Heart Of Art - Has the looks to go with her pedigree

Art Major filly has "Blue Blood" pedigree

With the harness racing sales getting closer we will continue to review offerings from several of the major vendors. Today we are having a look at Heart Of Art who is Lot 41 at the Australasian Classic yearling sale on February 16th. A daughter of Art Major, Heart Of Art has a "Blue Blood" pedigree and ticks a lot of the boxes that buyers look for. Her sire Art Major is having a great run at the moment in New Zealand and this filly has the maternal family to suggest that she is a real chance of making it on the track The dam of Heart Of Art is the In The Pocket mare Classic Nymph and Heart Of Art is her fourth foal. Her first foal In The Kitty has won $35,057 to date while her third foal is the very smart My Kiwi Mate 1:56.8 ($34,287) who has pushed Hughie Green and Hug The Wind all season and looms as a real Derby chance in the autumn. The grand dam of Heart Of Art is the former champion age group filly Classical 1:57.7 ($294,416) while another champion age group filly in Delightful Christian 1:52.1 ($297,501) is close up in the pedigree. Being bred on the Art Major/ In The Pocket cross which has already produced such standouts as Isaiah 1:54.6 ($548,820) and Sky Major 1:52.1 ($456,412 ) only adds to the appeal of Heart Of Art. Harnesslink Media  

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Mark Jones victim of unfair system

Harness racing in New Zealand continues to have problems with its judicial system and the just released decision regarding Mark Jones and the Remiss blood TCO2 levels case is further proof in our opinion that the system is failing the people who are the principal stakeholders in this industry. Anyone who has read the long winded report of the hearing in this case will understand the frustration that Mark Jones must feel in that he has been found guilty of being a cheat in the court of public opinion where in reality Mark has done nothing wrong. The rules of harness racing in New Zealand are crystal clear - if you present a horse to race in New Zealand whose blood TCO2 level exceeds the levels prescribed in the rules then you are guilty and have no defense. There was no inference from the hearing that Mark Jones had done anything dishonest or corrupt in this case. In fact there was a wealth of evidence presented which suggested exactly the opposite, that Mark was the victim of a horse in Remiss that had a naturally high blood TCO2 level which landed him in this predicament. All the evidence points to Mark and his employees having had no part in Remiss returning an elevated level and yet Mark has suffered a large financial hit as a result. Fines and costs totaled $6925 and you can add to that Mark's own legal costs and the loss of some owners he has suffered due to the negative perceptions cases like this generate. And all because of something over which Mark had no control. Disqualify the horse by all means but to impose all the additional costs and for Mark to lose owners over cases like this is manifestly disproportional to Mark's actions in this matter. Where is the discretionary powers of the JCA in this matter? Mark Jones did nothing wrong in this instance yet has suffered a major financial setback. Do the JCA and the RIU have any discretion. Well they certainly exercised discretion earlier in the week when they allowed Te Kawau to start in the Pelorus Classic. Stood down after he bled at the pre Xmas meeting at Cambridge, Te Kawau was not eligible to start on Friday as the race fell within his stand down period. However the RIU and JCA were consulted and used their discretion under the rules to allow Te Kawau to be nominated and accepted for the Group 2 race. When we contacted HRNZ for comment early last week we were told that everything was done within the rules and that they were happy with the process. Te Kawau had the necessary vet clearance to start and preformed admirably in Friday's race. Post race two things happened which we do find disturbing.  Firstly, taking all the circumstances into account, we would have thought the RIU would have ordered a vet inspection including a scope of Te Kawau so the RIU could reassure themselves that he was well and truly over his bleeding issues. Secondly a swab of Te Kawau was surely in order as the RIU did swab the first two home and neither of those horses had any issues leading into this race.  Not the RIU's finest hour in our view. Another case that has come to light this week is that of driver Mitchell Kerr who has admitted betting on his own drive at the Westport meeting after Xmas. Under the HRNZ rules, this is viewed as a serious racing offence. The maximum fine for this offence is $30,000 which is a reflection of how serious a breach of the rules this is. To his credit Mr Kerr admitted the offence and pleaded ignorance of the rule as his reason for placing the bet. So after considering a range of matters, the JCA fined Mr Kerr $650. For an offence that carries a maximum penalty of $30,000 and is deemed a serious breach of the rules, we don't think the bus ticket was even wet. Compare it to the situation of Mark Jones and large financial hit he has suffered for a situation over which he had no control as opposed to the fine handed out to Mr Kerr for a serious breach of the rules and one starts to have serious doubts about the fairness of the whole system. The JCA and the RIU need the industry stake holders to have complete confidence in their abilities and that they will apply the rules we operate under fairly and without favour. From the feedback we regularly receive from industry stakeholders, they are falling well short of that standard at present. JC - Harnesslink Media

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Who will miss the Vic Cup cut?

