Smolda with Mark Purdon holding the Hunter Cup

Smolda refuses to concede in Hunter Cup

Tonight's $500,000 Hunter Cup looked like a much easier assignment for the champion New Zealand trained harness racing pacer Smolda who has been battling the brilliant  Lennytheshark in recent weeks. With no Lennytheshark or Beautide in the field, Smolda looked a class above his rivals tonight but as races can do Smolda was pushed to the limit to justify his hot favourtisum. As expected Ohoka Punter stepped brilliantly and grabbed the early lead for Anthony Butt and immediately made it clear he was holding the front when Messini and Chris Alford had a look for the lead. Meanwhile Smolda and Mark Purdon were working arounding the field and had a strong look for the lead as well but Ohoka Punter and Anthony Butt kicked up and held the lead. Five hundred metres later, Mark Purdon really put it to Ohoka Punter and this time Anthony Butt let him go as Mark was showing no signs of stopping the attack. Once in front Smolda kept clicking over those sub 30 second quarters and had most of the competition in trouble down the back straight the last time. On the point of the turn Ohoka Punter eased off the trail and looked a distinct threat but though he got up to Smolda he just couldn't get past the whole way down the Melton straight. Smolda just wouldn't lie down and still had a head margin on Ohoka Punter at the finish with the West Australian My Hard Copy fying late for third after having a soft run four back on the inner during the running. Smolda's run gained even further kudos when the time of 3:59.1 was announced which took nearly a second off the old record at Tabcorp Park Melton. That equates to a mile rate of 1:57.3 for the 3280 metres from a standing start which is a great effort while the closing sectionals were covered in 56.4 and 27.9 Mark Purdon was full of praise for his warrior post race. " That was a great effort tonight." " He was very keen out there and never really came back to me at any stage of the race." "He has a high cruising speed and with him over racing and running along like he was I thought he might be vunerable." " However he has refused to let anyone past." It was a great performance" Mark Purdon said. Tonights win was career victory number twenty four for the son of Courage Under Fire and took his lifetime earnings over the $1,300,000 mark. Mark Purdon is now considering weather to head to Menangle next week for a shot at the Miracle Mile with Smolda but is unlikely to make a decision until Tuesday at the earliest. Harnesslink Media

Keystone Del with driver Anthony Butt

Keystone Del makes a statment at Melton

All harness racing pundits assessing the form leading into tonights $100,000 Group 1 Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton were in agreement that it was a two horse war. Glenferrie Typhoon from barrier 1 was expected to lead early and going by his previous two starts was expected to be very difficult to catch. The main danger was the star New Zealand four year old Monbet who after two sensational victories in the last fortnight was looking to cement his standing as the best trotter in Australasia at present. The script went out of the window as soon as the mobile gate left the start with Anthony Butt sooling Keystone Del straight to the front with Glenferrie Typhoon settling in the trail and Monbet settling in the open on Keystone Del's wheel. However Monbet looked scratchy in his gate a couple of times early in the race and driver Ricky May was happy to take a trail when the Kiwi raider Speeding Spur and Josh Dickie worked around to sit in the open with just over a lap to go. Going past the 600 metres Speeding Spur put it to Keystone Del and the pair drew clear a length of Monbet who started to trot very roughly, finally galloping and being retired from the race. Keystone Del and Speeding Spur turned for home together but as they did Glenferrie Typhoon also went into a gallop in the trail, extinguishing his chances. Under a hard drive from Anthony Butt , the Dr Ronerail gelding Keystone Del was able to keep a game Speeding Spur at bay down the straight by an ever reducing head with Arboe flying late to be only a half neck away third. The time of 2:41.5 for the 2240 metres was a new track record at Tabcorp Park Melton, a mile rate of 1:56 with smart closing sectionals of 55.9 and 28.1. Anthony Butt was full of praise for Keystone Del post race. " He has gone great tonight. " He was travelling well most of the way but Josh really turned up the pressure at the 600 metres mark. " I was waiting for Monbet to come out of the one by one but it never happened," Anthony said. Tonights  win by Keystone Del was his 33rd career success at just his 55th start and took his career earnings over the $860,000 mark. Tonights win was a timely reminder by Keystone Del to the young pretenders that he was not going to give up his crown as the best trotter in Australia easily. Harnesslink Media

Pacing Major and Dexter Dunn on returning to the birdcage at Ashburton today after winning the Sapling Stakes

Dexter grabs rare win in Sapling Stakes

When most of the age group harness racing classics come around each season, leading reinsman Dexter Dunn is use to having to face the numerous runners that the all powerful All Star barn usually line up in such races. In todays Sapling Stakes at Ashburton Raceway, Dexter was in the unusual position of handling the All Star runner Pacing Major and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands with a lovely display of front running driving to take out the Group 3 feature race for juveniles. Pacing Major drew widest at barrier six over the mile but Dexter sent the Art Major colt forward out of the gate and grabbed the lead after 300 meters from the stablemate More The Better in the hands of Tim Williams who settled in the trail. Dexter kept the tempo even down the back straight but as they turned for home Dexter pushed the go button and sprinted away with a sharp turn of foot. More The Better tried to rally up the passing lane but Pacing Major was comfortably holding him at the finish,1 1/2 lengths to the good. The debutante Mongolian Storm ran on well late for a good third just in front of the other All Star runner You Gotta Have Faith. Dexter was full of praise for Pacing Major post race. "He is such a lovely horse to drive that he didn't need much help from me." "He did that really easily to be honest and felt great the whole trip," Dexter said. Dexter was struggling to remember the last time he drove for the All Stars barn. "I don't think i would have driven ten times all up in my career for the All Star barn so it was nice to put the colours on for a smart colt like him." "With Mark and Natalie in Australia I may get the chance to drive him again with a bit of luck," Dexter said. Tim Williams was more than happy with the run of More The Better in the circumstances. "You are hard pressed to make ground when they are running home off the front in 26.7 so my fella has gone great to finish so close," Tim said. Paul Court was rapt with the run of Mongolian Storm on debut. "He has run home really well and will derive so much benefit from the run." "That run will bring him on in leaps and bounds and I'm already looking forward to his next start," Paul said. Matt Anderson was also happy with the effort of You Gotta Have Faith on debut. "That was a big effort on debut. "I took all the shortcuts on the way home but he found the line really well," Matt said. The All Star barn is a formidable outfit to race against at the best of times but when you add in a driver of Dexter's class with an All Star juvenile, the combination becomes nigh on unbeatable. Harnesslink Media

