Gary Chappell

Gary Chappell captures 2,700th win

Charlottetown, PE - Gary Chappell picked up a milestone driving victory on the Saturday afternoon card at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park, notching his 2700th lifetime harness racing victory after receiving the catch driving call about Make It So. The 'Red Robin' enjoyed a driving double scoring with Lexis Mandy. The afternoon feature class was rocking and rolling past the opening quarter in single file to newcomer Adkins Hanover and Forever Paradise set up for a two-hole ride with his three race win streak on the line before an accident approaching the half. Racing Officials deemed the race a "no contest" as the horses approached the 3/4's after Junebugs Baby managed to slip his leg through the wheel of Rash B Havior before coming to a halt in the stretch. No horses or drivers were injured in the incident. Customers received a complete refund. Dusty Lane Zendaya watched her streak snap at four races during the afternoon's eighth dash. Her stablemate, Tell Me Why, was able to pocket ride off of soft fractions sneaking up the passing lane and landing her nose on the line first. Trainer Ronnie Gass would later double up on afternoon wins with the Tominator. Kenny Arsenault has been red hot to start 2017 at Red Shores, he added a trio of wins to his yearly total as well as cashing in on a training double with Dbs Rosco and Dees Boy. Reinsman Adam Merner picked up a driving double on the 14 dash card. For complete results go to www.redshores.ca By Bo Ford

Ann Straatman

Seelster again up for harness racing kudos

It doesn’t matter how many times you see your name among the best, being nominated for one of the top awards in harness racing never gets old. Seelster Farms, based in Lucan, has been nominated and will be looking to win it for their third time. It is one of the biggest breeding farms in Canada. Seelster is one of three finalists for an O’Brien Award as breeder of the year. It was nominated along with Marvin Katz and Al Libfield. The Seelster Farms team has a long history of success, having won the breeder of the year award in 2006 and 2013. The O’Brien Awards celebrate the year’s best in harness racing. They are the highest honour in the sport and are named after the late horseman Joe O’Brien, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. “No, it never gets old hat,” said Walter Parkinson, assistant farm manager at Seelster. “It’s nice to be a finalist for this award. Whether you come away a winner or not it’s just great being nominated for this award. It’s recognition that you’ve had a great season.” Seelster Farms is Canada’s largest commercial breeder. Seelster-bred horses won 293 races and more than $3 million in 2016, including almost $800,000 in the Ontario Sires Stakes for their best season in the program since 2007. Hard work is one reason for the success of Seelster Farms, but it also takes an intimate knowledge of breeding. A little bit of luck doesn’t hurt either. “It starts with our brood mare purchases, crossing those with the best stallions available whether our own or stallions across Ontario and the U.S. trying to produce the best horse from conception to when we sell them as a yearling,” Parkinson said. Some of the highlights for the breeder this year included top performers like Arsenal Seelster, Mayhem Seelster, Soiree Seelster and Tycoon Seelster, as well as top-aged performers like Godiva Seelster, Nirvana Seelster and Tessa Seelster. Three-year-old pacing filly Mayhem Seelster (Mach Three-Macapelo Rose) was their top money-earner with a $237,746 campaign and two-year-old pacing filly Soiree Seelster (Big Jim-Smilesplace) was another Gold winner from the Tony O’Sullivan stable. They’ve also added multiple Molson Pace winners and 2015 horse of the year State Treasurer to their 2017 stallion roster. “It’s just a really great staff at the farm and that’s what leads to being successful,” Parkinson said. The 600-acre farm is managed by Karen Favacho. Ann Straatman is reproduction manager and Tina Marie Howard the registered veterinary technician at the farm, which is owned by Catherine Van Bussel and Hubertina Van Boxmeer. “Being up for these awards tells you you are on the right path and want to continue it for years to come,” Parkinson said. “We go a few very rough years but these two past sale seasons have been very good for us. We’ve had good yearling sales in 2016 and 2015. Breeding is starting to turn upward again; our horses are performing at the top of the OSS (and other areas). It is a special time and this sort of gives it a benchmark. It tells us we must be doing something right. It’s really a great honour.” The O’Brien Award winners will be announced at the annual gala on Saturday, Jan. 28, in Mississauga. By Morris Dalla Costa Reprinted with permission of The London Free Press

