. Austin Siegelman - 32; 4. Tim Tetrick - 23; 5. George Brennan - 20. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 45; 2t. Jeff Cullipher - 20; 2t. Noel Daley - 20; 2t. Mike Deters - 20; 2t. Sheena McElhiney - 20. Owners: 1. Jesmeral Stable - 20; 2t. Renee Bercury - 15; 2t. Brad Grant - 15; 4t. Burke Racing Stable - 12.7; 4t. Weaver Bruscemi - 12.7. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will continue with legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and MGM Borgata over the next two weeks. The finals for both events will be held on April 19. by Paul Ramlow, for The Grand Circuit  

Greg Hope says Friday night at Addington is when the talk stops. Hope and wife Nina take their three stable big guns to the premier meeting but as good as A G’s White Socks, Midnight Dash and Muscle Mountain are they are up against it what, on paper at least, are even better horses. A G’s White Socks faces three of the four biggest names in New Zealand pacing in Amazing Dream, Spankem and Self Assured in the $30,000 Leefield Station Wines Free-For-All while Hope’s two four-year-old trotters take on Sundees Son and Bolt For Brilliance among others in the $30,000 Lamb And Hayward Trotters Classic. The two trotters in particularly have looked top open class horses in the making but Hope says this Friday will be the test. “The talk stops now, we are going to find out how good they are,” says Hope. “We know they are both top horses who could win a really good race one day but Sundees Son is that horse already and we know how good Bolt For Brilliance is. “So it is a really top field and it will be a great guide for us heading forward.” Hope says Muscle Mountain is the more brilliant of his pair, which is why son Ben has chosen to drive him over the very in-form Midnight Dash, who Tim Williams will partner. “Midnight Dash has been going great races and I was saying to his owners the other day he could be like Quite A Moment, a horse who can race at the highest level for quite a few seasons and big up a really big race. “And Muscle Mountain has that real touch of brilliance. So we are happy with both ours but we are only getting 10m from Sundees Son so it should tell us where we stand.” The Hopes, and everybody else in harness racing, knows how good A G’s White Socks is but even in a five-horse field on Friday he worries about tactics. “They are all good horses and I am not sure whether they will go off the gate and run or settle straight into single file and just sprint home so it could be a tricky race.”  A G’s White Socks has only had two starts back this campaign and while he only ran third behind Henry Hubert last start he was clocked at 2:53 for his last 2400m on Stridemaster. “So he is going well and can be a factor in these races the next couple of meetings but he is just going to need some luck.”   By Michael Guerin

Former Canterbury horse trainer Mitchell Kerr has been found guilty of four charges at a Judicial Control Authority hearing in Christchurch. Kerr was not at the hearing which was held at Addington Raceway Kerr handed in his trainer’s license last year, citing mental health issues. He was subsequently charged by the authorities after an investigation. The hearing heard how Kerr had a gambling habit that involved him losing around a million dollars with an Australian betting agency. The tribunal concluded that Kerr was involved in a series of fraudulent activities including selling a horse that didn’t exist, charging for insurance policies that were never taken out, and that he oversold shares in horses that he had no right to sell. He was also accused of forging signatures and disguising his fraud with multiple acts of dishonesty. While Kerr was found guilty on four charges no decision has been made on his penalty, with counsel seeking a substantial disqualification, if not a life ban. A decision on his penalty is expected within a week.   Harness Racing New Zealand

Persistent heavy rain and a sloppy harness racing track couldn't stop Dragon Said from breathing fire again in the $58,400 M Life Rewards Gents Pacing Series final for colts and geldings on Wednesday (March 24) night at Yonkers Raceway. Driven by Joe Bongiorno, the 4-year-old Well Said gelding prevailed in a life's-best time of 1:52.3, picked up his fourth consecutive victory, and went off at a juicy 10-1 to boot. Dragon Said and Diamondbeach (Austin Siegelman) had the two outside posts in the race, but they were by far the quickest away from the gate, with Diamondbeach getting command and Dragon Said landing in the pocket in a rapid 26.3 opening quarter. Diamondbeach then put on the brakes in the second quarter, getting to the half in 55.3. Cigar Smoking Tony (Jason Bartlett) took up the chase from first-over coming to that marker, with Lou's Sweetrevenge (George Brennan) squeezing out into the second-over slot ahead of Retour Au Jeu (Jordan Stratton). Cigar Smoking Tony was able to advance up