Randy Tharps won his 5,000th race at Miami Valley

Winningest African-American driver in history

LEBANON, OH. - Randy Tharps became the 103rd harness racing driver in North American history to reach 5,000 career victories on Friday night (February 5) at Miami Valley Raceway. The winningest African-American driver in history, by a wide margin, 52-year-old Tharps scored a hat trick to reach the coveted plateau. Jessie's Field got Randy's string of successes going with a 1:57.4 score in a $10,000 conditioned trot. Alibi Seelster captured a $12,000 mares condition pace in 1:54.3 to put Tharps one win away; and then Boy Meets Girl K trotted to a 1:55.4 tally in the very next race, another $10,000 condition trot. Randy Tharps hails from a harness racing family with deep roots in Lebanon, Ohio. His father Thomas, who passed away three years ago, and mother Carol began racing harness horses shortly after moving to Lebanon from Tennessee and Tom was introduced to the sport by friends Omar Hiteman and George Williams. Tom was a leading driver at both Lebanon and Latonia in the 1960's and 70's, competing with the likes of Herb Coven Jr. and Ray Paver Sr. The Tharps's raised five sons and two daughters with all five boys taking an active interest in racing. Since there have been a number of grandchildren who have followed in the family hoofprints as well, including five of Randy's nephews who are currently active as provisional drivers or second trainers. Randy is undoubtedly the family standardbearer in terms of accomplishments and statistical achievements. Cleaning the family's stalls since he was old enough to pick up a pitchfork, and jogging their horses since big enough to sit upright in the cart, Randy always had his sights set on being a top driver. After graduating from Lebanon High School, where he studied in the Career Center to become an electrician, Tharps began devoting full-time to the horses and his illustrious career took off before he ever made a nickel with his electrical knowledge. His dad always had 20-30 horses in his stable, but Randy eventually accepted work in the Chet Dewbre Stable and began picking up drives slowly but surely. "Back then I let it be known I would drive ANY horse for anybody, anytime and anywhere," laughed Randy. "I wasn't exactly an overnight success, but I did see a promising future and I have no regrets. Racing has provided a good life. But I'm not done...Good Lord willing I plan to do this as long as I possible can!" Tharps won just four races in his inaugural 1982 season, but did sport a .444 UDRS. He spent another three years toiling at the fairs and picking up occasional commercial track mounts at Lebanon or Latonia. In 1986 things began to click and by 1990 he was ready to move his tack to Northfield Park in Cleveland. Following a successful stint there, he relocated to The Meadows to begin a very satisfying decade-long run. From 1989 to 2008, Tharps had over 100 wins in 19 out of 20 seasons, including three 300-plus wins campaigns. When VLT legislation passed in Ohio, Randy returned to his roots in Lebanon, Ohio, where he continues to compete on the highest level. Randy credits Western Ace for giving him his biggest thrill, winning the Jug Preview at Scioto Downs in 1:50.2 for trainer George Teague Jr. in 2006. "As far as a favorite horse?," Tharps quickly answers, "Marty's Charm at The Meadows. I won races every year from 2008 to 2013 with (trainer) Paul Corey's great horse. He had to have time off occasionally, but when he could race, he was fantastic." A check of the records reinforces Tharps' enthusiasm for Marty's Charm. He won 27 races with Tharps in the sulky during that span, 21 of them in Preferred company. Although Tharps never purposely fashioned himself after any other driver, some have said he reminds them of the late, great Lew Williams the way he sits in the sulky. Williams is believed to be the second winningest African-American driver of all time with 2,023 wins, followed by Cedric Washington with 1,832. Tharps has three children and two granddaughters (a third grandchild on the way). A son Ryan works for local trainer Kayne Kauffman, his daughter Randi ("Peaches") has been an outstanding caretaker since graduating from Trinity High School in Pennsylvania, and daughter Amanda also lives nearby, although she isn't actively interested in horses. Matriarch Carol Tharps joined Randy in the jubilant winner's circle following her son's 5000th win. Gregg Keidel                                                                                                                