Awesomeness

McNair stays hot with Friday Grand Slam

TORONTO, January 20 - Winter Series harness racing action continued on Friday's 11-race card at Woodbine Racetrack and once again Doug McNair was the first star of the night. McNair, who swept round one of the Blizzard Series Thursday, made four visits to the winner's circle on Friday's card, including in one of two divisions of the Snowshoe Series for three and four-year-old pacers. Awesomeness was sent straight to the front by McNair in the first $17,000 Snowshoe split and never looked back en route to an impressive 1:52 victory. The Ryan Maxwell trainee posted a snappy opening-quarter of :26.1 and after a middle-half of :58.4, fired home in :27 to win by 7½ lengths. Clouseau Hanover finished second, while Emptythetill was third. A gelded son of Mach Three, Awesomeness has been making some serious noise at Woodbine over the last couple months. The four-year-old didn't make his career debut until October and now has six wins in 12 starts, while only finishing outside the top-two once. Awesomeness, who was making his second start of the New Year Friday, was purchased privately by Martin Scharf in November and has won three of six starts since joining the Maxwell stable. His career earnings now sit at $76,100. The Maxwell trainee paid $3.60 to win. Awesomeness The second Snowshoe division saw McNair almost make it back-to-back series sweeping nights, but he and four-year-old gelding Senior K had to settle for a second-place finish. Lyons Sands went gate-to-wire to win the second split in 1:53.2. The Bruce Goit trainee was making his first start of 2017 and was guided to victory by driver J Harris. Lyons Sands posted fractions of :27.1, :57.1 and 1:25.3, before pacing home in :27.4 and fighting off Senior K to win by a neck. Ohio Larry finished third. A gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere, Lyons Sands won 9 of 13 starts last season as a three-year-old and now has 10 career victories to his name. His career bankroll increased to $52,590 for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound with Friday's victory. Lyons Sands paid $13 to win. Lyons Sands Three and four-year-old pacers, who were non-winners of two-races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2016, were eligible for nomination to the Snowshoe Series. The second-round of the Snowshoe will take place next Friday (January 27). Following Friday's driving Grand Slam, McNair now has 15 wins, 11 runner-up finishes and seven third-place finishes in 57 starts to lead all drivers this season at Woodbine. McNair will look to continue his torrid start to 2017 on Saturday evening, as he is listed to drive in nine of the 11 scheduled races. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Mach Three

Stallion Mach Three euthanized in New Zealand

It is with profound regret and sadness that Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, ON reports that pacing stallion Mach Three was euthanized Friday morning (Jan. 20) at Alabar Farms in Waiau Pa, New Zealand following a paddock accident. The 18-year-old, who is the sire of the legendary Hall of Fame racehorse and stallion Somebeachsomewhere ($3.3 million, 1:46.4 world record), suffered a broken leg in his paddock and had to be put down. "The stallion handler went out to Mach Three's paddock at Alabar Farms in New Zealand and found him lying there not able to get up. After an examination from the vet, they found Mach Three he had a fractured tibia. There was nothing they could do and had to put the horse down," said Tara Hills owner David Heffering, who was devastated by the news. "My staff is torn apart and wrecked by this. He was part of the family... This is family that's died." The news came the same day Tara Hills announced Mach Three's North American book was full and closed for 2017 at 140 bookings. Mach Three has produced 1,297 offspring to date, with total progeny earnings of nearly $103 million by Standardbred Canada accounting and $97.5 million by USTA records. Standardbred Canada has Mach Three's progeny's average earnings per starter at $112,034 ($103,126 by USTA records). The stallion produced 298 horses that earning $100,000 or more and 105 that earned more than $250,000. He produced 437 horses than had a 1:55 mile, 274 that had a 1:53 mark and 30 that had a sub-1:50 mile. "He is one of the biggest building blocks in making Tara Hills," Heffering said. A son of Matts Scooter out of All Included, Mach Three was owned by the Muscara Racing Trust of Ivyland, PA. The late Joe Muscara, Sr. of Huntingdon Valley, PA purchased the pacer in May of Mach Three's sophomore season from Linda Magid of Cambridge, ON, the widow of the pacer's breeder, Karl Magid. Under the tutelage of Brett, Shawn and Bill Robinson, along with Monte Gelrod, Mach Three posted a record of 7-2-0 in nine starts at two in 2001 and won the $1.1 million Metro Pace at Woodbine in 1:51.4. The following year, Mach Three won the $1 million Meadowlands Pace in a career best 1:49. At three, Mach Three had a record of 11-2-2 in 18 starts to give him a career record of 18-4-2 in 27 starts and earnings of $2,376,700. Mach Three was predominantly driven by Randy Waples at two and John Campbell at three. Mach Three stood his entire career at Tara Hills Stud in the northern hemisphere and Alabar in the southern hemisphere. His first foals hitting the ground in 2004. "The Muscaras have been friends forever," Heffering said. "They're taking it very hard. All of us know this can happen in the livestock business, but their father passed away a few years ago and this is part of their dad's legacy to carry on. Young Joe had down to New Zealand to visit the horse down there. They are very close to their horses." Heffering said in 2016 Mach Three contracted pneumonia and nearly died. "Still, clients stayed with us and we still bred 111 to him last year with good fertility," he said, adding that the Muscara family offered discounts to clients for the inconvenience. Now that Mach Three has died, Heffering said those impacted by his death will be offered discounts to breed to another of the Muscara-owned stallions. Other stallion owners with studs at Tara Hills have stepped up to also offer discounts, Heffering said. Call Tara Hills for more information at (905) 985-7770. Meanwhile, Heffering said Mach Three will be buried in New Zealand. "We knew that someday he probably wouldn't be coming back here. We talked about him retiring one day and staying in New Zealand... where most of the time the weather is pretty nice and there's nice green, lush pastures," Heffering said. Tara Hills Stud    