into second before the 1:23.4 three-quarters, but he began to drop back past that station, and when no one behind him in the cover flow was able to fire, that left Diamondbeach and Dragon Said in a virtual match race coming into the lane. Bongiorno already had Dragon Said off the pylons before they turned for home, and after a brief battle in the stretch, Dragon Said went by the leader. From there, Dragon Said widened his advantage, eventually hitting the wire two lengths ahead of Diamondbeach. Salt Life (Scott Zeron) saved ground on the inside and was third, Rolling With Sam (Dan Dube) finished fourth, and Scootnroll (Tyler Buter) collected fifth. DRAGON SAID REPLAY   Jenn Bongiorno trains Dragon Said for owner Robert Devine. Dragon Said now has a record of 7-7-3 from 32 lifetime starts, and he pushed his earnings to $75,432. Dragon Said returned $23.60 to win and headed a $97.00 exacta and a $644.00 trifecta. There was also an upset winner in the $25,000 M Life Rewards Pacing Series consolation as 19-1 offering Odds On Brexit (Buter) led through fractions of 28.1, 57.3, and 1:25.4 on his way to a 1:54.4 triumph. He beat 4-5 favorite My Pal Joe (Alek Chartrand) by half a length, with Panther Time (Joe Bongiorno) back in third. Odds On Brexit, a 4-year-old gelding by Rockin Image, is trained by Christopher Freck for owner Odds On Racing. Odds On Brexit picked up his fifth win in his 22nd attempt, and he has now pocketed $58,430. He paid $41.00 to win and was atop a $73.00 exacta and a $242.00 trifecta. ODDS ON BREXIT REPLAY   Stakes action resumes at Yonkers Raceway on Friday night (March 26) with a pair of $35,000 divisions of the third leg of the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series for pacing mares and continues on Monday night (March 29) with a trio of $40,000 splits of the third round of the MGM Borgata Series for free-for-all pacers. Alexa Skye, Blue Ivy, and Seaswift Joy N lead the entrants in the Blue Chip Matchmaker, and Backstreet Shadow, Hesa Kingslayer N, Lyons Steel, Rockapelo, and San Domino A are among the horses scheduled to compete in the MGM Borgata. As a reminder, Monday night's card also marks the start of a 10 percent purse increase at Yonkers. Condition sheets with the updated purse amounts are available here. For full results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

The grand harness racing trotting warrior Arazi Boko (14g Varenne-Laura Kemp-Express Ride) took the Gr. III Gran Premio Giorgio (purse 40,040€, 1660 meters) this day at Trieste clocked in 1.15.1kr. Using his usual pacesetting strategy Arazi held game for the victory with Santo Mollo at the lines for trainer Alessandro Gocciadoro. He is 36/133 and has career earnings of over 1.2€ million. He secured six fast class victories last year. Second was Amon You SM (5m Love You-Emon Sante Fe’SM) for Antonio Greppi up on this Lemon Dra sired granddaughter of Keystone Sante Fe. Atik DL was third some four lengths back. Arazi Boko On March 17 the top Italian reinsman Enrico Bellei recorded two wins at Roma Capannelle, the second with Isabelle Ferm, and that victory was his 10,000th. He thus joins Heinz Wewering and Jorma Kontio as the only European drivers to reach that mark. Congratulations to Enrico Bellei!!! Isabella Ferm On March 21 the fast-class mare Orsia (13f Angus Hall-Tigre OM-Zebu) foaled a fine Tactical Landing colt. Orsia earned 699,811€ in her career with a mark of 1.10.6kr. Her dam Tigre OM earned 155,148€. Gaet files/photos by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

Power And Grace won the Preferred 2 Handicap Trot at The Raceway at Western Fair and broke the harness racing track record for aged trotting mares in doing so.   Driver Brett Macdonald went two-wide going into the first turn to acquire the lead. He did so and carved out fractions of 28.1, 58.3, and 1:27.1 for his mare, who handily put away all challengers in the lane to win by a length and a half in 1:57.1.   Sicario (Alfie Carroll) finished second from the pocket, and Willyorwonthe was third. The winner paid $6.40.       Power And Grace's record-setting win improved her lifetime tally to 26-for-81 and her earnings to more than $205,000 lifetime. Ronald Macdonald trains the six-year-old Holiday Road mare for owners Hartel Maintenance Inc of Guelph and Lormer McClure of Orangeville.   The track record for older trotting mares was previously 1:57.2; it was held by Must Sold Dream, who set it on Nov. 27, 2006, and Flora Dream, who finished in an identical time on Jan. 10, 2011.   Also on the card, trainer Francis Dumouchel had his first win of the year with Twin B Hugs in the eighth.   The Raceway at Western Fair will be back in action on Friday, Mar. 26 with a 4:50 p.m. EST start time for 11 races.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink  