The anticipation ahead of Saturday night’s TAB.com.au Victoria Cup is palpable. Tabcorp Park Melton will be the grand stage as 12 genuine harness racing top liners compete for summer Group One glory, with $400,000 on the line over 2240 metres. Barring any eleventh-hour misfortunes, the general consensus is nine of the 12 Victoria Cup spots have been locked away and the remaining three holes will be filled with runners from a group of five contenders. You can’t fit five horses into three spots, so there will be at least two hard-luck stories when the field is revealed ahead of the barrier draw tomorrow morning. And there will almost certainly be a host of other horses who in previous years would be lining up in the Victoria Cup, but will this year miss out. The ‘locks’ are said to be Guaranteed ($4.50), Philadelphia Man ($5.5), Beautide ($5.5), Adore Me ($7), Christen Me ($6), Terror To Love ($8), Im Corzin Terror ($51), For A Reason ($26) and David Hercules ($26). The other five – also known as “lineball runners” - are believed to be Franco Ledger ($18), Suave Stuey Lombo ($51), Avonova ($41), Lennytheshark ($10) and Restrepo ($26). And then there are the likely ‘hard luckers’, consisting of Chilli Palmer ($51), Arden Rooney ($101), Bit Of A Legend ($101), Flaming Flutter ($101), Blazin N Cullen ($201), Chancellor Cullen ($201), Cold Major ($201), Easy On The Eye ($201), Mach Alert ($201) and Monifieth ($201). There will be much debate all week about just where this field stacks up in the list of “all-time great Victoria Cup fields”. However, when you consider the quality and form of the runners who will miss a start in the race, it’s not hard to mount an argument that this race has the makings of an absolute classic. Let the debate about who should get into the field and why begin – and let the countdown to the field of dreams continue. This is going to be fun. JOIN THE DISCUSSION ON TWITTER: TWEET YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WHO SHOULD BE IN THE VICTORIA CUP AND WHY TO @HRVNEWS WITH THE #SOG HASHTAG. HRV Media

Maven, harness racing

Why has Maven been put on a pedestal?

Maven has been the darling of the harness racing press and a hefty chunk of the sport’s fan base for the past few months. She’s taken the crown from Foiled Again, who held that distinction for a couple of years. The six-year-old daughter of Glidemaster—the only top tier trotter that sire has produced in North America—only won four races during 2014, and only one of those was a grade one stakes race. She set a track record in winning the Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs in November. Her other three wins came in the Miami Valley Distaff in mid-May, a preferred trot at Pocono in August and the BC elimination at the Meadowlands. Maven finished out in three legs of the Miss Versatility Series, which she won in 2013, and was third in the final at Delaware, which division champ Classic Martine won. She earned $333,027 between her dozen starts in NA and a pair in Europe. So what’s all the fuss about? Why is Maven the flame of the Twittersphere and the horse harness scribes have elevated to the top of the pile? Her pedestrian numbers during the past year scream journeyman in a slump—not superstar. Racing in Europe adds some panache to her resume, but she has one third place finish to show for five European starts last season and this. Maven’s popularity obviously extends to the sales ring as she brought a record $750,000 bid from Herb Liverman at Harrisburg in November. And he already owned a piece of rival Bee A Magician. One of Maven’s problems is that Liverman is determined not to have the pair go head to head. That means Maven is stuck in Europe, or destined to take on the boys back home. Neither of those scenarios looks promising at the moment. Contrast Maven’s overseas performance with the much less celebrated Arch Madness, who made eight starts in Europe during 2011, 2012 and 2013. He won two of them, the 2011 Oslo Grand Prix and a heat of the Elitlop. He finished second in the latter twice and was third three times in European races. Arch got some publicity for all of this, particularly in Canada, but Maven seems to be leaving him in the PR dust despite a much shorter record of accomplishment. Something similar has been happening on the pacing side. Eleven-year-old Foiled Again is still the most popular pacer in NA. He was second to Sweet Lou in division earnings in 2014, thanks to making the board in 19 of 26 starts, but he had no grade one stakes wins. The Quillen was his only significant victory, and that one isn’t very important at this point. He won four legs of the Levy, then went winless for the season except for his Quillen elimination and final. In 2013 he was wildly popular and a candidate for Pacer of the Year, despite suffering 18 losses. Foiled’s hook is excellence over many years, consistency and the money record for pacers that he holds. Maven was good at two and three, winning 15 times and earning more than $900,000, but she took a back seat to Check Me Out until the late fall of her sophomore campaign. She was the standout in her division at four, winning 10 times and banking more than a half million dollars, and had an off year in 2014. This exaltation on the part of fans and the press is curious. Some of it has to do with her newsworthy passage from Jonas Czernyson to Ron Burke to Jimmy Takter. And participating today in the premier race in France for last year’s trainer and driver of the year doesn’t hurt. But with each non-competitive loss on the Continent, we should get less cheerleading and more questions about why she has been placed on a pedestal.  by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