Winter harness racing action ramped up Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack with round one of The Count B and Ontario Girls Series. Each series featured a pair of divisions for their opening leg. A group of 14 sophomore pacing colts and geldings were split into two $17,000 The Count B divisions, while 15 Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares competed in two $18,000 Ontario Girls splits. The Count B Series for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings saw the first split go to a newcomer north of the border. War N Munn went gate to wire for a 1:54.1 victory. The son of Stonebridge Regal shipped in from the Kerin Warner barn into the care of trainer Carmen Auciello. Driven by Jonathan Drury, War N Munn fired out to the front and got to dictate the pace. After posting panels of :27.4, :57.1 and 1:25.2, War N Munn opened up several lengths of separation and cruised home in :28.4 for a 6¾ lengths victory. St Lads Charger, who sat fourth for the majority of the mile, finished second, while New Standard came from last to finish third. War N Munn is owned by George Munniksma. The sophomore pacer was making his 2016 debut after winning two of nine starts as a rookie for earnings of $43,011. War N Munn established a new career mark with his 1:54.1 victory. He paid $10.10 to win. War N Munn The combination of Drury and Auciello appeared to have a good shot to sweep The Count B first leg, as they teamed up with the 3/5 favourite Big Bang Boom in the second split. Drury stepped on the accelerator at the start and blasted Big Bang Boom to the lead. The Auciello trainee went untouched through solid fractions of :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24.1 to lead by almost five-lengths turning for home. Three Truths, the 7/2 second choice, came out from fifth around the final turn for driver Sylvain Filion and sat seven-lengths off the lead at the three-quarter pole. In the stretch, Big Bang Boom ran out of steam at the eighth-pole and was swallowed up by a hard-charging Three Truths, who stopped the clock in 1:55.1. Gotti finished two-lengths back in second, while Big Bang Boom held on to hit the board in third. A son of Shadow Play, Three Truths is trained by Richard Moreau for owners Ratchford Stable and Brian Shebib. The Count B opening leg victory is the first win in four starts this season for the sophomore pacer. Three Truths won three of eighth starts last season and now has a career bankroll of $23,060. Friday's clocking of 1:55.1 established a new career mark for the son of Shadow Play. Three Truths paid $9.50 to win. Three Truths The Ontario Girls Series kicked off with a fantastic stretch duel in the first division. Much Adoo, the 9/5 favourite, got away second, but was quickly circled to the lead in the second-quarter by driver Doug McNair. Fresh off her Blizzard Series victory, Double Olives found a seat in fourth and sat there until angling out first-over just after the half. Much Adoo posted middle-fractions of :57 and 1:25, while Double Olives pulled to within less than a length of the lead turning for home. In the stretch, the public's top two choices went toe-to-toe with Much Adoo holding off a battling Double Olives to win by a length in 1:54. Pinky Tuscadero, who sat second-over turning for home, finished third. A daughter of Classic Card Shark, Much Adoo picked up her second win in three starts this season for trainer Cody Henry. She is owned by Aaron Waxman and Alan Alber. Much Adoo increased her career earnings to over $97,000 with her seventh career victory Friday. She paid $5.90 to win. Much Adoo In the second division, Amazing Control came through as the even-money favourite for a 1:55.1 victory. Driven by Jody Jamieson, Amazing Control was able to get a pocket trip in behind Twin B Sweetheart. The leader cut out fractions of :27.2, :57.4 and 1:26.3, while Amazing Control was primed to pop the pocket in the lane. In the stretch, Jamieson pulled on the right line and Amazing Control powered by Twin B Sweetheart to win two-lengths. Tilkum finish third. A daughter of Shadow Play, Amazing Control is trained by Meg Crone for owners Hutt Racing Stable. The four-year-old pacing mare now has two wins in four starts this season. Amazing Control increased her career earnings to over $83,000 with her fourth career victory Friday. She paid $4.20 to win. Amazing Control The Count B and Ontario Girls Series resume next Friday (February 12) with round two. In order to be eligible to The Count B, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings had to be non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015. Ontario sired four-year-old pacing mares, who were non-winners of $60,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2015, were eligible to the Ontario Girls Series. Live racing continues Saturday night at Woodbine with the opening leg of the Ontario Boys Series. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

Regil Elektra and harness racing driver Jason Bartlett won the draw, the hearts and minds of the electorate and the race Friday night, annexing Yonkers Raceway's $32,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace. From the pole, Regil Elektra saw Inittowinafortune (Jordan Stratton) take the first ballot. The people's preference then reclaimed the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, it was very simple (:57.2, 1:25.4, 1:54), with Massive Attack A (George Brennan) trying it weak first-over. The end result was a handy, three-length victory. Dune in Red (Mark MacDonald) was a three-hole second, with Inittowinafortune, Elisaveta N (Eric Carlson) and Bazooka Terror (Tyler Buter) rounding out the payees. For Regil Elektra, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Fred Monteleone and trained by Keith Armer, she's now 3-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $10.80, with the triple returning $25.20. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night, with a dozen races and a first post of 7:10 PM. Frank Drucker

Racing Queensland (RQ) Stewards today inquired into reports received from Stewards Paul Zimmermann and Michael Ross relating to an alleged incident which occurred during a stable inspection conducted on Saturday, 23 January 2016 at the stables of licensed harness racing trainer Travis Mackay. Evidence was taken from Mr Mackay, Justin Abbott and Stewards Mr Zimmermann and Mr Ross relating to the events which transpired during the course of that stable inspection. It was established that upon arrival at the premises, Stewards observed unlicensed person Mr Abbott ungearing the registered horse identified as SPARKLING CULLECT NZ subsequent to it engaging in trackwork. The trainer of the horse, Mr Mackay, was not present. During the course of questioning by Stewards Mr Abbott made physical contact to the head region of Mr Zimmermann and made derogatory comments relating to another RQ Steward. After consideration of the evidence tendered Mr Abbott was issued with charges for the contravention of the following rules: Charge 1 “AHR 231 (1)  A person shall not threaten, harass, intimidate, abuse, assault or otherwise interfere improperly with anyone employed, engaged or participating in the harness racing industry or otherwise having a connection with it.”  Charge 2 “AHR 231 (2)  A person shall not misconduct himself in any way.” The particulars of the charges being that on Saturday, 23 January 2016 at the stables of licensed trainer Mr Travis Mackay in the vicinity of the wash bay, Mr Justin Abbott assaulted RQ Steward Mr Paul Zimmermann by making physical contact to his head region.  Furthermore, Mr Abbott misconducted himself by making derogatory comments to Mr Zimmermann and Mr Ross relating to another RQ Steward. Mr Abbott pleaded not guilty to both charges. After further consideration Stewards were of the view that both charges could be sustained as issued and Mr Abbott was formally found guilty of both Charge 1 and Charge 2. Stewards considered Mr Abbott’s submissions regarding penalty and were also mindful of the manner in which he conducted himself throughout the inquiry and his remorse. However, Stewards also considered the very serious nature of these charges and that any penalty imposed must be reflective of that and further serve as a deterrent to Mr Abbott and to others who may engage in that conduct.  After due consideration the following penalties were applied: Charge 1 – 2 years disqualification Charge 2 – 3 month disqualification Stewards directed that both terms of disqualification be served concurrently effective immediately. Mr Mackay pleaded guilty to a charge under AHR 90A(2.9)(a) which reads: “90A (2.9) (a)  The holder of a trainer's licence shall ensure that all persons carrying out the activities of a stable hand are licenced as stable hands.”  Mr Mackay was subsequently fined the sum of $300. Mr Abbott and Mr Mackay were advised of their appeal rights. Stewards: D Farquharson, J Dart, N Torpey

