On Halloween this year while children and the “young at heart” will be out trick and treating in the neighborhood, an unsung hero in the sport of harness racing will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Unknown to many of the younger generation in our industry, Aime Choquette, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, has been a “behind the scenes” great in harness racing and on October 31, Aime will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Born in 1914 in Sherbrooke, Aime returned to his home town four years ago and lives a quiet life in an assisted living center. He is close to his sister, age 94, and has breakfast with her every week. “I don’t get around as much as I use to,” Aime says, “I have to use a walker now but that has only been this past year. But other than that I think I am doing pretty well for almost 100 years old. I smile every day thinking how fortunate I am to have lived this long. I never thought growing up that I would live to see my 100th birthday.” A confirmed bachelor, Choquette, who did not get into the harness racing industry until he was age 38, had spent the next 52 years devoted to the sport. Starting out as a trainer of show jumping horses in Quebec, Canada, it was in 1952 that Choquette first switched over to become a caretaker in the Delvin Miller Stable, a relationship that would last for more than 30 years and see many world and Grand Circuit champion trotters and pacers come from the Miller Stable. “At the time I was maybe one of the best show jumpers in all of Canada,” Aime explained. “One day at a big event in Trois-Rivieres in 1951 at the Warwick Horse Show, I did a jump that no one had ever attempted before. I jumped the great horse Pete Hackley, over four jumps that were set up next to each other. “Delvin Miller happen to be in the area at that time and heard about the jump I had made,” Aime said, “and he was introduced to me and said he was interested in having me work for his stable and learn about harness racing. At the time the show horse business was going downhill and harness racing was moving uphill, so I took up his offer.” Promoted to second trainer in 1959, Choquette would travel throughout North America on the grand circuit with Delvin Miller for most of his life, prepping yearlings at Miller’s famous Meadow Lands Farm in Pennsylvania and wintering at Pompano Park in Florida. One of Choquette’s quotes that has stood the test of time include: “…we educate them, we never break them…” In referring to the early training of young horses. During Choquette’s long career he has shared his horsemanship, wisdom and friendship with many of today’s racing industry leaders, who were grooms under Choquette’s tutelage. They include the late Andy Grant, former president of the Hambletonian Society, and the late Castleton Farms president, John Cashman, Tom Charters, current president of the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown, Jerry Monahan, Red Mile GM, former USTA Registrar Bob Leuhrman, Jim Moran of Vernon Downs, horsemen Walter Bonafice, Don McKirgan, Lenford “Bucky” Waugh, Bob Yohn, Soren Landin, Tomas Nilsson, Fred Kristofiak, David Seitz and many others. Some would say that Choquette could be a tough taskmaster, but tempered that with his natural talent for teaching that was often reinforced with the reminder that…“You young fellas are here to learn.” And the horses that Choquette worked with reads like a “Who’s Who” of harness racing greats including Countess Adios, Dancer Hanover, O’Brien Hanover, Speed In Action, Tarport Hap, Meadow Bright, Songflori, Arndon and Delmonica Hanover, just to name a few. And Amie also traveled around the world with Delvin Miller, racing their great stable and winning nearly every major stakes race in harness racing. Amie alone took Delmonica Hanover to France and prepped her for her victory in the prestigious Prix d’Amerique. “I saw those hills at the Vincennes racetrack,” Aime recalled, “and realized that she (Delmonica) would have to race up and down them and never could miss a step so I would train her in short trips every day, up and down until she knew it made no difference and she would trot up and down at full speed with ease. When she beat the boys it was a great day and such a historic event in harness racing.” Even at age 90, trainers would still call upon Aime to come to Pompano Park and the local training centers to watch their horses train a mile and ask him for his opinion on what they were doing right and wrong. They knew that even if Aime could not sit in a sulky anymore, that his eyesight and knowledge were still so keen. In his later years Aime wanted to help those in the business that were less fortunate them himself and with the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, he would funnel money to their sunshine fund. The Chapter then renamed it the Amie Choquette Sunshine Fund and he has donated thousands of dollars that have been given to horsemen in need. This reporter has been a friend of Amie’s for many years and had the opportunity to visit him in Sherbrooke just one month ago. We had breakfast together with racing photographer Ann MacNeill and fellow journalist Melissa Keith and, of course, Aime was full of himself getting to go out with two young women. Aime is still very spry and his memory sharp as a tack. He took out his scrape book to show the ladies photographs from his early years in both show horse and harness racing. He has a great collection of memorabilia dating back older than he is. And he was so pleased to have company who traveled so far just to visit him. And when we left he say goodbye in what was a trademark response that he and Delvin Miller would say to everyone that came to the stable, “We’re glad you got to see us!” Everyone is being encourage to send Amie a birthday card congratulating him on his milestone birthday. His mailing address is Aime Choquette, 2835 Du Manoir, Apt. 220, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1L 2E6. We know he would love to hear from his many friends he has made over the last, let’s say, 100 years! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com
Harnesslink is proud to release Stallion Sphere, a Facebook and mobile web app containing all 23 of our exclusive Stallion reviews. We hope this will become an invaluable resource to breeders and harness fans around the world, so please check it out and share with your friends using the website's inbuilt share on Facebook functionality. Reviews will be regularly updated and all statistics are current as of the date listed at the top of each review. Stats are from official sources in North America (TrackIT), Australia & New Zealand. We'll update Stallion Sphere with new reviews every 2 weeks, but make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter “Insider Access” to get the stallion reviews two weeks early. To use the Stallion Sphere simply click and drag your mouse (or finger for touch devices) around the sphere to move it around, use your mouse wheel (or pinch on mobile) to zoom. Then click on a Stallion to read the review. For the best experience use a good modern browser like Google Chrome. If you are using Internet Explorer - depending on your version – you will either see a flat grid or nothing at all. You will also need to be logged into your Facebook account to view it, although mobile devices & tablets can access it without a Facebook account. Click here to visit Stallion Sphere www.stallionsphere.com (Once you click the above link - you will need to "like" Harnesslink on Facebook to view.)