Hightstown, NJ — Eddie Miller was around 17 years old the first time he went to a harness racing track, visiting Ohio’s Northfield Park, about an hour from where he grew up in Navarre. Some five years later, he started winning races there. The 23-year-old Miller has been training a small stable of horses for himself in addition to a stable for driver Kurt Sugg. He got his first win in January 2020 at Northfield, with Sugg driving pacer Vegas Highroller, and has added nearly 100 more victories since then. “The first time I went to the races, I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Miller said. “I got hooked on it. “Getting that first win down as trainer, that’s probably my biggest thrill so far. But we’ve had some good horses and I think I had a good year (in 2020) for somebody’s first year. Hopefully, it keeps only getting better.” Miller won 73 of 382 races last year and $547,726 in purses. This season, he has 21 victories in 96 starts and $104,992. He also has won three races lifetime as an amateur driver at Northfield and picked up four other triumphs at the fairs. “He’s a very hard worker,” said Sugg, who brought Miller on board in 2019. “He works all day long and he loves the horses. He’s really driven to succeed in the business. He’s not there just putting his time in. He does everything he possibly can to make the horses as good as they can be.” Sugg, who has 4,702 wins as a driver and 1,067 as a trainer, first got to know Miller when he was working for trainer Herman Hagerman. After Miller left to take a job in construction, Sugg talked him into coming to work with him. “It’s been a real good fit,” Sugg said. “I’m not getting any younger, I’m 51 years old, and I was trying to get him set up where he’s able to take over. He’s a good kid and willing to learn. I guess I see me in him, like when I was that age.” Among last year’s highlights for the Sugg-Miller duo was two wins in preliminary divisions of the Ohio Sire Stakes with 3-year-old male trotter Yanks Dugout, who also finished third in the Ohio State Fair championship and a division of the Ohio Breeders Championship. In addition, Mystical Virgin made $71,124 last year and competed multiple times in the fillies-and-mares Open at Northfield, finishing second on six occasions. The pacing mare was the first horse Miller ever claimed, for $10,000 in August 2019. “She’s been wonderful. He’s got a good eye for a horse,” Sugg said. “I guess I got lucky,” Miller said. “I’ve claimed some others that have been all right, but she’s been really good for us.” Miller, who at the moment has six horses on his own to go with Sugg’s 15, is hoping for more good times ahead. “There are good and bad days like everything else, but I just love it,” Miller said. “The horses are amazing animals and it’s good working with Kurt. He’s taught me a lot, and I’m still learning. We’re a really good team. We try to help each other out as best we can. If something needs to be done, we just chip in and do it. “It’s been going good for me. Thanks to Kurt and all, everybody who tries to help.” by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

An involuntary move to full-time harness racing training would seem to be serving Ballarat region trainer Adam Stephens very well. The Stephens team is on fire, and he’s attributing his success to now being able to focus on his stable full time – although it wasn’t by choice. “I was one of about 130 put off at Rural Press late last year,” Stephens said. “It was tough – I’d been there for 20 years and worked my way up to be the number one printer. We were doing nearly 90 different papers including the Melbourne Age and the Geelong and Ballarat newspapers, so it was a busy job,” he said. “But looking at it from a horse training perspective, it (the redundancy) was the best thing that could have happened. Up until now, I’ve worked the horses around my job, but with this, I decided to get serious with the horses and give them the chance to perform at their best,” he said. Stephens admits he’s probably from the old school when it comes to some of his work ethics and techniques, but his consistent strike rate (currently his runners are finishing in the top three more than 55 percent of the time) tells the story. “I do all their training in the cart and I’m huge on recovery whether it’s after fastwork or following the races. I think that’s the key to having them back-up and perform consistently. “I’m also a big fan of heart rates and what they can tell you about a horse – but I suppose when it all boils down, a major part is that I’ve been brought up with the motto that if you put in the hard yards, it’s going to pay off.” Stephens, based at Allendale, 20 minutes north of Ballarat, has prepared three winners, nine runners-up and five third-placegetters from 30 starters, with earnings of $28K this season. He recently landed a double at Maryborough, the second of his career, with half-brothers Iamawingate (I Am The Way-Alberts Belle (Albert Albert) and Wingate Guy (Union Guy (Alberts Belle (Albert Albert). “They were both bred by my dad Allan, who has been mucking around with horses for over 55 years. Dad originally kicked off the Wingate breed back when he started racing at the old Ballarat Showgrounds track in the north of the city,” Stephens said. “The maiden name of his mum Ruby was Wingate, and the original family heritage was from England and perhaps Scotland.” Stephens said his dad was the lynchpin to his operation. “Dad’s great. He’s in his 70s and turns up at the stables every day, along with one of my brothers Jamie.  