Racing Victoria has been having meetings with thoroughbred trainers throughout the state to canvass their views on a proposal to implement lifetime bans for trainers found guilty of adminstering prohibited drugs to horses they train. The proposal first surfaced in a report produced by the Irish Thoroughbred Anti Doping Task Force “Illegal performance-enhancing drugs have no place in the Irish racing and breeding industries,” the task force said in a statement. “In particular, the task force supports the position of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities that the use of anabolic steroids should not be permitted in or out of competition.’’ RV chief steward Terry ­Bailey said on Friday he had read the report and he would table it for discussion at the next dug strategy meeting. He said he was waiting for an opinion from Racing Victoria vets before taking the matter further. "That should give us a better idea wether this is something that should be considered here,” Bailey said. “It would certainly put the responsibility on the owners to choose their trainers carefully.” Terry Bailey is very supportive of a proposal by Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent for the cobalt and bicarbonate levels of every horse in training to be published on an industry website. Harness racing authorities in New South Wales have been publishing lists of cobalt and bicarbonate levels recorded by horses for the past two years and Kent says it would name and shame trainers who are cheating. Bailey is being accompanied at the consultation meetings by RV chief executive Bernard Saundry, chief vet Brian Stewart and racing manager Greg Carpenter. Harnesslink Media

Unice de Guez (8f Capriccio-Eau Blanche) took today’s Quinte+ Prix de Langeais (purse €88,000, 2850 meters, 18 starters) clocked in 1.13.4kr for harness racing driver/trainer J-M Bazire and owner Ecurie Vautors at 7/1 odds. The 5/1 odds Vicu du Petit Odon (7g Otello Pierji-Mine Éclair) was second for Pierre Vercruysse  Third was 26.6/1 Union du Rib (8f Fleuron Perrine-Hermine du Rib) with J.L. Cl. Dersoir  driving and training for Ecurie Jeloca. Bora Fligny (5g Magnificant Rodney-Orsa Mayor de Jay) scored timed in 1.16kr for Francois Lagadeuc  in the monte  €72,000 Prix de Dozule over 2700 meters with seven European contestants. This 27.2/1 odds winner defeated 6.7/1 Candy Store (5f Andover Hall-Lily Kronos) handled by Franck Nivard for owner/trainer Lutfi Kolgjini. 1.1/1 favorite Bellaya (5f First de Retz-Kelaya) was this one trained and owned by Franck Anne. The Gr. III Prix de Verdun (purse €105,000, 2700 meters, 11 starters) February 4th went to the 1.13.5kr winner Bugsy Malone at 7/10 odds. The five year-old gelded son of Ready Cash-Night Captain was an easy winner after being bid-in at last Friday’s Prix d’Amerique sale at €380,000. Philippe Allaire trains and owns Bugsy. 9.6/1 Blue Grass (5f Ready Cash-Princesse Natacha) was second for J-Ph Monclin and trainer Allaire. 5.8/1 Boeing du Bocage (5m Scipion du Goutier-Lora du Cap Vert) was third for J-M Bazire and trainer Franck Leblanc. 8.8/1 Savannah Bi (5f Ganymede-Dakota Bi) ended fourth for Franck Nivard. This coming weekend at Paris-Vincennes continues the outstanding winter meet with four top races on Saturday and five on Sunday. Saturday – February 6th Prix Paul Viel, purse €120,000, Gr. II with nine starters Prix du Grande, purse €70,000, 2850 meters, 18 starters, Quinte+ Prix d’Avignon, purse €85,000, 2100 meters, Gr. III with 15 starters Prix Roquepine, purse €120,000, 2175 meters, Gr. II with ten starters Sunday – February 7th Prix Indiene, €95,000 purse, monte 8 starters Prix de  Champtoce, purse €60,000, 32 entrants, Quinte+ Prix de la Marne, €110,000, Gr. III International, 10 starters Prix de Rowen, €100,000, 15 starters Prix de :L’ile-de-France, Gr. I Monte UET Masters Series, purse €200,000, 13 starters that includes Cornulier winner Scarlet Turgot. Thomas H. Hicks  

Tonight will serve up the best trots race Melbourne has seen “in a long time”, says the harness racing trainer of local hope Arboe. Anton Golino said Monbet’s decision to stay on and chase the $100,000 prizemoney in the Seelite Windows and Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Tabcorp Park Melton had added further fuel to the fire. Great Australian trotter Keystone Del will be second-up from a spell and eager to add to his Group 1 haul tonight, while in-form Glenferrie Typhoon has drawn barrier one and is expected to use its gate speed to lead. New Zealand raider Speeding Spur, which beat Monbet in April last year, and Kyvalley Blur are also rated highly and will be pressing. “It’s a cracking field,” Golino said. “It’s as good a trots field as I’ve seen for a long time here. “Monbet’s a star. He’s definitely a top horse, but this will be his biggest test. He’s beat up open horses in New Zealand, he’s obviously the benchmark right now.” Trainer Greg Hope said it was “astounding” what Monbet was doing at age four, having set alight the Summer Of Glory with a barnstorming win in the APCO Australasian Trotting Championship. “Most horses, when they are racing at the top level, need a bit of age on them really, but he’s stepped up at a young age,” Hope told RSN. “I think he can (take improvement into tonight). I think he’s going to need too, Speeding Spur is coming and Keystone Del and there’s going to be a battle up there.” Among those kept tight in the market is Andy Gath’s Glenferrie Typhon, an in-form horse in an in-form trainer. “His last two runs have been career best runs, and maybe this one will have to top them,” Gath said. “It’s a great field. We were helped by the barrier draw and he has pretty good gate speed.” Gath said Glenferrie Typhoon had matured nicely into the quality horse he knew he had the ability to become, but would face his toughest test tonight. Golino’s chance, Arboe, has been somewhat forgotten after a disappointing Australasian Trotting Championships, when expectations it would take the fight to Monbet fizzled in the first heat. Golino said Arboe “got a little fierce” in the lead-up, which affected her airways. “Hopefully it’s something we can just forget about and put a line through it. She is back to herself, training well,” he said. “She’s had nine starts and these horses are hardened, seasoned racehorses. Ability is not the question, but it is a tough challenge for her.” Michael Howard Harness Racing Victoria Fields for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016 Form guide for Tabcorp Park Melton, Saturday 06 February 2016