Anticipation is building for this year's O'Brien Awards, to be held on Saturday, January 28 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel. The black-tie gala, presented by Standardbred Canada, will honour the best in Canadian harness racing from the 2016 season. It is the night that fans and industry participants will learn who takes home the prestigious hardware. The O'Brien Awards annually celebrate the best in the sport. Harness racing media from across the country, race secretaries, track publicists, track announcers and simulcast hosts have voted for the winners, with two finalists in each category invited to attend the event, where envelopes will be opened and the winners will be revealed. "We have won several O'Brien Awards and always look forward to a great evening as it's, in our opinion, the best awards program in the industry," said Jeffrey Snyder, co-owner of Beyond Delight, who is a finalist along with Sports Column in the two-year-old pacing colt category. "Actually we were expecting to be nominated due to the horse's performance," continued Snyder, 71, of New York, N.Y., "but it's always exciting to hear from Kathy (Standardbred Canada Industry Marketing Manager, Kathy Wade Vlaar) that we were nominated." After a dream season in which her three-year-old trotting colt Marion Marauder won the Trotting Triple Crown, co-owner Jean Wellwood raved about the O'Brien Awards when asked earlier this month. "I look forward to the evening," said Wellwood, 78, of Stratford, Ont. "It is a spectacular event each year. My personal thank you to all the people who do all the work to make it such a spectacular evening!" Wellwood stated that she was very pleased to get the call on 'Marauder's nomination. "It [would be] an honour to receive an O'Brien Award for me, as Joe and Ilene (Joe O'Brien, the legendary Canadian horseman who the awards are named after, and his wife, Ilene) were very dear friends for many years." Bob McClure, who is a finalist for Canada's top driver of 2016, said that he is planning on making the O'Briens a family affair. "We don't know yet if my son, Ryder, is coming, but my grandparents are buying a table, and I'm going to have a table with some friends, so there's no shortage of room at the O'Briens for family," said McClure, 26, who is a resident of Elora, Ont. "I don't have a tux ready, though. I'll have to go rent one." Walter Parkinson, the assistant farm manager for breeder of the year finalist Seelster Farms, has characterized the O'Brien Awards Gala as a regal pause during what is a very busy time of year. "It is always an enjoyable evening," said Parkinson, who is a 38-year-old resident of Lucan, Ont. "It is great being able to catch up with so many people in one place. As we approach the start of breeding season and with the first foals starting to hit the ground, it is nice to be able to get away from the farm and celebrate the best in Canadian harness racing before life gets hectic." Parkinson explained that Seelster being an O'Brien nominee is quite humbling for the entire operation. "It's certainly an honour to be a finalist for the O'Brien Award for Armstrong Breeder of the Year," said Parkinson. "We take a lot of pride in the horses that we breed and raise, and to be recognized as one of two finalists for this award is a great way to cap off a successful season." Mel Hartman, who is part of the ownership team behind two-year-old trotting filly of the year finalist Magic Presto, also offered his praise. "I read it (about the nomination) on the internet, to be honest with you," said Hartman, 73, from Ottawa, Ont. "And I got a phone call from [Standardbred Canada] to let us know...We're very happy that she's one of the finalists." A finalist with U.S. Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year Ariana G, Hartman went on to add, "We may not have the highest of expectations, but we're still honoured that she was nominated." Conditioner Casie Coleman is no stranger to the O'Brien Awards Gala, as she has walked away with the trainer of the year award on five different occasions. Still, the night doesn't get old to the 36-year-old Cambridge, Ont. resident. "O'Briens is always an awesome night!" said Coleman, who is again a trainer of the year finalist, and also conditioner of Betting Line, another O'Brien finalist. "Whenever I get nominated I buy tickets for my whole staff to join me, as they deserve to be there as much as I do. Everyone's all dressed up and happy, the meal is always great, it's just a real good night to get to relax and reflect on all the awesome horses we got to race and watch race that past season." There will also be a pair of younger faces in the crowd at the gala, as Future Star finalists Brett MacDonald, 20, and Louis-Phillipe Roy, 27, will be taking in the evening as well. "Some people go their whole career without being nominated for an O'Brien, I couldn't believe it when [Kathy Wade Vlaar] called and told me I got the nomination," said MacDonald, of Embrun, Ont. "It is still early on in my career, so the call was really exciting for me." Roy, a resident of Mont-Joli, Quebec, echoed the same sentiments, but he also stated that he has come to learn just how much of an honour an O'Brien nomination is. "When I first got the call I didn't realize how big it was," said Roy, "but then with all the people congratulating me and talking about the O'Briens, I realized how big it is. I'm thrilled to be going to the O'Brien Awards!" A small number of tickets still remain for the 2016 O'Brien Awards. As a result, Standardbred Canada has extended the deadline to 12 noon (ET) on Monday, January 23. To order your tickets, contact the Standardbred Canada Industry Marketing Department at 905-858-3060 (Ext. 207, 243 or 213). Jeff Porchak