With so many quality youngsters entered in the Melbourne leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Sale, harness racing’s next superstar is destined to be among the crew. Making sure you’re the one who purchases the champion is another topic all together, but to strengthen the odds, having a glance at Lauriston Bloodstock’s line-up could be a smart move. Owned by Anne and Bill Anderson, Lauriston Bloodstock has produced numerous top-shelf performers, including last year’s slice of Australian Pacing Gold history. In an amazing effort, Lauriston Bloodstock bred the winner of the colts’ and fillies’ Finals. Follows The Stars outclassed the ‘boys’, while Queen Of Pop was too good in the girls’ decider. Counting down to the sale on February 1, Lauriston Bloodstock is offering eight possible champions…of which Lot 69 is destined to attract plenty of attention and bids. By Mach Three, the colt is from Canadian mare, Kabbalah Karen B, which boasts slick victories on both side of the equator. Along with her Northern Hemisphere triumph in 1:52.8, Kabbalah Karen B was successful at Tabcorp Park Melton in 1:53.8. This is Kabbalah Karen B second foal, with her first – a filly – one of this season’s two-year-olds. By Western Terror from Mib Hanover, Kabbalah Karen B is a half-sister to Cammibest, which earned $1,071,775 as a result of 37 wins. Lauriston Bloodstock’s other APG representatives are: LOT 75.   Laugh Out Loud - Mach Three . Fourth foal; 4 winners . 100% producer.  LOT 81.   Left A Dream - Life Sign . Full brother to Gr1 winner Left In Paris. LOT 87.   Left In Paris - Rocknroll Hanover . First foal of a Gr1 winner. LOT 93 .  Limerick Star - Bettors Delight .  Second foal , first colt, half brother to Rosie OReilly Gr3. LOT 101. Listen To The Rhythm - Life Sign . ( gelding ) Half brother to (My ) Willow Gr1. LOT 123. My Jackie Leigh- Somebeachsomewhere . First colt from a full sister to Maffioso.G1x5 LOT 181. Sugarland - Rocknroll Hanover .Second foal ,first colt from a Breeders Crown Cons Winner. PAUL COURTS