The harness racing community in New South Wales was still coming to terms tonight with the news that the successful and well respected trainer Michael Day had been convicted of fraud with respects to a "phantom" horse that only existed in the accounts book. Mr Day arranged for a mare to be served, for all the agistment and associated costs with breeding that  foal to be paid and for the costs after the foal was born, broken in, and trained over several seasons to also to be paid. The only problem was the horse who he named Miriyan was never born and Mr Day fraudulently obtained over $25,000 over several years from the "owner" of the phantom horse. The first payment was on October 1, 2012, and payments continued until January 13, 2015.   The payments totaled $25,677. Even though the owner was shown two different horses at different times over the years who were meant to be Miriyan, the owner continued to pay accounts that Mr Day sent her. Eventually she became suspicious after being unable to locate the horse and contacted NSW Harness Racing. An investigation commenced and HRNSW  discovered that Miriyan had never existed. The horse the client had sighted for years was actually another horse. NSW Harness Racing conducted their own investigation into the matter and disqualified Day from the harness racing industry for 10 years. On October 20, 2015, Day was arrested and taken to Goulburn Police Station where he made a full and complete statement admitting the fraud. In court on Wednesday, Day's solicitor Tim McGrath said his client had been a man of overall good character until this matter.  Mr McGrath submitted that the offending was out of character and that Mr Day was a man of good skill and reputation in the harness racing industry and as a result of his offending he was now being treated for depression and that a suspended sentence may be appropriate. However the Magistrate Carolyn Hunstman was not convinced, finding Mr Day guilty and ordered him to undertake an assessment for an Intensive Corrections Order, with a final sentencing in Goulburn Local Court on March 16. Magistrate Huntsman said she had no alternative to a custodial sentence.  "It is a serious fraud over a long period of time," Ms Huntsman said.  "It is not appropriate to give you a suspended sentence." Mr Day, who has been a harness racing trainer for 38 years, had his biggest moment in the industry in 1982 when he won the Miracle Mile with Gundary Flyer. However after this court case Mr Day will be forever associated with the "phantom" horse that never existed. Harnesslink Media

New Zealand's leading junior driver Brad Williamson is having one of those seasons that just keeps getting better and better. Week in, week out, Brad is churning out the winners at a great rate and the run he is experiencing is showing no signs of abating. Today at Winton Racetrack Brad added another three winners to this season's tally and showed why he is so highly rated by a lot of his contemporaries on the track. "That is the first time I have driven three winners in one day so it was a big thrill especially because I only had four drives on the program," Brad explained when talking to Harnesslink this afternoon His first winner came in the form of the three year old trotter Sam Galleon who after missing away and settling a long way from the leaders, got over the top of them late in the piece for an impressive victory. The son of The Pres looked pretty green throughout the run and looks to have plenty of upside going forward. "He has got a lot to learn but there is no doubting the ability is there." "He is a half brother to three open class trotters so he is bred to be above average." "There is a lot of improvement there yet when he learns a bit more ringcraft," Brad said. Brad's second winner today was the smart Monarchy mare Pyramid Monarch who backed up her impressive second at Addington last Friday night to Harriet Of Mot with an impressive front running victory. Away brilliantly from her 30 metre handicap to grab the lead after just 400 metres, Pyramid Monarch was never in danger afterwards, coasting down to the line for an easy victory. It was win number eight for the mare and her fourth this season and took her earnings over the $70,000 mark. "She is such a lovely mare to drive." "Her manners are great and she tries so hard every time she goes to the races." "She is just a little money making machine at the moment and I don't think she is finished yet," Brad said. Brad's third winner was the four year old Real Desire gelding Dissolution who surprised everybody by sitting parked out the whole journey and still having enough petrol in the tank to scoot away and win easily in the end. "He is really starting to come into his own this horse." "Not long ago he wouldn't have been able to do that but he has been a big improver recently and that was a good effort today," Brad said. Todays wins took Brad's tally for the season to an impressive 41 victories which is 23 ahead of the chasing pack and barring injury he looks to have the New Zealand Junior Driving premiership in the bag with six months of the season still to go. Harnesslink Media      