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - Forever Paradise has been harness racing top dog in recent weeks but that could all change Saturday afternoon at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. First race post time is 12:30 P.M. with Forever Paradise the morning line choice in the race 14 finale for trainer Kevin Maclean and owners Reg MacPherson and David MacKenzie of Stratford and Aaron MacKenzie of Winsloe. Mike McGuigan picks up the catch drive as regular pilot Corey MacPherson abandons the three-race win streak he has set up with Forever Paradise in favour of post 8 starter and newcomer Adkins Hanover. Now trained by Ambyr Campbell, Adkins Hanover was a winner in his latest outing on Sunday in 1:57.1 at Flamboro Downs in Dundas, Ont. The 22 time winner shows miles in 1:54 and change over half-mile tracks and now makes the trek East for new owner Perry Burke of Quebec. Other entries in the $2,300 featured pace include Mcjestic (Jason Hughes), Rash B Havior (Ken Murphy), Pictonian Storm (Wade Sorrie), Smiley Bayama (Adam Merner), Simon Said (Kenny Arsenault) and Junebugs Baby (Myles Heffernan). Dusty Lane Zendaya continues her ascent of the class ladder in race 8 of the program with MacPherson in the bike for trainer Ron Gass and owners Shelley and Alexis Gass, all of Cornwall. It will be the toughest test to date for Dusty Lane Zendaya as the three-year-old daughter of Aahm Canadian now faces off with tough aged pacing mares like Nashurallability (Don MacNeill), Alittleeastermagic (Ron Matheson) and Someone Like You (Hughes). The $1,700 trot class lines up in race 4 of the program with Holy Molie Maggie the morning line choice for driver Gary Chappell and trainer Jeff Holmes. Other top entries include Parkhill Jugernaut (Campbell) and Howmacs Pride (Arsenault). For race programs and top picks go to www.redshores.ca By Nicholas Oakes for Red Shores

TORONTO, January 19 - Harness racing driver Doug McNair has been off to a flying start in 2017 and Thursday night he continued his hot streak by sweeping round one of the Blizzard Series at Woodbine Racetrack. McNair guided Stonebridge Pearl and Senseless Beauty to victories to take both $17,000 first leg divisions of the Blizzard for three and four-year-old pacing fillies and mares. The first division of the evening saw all the attention go towards Niagara Series winner Jimbelina, but the heavy-favourite just couldn't go all the way over the "off-track". Sent to the front from post-ten by driver Sylvain Filion, Jimbelina cut out fractions of :27.1, :57 and 1:25.2. However, Stonebridge Pearl and McNair stalked the leader's every move from the pocket and were able to pounce in the lane. Stonebridge Pearl powered by Jimbelina in deep stretch to win by half a length in a career-best 1:55. Sparkle finished third, while Franschoek was fourth. A four-year-old daughter of Mach Three, Stonebridge Pearl made her first start of the New Year a winning effort Thursday after winning just once in 21 appearances in 2016. Owned by Mark Ford and trained locally by Gregg McNair, Stonebridge Pearl banked $26,100 last season and her Blizzard opening leg victory now gives her three career wins and a bankroll of $69,880. She paid $22 to win. Stonebridge Pearl The second division saw McNair once again crossing the wire first, but this time he did it with the public's choice. Senseless Beauty was pointed directly to the front right from the beginning by McNair and was able to clear Collective Wisdom for the lead just after the opening-quarter of :28. After posting middle-fractions of :57.1 and 1:27, Senseless Beauty was tested in the lane by Collective Wisdom from the two-hole, but the favourite was able to turn aside the challenger and score a two-length victory in 1:55.4. Kloof Street turned in a strong final-quarter to come all the way from ninth and last to finish second just ahead of Collective Wisdom. Xelene Bayama finished fourth. A four-year-old daughter of Vintage Master, Senseless Beauty was making just the fourth start of her career Thursday. The Tony O'Sullivan trainee raced twice as a rookie in August of 2015, but didn't make another start until last month. Owned by Let It Ride Stables Inc. and Dana Parham, Senseless Beauty has now won back to back starts at Woodbine and is on a three-race win streak after finishing second in her career debut. Thursday's victory increases her career earnings to $24,500. She paid $4.40 to win. Senseless Beauty Round two of the Blizzard Series will take place next Friday (January 26). Three and four-year-old pacing fillies and mares, who were non-winners of two-races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2016, were eligible to the Blizzard. Live racing continues Friday night at Woodbine with round one of the Snowshoe Series for three and four-year-old pacers headlining the 11-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Equine Guelph announces the official launch of TheHorsePortal.ca - a new portal for industry training in an easily-accessible online format for the equine industry. From the Rockies to the eastern islands, the portal will bring together horse people like never before to stay current on best health and welfare practices. The new program, resulting from an innovative industry partnership, provides horse people with short, practical online training to stay up-to-date with the latest information on equine care. The inaugural short courses are: 'Equine Welfare - Canada's Code' March 6-24 'Equine Biosecurity - Canada's standard' April 10-28 For any person responsible for a horse, it is essential to learn the national standards. These first two short courses on The Horse Portal are important offerings for caregivers and horses alike. Each day, new scientific knowledge emerges on how to better care for horses and deal with emerging issues. It is everyone's responsibility to stay current on best health and welfare practices and industry standards. "Through The Horse Portal, horse caregivers can access common sense, practical training that can be used on a daily basis," says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. "Equine Guelph looks forward to partnering with the equine industry across the nation to bring Canadians together to learn about equine welfare and care as a community." Equine Guelph has partnered with ten English-speaking provincial equestrian federations across Canada to offer their members equine training and education through The Horse Portal. The portal is also available to non-federation members. From racing to performance to the backyard pony, this portal was developed to cater to and benefit all segments of the equine industry. This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. Other partners include: Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, Equestrian Canada, Farm & Food Care Ontario, Greenhawk, Omega Alpha Equine, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Standardbred Canada. Participating Federations include: Alberta Equestrian Federation, Equine Association of Yukon, Horse Council British Columbia, Island Horse Council, Manitoba Horse Council, New Brunswick Equestrian Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Equestrian Association, Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation, Ontario Equestrian Federation and Saskatchewan Horse Federation. National training partner is Equestrian Canada. For more information, go to TheHorsePortal.ca      