This Week: Messenger Stakes, Yonkers Trot, International Trot Preview, Lady Maud and Hudson Filly Trot, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, N.Y.; Fall Four Stakes, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Dayton Pacing Derby and Dayton Trotting Derby, Hollywood Dayton Raceway, Dayton, Ohio; Circle City and Madison County, Hoosier Park, Anderson, Ind.; and John Simpson Stakes, Vernon Downs, Vernon, N.Y. Schedule of events: Grand Circuit action this week will get underway on Friday (Oct. 24) at Hollywood Dayton Raceway with the $160,000 Dayton Trotting Derby for older trotters and the $122,000 Dayton Pacing Derby for older pacers. Also on Friday, Hoosier Park will offer Circle City races for 3-year-old trotters and pacers, There will be three divisions in the $90,000 3-year-old colt pace, three divisions in the $82,200 3-year-old filly trot, two divisions in the $74,300 3-year-old colt trot and two divisions in the $71,000 3-year-old filly pace. On Saturday (Oct. 25), Hoosier will race Madison County events for 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. Each of the four divisions carries an estimated purse of $75,000. Rounding out the busy Friday of Grand Circuit racing, Vernon Downs will contest the John Simpson Stakes for freshman pacers and trotters. There will be three divisions in the $31,005 2-year-old colt trot, two divisions in the $26,816 2-year-old filly trot and single divisions in the $26,503 2-year-old colt pace and $25,616 2-year-old filly pace. Yonkers Raceway will offer five Grand Circuit stakes on Saturday night led by two Triple Crown events, the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old trotters and the $500,000 Messenger for 3-year-old pacers. Also on tap will be the $250,000 International Trot Preview for older trotters, the $150,854 Lady Maud for 3-year-old pacing fillies and the $124,590 Hudson Filly Trot for 3-year-old trotting fillies. Woodbine will offer the Fall Four Stakes on Saturday featuring the C$565,000 Governor's Cup for 2-year-old colt pacers, the C$521,000 Valley Victory for 2-year-old colt trotters, the C$464,000 Goldsmith Maid for 2-year-old filly trotters, and the C$424,000 Three Diamonds for 2-year-old filly pacers. Complete entries for the U.S. races are available at this link. Woodbine entries can be seen at this link. Last time: The Windy City Pace at Maywood Park was the featured event this past weekend on the extensive Grand Circuit schedule. Big Boy Dreams and Tim Tetrick won the Windy City Pace. Big Boy Dreams won the $180,000 Windy City Pace on Oct. 17 in wire-to-wire fashion for driver Tim Tetrick in 1:51. The Ron Burke trainee and New York Sire Stakes competitor notched his fourth win of the year in 10 starts. Big Boy Dreams took the field to a brutal :25.4 first quarter and a :54.1 half, with Let's Drink On It challenging the leader going to the 1:22.2 three-quarters. But Big Boy Dreams just continued to draw away in the stretch to win by 2-1/2 lengths. He now has $168,495 in seasonal earnings for owner Dominic Rosato. It was "Elimination Saturday," on Oct. 18, with Yonkers Raceway hosting elims for three stakes events. Fifteen 3-year-old colts and geldings turned into eight for Yonkers Trot No. 60, as standouts Nuncio (John Campbell) and Gural Hanover (Jim Morrill Jr.) were comfy winners in the pair of $40,000 eliminations. Nuncio, in play early from post position No. 5, waited his turn before finally making the lead. He parked Skates N Plates, then strode home by 3-1/2 lengths through fractions of :28.4, :58, 1:26.4 and 1:56.2. Don Dorado was second, with Journey and Expressive Action third and fourth, respectively. Gural Hanover, New York Sire Stakes champion and the lone $30,000 supplemental entrant into this season's Trot, won the draw in the second elim. He retook from a breaking-soon-after Flyhawk El Durado before finishing his four turns though panels of :28.4, 58.1, 1:27.2 and 1:56.3, a length faster than Resolve. Third went to King City, with Datsyuk getting the final place at the table. The $40,000 elim for the 59th Messenger -- nine sophomore colts/geldings to end up with eight -- was won by a pocket-sitting Luck Be Withyou (Tim Tetrick). From post No. 2, he whipped a cone-skimming Forty Five Red by a neck in 1:53 with McWicked a belated third. Complete recaps of all the races are available at the Grand Circuit website. Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, 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 2014 Grand Circuit awards. Here are the leaders following the past weekend. Drivers: 1. Yannick Gingras - 1,890; 2. Tim Tetrick - 1,002; 3. David Miller - 869.5; 4. Ron Pierce - 625.5; 5. Corey Callahan - 523. Trainers: 1. Ron Burke - 1,957.5; 2. Jimmy Takter - 1,519; 3. Erv Miller - 396.5; 4. Joe Holloway - 349; 5. Tony Alagna - 312. Owners: 1. Burke Racing - 431.4; 2. Weaver Bruscemi - 386.4; 3. 3 Brothers Stable - 277; 4. Brittany Farms - 254.45; 5. Robert Key - 232. Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will take place next weekend at Hoosier Park and Vernon Downs. Hoosier will feature the Carl Erskine Trot for 3-year-olds, the Monument Circle for 3-year-old male pacers, the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby for older pacers, the Nadia Lobell for 3-year-old filly pacers and the Moni Maker for 3-year-old filly trotters. Vernon will offer the Artiscape for older pacing mares, the Muscle Hill for older trotting mares, and a pair of Kindergarten finals for 2-year-old colt and filly trotters. by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand Circuit