Cracklin Rosie and harness racing driver Phil Hudon timed a late rally perfectly to win the first leg of the Miss Vera Bars Thursday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A field of 10 three-year-old pacing fillies competed in the $17,000 opening leg of the Miss VeraBars. Originally a field of 11, Cracklin Rosie started from the second-tier in Thursday's contest. Driven by Phil Hudon, the Luc Ouellette trainee got away eighth in the early stages. Mattjestic Tempo sprinted to the front for driver Doug McNair and posted an opening-quarter of :27.2. The leader was left alone in the second-quarter and reached the half in :56.4. Heading into the final turn, Cracklin Rosie was brought to the outside by Hudon and sat fourth-over, as Mattjestic Tempo continued to march along on the lead and reached the third-station in 1:25.1. In the stretch, Cracklin Rosie was angled to the far outside and took dead aim at the leader. Mattjestic Tempo appeared to have enough of a jump on her rival, but Hudon timed it perfectly and Cracklin Rosie surged by in the final strides to win by half a length in 1:54.2. Windsun Glory finished third, while Arizona Seelster rounded out the Superfecta. Cracklin Rosie was more than six-lengths off the lead turning fpor home and paced a :28 final-quarter to snag the victory at odds of 2/1. The three-year-old daughter of Badlands Hanover is owned by Luc Ouellette Incorporated, Anita Ouellette and Alan Alber. Cracklin Rosie entered the MissVeraBars opener off a fourth-place finish in the Blizzard Series Final on January 22. She now has two wins in four starts this season after going winless in five last year. The Ouellette trainee increased her career earnings to over $33,000 with the victory. Cracklin Rosie paid $6.20 to win. Phil Hudon continued his hot start to 2016 with a Grand Slam on a big Thursday night at Woodbine Racetrack. Hudon, who entered Thursday’s card leading all Woodbine drivers in victories, visited the winner’s circle four-times to increase his 2016 wins total to 24. The Guelph, Ontario resident’s four victories were highlighted by three-year-old pacing filly Cracklin Rosie sweeping by her rivals late to win the $17,000 first leg of the Miss Vera Bars Series. Hudon also steered trotter Tymal Wizard to a 30/1 upset in the evening’s sixth-race. His two other victories came with trotter Southwind Alice and pacer Regal Fame in the finale. Hudon was not the only driver to have a big night. Jody Jamieson drove three winners on the card, while Doug McNair and Paul MacDonell also had a pair of victories, respectively. Wagering numbers were strong Thursday night, as a total of $1,888,590 was wagered on the 11-race card. Strong pools carried from start to finish over the course of the night. The evening’s seventh-race led the way with a Win pool exceeding $53,000 and both the Exactor and Triactor pools topping $50,000. The Pick-5 wager continues to gain momentum, as a total of $37,413 was wagered into the pool Thursday. The Pick-5 begins each night on the opening-race. Live racing continues Friday night with The Count B and Ontario Girls Series highlighting another 11-race card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. Mark McKelvie

One of the great differences that exist between the Thoroughbred Racing industry and the Harness Racing industry in New Zealand is the reluctance by the harness racing industry to use high profile New Zealanders who are heavily involved in harness racing in its promotion. With the recently completed Thoroughbred yearling sales still fresh in the memory, one couldn't help but notice the amount of main stream TV and newspaper coverage throughout the sales that was centered around the involvement of high profile sporting celebrities. Brendon McCullum and Richie McCaw were popping up all the time in coverage of the sales but they were just two of the many high profile people that the thoroughbred industry used to get that all important media coverage at their biggest time of the year. Harness racing on the other hand seems almost reluctant to use high profile sports people in the same way and it is something that we should really address as in the view of Harnesslink, we are missing a great promotional opportunity here. Mainstream media will cover our upcoming yearling sales but the amount of coverage will be guided in a lot of ways by how many human interest stories that have a wider public appeal they can report on. Brendon McCullum has been involved in harness racing for a long time now and is one obvious route we could go down but to us the involvement of the Whitelock brothers in harness racing presents a great opportunity to present harness racing to a wider mainstream audience. The family have been heavily involved in harness racing for generations and All Blacks such as Sam have helped out at the All Stars barn when learning about the game. The fact that the Whitlocks are seen as such great role models for aspiring rugby players in New Zealand is a big plus in the wider community. Braeside Lodge at Palmerston North, the boutique breeding establishment run by Braeden Whitelock and his wife Caroline is one of New Zealands most successful and they have had a presence at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale for several years now. This year is no exception where they have four yearlings entered and all from quality mares and all by leading sires. We found it hard to select one above the others but we took a real liking to Lot 61, Hicori after watching the video of him parading. A son of Mach Three, Hicori is typical of that stallions progeny and you would struggle to get a better maternal pedigree page than his one. The dam Paddy Brown 1:57.7 ($46,726) is a daughter of leading broodmare sire Christian Cullen and Hicori is just her second foal. The second dam Braeside Star 1:59.8 $(67,225) has left six winners from eight foals including such smart horses as Braeside Derby 1:54.2 ($160,784) and Ohoka's Artsplace 1:57.9 ($94,313) while her unraced Artsplace daughter Braeside Lady has already produced the champion three year old filly O Baby 1:54.8 ($391,273) The third dam is the champion broodmare Tuapeka Star so the pedigree page is as good as you will find in this years catalogue. Promotion of harness racing through people like Sam Whitelock and his wider rugby family is essential for the industry if harness racing is going to attract more widespread coverage in the main stream media. Harnesslink Media  