Merchandiser 3, 1:53.4, by Muscle Hill, will stand at Stonewater Farms in Ancaster, Ontario for the 2017 breeding season. Merchandiser will stand for an introductory fee of $4,000 (CAD). His co-owner and trainer, Greg Peck, said, “Several Ontario breeders have told me they want to breed to a son of Muscle Hill in Ontario at an affordable price. When I showed them Merchandiser, they said ‘wow.’ He has a very desired commercial pedigree, great presence and conformation at an affordable price.” When asked to compare the son of Muscle Hill to his father (selected, trained and managed his entire racing career by Peck), he humbly responded “it’s like standing me alongside my U.S. Army ranger son. Merchandiser is the next generation. He’s bigger and stronger than his father was at the end of his three-year-old season. I am confident with those pluses he’ll be a success in Ontario.” Jennifer Jones, proprietor of Stonewater Farms Inc., said, “We have booked mares like Pure Ivory, an Ontario Sires graduate with earnings close to $1.5 million from Hunterton Farms, as well as Torre Mozza, from the boutique Ontario trotting operation Cool Creek Farm. This is a new venture for us. I’m confident our track record in mating and managing Performance Horses will be an asset to serve the needs of Standardbred breeders. I can see the Ontario program is the best in the industry. Merchandiser foals will be race in the 2020 Ontario Sires Stakes.” Christy Markos, co-owner and stallion manager, has extensive experience in all aspects of Standardbred breeding duties, such as collection and shipping semen of new stallions. Merchandiser is a three-year-old son of Muscle Hill. He was bred by Brittany Farms and sold as a yearling for $100,000. His dam, Majestic Style is the youngest daughter of the prolific Keystone Profile, as well as her only daughter to foal a son of Muscle Hill. This is the immediate family of such great trotters as Passionate Glide, Muscle Massive and successful Ontario sire Muscle Mass. For further information, please call Christy Markos at 905-462-1960. From Stonewater Farms

TORONTO, January 14 - Modern Legend became harness racing's newest millionaire with a 1:50.4 victory in Saturday's $34,000 Preferred at Woodbine Racetrack. The Dave Drew trainee was able to reach the career milestone by capitalizing off a second-over steer from driver James MacDonald. Modern Legend was able to power by American Virgin, who had led the field from the start, in the stretch to get the job done by a neck. Company Man finished third, while Nickle Bag was fourth. A nine-year-old son of Modern Art, Modern Legend has been a top performer for several years on the WEG Circuit and scored his biggest victory to date in the 2014 Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack. Modern Legend recently returned from an 18-month layoff in December and the Drew trainee appears on the right path to returning to competition against the older pacing heavyweights. Saturday's victory gives Modern Legend, who has a career mark of 1:47.2, 23 wins from 71 career starts. He paid $5.80 to win. Mark McKelvie

Charlottetown, PE - Harness racing streaks were continuing and being formed on Saturday afternoon at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park on Saturday afternoon.   Dusty Lane Zendaya continued her winning ways in the first race of the afternoon, stringing her undefeated career to four in a row. Corey MacPherson turned tactics this week brushing the three-year-old Aahm Canadian Now daughter to the lead and drawing off for a lifetime best win in 2:02.2. Shelly and Alexis Gass own the Ron Gass trainee, who had a training double on the day. Forever Paradise continued his winning ways in the afternoon feature picking up his third straight win on route to his 50th lifetime victory. MacPherson took early control off the wings before giving way to the return of Junebugs Baby who laid down numbers of :29.2, 1:00.1, 1:29.3 before the Kevin Maclean trainee tipped to the outside and drove away in 1:58.3 for owners Reg MacPherson, David and Aaron MacKenzie. Marc Campbell has started the 2017 meet at Red Shores right where he left off in 2016 stinging his competition for a 4 bagger including a finale score with his own trainee Woodmere Articblue in 1:59.2. Frill Seeker has been a model of consistency over the past month for trainer, driver Kenny Arsenault picking up his third straight score in the afternoon Open Trot. Dale Spence teamed up with trainer Greg MacInnis for an afternoon double with Bold Arrow and Jays Little Spark. Jason Hughes wheeled back three winners a piece on the 16 dash card. Arsenault clicked for a Double. The wager on the afternoon card was $ 42,640.   For complete results and payouts go to www.redshores.ca.   By Bo Ford