FANTASTIC UNDERCARD AT VINCENNES

Pompanp Beach, FL...January 24, 2015...That'll Be The Rei, driven by harness racing driver Mike Micallef, and Don't Tell Rusty, handled by Kevin Wallis were inseparable at the wire in Pompano Park's $13,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday Night.   The pair hit the wire together in 1:51.1 after That'll Be The Rei cut all of the fractions--:26.2, :54.3 and 1:22--before drifting out just enough in the lane to allow Don't Tell Rusty to sneak through along the pylons late foe the tie ballgame.   Fancyfreeshark, with Bruce Ranger handling the lines, finished third while stablemate Lyons Johnny wound up fourth. Pontiac Luck picked up the nickel in sextet.   Each combatant in the "DH" won for the initial time in 2015 with That'll Be The Rei, a five year-old son of Cheyenne Rei, winning for the 29th time in 51 lifetime starts and Don't Tell Rusty, a six year-old by Tell All, achieving his 11th success in 78 career trips back of the starting gate.   In a post race interview, Micallef said, " With a lot of the early speed outside in here, I thought it best to try and go down the road since his only win here gate to wire a few starts back. He has good gate speed and I really didn't think anybody would try and tackle an opener in :26 and change. He hadn't been out in a couple of weeks so he might have been just a trifle short late in the mile but he raced very well. I w as very pleased with his performance tonight."   The other dead-heat participant, Kevin Wallis, related, "This is the first time I sent him on early...only because he drew well here and I was hoping to get a nice trip after yielding. I knew he was capable of a good final quarter and, when we found some room on the inside, well, he responded nicely. He's just a good, solid racehorse and he might have been a but tighter than some of the others that had missed a week or two.."   That'll Be The Rei, also trained by Micallef for owner Dan Courtemanche, pushed his lifetime bounty to $249,477 while Don't Tell Rusty, trained by Paul Holzman for owner Melvin Fink, sent his lifetime bankroll to just shy of $100,000--$99,636 to be exact.   That'll Be The Rei, off at 6 to 1, returned a dead-heat price of $7.80 while Don't Tell Rusty, 16 to 1 on the board, paid $16.00 to his $2 backers.   The co-feature event, the $20,000-$25,000 claiming handicap went to Johnny Grippa, driven by Joe Sanzeri.   This seven year-old altered son of Cam's Card Shark took full advantage of a miscue in the lane by the 1 to 2 favorite, Canadian Touch, to take command and then hold off the furious late surge of Always N The Money, with Peter Wrenn driving, to score by a neck in 1:52.2. Ahead Of The Curve and Joe Pavia, Jr. was eventually awarded third while T's Electric was moved up a notch to fourth. Canadian Touch, third under the wire, was placed fifth due to his aforementioned miscue.   Johnny Grippa won for the 38th time during his career measuring 97 starts and now has $164,770 on his card--$18,325 of that since being claimed by Sanzeri along with Russ Guardino.   Off at 5 to 1, Johnny Grippa paid $13.60 to win.   Late Closing events also highlighted the Saturday night card with The Baron Lancer and Murdock Hanover spotlighting claiming pacers and The Florida Amateur Driving Club Late Closer for claiming trotters.   The Baron Lancer, with a bulky field of 11 going to the gate, went to Coopers Beach, driven by Jason Dillander for owner-trainer Shawn Glassmeyer.   This six year-old son of Western Ideal survived a torturous opening half of :53.4 and actually pulled away from the field in the lane to score a sharp four length win in 1:52.   Milliondollartouch (27 to 1) finished second for Dan Clements while Attack Modes Billy (47 to 1) with Ed Hensley was third.   Coopers Beach, second choice at 5 to 2, paid $7.60 to win.   The two divisions of the Murdock Hanover went to In Mint Condition (Mike Micallef) and Officernagentleman (Matt Romano.   In Mint Condition, owned by Lew and Kathleen Whitaker, made a sharp quarter move to the top and just did hold off Ring Leader, charging through on the pylons, and Fearless Chip, on the outside, to score in 1:52.1 as the 3 to 2 favorite.   After the event, Micallef joked, "I guess I was the cream in the middle of the Oreo cookie in that one!"   In Mint Condition won for the 24th time in his career to send his lifetime bankroll to $149,563.   Officernagentleman, trained and driven by Matt Romano for C & F Associates, also hung on for dear life in scoring a head decision over the late charging Red Hot Yankee and Rick Plano in 1:52.2 for his 20th lifetime win. Bold Willie and Dan Clements teamed up for third.   Even money on the tote-board, Officernagentleman paid $4.20 to win.   Finally, two divisions of The Florida Amateur Driving Club Late Closer went behind the Hummer Starting Gate and South Jersey Hey and Royalty On High proved victorious in their respective events.   South Jersey Hey gave amateur driver Steve Oldford his 99th lifetime victory by rallying in the lane to score a 2:01.2 decision over American Empress, driven by Jamie Marra with Whosover and Don Glowacki teaming up for show honors.   The winner paid $5.00 as the public choice.   Royalty On High, driven by Dein Spriggs, took advantage of some hot fractions early--for the class--and then snuck through along the inside to light up the tote-board with a $49.00 mutuel in scoring a 2 1/2 length win over L F Topaz and Billy Muggleston in 2:01.1. VT's Gold Key was third for Leon Cable.   Pompano's Super Hi-5 again had multiple winners on Saturday night and the carry-over for Sunday's program is well in excess of $60,000.   Post time is 7:30 p.m.   John Berry    