Meredith Noble had attended harness racing at the Greene County Fairgrounds in her hometown of Xenia, Ohio, for years, but can never recall a sound at the racetrack there like she heard on Aug. 5, 2015. It was the roar of the crowd. And it was loud. And it was for her. The 28-year-old Noble, driving in the third race of her newly-started career, was on her way to a 4-1/4 length win with Reckoning Day in an Ohio Ladies Pace Series event at the fairgrounds. The race was contested over a track named after her late father, Sam "Chip" Noble III, a member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame who had passed away in January 2014, and Meredith was wearing her father's helmet and colors. In addition, Reckoning Day was trained by her older brother, Dan, for local owner Christi Pokornowski. "When I'm on the track I'm so zoned into what I'm doing and what's going on in that moment I don't hear anybody else," Meredith said. "But when I came down that stretch and I got right before the grandstand, I could hear that entire crowd cheering. I've never heard a crowd cheer like that. I don't know if it was because it was a ladies race or if it was because it was my dad's home track and I was wearing his colors, but I can't even begin to describe how good of a feeling that was. It was just absolutely amazing. "That was also very emotional; definitely bittersweet. But it was a wonderful win. Coming here and being at my home track where I spent so much time, whether I was just watching dad or helping out, I can't explain how much that meant to me." Noble finished last year with four wins in eight drives, all in the Ohio Ladies Pace Series. She got her first career driving triumph three days prior to her win at Xenia, guiding April Roach's Monibags Bluegrass to victory at the Preble County Fair in Eaton. Then a week ago she added to her resume by getting her first win as a trainer, as brother Dan drove Addys Way to victory in the Fillies & Mares Open at Miami Valley Raceway. "I do it for the love of it, honestly," said Noble, who works as a dental assistant Mondays through Thursdays and spends much of her remaining free time working with her brother and a stable of 18 horses. "It's a little bit of a transition since dad only messed with 2- and 3-year-olds. Dan's given me the chance to mess with some of the older horses as well. I do like seeing the horses develop, and then once they're developed I like helping them reach their potential, make them the best they can be. Even with some of the older horses there are still things inside of them that you can bring out that maybe somebody else hasn't yet." Noble was always around harness racing growing up, helping out here and there, but her focus through her teenage years was on riding and show horses. About four years ago, she began helping her father more and more and soon she was helping train horses with her father and brother. "I did that before we found out dad had cancer," Noble said. "I had a lot of fun. I decided I wanted to give this a try. I always wanted to have a race with him and Dan, but we weren't fortunate enough for that. I did training miles with the two of them. I will always have that memory. I will always have the memory of just the smile on my dad's face of pure joy with the three of us being out there together on the track. I carry that with me." Following the passing of her father, Noble received encouraging words from Dan --- who himself has driven more than 4,200 winners and was the national dash champion in 2011 --- about continuing on a path to becoming a licensed driver and trainer. "Dan came to me and said I'd worked really hard and I needed to do this," Noble said. "He said that he saw it and dad saw it, that I had the talent to do this. He said he would keep working with me. "I've been working with him on my days off. He keeps reminding me of things. It's nice to have that relationship and we can reminisce and keep dad alive. He can teach me things that I didn't get to learn from dad that he got to learn. I'm just really glad that I have him. It's given us the opportunity to get closer as brother and sister." Noble has two horses racing Friday night at Miami Valley, Addys Way in the Fillies & Mares Open Handicap and E Ticket Ride in a condition/claimer. Dan Noble, who is fifth in wins at Miami Valley but only three victories behind co-leaders Trace Tetrick and Tyler Smith, will drive both horses and owns E Ticket Ride. Addys Way is owned by Perkins Racing Stable. Although Noble is fully enjoying her time with the horses, she is not ready to make training and driving a fulltime career. She plans to continue working as a dental assistant for the foreseeable future. "I work with some great people and for some great people," Noble said. "It's truly a team effort. I get to see something different every day. It's kind of like coming in and working with the horses. I definitely have a passion for both. "I'm pleased with how the horses are doing. I have no complaints. As long as they stay sound and everybody stays safe, I'm happy. I love the business, I love the horses, and I loved having that opportunity to learn from my dad." Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications A division of the U.S. Trotting Association