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - An undefeated career is on the line as live harness racing continues Saturday afternoon at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park. The first race gets underway at 12:30 P.M. with the three-for-three Dusty Lane Zendaya kicking off the action in race 1 for driver Corey MacPherson, trainer Ron Gass and owners Shelley and Alexis Gass of Cornwall. Dusty Lane Zendaya has been climbing the class ladder since kicking off her career on Boxing Day and will have five rivals in her $1,000 Saturday test. A group of featured pacers line up in race 15 on the 16 dash card with the return of one of Cape Breton's top pacers. Junebugs Baby was sold to U.S. interests late in 2016 but is now owned by Jackie Heffernan, with brother Myles Heffernan now handling the training and driving from his Summerville base. Eagle Jolt is the morning line choice from post 3 fresh off a win for trainer-driver Marc Campbell and gets the support of race analyst Les MacIsaac. "A different racing style was employed last week and the result was his fastest win in a few months," MacIsaac said of Eagle Jolt. "With his first inside post in ages and a compact field a similar trip could be in the cards and quite possibly the same result." Forever Paradise draws post 4 riding a two-race win streak for driver MacPherson while the field also includes Dbs Rosco (Kenny Arsenault) and Pictonian Storm (Wade Sorrie). The $1,700 Open Trot hits the track in race 4 with Holy Molie Maggie (Gary Chappell) favoured over Frill Seeker (Arsenault) and Parkhill Juggernaut (Ambyr Campbell). For race programs, top picks and live broadcast go to www.redshores.ca By Nicholas Oakes For Red Shores

TORONTO, ON - January 12 - Due to deteriorating track conditions caused by rain and mild temperatures, the Woodbine Entertainment Group has cancelled tonight's (January 12) card of live harness racing at Woodbine Racetrack. Live racing will resume on Friday (January 13) evening at 7:30 p.m. with qualifiers scheduled to take place earlier in the day at 4 p.m. By Mark McKelvie, for WEG Communications   

Charlottetown, PE - Two-hole ride winners seemed to be a trend on the first Saturday afternoon card at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at the Charlottetown Driving Park in 2017 and that's just how Forever Paradise would deliver in the harness racing feature. The now seven-year old son of Western Paradise set up shop on the front end in the early going before being rebuffed by Doing Some Damage who laid down the fractions of :30.3, 1:01.1 and 1:30.2 before driver Corey MacPherson shot the Kevin Maclean trainee Forever Paradise up the passing lane for his 49th lifetime victory. It was his second victory in a row at the top class level for owners Reg MacPherson, David and Aaron MacKenzie. The time of the mile was 1:59.4. Macpherson was also able to keep the streak alive for Dusty Lane Zendaya, the three-year-old daughter of Aahm Canadian Now finished 2016 a perfect two for two and would give 'The Tiger' a double on the day capturing her third straight victory. Ideal Space will go down in history as the first winner of 2017 at Red Shores. Off a career year in 2016, Adam Merner used front end tactics to take the first race of the new year at the capital city oval. Joey Squires trains for owners John and Albert MacGillivary. The winning didn't end there for the connections. Merner set Simon Said up for a two hole ride in behind fraction setter Red Magician before dropping into the passing lane to share doubles all around. On the topic of doubles, Kenny Arsenault who was read hot to close out 2016, continued his winning ways scoring a pair of driving and training victories. With Frill Seeker and Highland Boreas. Marc Campbell, Red Shores' leading driver in 2016 picked up a driving double on the card with Scarlet Saphire and the fastest trip out the day with veteran pacer Eagle Jolt in 1:57.3. Three cheque presentations were made as part of the Trainer-Driver Challenge offered in 2016. Jason Hughes was the leading point getter with 1,414 points and took home $2500, Marc Campbell finished second with 843 taking home $1500, and Arsenault rounded out the top three with 786, good for $1000. This Challenge is a way to honor the dedication, time and talent of being a trainer-driver in the harness racing industry. The wager for the afternoon card was $45,704. By Bo Ford

TORONTO, January 6 - After a short holiday break, the Standardbreds are set to get back to action and start a new harness racing season Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A strong 12-race card will launch the 2017 Woodbine Entertainment Group racing season Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m. The feature event on the season-opening card is the $34,000 Preferred Pace, headlined by top older pacers Modern Legend and Nickle Bag. Modern Legend, the 2014 Canadian Pacing Derby champion, recently returned to the racetrack after an 18-month layoff. The Dave Drew trainee was able to get one start in before the end of the year and certainly made the most of it with a stunning 1:49.4 victory on December 17. Now a nine-year-old, Modern Legend will have an opportunity to reach a career milestone in Saturday's Preferred, as the Drew trainee sits just $13,675 away from $1 million in career earnings. James MacDonald will drive Modern Legend in Saturday's seven-horse Preferred and the duo will start from post position four. The $34,000 feature event is carded as Race 3. The driver and trainer standings restart from zero on Saturday evening, but Sylvain Filion and Richard Moreau have a good chance to jump back into their usual spots at the top of the leader board. Filion is listed to drive in all but one of Saturday's 12 races, while Moreau will send out 10 starters on the card. The dynamic duo will team up six-times throughout the night. Saturday's season-opening card features all the familiar wagering options, including the $40,000 Pick-5, $50,000 Early Pick-4 and the Jackpot Hi-5, which starts from scratch on the evening's final-race. Following Saturday's card, live racing will be held every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the Woodbine Winter meet. Post time each night is 7:30 p.m. Click here to download a program for Saturday's card.   Mark McKelvie