TORONTO, October 21 - The finest two-year-olds in harness racing will take centre stage this Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack, as the Fall Four Stakes highlight a $2.1 million card. The $565,000 Governors Cup, the $521,000 Valley Victory, the $464,000 Goldsmith Maid and the $424,000 Three Diamonds make up the Fall Four Stakes, which star the best youngsters in the sport. The Fall Four Stakes were established during the mid to late 1980's at Garden State Park in New Jersey. This Saturday will be the sixth time that the Woodbine Entertainment Group plays host to the Fall Four. Multiple World Champions and divisional leaders will be on display in the four rich finals this Saturday evening. The Governors Cup for two-year-old pacers was established in 1985 and over the years many of the sport's greats have won the prestigious event, including Artsplace, Western Hanover and Life Sign. This year's edition of the Governors Cup is headlined by Metro Pace winner Artspeak. The son of Western Ideal made a break on the final turn in his elimination, but recovered to make up ground in the stretch and finish third. Artspeak (PP6), who will be driven by Scott Zeron for trainer Tony Alagna, is a seven-time winner from nine starts and has earned $523,227 in his rookie season. Lyons Again (PP3) and Pierce Hanover (PP2) were both upset winners in last Saturday's eliminations. Lyons Again broke his maiden with his 14-1 upset victory, while Pierce Hanover was a 13-1 surprise winner in his split. A son of Dragon Again, Lyons Again will be driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Ron Burke. Despite having only one victory on his resume, Lyons Again has a bankroll of over $174,000 from eight starts this season. Pierce Hanover is a four-time winner from ten starts for career earnings of $62,688. The son of Cams Card Shark will be driven by Jody Jamieson for trainer Ken Sucee, who shares ownership with his brother, Ralph. The Governors Cup will take place as Race 7 Saturday night. The Goldsmith Maid for two-year-old trotting fillies was first contested in 1990. CR Kay Suzie, Peaceful Way and Passionate Glide are just some of the top trotters to have captured the event. Looking to add her name to the impressive list of champions is World Champion Mission Brief (PP4) The Burke trainee captured her elimination last Friday in 1:54.4 and was making her first start since becoming the fastest two-year-old trotter of all-time when she won at The Red Mile in 1:50.3 on October 2. The daughter of Muscle Hill will be driven by Gingras, who was happy with her performance in the elimination. "She was very good, wrapped up and had plenty of trot left," said Gingras. "She had been off a few weeks, so I think next week will be even better and she will be at her best." Mission Brief has won seven of 10 starts for earnings of $327,400. Gingras and Burke also teamed up in the other elimination to win with Gatka Hanover. A daughter of Muscle Massive, Gatka Hanover (PP3) turned in arguably her best performance to date in her elimination and impressed her driver. "She beat a great filly in Jolene Jolene rather easily so I was impressed with her." Gatka Hanover has won five of 11 starts for earnings of $160,068. The Goldsmith Maid has been carded as Race 3 Saturday evening. Established in 1990, the Valley Victory for two-year-old trotters has been captured by top trotters Donerail, Lindy Lane and Deweycheatumnhowe. The team of Gingras and Burke will once again team up in the Valley Victory, this time with William Wellwood Memorial winner Habitat. A son of Conway Hall, Habitat (PP4) won his third consecutive race in last Saturday's elimination by almost three lengths. Habitat has won six of nine starts for career earnings of just under $350,000. The other elimination winner, Whataworkout (PP3), is also the most lightly raced trotter in the field. A son of Muscle Hill, Whataworkout will be making only his fifth career start this Saturday. The Frank Antonacci trainee has two wins in four starts for earnings of over $27,000. Scott Zeron will be at the controls of Whataworkout. The Valley Victory will take place as Race 5. The Three Diamonds for two-year-old pacing fillies was first held in 1989 and has been won by top fillies such as Miss Easy, Immortality and Worldly Beauty. Arguably the top two-year-old in all of harness racing, Jk Shesalady, headlines the field of ten for the Three Diamonds. A daughter of Art Major, Jk Shesalady won her elimination last Friday to improve her career record to a perfect nine for nine. Trained by Nancy Johansson and driven by Gingras, Jk Shesalady's biggest victory of the season came in the $480,000 Shes A Great Lady final at Mohawk on August 30. The undefeated filly has banked $457,350 this season. Looking to hand Jk Shesalady her first defeat is the other elimination winner, The Show Returns. Trained by Chris Ryder and driven by Zeron, The Show Returns won her elimination last week for her fourth win in nine starts this season. A daughter of Rocknroll Hanover, The Show Returns biggest victory of the season was in a division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk on September 6. The Show Returns has earned just over $106,000 this season. The Three Diamonds has been carded as Race 9 Saturday evening. Post time for the 13-race card Saturday evening is 7:25 p.m. Here are the full fields for Saturday night's Fall Four Stakes finals. PP/Horse/Driver Race 3 - Goldsmith Maid - Purse: $464,000 