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 24, 2015 - Harness racing driver Dan Dube, off to a solid start to the season, continue his roll Saturday night by sweeping both of Yonkers Raceway's Saturday night $35,000 co-features. In-form Not Again ($4.40) defended his marquee trot title, winning this Open Handicap event in 1:56.3. Assigned outside his six rivals, Not Again, as the second choice. was in play early. Eschewing a three-hole, he drove on, getting around Meadows invader Count Me In. That one, the 11-10 favorite, took over from lone lass Backstreet Hanover (Tyler Buter). Not Again threw down the gauntlet (:27.3, 57.3, 1:26.2), taking no outer-tier pressure whatsoever. Count Me In pulled pocket early, and that would cost him. Not Again wound up winning by length-and-a-quarter, with 45-1 rank outsider Sim Brown (Mark MacDonald) slipping up the cones for second. Count Me In was third, with Hoorayforvacation (Eric Carlson) and Star Photo (Eric Goodell) rounding out the payees. Backstreet Hanover jumped it off entering the final turn. For Not Afraid, a 6-year-old S J's Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for his wife, Christina, John Fielding and Goran Anderberg, it was his second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $98, with the triple returning $228. Dube won the blind-draw Open Pace was a pocket-patrolling Michael's Power ($10.40). That one, from post No. 6, left outside of Sapphire City (Carlson). He then gave it up to a quarter-move by just-over-even-money favorite Warrawee Needy (MacDonald). It was "Needy" laying down the law through intervals of :27.1, :56 and 1:23.2, taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane. However, that quick third quarter could not separate himself from the gang, and the gang swallowed him up. It was Michael's Power ducking inside, beating a closing Take it Back Terry (Brennan) by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.4 Sapphire City, Warrawee Needy and a season-debuting P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett) settled for the remainder. For third choice Michael's Power, a 6-yer-old Camluck homebred gelding owned by Jeff Snyder and trained by Mark Silva, it was his second win in three '15 tries. The exacta paid $52, with the triple returning $244. Dube won four races during Saturday's dozen-race card. The Raceway's live season continues (weather permitting) Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Frank Drucker  