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Last Monday (2/1) Bushwacker recorded his third win at the meet winning, the $30,000 Preferred pace in 1:50.2.On the same harness racing program, It seemed like a second-straight de de ja' vu as Mustang Art won the $27,500 Delaware Special the same way he won the previous week, leaving fast and coming on in the stretch for a 1:50.2 victory. Something will have to give this Monday when they square-off in the $30,000 feature. -------------- Brioni, a 5-year-old claimed the week before, won for new owner won his sixth consecutive victory, the longest current win streak at the track. Brioni put his long win streak on the line on Monday in a $20,000 Male Claiming pace. Trotter Bull Investor, a winner of three-in- row will be tested on the Wednesday card. ----------------------------------------------- Doctor McSwing, the richest maiden pacer racing at the track, is back trying for his first lifetime win on Monday. The well-bred five-year-old gelding leaves from post 6 in the 3rd race. Doctor McSwing in 0 for 65 races, but he has 15 seconds and 9 third-place finishes while earning $58,576 in purses . ------------------------------------------------ Saturday, Feb. 13, Canada showcases its stars of 2015 in its O'Brien Awards Black Tie Banquet in Mississauga, Ont. Wakazashi Hanover, trained by Jo Ann King of Harrington, winner of last summer's $1-milllion North America Cup, is one of the horses up for consideration as sophomore pacer of 2015. . --------------------------------------------- Driver Corey Callahan continues on a roll in the Leading Dash Win driver category as he seeks a seventh-straight title, Callahan has a big lead winning 113 races so far this meet. Allan Davis is runner-up with 84 wins. Ross Wolfenden, holds third with 72 winners. Tony Morgan is in fourth place with 71 winners. George Dennis rounds out the Top 5 with 64 wins. ----------------------------------------- Dylan Davis, looking for a third consecutive Leading Trainer award has haltered 44 winners already. Jim King is second with 31. Wayne Givens, in third place, has 27, Kevin Lare has moved into fourth place with 22 wins while Josh Green and Doug Lewis are tied for fifth with 20 wins apiece. ----------------------------- For the rest of this month, Sunday is now a race day in February. Sunday post timer is 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; the regular weekday post time is 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday are 'dark' days. ------------------------------------------------- For those who enjoy dining while watching the races, here's a tip, the popular Winners Circle Harness Buffet is a treat. Reservations are suggested; call 302-674-4000. Marv Bachrad
STICKNEY, IL - Friday night at Hawthorne had the final two series finals for the winter harness racing meet as the females were featured in the Pretty Direct and Ohyouprettything Pacing Series. Race seven was the Pretty Direct Pacing Series final as a field of eight lined up. The favorite was Whiskersonkittens as she had driver Robert Smolin had won each of the first two legs of the series. At the start of the Pretty Direct final it was Pacifire that tried to leave for the lead but had to work a bit to clear Fox Valley Brooke. Lovethewayoulook made an early move on the backstretch to take over into the far turn. After a half in :57.3, Lovethewayoutlook was challenged by If I Didn't Dream while Whiskersonkittens circled five wide. In the stretch, the momentum of Whiskersonkittens carried her to the victory as the 7-5 choice in 1:55.1. Fox Valley Gypsy finished a half-length back in second while If I Didn't Dream was third. Whiskersonkittens swept all three races in the series for owner Ronald Knupp. She is trained by Kimberly Roth. The following race was the final of the Ohyouprettything Pacing Series as a field of ten lined up. The heavy favorite was Mystical Nectar as she looked to sweep the series. Early on, there were numerous lead changes as eventually second choice Fox Valley Bailey led the field into the turn. While favorite Mystical Nectar was starting to move from far back, Lollipop and Todd Warren got the jump and grabbed the lead into the stretch. The 38-1 shot Lollipop was able to hold off the late move of 55-1 shot Girls Girls Girls for the victory. Mystical Nectar finished third. Lollipop is owned by James Reynolds and Combs Investments, Inc. and trainer by Ronnie Roberts. Jim Miller
LEBANON, OH. - Randy Tharps became the 103rd harness racing driver in North American history to reach 5,000 career victories on Friday night (February 5) at Miami Valley Raceway. The winningest African-American driver in history, by a wide margin, 52-year-old Tharps scored a hat trick to reach the coveted plateau. Jessie's Field got Randy's string of successes going with a 1:57.4 score in a $10,000 conditioned trot. Alibi Seelster captured a $12,000 mares condition pace in 1:54.3 to put Tharps one win away; and then Boy Meets Girl K trotted to a 1:55.4 tally in the very next race, another $10,000 condition trot. Randy Tharps hails from a harness racing family with deep roots in Lebanon, Ohio. His father Thomas, who passed away three years ago, and mother Carol began racing harness horses shortly after moving to Lebanon from Tennessee and Tom was introduced to the sport by friends Omar Hiteman and George Williams. Tom was a leading driver at both Lebanon and Latonia in the 1960's and 70's, competing with the likes of Herb Coven Jr. and Ray Paver Sr. The Tharps's raised five sons and two daughters with all five boys taking an active interest in racing. Since there have been a number of grandchildren who have followed in the family hoofprints as well, including five of Randy's nephews who are currently active as provisional drivers or second trainers. Randy is undoubtedly the family standardbearer in terms of accomplishments and statistical achievements. Cleaning the family's stalls since he was old enough to pick up a pitchfork, and jogging their horses since big enough to sit upright in the cart, Randy always had his sights set on being a top driver. After graduating from Lebanon High School, where he studied in the Career Center to become an electrician, Tharps began devoting full-time to the horses and his illustrious career took off before he ever made a nickel with his electrical knowledge. His dad always had 20-30 horses in his stable, but Randy eventually accepted work in the Chet Dewbre Stable and began picking up drives slowly but surely. "Back then I let it be known I would drive ANY horse for anybody, anytime and anywhere," laughed Randy. "I wasn't exactly an overnight success, but I did see a promising future and I have no regrets. Racing has provided a good life. But I'm not done...Good Lord willing I plan to do this as long as I possible can!" Tharps won just four races in his inaugural 1982 season, but did sport a .444 UDRS. He spent another three years toiling at the fairs and picking up occasional commercial track mounts at Lebanon or Latonia. In 1986 things began to click and by 1990 he was ready to move his tack to Northfield Park in Cleveland. Following a successful stint there, he relocated to The Meadows to begin a very satisfying decade-long run. From 1989 to 2008, Tharps had over 100 wins in 19 out of 20 seasons, including three 300-plus wins campaigns. When VLT legislation passed in Ohio, Randy returned to his roots in Lebanon, Ohio, where he continues to compete on the highest level. Randy credits Western Ace for giving him his biggest thrill, winning the Jug Preview at Scioto Downs in 1:50.2 for trainer George Teague Jr. in 2006. "As far as a favorite horse?," Tharps quickly answers, "Marty's Charm at The Meadows. I won races every year from 2008 to 2013 with (trainer) Paul Corey's great horse. He had to have time off occasionally, but when he could race, he was fantastic." A check of the records reinforces Tharps' enthusiasm for Marty's Charm. He won 27 races with Tharps in the sulky during that span, 21 of them in Preferred company. Although Tharps never purposely fashioned himself after any other driver, some have said he reminds them of the late, great Lew Williams the way he sits in the sulky. Williams is believed to be the second winningest African-American driver of all time with 2,023 wins, followed by Cedric Washington with 1,832. Tharps has three children and two granddaughters (a third grandchild on the way). A son Ryan works for local trainer Kayne Kauffman, his daughter Randi ("Peaches") has been an outstanding caretaker since graduating from Trinity High School in Pennsylvania, and daughter Amanda also lives nearby, although she isn't actively interested in horses. Matriarch Carol Tharps joined Randy in the jubilant winner's circle following her son's 5000th win. Gregg Keidel                                                                                                                
Regil Elektra and harness racing driver Jason Bartlett won the draw, the hearts and minds of the electorate and the race Friday night, annexing Yonkers Raceway's $32,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace. From the pole, Regil Elektra saw Inittowinafortune (Jordan Stratton) take the first ballot. The people's preference then reclaimed the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, it was very simple (:57.2, 1:25.4, 1:54), with Massive Attack A (George Brennan) trying it weak first-over. The end result was a handy, three-length victory. Dune in Red (Mark MacDonald) was a three-hole second, with Inittowinafortune, Elisaveta N (Eric Carlson) and Bazooka Terror (Tyler Buter) rounding out the payees. For Regil Elektra, a 6-year-old daughter of Mach Three owned by Fred Monteleone and trained by Keith Armer, she's now 3-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $10.80, with the triple returning $25.20. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night, with a dozen races and a first post of 7:10 PM. Frank Drucker
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