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Charlottetown, PE - Gary Chappell picked up a milestone driving victory on the Saturday afternoon card at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park, notching his 2700th lifetime harness racing victory after receiving the catch driving call about Make It So. The 'Red Robin' enjoyed a driving double scoring with Lexis Mandy. The afternoon feature class was rocking and rolling past the opening quarter in single file to newcomer Adkins Hanover and Forever Paradise set up for a two-hole ride with his three race win streak on the line before an accident approaching the half. Racing Officials deemed the race a "no contest" as the horses approached the 3/4's after Junebugs Baby managed to slip his leg through the wheel of Rash B Havior before coming to a halt in the stretch. No horses or drivers were injured in the incident. Customers received a complete refund. Dusty Lane Zendaya watched her streak snap at four races during the afternoon's eighth dash. Her stablemate, Tell Me Why, was able to pocket ride off of soft fractions sneaking up the passing lane and landing her nose on the line first. Trainer Ronnie Gass would later double up on afternoon wins with the Tominator. Kenny Arsenault has been red hot to start 2017 at Red Shores, he added a trio of wins to his yearly total as well as cashing in on a training double with Dbs Rosco and Dees Boy. Reinsman Adam Merner picked up a driving double on the 14 dash card. For complete results go to www.redshores.ca By Bo Ford
It doesn’t matter how many times you see your name among the best, being nominated for one of the top awards in harness racing never gets old. Seelster Farms, based in Lucan, has been nominated and will be looking to win it for their third time. It is one of the biggest breeding farms in Canada. Seelster is one of three finalists for an O’Brien Award as breeder of the year. It was nominated along with Marvin Katz and Al Libfield. The Seelster Farms team has a long history of success, having won the breeder of the year award in 2006 and 2013. The O’Brien Awards celebrate the year’s best in harness racing. They are the highest honour in the sport and are named after the late horseman Joe O’Brien, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. “No, it never gets old hat,” said Walter Parkinson, assistant farm manager at Seelster. “It’s nice to be a finalist for this award. Whether you come away a winner or not it’s just great being nominated for this award. It’s recognition that you’ve had a great season.” Seelster Farms is Canada’s largest commercial breeder. Seelster-bred horses won 293 races and more than $3 million in 2016, including almost $800,000 in the Ontario Sires Stakes for their best season in the program since 2007. Hard work is one reason for the success of Seelster Farms, but it also takes an intimate knowledge of breeding. A little bit of luck doesn’t hurt either. “It starts with our brood mare purchases, crossing those with the best stallions available whether our own or stallions across Ontario and the U.S. trying to produce the best horse from conception to when we sell them as a yearling,” Parkinson said. Some of the highlights for the breeder this year included top performers like Arsenal Seelster, Mayhem Seelster, Soiree Seelster and Tycoon Seelster, as well as top-aged performers like Godiva Seelster, Nirvana Seelster and Tessa Seelster. Three-year-old pacing filly Mayhem Seelster (Mach Three-Macapelo Rose) was their top money-earner with a $237,746 campaign and two-year-old pacing filly Soiree Seelster (Big Jim-Smilesplace) was another Gold winner from the Tony O’Sullivan stable. They’ve also added multiple Molson Pace winners and 2015 horse of the year State Treasurer to their 2017 stallion roster. “It’s just a really great staff at the farm and that’s what leads to being successful,” Parkinson said. The 600-acre farm is managed by Karen Favacho. Ann Straatman is reproduction manager and Tina Marie Howard the registered veterinary technician at the farm, which is owned by Catherine Van Bussel and Hubertina Van Boxmeer. “Being up for these awards tells you you are on the right path and want to continue it for years to come,” Parkinson said. “We go a few very rough years but these two past sale seasons have been very good for us. We’ve had good yearling sales in 2016 and 2015. Breeding is starting to turn upward again; our horses are performing at the top of the OSS (and other areas). It is a special time and this sort of gives it a benchmark. It tells us we must be doing something right. It’s really a great honour.” The O’Brien Award winners will be announced at the annual gala on Saturday, Jan. 28, in Mississauga. By Morris Dalla Costa Reprinted with permission of The London Free Press
TORONTO, January 20 - Winter Series harness racing action continued on Friday's 11-race card at Woodbine Racetrack and once again Doug McNair was the first star of the night. McNair, who swept round one of the Blizzard Series Thursday, made four visits to the winner's circle on Friday's card, including in one of two divisions of the Snowshoe Series for three and four-year-old pacers. Awesomeness was sent straight to the front by McNair in the first $17,000 Snowshoe split and never looked back en route to an impressive 1:52 victory. The Ryan Maxwell trainee posted a snappy opening-quarter of :26.1 and after a middle-half of :58.4, fired home in :27 to win by 7½ lengths. Clouseau Hanover finished second, while Emptythetill was third. A gelded son of Mach Three, Awesomeness has been making some serious noise at Woodbine over the last couple months. The