Three harness racing series finals made up the Winter Series Spectacular at The Meadowlands on Saturday night. The Super Bowl, Wordly Beauty and last but not least, the Escort Final with a purse of $56,000 appeared the most competitive of the three series finals on paper. Coming into The Escort Final, Tim Tetrick had what appeared to be a difficult decision to make, between Khan Blue Chip, a Linda Toscano trainee and Company Man. Tetrick decided to sit behind Company Man and it was proven that he chose wisely. Sent off as the 2-1 second choice, Tetrick allowed Company Man to sit third, just off the speed of Khan Blue Chip through a rather soft opening quarter of 28.1. Sensing the light tempo, Tetrick pulled his gelding as they straightened up in the backstretch and made a strong bid for the lead. Company Man hit the half-mile in 56 and three-quarters in 1:23.3, before getting separation on the field and opening up a three length lead turning for home. His main rival, Major Uptrend, was stacked up third over finding himself with five lengths to make up at the top of the stretch. Driven by Corey Callahan, Major Uptrend lengthened his stride late, along with a game JK Patriot and that pair began to close in on Company Man. But Tetrick saved just enough for the final strides and Company Man held on for the score in 1:51.4. Major Uptrend was second and JK Patriot third. Tetrick noted that his horse has the potential to move up the class ladder in the coming months. "He's tough enough," said Tetrick, "he can carry his speed for a long time and he's tough enough and that makes for a good racehorse." Up next for Company Man will be the Sonsam series which gets underway on Saturday February 7th. The top-five finishers from The Escort are all eligible to the Sonsam. Company Man is trained by Virgil Morgan Jr.for Daniel Mitchell. Company Man Tetrick was far from done as he had a major contender, Witch Dali, in the the second winter-series Final contested which was the $47,600 Wordly Beauty for three and four year old filly and mare pacers. Donttellruss was sent off as the 4/5 favorite off her pocket-rocket win over Witch Dali in round two of the series. Tonight, Corey Callahan was intent on the lead, parking out all challengers, especially the first over Just Fine. Donttellruss established a hot-pace of 27, 54 and 1:22.3 before turning for home with the lead, with Empress Deo looming off cover and Witch Dali situated third over as the field entered the stretch. Callahan called on Donttellruss for everything she had, but Tim Tetrick showed his mare, Witch Dali some racetrack and she responded, carving into the margin with each and ever stride. Nearing the wire, Witch Dali wore down a gritty Donttellruss to win the Worldly Beauty in 1:52.2. The win marked the sixth in seven starts since returning from the layoff for Witch Dali and it also made for the second winter series win for the daughter of Dali. Trainer Tony Alagna said he was "licking his chops watching his mare tracking the leaders from third over with the hot fractions up front." Alagna also made reference to a foot issue that kept his mare on the sidelines for one year saying, "we waited on her, but she has come back great and she was super tonight." Witch Dali was driven by Tim Tetrick for Tony Alagna, Alagna Racing and Bradley Grant. Donttellruss saved the runner-up spot with Empress Deo third. The top-three finishers are all bound for the Burning Point series which gets underway on Friday, February 6th. The Super Bowl looked like a four-horse race on paper and on the heels of a defeat in round two of the Super Bowl series as a 3/5 favorite, JL Cruze turned the tables once again on Opulent Yankee when the big money was down, winning the $50,000 Super Bowl Final with John Campbell. Sent off as the 2-1 third choice, JL Cruze left for position and was seemingly moving up to challenge the early lead, but was promptly looped by a three-wide Two Hip Dip going past the opening quarter of 28.4. JL Cruze was hung out on the rim, grinding it first over through a strong 27.2 second quarter. Campbell asked his gelding for speed at this point and JL Cruze responded and took over the lead from Two Hip Dip moving into the far turn. Opulent Yankee was tracking the leaders from third and he elected to remain on the pylons as his entry-mates Blocking The Way and Propulsion moved to the outside. However, Two Hip Dip got aggressive and pulled from the pocket just before the three-quarter pole to challenge JL Cruze, which enabled Opulent Yankee to advance along the pylons as Two Hip Dip flattened out in the stretch. Turning for home off three-quarters in 1:25, JL Cruze accelerated away from the field, with the three-horse entry chasing him home as Two Hip Dip faded, but no one was catching JL Cruze, who streaked under the wire a powerful Super Bowl Champion in 1:54.4. Opulent Yankee was second with Blocking The Way third. The top-five finishers in the Super Bowl Final are all eligible to the upcoming Charles Singer Memorial trotting series which begins on Thursday, February 5th. JL Cruze was driven to victory by John Campbell for trainer Eric Ell who mentioned in a post-race interview that his gelding "was battling a bit of an illness the week before and was not 100-percent, but he had a great week this week and showed up with his best effort tonight." JL Cruze is owned by W Kenneth Wood, W J Dittmar Jr. and S J Iaquinta. The Super Bowl Final was part of a pick 5 sequence that sported a $22,616 carryover, resulting in a total pool Saturday night of $146,934. Darin Zoccali    

As the winner of the prestigious Cane Futurity, an elimination of the North America Cup and $410,892 in stakes, Lyonssomewhere (1:49.8) ranked among the top three-year-old colts in the US last year. The Australian Pacing Gold Melbourne sale catalogue boasts a very close relative to the American star in Lot 16, a colt by the champion racehorse and now sensational sire Somebeachsomewhere. Part of the Durham Park draft, of Bruce Edward, the colt is the first foal from the Artsplace mare Catapult, a winning half-sister to the Cane Futurity winner and three others inside 1:54. Their dam, Miss Kitty Hanover, was an outstanding race mare, bankrolling more than $460,000 and holding a mark of 1:51.2. Catapult, the dam of Lot 16, was no slouch as a race mare either. She won four races as a three-year-old, including two legs of the New Jersey Sires Stakes (3rd in Final), banked $50,657 and took a record of 1:53.8. Furthermore, Catapult, on her dam’s side boasts the blood of Artsplace, Western Hanover and Bret Hanover, all champion sires and broodmare sires. The Somebeachsomewhere-Artsplace cross has produced top horses such as USA 2YO and 3YO of the Year Captaintreacherous 1:47.2 ($3.1million), the world champions Sunshine Beach 1:47.8 and Gallie Bythebeach 1:49, Sandbetweenurtoes 1:49.2 (Mistletoe Shalee) and So Surreal 1:49.8. According to Edward, the Somebeachsomewhere youngster is “a standout faultless colt, superbly put together and a smooth, effortless mover.” A photo, video and pedigree of the colt is available at www.durhampark.com.au PETER WHARTON