I had another brother John, who was involved in the sport for a while as a driver and trainer. “John works at Tip Top at Pakenham and has done so for the past 20 years, but he was in the first crop at the Bendigo Training Centre with the likes of Daryl Douglas and Ross Graham. He also had stints with some great horsemen like Ted Demmler, Bruce Morgan and Ray Mathews. “John’s been a great mentor. I probably wouldn’t be doing it, but for what he taught me when he came back to the farm for about six years. “It really is a team thing because my partner Rebecca does as much as she can, and my mum follows them very closely too. Then there’s my main driver Michael Bellman who has been with me through all of it—he’s not just a driver, but a friend.” Stephens said he was lucky to have such horses as Ruby Wingate, who he rates as one with a big future. “The others in Silver Domino, Iamawingate, Wingate Guy and Fowsands are in nice grades so I’ll try and pick out suitable races for them,” he said. Stephens said he had no hesitation in naming Village Safari, a horse that cost him $1000 and won 12 races for $130K, as the best he’s owned. “I just have a feeling that Ruby Wingate could take the mantle off him, judging by his death seat Melton win in 1.54—I’m hoping so anyway!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Pettycoat Business delivered as the 1-5 harness racing favorite in the $57,800 M Life Rewards Pacing Series final for fillies and mares on Tuesday night (March 23) at Yonkers Raceway, scoring in a 1:54.1 mile. The 27-1 long shot Dragon Roll (Jason Bartlett) had a great start from post seven and led early, but driver George Brennan moved Pettycoat Business from second to first before the 27.3 opening quarter. Pettycoat Business then backed down the tempo to 56.4 at the half, giving her the tactical advantage. Turnthefrownaround (Joe Bongiorno), who had gone three-for-three in preliminary round action in the series, stepped out first-over from third after the half-mile clocking went on the board, but she was unable to advance to the 1:25 three-quarters and around the final turn, allowing Dragon Roll to slip to the outside and Paige's Girl (Scott Zeron) to come through on the pylons. Despite the well-rated tempo, it looked like Pettycoat Business might be vulnerable entering the lane as Dragon Roll loomed boldly and Paige's Girl was waiting for a possible seam on the inside. Pettycoat Business responded gamely when called on by Brennan, though, and she stayed in front to the finish line, defeating Paige's Girl by half a length. Dragon Roll wound up third, following by Ready Set Rock (Austin Siegelman) and Turnthefrownaround.   M LIFE REWARDS PACING SERIES FINAL   A 4-year-old Art Major mare, Pettycoat Business is trained by Scott Di Domenico for co-owner/breeder Michael Robinson and his ownership partners Robert Mondillo, R.B.H. Ventures Inc., and Gilbilly Stable. Pettycoat Business now has a record of 6-5-4 from 20 tries, and she has earnd $174,873. Pettycoat Business, who paid $2.40 to win, led a $6.90 exacta and a $73.00 trifecta. There was also a $25,000 M Life Rewards Pacing Series consolation on the card, and 3-5 choice P L Nelly (Dan Dube) was victorious by two lengths in a life's-best clocking of 1:56.1. She posted fractions of 28.3, 58.3, and 1:27.1 on her way to downing first-over challenger Pray The Rosary (Brent Holland) and pocket-sitter Special Achiever (Jordan Stratton). Juan Cano trains P L Nelly, a 4-year-old daughter of Big Jim, for owner Leo Marino. P L Nelly picked up her fourth win in her 29th start, and she has now banked $46,924. P L Nelly paid $3.50 to win and was atop a $14.60 exacta and a $37.20 trifecta. Stakes action continues at Yonkers tomorrow night (March 24), as the M Life Rewards Gents Pacing Series for colts and geldings concludes with a $58,400 final and a $25,000 consolation. Then on Friday (March 26), the pacing mares in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series will be in action in two $35,000 divisions of the third leg of that event. The fields are also set for Monday's (March 29) third round of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series, with three $40,000 splits slated to go behind the gate in races four, five, and six. Hesa Kingslayer N, who is two-for-two in the series thus far, heads the first division, round winners Rockapelo and San Domino A will clash in the second flight, and leg one victor Lyons Steel hooks up with the likes of round two winner Backstreet Shadow in the final section. Yonkers Raceway is also pleased to announce that beginning with Monday night's card, there will be a 10 percent purse increase. Conditions sheets displaying the new purses are available on Yonkers Raceway's website. For full race results, click here. From Yonkers Raceway