1. Jolene Jolene - Brian Sears 2. Demons N Diamonds - Scott Zeron 3. Gatka Hanover - Yannick Gingras 4. Mission Brief - Yannick Gingras 5. Flirting Filly - Ron Pierce 6. Smexi - Corey Callahan 7. Stubborn Belle - Paul Macdonell 8. Juanitas Fury - Paul Macdonell 9. Tymal Illbthere - Trevor Henry 10. Danielle Hall - Jody Jamieson AE: Lilu Hanover - Scott Zeron Race 5 - Valley Victory - Purse: $521,000 1. Pinkman - Sylvain Filion 2. Uncle Lasse - Ron Pierce 3. Whataworkout - Scott Zeron 4. Habitat - Yannick Gingras 5. Aldebaran Eagle - Corey Callahan 6. Jetpedia - Mike Saftic 7. The Bank - Jimmy Takter 8. Walter White - Brian Sears 9. Big Rich - Randy Waples 10. Iron - Brian Sears AE: Lookslikeachpndale - Sylvain Filion Race 7 - Governors Cup - Purse: $565,000 1. Lancaster Park - James MacDonald 2. Pierce Hanover - Jody Jamieson 3. Lyons Again - Yannick Gingras 4. Arque Hanover - Steve Condren 5. Lost For Words - Doug McNair 6. Artspeak - Scott Zeron 7. Go Daddy Go - Corey Callahan 8. Migrate Blue Chip - Rick Zeron 9. Blood Brother - Sylvain Filion 10. Traceur Hanover - Randy Waples AE: Lyons Levi Lewis - Sylvain Filion Race 9 - Three Diamonds - Purse: $424,000 1. Happy Becky - Chris Christoforou 2. The Show Returns - Scott Zeron 3. Jk Shesalady - Yannick Gingras 4. Float On By - James MacDonald 5. Solar Sister - Scott Zeron 6. Ideal Nuggets - Sylvain Filion 7. Rock Her World - James MacDonald 8. Band Of Angels - Yannick Gingras 9. Zip Code Envy - Ron Pierce 10. Shakai Hanover - Jody Jamieson AE: Storm Point - Ron Pierce by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
After guiding Lyons Again to his first career win in his Governor's Cup elimination at Woodbine last weekend, driver Yannick Gingras believes it is just the start for the 2-year-old male pacer. Gingras arrived at Woodbine last Friday and Saturday with plenty of firepower for the Fall Four Stakes for 2-year-old pacers and trotters, and it all fired. He drove horses in all eight Fall Four eliminations, posting five wins, two second-place finishes and one fourth. In addition to winning with Lyons Again, Gingras picked up victories in both eliminations for the Goldsmith Maid, with female trotters Mission Brief and Gatka Hanover, a win in the Three Diamonds with female pacer JK She'salady, and a triumph in the Valley Victory with male trotter Habitat. He finished second with Three Diamonds contender Band Of Angels and runner-up with Governor's Cup hopeful Blood Brother. His fourth-place finish was with Pinkman in the Valley Victory elims. The Fall Four Stakes finals, worth a total of nearly C$2 million, are Saturday at Woodbine. Lyons Again was the longest shot driven by Gingras, at 14-1, but his Governor's Cup elimination win from post nine by three-quarters of a length over Traceur Hanover in 1:52.4 was not a complete surprise. "He was a longshot for everybody (else) but I've really, really liked this colt," Gingras said. "He's really been a bridesmaid, always finishing second or third, but he ran into a really sharp horse in Artspeak early in the year. There's no shame in finishing second to him, as sharp as he was." A son of Dragon Again-A Filly To Fear owned by Geoffrey Lyons Mound, Lyons Again has one win, four seconds and two thirds in eight starts. Three times he hit the board in races won by Artspeak, with two runner-up finishes, and once he finished second to Yankee Bounty. Artspeak and Yankee Bounty are harness racing's two richest 2-year-old male pacers and have combined to win 15 of 18 races. Lyons Again, who finished third in the Metro Pace and has earned $161,687 this year, was not eligible to the Grand Circuit races at The Red Mile in Lexington, so the colt enjoyed a six-week layoff following his second-place finish in a division of the Champlain Stakes on Sept. 6 at Mohawk. "It's not very often that you'll have a horse at that level getting a six-week break in the middle of the summer when they're healthy," Gingras said. "I think it's going to help him. I think this week he should be even tighter; it will be his second start off the layoff." Lyons Again, trained by Ron Burke, will start the C$565,000 Governor's Cup from post three. Pierce Hanover, who won the other elimination, leaves from post two with Jody Jamieson at the lines for trainer Ken Sucee. Artspeak, who finished third after going off stride in his elim, won by Pierce Hanover, is in post six for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Tony Alagna. "After this we move onto the Breeders Crown," Gingras said. "I think (Lyons Again) could have a big fall. He's a big, strong horse and I think he's going to keep getting better." In addition to speaking about Lyons Again, Gingras provided some insights regarding the seven remaining horses he drove in the Fall Four Stakes elims. Blood Brother: Trained by Jimmy Takter, he finished one length behind Pierce Hanover last weekend. He will start the Governor's Cup final from post nine with Sylvain Filion listed to drive. A son of Somebeachsomewhere-Blood Diamond, his family includes millionaires If I Can Dream, Western Terror, Delinquent Account and Artiscape. He has one win in eight starts and $68,731 for owners Diamond Creek Racing and J&T Silva Stables. "He's a nice little horse," Gingras said. "He always fusses with his head. The day he decides that he's going to pay attention to racing and forget about all the other stuff he'll be an even better horse. He's got a lot of ability, but his mind is not always on racing. "Last week he raced really good. I used him a little bit early