A delegaton from the IHRA (Irish Harness Racing Association) is travelling to Paris this weekend to make an application to the UET (European Union Trotters) for Ireland to become a full member of the union, which contains 22 countries.  On Saturday morning (today) at Vincennes Racetrack Paris, the IHRA will be making a presentation to all 22 member countries of the UET to demonstrate Ireland’s readiness to be part of the union.  This will be a massive step in the IHRA’s ambitious five year business plan that will hopefully culminate in seeing Ireland competing on the European and world’s biggest stages. Harness Racing (or trotting as it is known in Europe) is the biggest type of Horse Racing in Europe, outdoing the thoroughbreds for the No1 spot.  European Trotting Statistics  Total Prize Money €467 million Total Betting Turnover €8 billion Also taking place in Vincennes Racetrack in Paris this weekend is an extravagance of trotting where there will be €3 Million in prize money offered.  The highlight of the weekend will be the €1 Million Prix D’Amerique where all the top European trotters will compete to lift the lucrative prize. Prix d’Amérique Opodo HARNESS RACING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Created in 1920 as a tribute to the United States’s commitment to World War 1, the Prix d’Amérique Opodo is the planet’s biggest trotting race. The star harness event brings together the world’s best performers over the classic distance of 2,700 meters. FACTS AND FIGURES 35 Countries which broadcast the Prix d’Amérique Opodo on 4 different continents. 1 million euros The Prix d’Amérique Opodo not only boasts the highest prize money in France but is also the world’s richest race in this discipline. 40 million euros The amount of bets placed, in euros, on just the Grand Prix d’Amérique race. This makes it the most bet-upon race of the year for French punters. 40,000 plus spectators The number of horse lovers and racing enthusiasts who go to Paris-Vincennes on the last Sunday of every January to see the Prix d’Amérique Opodo. - See more at: http://www.horsesportireland.ie/irish-harness-racers-make-bid-for-european-membership/#sthash.0JyXBuCm.dpuf From Horse Sport Ireland