Retirement from the harness racing industry could not be further from the minds of Bill and Anne Anderson, despite planning the sale of their showpiece breeding property in Victoria’s Strathbogie Ranges. The stunning 250 acre American-style estate was the foundation for the couple’s mega-successful boutique breeding operation Lauriston Bloodstock and is on the market for a figure in excess of $4 million. Bill said the decision to move on from the picturesque Euroa property wasn’t an easy one.  “It was originally established by (US-based) Vinery Thoroughbreds for their Victorian operations. They brought out an American architect to design it in that beautiful Kentucky style,” Bill said. “It came on the market 15 years ago, which was the right time for us.  We’d sold the first place we developed at Bannockburn to (former SA trainer) Geoff Webster when he moved here and both Anne and I loved this place. “We came here wanting to develop what was here, but it was a big undertaking, and we did it in two stages. Originally, there was a big 60 square granite stone American Barn with a Welsh slate roof that was also Vinery’s office as well.  We removed the office and converted that into a three-bedroom house first, then in the second stage, we took away the stallion boxes and that became a garage and office area. The property that has nurtured Lauriston Bloodstock for 15 years is on the market “We have poured a lot of ourselves into this place, but the time is right and we’re selling the farm so that we can get a lifestyle change we’re both looking for.” Bill said the next phase would involve something of a change in direction for the Andersons. “All of the research on the breeding is done by Anne – my part has been developing the property.  But the racehorses involve both of us sitting down and deciding what we want to do.  We’ve been married 40 years, so we obviously get on pretty well and this has been something we’ve shared and loved,” he said. “We are absolutely passionate about our horses, both breeding and racing, and that won’t change – we’ll still keep the Lauriston name, and we’ll keep doing what we love, but we’ll just be doing it differently.” Bill and Anne Anderson’s American-style breeding property in the Strathbogie Ranges Bill said the breeding operation would continue in the hands of Doctor Kath McIntosh, at Northern Rivers Equine, and the new challenge for the couple would likely be racing some of their horses in America, with expat Australian trainers Shane and Lauren Tritton, now based at Pine Bush, New York. The move is a natural extension of the couple’s long-held passion for developing American bloodlines in Australia, which has reset the standardbred breeding business “down under”. “When we started, we wanted to get access to the best bloodlines that we could.  So our original direction was to get access to American semen, to bring the more thoroughbred-style traits from the US to what were the more raw-boned New Zealand and Australian mares,” he said. “Then we began to import American mares, so that meant we could inject those qualities into our bloodlines here more quickly, basically meaning we could leapfrog 30 years of breeding.” For the Andersons, the passion for breeding is anything but a numbers game – but the numbers do say it all. Lauriston presented its first draft of yearlings in February 2007 and, with a broodmare base of 12 to 14 mares, over the following 13 years to June 2020, 84 Lauriston-bred horses have won $9.8 million in stakes, with average earnings of $117K. Lauriston successes include more than 25 Group Ones, including Poster Boy (5 for $803K); Maffioso (5 for $606K); Our Little General (3 for $686K); Follow The Stars (3 $707K) and Speak No Evil (2 $280K).  The Lauriston top earning mares are Aston Villa USA (5 Progeny $1.5mill); Lindsey Leigh USA (5 Progeny $1.4mill); Top Tempo NZ (8 Progeny $1.1mill); Smyrna Duruisseau USA (5 Progeny $903K); and Kabbalah Karen B USA (3 Progeny $856K). “Anne’s passion is for her fillies and mares and her highlight is Speak No Evil – but mine is Poster Boy, who finished only once out of a place in 30 lifetime starts before he was retired because of pneumonia,” Bill said. Bill said the couple was excited by the new challenge of racing horses in America. “That’s the cutting-edge new thing for us – Beach Music is most likely to be the first, and she is still a strong possibility to be in America later this year, depending on how things pan out,” Bill said. “The gap has closed that much.  