and then had to come out around the last turn because the horse in front of me didn't carry me as far as I'd have liked. He gave (Pierce Hanover) a good run in the stretch; it was a horserace. He'd been off for a few weeks, so I think he'll be even better. But he didn't draw very good, so that's going to be a little harder for him." Mission Brief: Trained by Ron Burke, she won her Goldsmith Maid elimination by 1-1/4 lengths over Danielle Hall in 1:54.4. She starts the C$464,000 final from post four. She is the fastest 2-year-old trotter in harness racing history, with a mark of 1:50.3, and winner of seven of 10 races for $324,440. She went off stride in all three losses. The filly is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. "She was really good last week," Gingras said. "She might have been the most relaxed she's ever been. She was two fingers to drive, maybe a little bit on the lazy side if anything. I think she's getting to understand what we're trying to do with her. Obviously, she had plenty left. I came the last quarter in 28 and change and the earplugs were still in her and I never asked her. She was wrapped up. "She's her own worst enemy. If she's going to get beat, it's because she's going to go back to her bad habits. But knock on wood, she was solid last week and should be good again this week." Gatka Hanover: Trained by Burke, she won her Goldsmith Maid elim by 4-1/2 lengths over Jolene Jolene in 1:55.4. She starts the final from post three. A daughter of Muscle Massive-Girlie Tough, Gatka Hanover has won five of 11 races and $158,693. She is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents, Tracy Hendler, and Weaver Bruscemi. "She proved game last week," Gingras said. "She was a little bit too grabby; I went to the half fairly quickly (:56.4) and it was more her than me that was making that happen. But then when Jolene Jolene came at her, she still was strong. "I think she's second best in this race. Mission Brief is going to have to beat her to win, but I don't think they're quite in the same league." Habitat: Trained by Burke, he won his Valley Victory elimination by 2-3/4 lengths over Jetpedia in 1:55.4 and starts the C$521,000 final from post four. Habitat made breaks in his first two starts, but has won six of seven races since then, including the William Wellwood Memorial. He has earned $323,078. The son of Conway Hall-Habit's Best is owned by Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents, and Weaver Bruscemi. "Early in the year he had a couple little glitches behind the gate, but ever since he got over that stuff, he's been absolutely perfect," Gingras said. "He does everything you ask of him, and more. He's got perfect manners and is beautiful to drive. He makes my job really easy. "He's been racing on the front quite a bit, but he really doesn't need to. When he baby raced, he did it from the back and just stormed home, going by a lot of horses. He's very handy; you can do whatever you want with him. He showed that he's got a lot of speed and he's game, so he's got all the qualities that you're really looking for in a racehorse. He's very complete." Pinkman: Trained by Takter, he finished fourth in his Valley Victory elimination, which was won by Frank Antonacci's Whataworkout, snapping a three-race win streak. Pinkman, named after a character from the television series "Breaking Bad," starts the final from post one, with Filion listed to drive. A son of Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster, Pinkman has won three of five races and $72,615 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. "He's a very nice horse too," Gingras said. "He got locked in last week, otherwise I think he would have won too. I never had daylight. I tried to go up the inside, but there was no room there. "He's done nothing wrong. He's a little bit of a late-bloomer, but I've raced him his last four starts and he's won three of them, and he beat good horses doing it. He's a little bit on the lazy side, but once you get him to go, he can go a long way and he doesn't seem to get tired. He'll give you a hundred percent. "No doubt, he's one of the horses to beat. This race, there are five or six horses that can win. Whoever can trip out the best will be the winner." JK She'salady: Trained by Nancy Johansson, she won her Three Diamonds elimination by one length over Solar Sister in 1:53.3. She will start the C$424,000 final from post three. Undefeated in nine starts and ranked No. 3 in the current Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Top 10 poll, behind trotters Sebastian K and Father Patrick, JK She'salady has earned $432,150 for owner 3 Brothers Stables. She is a homebred daughter of Art Major-Presidential Lady and her mark of 1:50.1 is tied for the fastest in history by a 2-year-old female pacer. "She hasn't done anything wrong," Gingras said. "She's got a crazy brush in her. I don't think she necessarily has to race (from off the pace) but why change something that's working? We'll see how this week plays out. Maybe we'll put her in play a little bit earlier than we have been. In an ideal world, they'll mix it up a little bit up front and I get to race her again first or second over and I think she'll get the job done from there." Band Of Angels: Trained by Burke, she finished second by a neck to The Show Returns in her Three Diamonds elimination. She starts the final from post eight. A daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven-Time N Again, and half-sister to millionaire Romantic Moment, Band