four-year-old didn't make his career debut until October and now has six wins in 12 starts, while only finishing outside the top-two once. Awesomeness, who was making his second start of the New Year Friday, was purchased privately by Martin Scharf in November and has won three of six starts since joining the Maxwell stable. His career earnings now sit at $76,100. The Maxwell trainee paid $3.60 to win. Awesomeness The second Snowshoe division saw McNair almost make it back-to-back series sweeping nights, but he and four-year-old gelding Senior K had to settle for a second-place finish. Lyons Sands went gate-to-wire to win the second split in 1:53.2. The Bruce Goit trainee was making his first start of 2017 and was guided to victory by driver J Harris. Lyons Sands posted fractions of :27.1, :57.1 and 1:25.3, before pacing home in :27.4 and fighting off Senior K to win by a neck. Ohio Larry finished third. A gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere, Lyons Sands won 9 of 13 starts last season as a three-year-old and now has 10 career victories to his name. His career bankroll increased to $52,590 for owner Geoffrey Lyons Mound with Friday's victory. Lyons Sands paid $13 to win. Lyons Sands Three and four-year-old pacers, who were non-winners of two-races or $30,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2016, were eligible for nomination to the Snowshoe Series. The second-round of the Snowshoe will take place next Friday (January 27). Following Friday's driving Grand Slam, McNair now has 15 wins, 11 runner-up finishes and seven third-place finishes in 57 starts to lead all drivers this season at Woodbine. McNair will look to continue his torrid start to 2017 on Saturday evening, as he is listed to drive in nine of the 11 scheduled races. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie
It is with profound regret and sadness that Tara Hills Stud in Port Perry, ON reports that pacing stallion Mach Three was euthanized Friday morning (Jan. 20) at Alabar Farms in Waiau Pa, New Zealand following a paddock accident. The 18-year-old, who is the sire of the legendary Hall of Fame racehorse and stallion Somebeachsomewhere ($3.3 million, 1:46.4 world record), suffered a broken leg in his paddock and had to be put down. "The stallion handler went out to Mach Three's paddock at Alabar Farms in New Zealand and found him lying there not able to get up. After an examination from the vet, they found Mach Three he had a fractured tibia. There was nothing they could do and had to put the horse down," said Tara Hills owner David Heffering, who was devastated by the news. "My staff is torn apart and wrecked by this. He was part of the family... This is family that's died." The news came the same day Tara Hills announced Mach Three's North American book was full and closed for 2017 at 140 bookings. Mach Three has produced 1,297 offspring to date, with total progeny earnings of nearly $103 million by Standardbred Canada accounting and $97.5 million by USTA records. Standardbred Canada has Mach Three's progeny's average earnings per starter at $112,034 ($103,126 by USTA records). The stallion produced 298 horses that earning $100,000 or more and 105 that earned more than $250,000. He produced 437 horses than had a 1:55 mile, 274 that had a 1:53 mark and 30 that had a sub-1:50 mile. "He is one of the biggest building blocks in making Tara Hills," Heffering said. A son of Matts Scooter out of All Included, Mach Three was owned by the Muscara Racing Trust of Ivyland, PA. The late Joe Muscara, Sr. of Huntingdon Valley, PA purchased the pacer in May of Mach Three's sophomore season from Linda Magid of Cambridge, ON, the widow of the pacer's breeder, Karl Magid. Under the tutelage of Brett, Shawn and Bill Robinson, along with Monte Gelrod, Mach Three posted a record of 7-2-0 in nine starts at two in 2001 and won the $1.1 million Metro Pace at Woodbine in 1:51.4. The following year, Mach Three won the $1 million Meadowlands Pace in a career best 1:49. At three, Mach Three had a record of 11-2-2 in 18 starts to give him a career record of 18-4-2 in 27 starts and earnings of $2,376,700. Mach Three was predominantly driven by Randy Waples at two and John Campbell at three. Mach Three stood his entire career at Tara Hills Stud in the northern hemisphere and Alabar in the southern hemisphere. His first foals hitting the ground in 2004. "The Muscaras have been friends forever," Heffering said. "They're taking it very hard. All of us know this can happen in the livestock business, but their father passed away a few years ago and this is part of their dad's legacy to carry on. Young Joe had down to New Zealand to visit the horse down there. They are very close to their horses." Heffering said in 2016 Mach Three contracted pneumonia and nearly died. "Still, clients stayed with us and we still bred 111 to him last year with good fertility," he said, adding that the Muscara family offered discounts to clients for the inconvenience. Now that Mach Three has died, Heffering said those impacted by his death will be offered discounts to breed to another of the Muscara-owned stallions. Other stallion owners with studs at Tara Hills have stepped up to also offer discounts, Heffering said. Call Tara Hills for more information at (905) 985-7770. Meanwhile, Heffering said Mach Three will be buried in New Zealand. "We knew that someday he probably wouldn't be coming back here. We talked about him retiring one day and staying in New Zealand... where most of the time the weather is pretty nice and there's nice green, lush pastures," Heffering said. Tara Hills Stud    
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