The North Americans have realised they can source horses in Australia that are as good as their horses, and they come in with a good mark under their handicapping system. “We wouldn’t entertain sales, certainly on the mares side, because we want to bring them back home to breed, and the Trittons have accepted that.  Anne and I will be on the next flight to Kentucky once things open up again post-COVID!”   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Harness racing's Standardbred breeding facility, Diamond Creek Farm, was featured Monday evening on ABC News Channel 27 affiliate in Pennsylvania. Caroline Vazquez, Director of Marketing and Stallion Syndicate at Diamond Creek Farm in Wellsville, PA, gave great commentary as the television crew took shots of the farm, mares and foals in the field and inside one of the barns. To view the live newscast, click here. From ABC News

Harness racing driver George Brennan drew a pair of aces for the pair of M Life finals scheduled on Tuesday (3/23) and Wednesday (3/24) at Yonkers Raceway. The leading driver at the track with 66 wins (through 3/21) drew post 1 in the $57,800 final for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares as well as the $58,400 companion race for similarly-aged boys. Series standout Pettycoat Business was programmed as the 8-5 morning-line choice with Brennan in the bike for Tuesday's sixth race final for the girls. The 4-year-old Art Major-sired mare comes into the race off consecutive wins in legs two and three of the series for trainer Scott DiDomenico and owners Michael Robinson, Robert Mondillo, RBH Ventures and Gilbilly Stable. A week ago, Pettycoat Business marched down the road in 1:54 1/5 to post the fastest winning mile of the series. She also owns the fastest career mark in the field by far, a 1:50 3/5 victory at The Red Mile in 2020. "I generally don't pick off a Ronnie Burke horse (Turnthefrownaround), we have been such a team for so many years, but I think she is faster than the other ones," said Brennan. "She is a little on the aggressive side, which I don't like, but she went last week in (1:)54, which I think is just faster than the rest can go. "I hope I can control it. About four starts back she had an outside post and I just looped her right to the lead. So she has that speed. With $50,000 on the line I just might have to get aggressive with her again." Pettycoat Business is not the only talented young lady in the field. Starting just to her outside in post 2 is Turnthefrownaround. The Ron Burke-trained mare is looking for the series sweep and her fifth win of 2021. Joe Bongiorno drives the 3-1 morning-line option. The other multiple-leg winner in the field is Paige's Girl. She started twice in the series and won both times for the team of driver Scott Zeron and trainer Lance Hudson. The Captaintreacherous daughter will begin from post 5 on Tuesday. Rounding out the field from the inside out are: Flirty Forty (post 3, Brent Holland), Sound Idea (post 4, Jordan Stratton), Ready Set Rock (post 6, Austin Siegelman), Dragon Roll (post 7, Jason Bartlett) and Avaya Hanover (post 8, Dan Dube). Brennan again finds himself with the pole position in Wednesday's final for 3- and 4-year-old colts, horses and geldings. He'll steer Lou's Sweetrevenge as part of a 6-5 morning-line entry along with the Ron Burke-trained entrymate Rolling With Sam (post 5). Brennan drove both geldings in each of the three preliminary legs of the series and had to make a choice in the final. "I like both horses," said Brennan. "Lou's Sweetrevenge, like the mare I'm racing for Scottie DiDomenico on Tuesday, he's really lazy, but last week he came off the car from the inside really good. He got pressured and I had to go 27 (seconds). I wish I didn't get pushed that quarter because I think I could've given Diamondbeach more of a fight if I didn't have to use my horse. He's in a good spot and hopefully I can get him off on the right foot." A winner in the first leg of the M Life, Lou's Sweetrevenge was a no-match second-best behind multiple leg winner Diamondbeach last week, but that foe was unlucky at the draw and will have to overcome post 8. It was a similar fate for fellow multi-leg winners Scootnroll and Dragon Said as they drew outside posts 6 and 7, respectively. "My job is to hold the 2 off, because he has speed, too," said Brennan, referring to Cigar Smoking Tony with Jason Bartlett driving. "The 7 and 8 will both be coming at some point. Hopefully I can work out the best possible trip." Salt Life (post 3, Mark MacDonald) and Retour Au Jeu (post 4, Jordan Stratton) complete the field of eight in the race seven final. Brennan also drives the 9-5 morning-line chalk Somebeachsomefra from post 6 in Tuesday's consolation event for the ladies and the 3-1 second choice Sailboat Hanover from pylon position on Wednesday in the consolation event for the guys. Both races go for a purse of $25,000. Tuesday and Wednesday both feature 10-race cards with a starting post-time of 7:15 PM. From Yonkers Raceway