Of Angels has won six of nine races and $177,487 for owner Bill Donovan. "I think she might have been a little bit short last week," Gingras said. "She felt really good turning for home and got outpaced in the last little bit. Not by much, but a little bit. She hadn't raced in a few weeks; I think she needed the start. I think she'll be even better this week, so there's no doubt in my mind that if I'm going to win (with JK She'salady) she's one of the major contenders I'm going to have to beat." Gingras is North America's leading driver in purses, with $13.42 million, and No. 1 in the Grand Circuit standings. He has won 29 races worth at least $100,000, with 14 coming with horses trained by Burke and 13 by Takter. Burke leads all trainers with a record $22.88 million in purses this year while Takter is second with a career-best $10.19 million. "It's been a great year, no doubt, but I'm only as good as the trainers I'm driving for," Gingras said. "Ronnie and Jimmy getting along and letting me do my thing and pick the best horse definitely helps tremendously. They really have been understanding. "It's definitely the hardest part of my job to tell one of them that I'm not driving their horse. But I've been honest with both of them. If I say to one of them I'm going with theirs, I'm going with theirs. I think they're both appreciative of that, that I'm up front. All three of us, nobody is playing games. They respect each other, and I think that makes it a lot easier. Hopefully there's more success to come for all of us." by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Freehold, NJ --- The top five in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll were unchanged from a week ago, although No. 3 JK She’salady added one first-place vote to her total following a win in her elimination for Saturday’s Three Diamonds. In the only other movement, Yonkers Trot elim winner Nuncio moved from seventh place to sixth, swapping places with Trixton. Sebastian K, who returns to action in Saturday’s International Trot Preview, remained No. 1, followed by Father Patrick, JK She’salady, Shake It Cerry, and Sweet Lou. Hambletonian/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 23 Rank Name (First Place Votes) A/G/S Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Sebastian K (22) 8th 11-8-2-0 $663,853 324 1 2 Father Patrick (5) 3tc 14-11-2-0 $1,385,581 303 2 3 JK She’salady (8) 2pf 9-9-0-0 $432,150 255 3 4 Shake It Cerry 3tf 14-12-0-1 $803,436 210 4 5 Sweet Lou 5ph 16-10-1-1 $958,558 179 5 6 Nuncio 3tc 14-9-5-0 $1,047,896 144 7 7 Trixton 3tc 11-8-1-1 $893,370 120 6 8 Artspeak 2pc 9-7-0-2 $490,760 86 8 9 Mission Brief 2tf 10-7-0-0 $324,440 82 9 10 JK Endofanera 3pc 14-9-2-1 $921,145 63 10 Also: Always B Miki (35), Lifetime Pursuit (29), He’s Watching (24), McWicked (22), Limelight Beach (9), Dancin Yankee, Yankee Bounty (8), In The Arsenal, Modern Family (5), Billy Flynn, Market Share (3), Act Now, Arch Madness (2), All Bets Off, Creatine, Freaky Feet Pete, Harper Blue Chip (1). by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
TORONTO, October 20 - On Monday evening at Woodbine Racetrack, harness racing driver Mike Saftic recorded his 5,000 career driving victory behind trotter Magic Shelley. Saftic, 52, entered the evening only one win shy of the career milestone. In the evening's third race, Saftic worked out the perfect trip with Magic Shelley to not only record his 5,000 victory, but also captured a division of the first leg of the Autumn Series. Saftic began his driving career in 1981 at his hometown track, Sudbury Downs, before moving to the Woodbine Entertainment circuit a few years later. Since joining the circuit, Saftic has consistently put up solid numbers each season and has driven top horses such as, Hall of Fame pacing mare Ellamony, Armbro Cruiser, Luck Of Michelle and 2002 Metro Pace champion Sir Luck. A resident of Milton, Saftic has earned more than $1 million in each season since 1989 and has career earnings of more than $93 million. This season, the veteran reinsman has recorded 96 victories and earnings of just under $2 million. The Woodbine Entertainment Group would like to congratulate Mike on his accomplishment and wish him continued success throughout his career. The Autumn Series for Ontario sired two-year-old fillies of both gaits got underway Monday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Two $14,000 divisions of the opening leg were contested for both pacers and trotters. In order to be eligible to the Autumn Series, two-year-olds must be Ontario sired and be non-winners of $30,000 lifetime as of September 30, 2014. In the opening division for the filly trotters, Mischief Smile moved from second to first in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:58.4. Trained by Paul Reid and driven by Trevor Henry, the daughter of Majestic Son broke her maiden with the victory and has now earned over $46,000 in nine career starts. Battle Mage finished second, while Mets Life and Cum Laude Hall finished third and fourth respectively. Mischief Smile returned $6.20 to win. In the second division, another Reid trainee was first to the wire to give the conditioner a sweep of round one action. Magic Shelley grinded her way first up and trotted away from her rivals in the stretch for a 3 ¼ length victory in 1:57.4. The victory was extra special for driver Mike Saftic, as it was his 5,000th career driving victory. The leg one triumph was a maiden breaking score for the daughter of Majestic Son. Magic Shelley has now earned over $13,000 in eight career starts. Meadow Seelster took the place spot, while Tymal Fireitup and Mass Rail rounded out the Superfecta. Magic Shelley paid $11.50 to win. The first division for the two-year-old pacing fillies saw another filly break her maiden. Little Miss Sporty, who was last at the three-quarter pole, was shown racetrack in the stretch by driver Steve Condren and blew by her rivals with ease for a 1 ¼ length victory in 1:55.1. Trained and co-owned by Stacey Reinsma, Little Miss Sporty had a pair of second place efforts in four starts heading into Monday evening, including a second place finish in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg. A daughter of Sportswriter, Little Miss Sporty now has career earnings of $36,250 for owners Reinsma and John Patterson. Caviart Cari Ann finished second, while Dublin Rose took the show spot. Amazing Control rounded out the Superfecta. Little Miss Sporty paid $35.90 to win. In the final division, Tessa Seelster went gate to wire for a 1 ¾ length victory in 1:55.4. A daughter of Shadow Play, Tessa Seelster was blasted to the lead by driver Mario Baillargeon and never looked back to pick her up second victory in five career starts. Trained by Ben Baillargeon, Tessa Seelster has now earned $15,760 in her young career for owner Richard Berthiaume. Southwind Luna finished second over Maralika, while Lady Jen finished fourth. Tessa Seelster returned $7.00 to win. The second round of the Autumn Series for two-year-old fillies will take place next Monday night (October 27). Autumn Series action continues Thursday evening with the opening round for two-year-old colts and geldings of both gaits. Post time is 7:25 p.m. by Mark McKelvie, for WEG
Talented pacing filly Alibi Seelster fetched the highest price at Sunday's 2014 Fall Extravaganza Mixed Sale. Alibi Seelster, a seven-time winner with more than $224,000 in purses earned, was sold by trainer/owner Jack Darling to Doug Brown, acting as agent, for $60,000. Cooler temperatures didn't dissuade potential buyers from packing the SC Sales Pavilion at Flamboro Downs. A total of 119 broodmares, racehorses, weanlings and yearlings brought a $1,143,000 gross, providing an overall average of $9,605. To view the rest of this story click here. Moreau & Carroll take Flamboro features Canada's leading trainer Richard Moreau and driver Alfie Carroll doubled up in Sunday night's Preferred quartet at Flamboro Downs with Adkins Hanover and Racey Miss. Returning to Flamboro where he was a winner in the same class on Sept. 28, Adkins Hanover ($4.20) went wire-to-wire to score a three length victory in 1:53.3 in the featured $11,000 Preferred 2 for horses and geldings. Carroll drove the five-year-old Western Ideal gelding for Moreau and co-owner Sylvain Descheneaux. Clic K and Goldstar Badlands finished second and third, respectively. Carroll and Moreau also teamed up for a victory in the $7,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 3 as Hudson Standardbred Stable's four-year-old Shanghai Phil mare Racey Miss ($3.50) wore down sophomore filly Double Joy to prevail by one length in 1:57.2. To view the rest of the story click here. Big move pays off for First Impression Trailing the leading favourite by eight lengths at the half, First Impression and driver Sylvain Lacaille circled the field to prevail in the featured $6,500 Winners Over Handicap Pace on Sunday night at Rideau Carleton Raceway. Poppy Buckys Boy (Stephane Pouliot) overtook Mister Icon (Guy Gagnon) past the :27.3 first quarter mark and then led the field of eight through middle splits of ::57 and 1:26.3. Meanwhile, Beach Runner A M (Darrell Coville) advanced first over from the backfield with Web Cam (Gord Brown) following his cover. With those two starting the outer flow, First Impression was shuffled to last and moved third over. As Poppys Bucky Boy came off the final turn into the stretch, he had Beach Runner A M at his flank -- although drifting out -- and Web Cam firing wide. Lacaille shot First Impression between the duelling leaders down the stretch and came through off a :28.1 final frame for the half-length victory in 1:55.2. To view the rest of this story click here. Schooner stays perfect in October Schooner continued to dominate the top pacers at Inverness Raceway on Sunday, not only wiring the field for the third straight week, but posting a flashy nine and a quarter length win margin at the finish line. With Alex MacQuarrie in the driver's seat, Schooner won the $1,000 Winners Over Pace in 1:58.3 over the "good" track. Imbadimnationwide was the best of the rest and Jackson County completed the top three finishers in the field of five. To view the rest of the story click here. Outlaw Gunpowder previals at Alberta Three-year-old pacing colts and geldings wrapped up the regular Alberta Sires Stakes season on Sunday afternoon at Alberta Downs with a new winner emerging to take the $49,800 Alberta Maverick Final. Outlaw Gunpowder ($12.70) turned in the best effort of his career to defeat Plainsman champion Sotally Tober and Marksman winner Blue Eyed Cowboy. Driven by Philip Giesbrecht, the Smart Shark-Fox Valley Cherish colt kicked home off a three-hole trip in :27.4 and wore down pacesetter Sotally Tober (:28.2, :57.4, 1:25) to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.3, shaving one full second off his lifetime mark. Even-money favourite Blue Eyed Cowboy stalled first over down the backstretch, but came on to finish third, one and three-quarter lengths behind. To view the rest of the story click here.
Trois-Rivieres, Quebec - Closing day for the 2014 harness racing meet at the Hippodrome 3R saw the unbeaten Boogie Panic post his eighth win this year in the final race of the program. Driven by Denis St Pierre, it was another day of excellence as he scored four winners on the afternoon with Boogie Panic capping the card. Allowing Hironexpress (Steeven Genois) to take the early lead, Pierre sent Boogie Panic to the top after the opening quarter mile and then held the field at bay as they cut fractions of :58.3 and 1:27 before pulling away in the stretch to win by three and three-quarter lengths in 1:58. April Bandit (Marie Auger) was second with Draft Hanover (Pascal Berube) third. Unraced at age 2, Boogie Panic was the winningest horse at 3R this season with his eight straight wins as he never raced at another track other than the Hippodrome 3R. Trained by Francis Richard for owner/breeder Brian Paquet of Quebec, QC, Boogie Panic, who is sired by Major In Art, paid just $2.60 to win. Driver Denis St Pierre took top honors as the meets leading driver. St Pierre blew away the competition this season, nearly doubling his win total over his nearest competitor. He had 67 wins, 33 wins more than Stephane Brosseau in second place with 34 wins. His Universal Driving Rating (URD) was a very impressive .465. The training title went to Eric Valiquette with 22 wins from the 70 horses he sent behind the gate during the meet and also closes the season with an excellent UTR average of .460. Finishing in second was Daniel Martin with 16 wins. The last day of the live race meet was also the last race in his career for Robert R Robert. The 14-year-old pacer was officially retired after he competed in the sixth race pace, where he used good love cover for driver Louis Roy and finished third in his last appearance. After the race Robert R Robert was brought back to the winner’s circle by co-owner/trainer Nathalie Mignault and Eric Dechamplainfor a special blanket presentation. Robert R Robert raced his entire career in Canada. The son of Albert Albert started in 276 races with 44 wins and a record of 1:52.2. He will now enjoy being a riding horse on his owner’s farm. The Hippodrome 3R will be open every day and night for simulcasting throughout the winter months. For more information visit www.quebecjockeyclub.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club
Summerside, PE – Zip The Lip and driver Brian MacPhee set a new track record for aged trotters in the Lea Bell Memorial Sunday at Red Shores Summerside. The time of the mile was 1:59 flat. MacPhee rallied the trot star for the deep stretch victory for his fifth win in a row for owner-trainer Donald Sweet and his co-owner Orville Willis of O’Leary. The record was set by Waiting on a Women on July 12, 2011 and equaled this year on July 30th by Frill Seeker. MacPhee and Sweet teamed up for a driving and training double when Pembroke Fella nailed the 9th race. Rash B Havior, with Walter Cheverie catch driving, won the afternoon feature event in a sparkling 1:56.3 for owner-trainer Michael Peters, Emyvale. The open length score was his third win in a row. Narragansett (Jason Hughes) was second while Cambest Kisser (Gary Chappell) completed the triactor. In other action, Pownal Bay Tia, in line to Gary Chappell, knocked off favorite Tammysmist to claim the Cecil Stewart Memorial in race 2. The filly is owned by Ken Smith, Bonshaw and Ian Smith, Charlottetown. The harness racing community also honored Leon Stewart with a special memorial horseshoe. The touching ceremony was held after race 5 on the afternoon. It was an emotional day for MacKenzie MacInnis after the memorial race for her great grandfather Cecil and the ceremony for her great uncle Leon, the 20-year-old owner-trainer from Tyne Valley experienced two winners from her stable on the program with Halfinthebag and Night Talker. The racing gods seemed to be with her on her day at the legendary Prince County oval. Jason Hughes recorded a driving triple on the afternoon. The Stratford native is now only two wins away from reaching leader Marc Campbell on the leader board at Summerside. Chappell also posted two winners on the program. For complete results go to www.redshores.ca by Lee Drake, for Red Shores
Nighttraintovegas claimed her second Alberta Sires Stakes title of the season as she kicked home off a pocket trip to win the $50,400 Marquis Final for three-year-old pacing fillies on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs. Driver Brandon Campbell sent Nighttraintovegas to the lead off the gate with the favoured elimination winner Eliseuinthedust (Jamie Gray) taking over into a sizzling :26.2 opening quarter. Eliseuinthedust led the fillies through middle splits of :56.4 and 1:26 with Wrangler Rockette (Gerry Hudon) flushed first up from third by Barona Mercedes (Jim Marino). However, Campbell was able to angle Nighttraintovegas out down the stretch and she stormed home for the 1:54.4 career-best equalling triumph. Smilys Amira (Tyler Redwood) closed from third over to finish second, ahead of Barona Mercedes. Nighttraintovegas paid $10.30 to win as the 4-1 third choice in the field. The homebred Camystic-Midnight In Vegas filly is trained by Richard Schneider and owned by Dick Schneider of Sherwood Park, Alta. and Edmonton's David Halmosi. To view the rest of this story click here. Nothside Downs feature to Silver Dragon Silver Dragon was the star of the Saturday afternoon card at Northside Downs as he defeated the top pacers on the grounds for local horseman David Ratchford. Silver Dragon prevailed in the $1,100 feature race from off-the-pace over the 'good' track in 2:00.2 with Junebugs Baby coming in second and Surrealist finishing third. The nine-year-old Dragon Again gelding is a 32-time winner in his career and earned his sixth victory of the season in 24 starts. To view the rest of this story click here. Adoption fundraiser a big success B&R Promotions has announced that once again the Annual Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society Fundraising Dinner was a great success. On October 4, nearly 80 people came out to the Mohawk Racetrack dining room to attend the event and enjoy a wonderful buffet dinner while participating in many draws and a silent auction. In total, a net amount of $4,909.30 was raised for the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society (OSAS). To view the rest of this story click here.