Sunday’s Prix d’Amerique, race six on the Paris-Vincennes card, looks to be a competitive, wide-open affair. Early odds show Up And Quick as 7/2 favorite followed by Texas Charm at 5/1, Uhlan du Val 9/1, Tiego d’Etang 10/1, Roxane Grif 12/1, Aladin d’Ecajeul 13/1 and Timoko 15/1. Horses with US interest, past or present, are considered outsiders with Maven at 50/1, Solvato at 40/1 and Tumble Dust at 25/1. 15 of the 18 participants will race barefoot on the cinder Vincennes surface. The purse is 1,000,000 euros ($1,120,000 US), making it the world's richest harness horse race.   Domenica 25 gennaio- Vincennes 6a Prix d'Amerique Opodo   European Trotting Masters Series 2015 Groupe I Course Internationale 1.000.000. - Attelé. - 2.700 mètres (G. P.) 450.000 et 45 % des entrées, 250.000 et 25 % des entrées, 140.000 e 14 % des entrées, 80.000 et 8 % des entrées, 50.000 et 5 % des entrées, 20.000 et 2 % des entrées, 10.000 et 1 % des entrées. En outre, un objet d'art au propriétaire, à l'éleveur, à l'entraîneur et au driver et un souvenir au lad du gagnant. Pour 4 à 10 ans inclus (B à R), hongres exclus, ayant gagné au moin 31.000 au trot attelé depuis le 1er janvier 2014 inclus et ayant pri part à une course depuis le 1er octobre dernier inclus, les 4 à 6 an ayant gagné au moins 180.000, les 7 à 10 ans ayant gagné au moins 250.000. Une priorité de participation au Prix d'Amérique est accordée au gagnant du Critérium Continental 2014 et celui du Prix Ténor de Baun2015, quels que soient leurs gains, ainsi qu'aux six premiers du classement établi à l'issue des Prix de Bretagne, du Bourbonnais, deBourgogne et de Belgique, en fonction du barême suivant qui s'appliquera dans chacune des quatre épreuves précitées : 12 points au 1er, 6 points au 2ème, 4 points au 3ème, 2 points au 4ème, 1 poinau 5ème. En cas d'ex-aequo, les chevaux dont les gains sont les plus élevés sont retenus.(*) En cas d'élimination, les gains des chevaux déclaré. Légende : Déferré = . Déferré postérieur = . Déferré antérieur = . Ferré = . 1 VULCAIN DE VANDELF. NIVARD 1a14Da6a2a5a3aDa1a1a1'11"8(Vinc.) (JAG DE BELLOUET - OPHELIA DE VANDEL) - Propriétaire : R. COHEN - Entraineur : F. NIVARD - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 417450 € 2 TUMBLE DUSTJ. VERBEECK 141a5a1'10"7(Vinc.) (CRAZED - AFFINITY) - Propriétaire : Stall TUMBLE BOYS (SWE) - Entraineur : T. MALMQVIST - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 510169 € 3 VOLTIGEUR DE MYRTG. GELORMINI 5a144a1a5a7a6aDa3a3a1'10"9(Vinc.) (OPUS VIERVIL - MYRTILLE DES BOIS) - Propriétaire : Ecurie DONATI - Entraineur : R. DONATI - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 635795 € 4 SOLVATOO. KIHLSTROM 9a141a3a1'12"4(Vinc.) (DONATO HANOVER - SOLVEIG) - Propriétaire : Ecurie DENCO HB (SWE) - Entraineur : Mme Catharina DENBERGER - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 650686 € 5 OLMO HOLZCH. MARTENS 1a140a8a1a2a2a4a1a5a1'11"1(Vinc.) (URONOMETRO - VEUVE DU KRAS) - Propriétaire : F. DELMOTE (BEL) - Entraineur : V. MARTENS - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 676946 € 6 ALADIN D'ECAJEULM. ABRIVARD 144a1a1a2a2a1a1a2aDa1'10"9(Vinc.) (QUAKER JET - NANCY D'ECAJEUL) - Propriétaire : PH. DEWULF - Entraineur : S. GUARATO - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 714140 € 7 LINDA DI CASEIA. GOCCIADORO 138a125a101a090a2a5a1'13"2(homol) (URONOMETRO - COMTESSE FERM) - Propriétaire : U. MORZENTI (ITY) - Entraineur : A. GOCCIADORO - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 721312 € 8 KADETT C.D.R. BERGH Da145a4a3a3a13DaDaDa1'11"7(Vinc.) (SCARLET KNIGHT - KISS OF LIFE) - Propriétaire : IN THE ZONE AB (SWE) - Entraineur : R. BERGH - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 820722 € 9 MOSAIQUE FACEP. VERCRUYSSE 6a140a9a13Da1'14"2(Vinc.) (CLASSIC PHOTO - IONA L.B.) - Propriétaire : Tommy NILSSON HOLDING AB (SWE) - Entraineur : L. KOLGJINI - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 852998 € 10 UHLAN DU VALC. MEGISSIER 1a140a2a0a2a6a1aDa1a1'10"5(Vinc.) (ISLERO DE BELLOUET - INDIANA BEAUTIFUL) - Propriétaire : J.P. MEGISSIER - Entraineur : C. MEGISSIER - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 949390 € 11 SEVERINOD. BONNE Da146a0a6aDa4a3a1a4a1'11"2(Vinc.) (GOBERNADOR - KATIA DE TILLARD) - Propriétaire : David Michel BONNE - Entraineur : CH. BIGEON - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 959049 € 12 NAPOLEON BARE. BELLEI 140a3a1a1a0a130a2a0a1'10"1(homol) (VARENNE - DALMAZIA) - Propriétaire : Emiliano STECCA (ITY) - Entraineur : CATELLO SAVARESE - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 1045993 € 13 TEXAS CHARMJ. DUBOIS 5a14Da1a0a0a7a0a131a1'09"9(Vinc.) (CYGNUS D'ODYSSEE - KAMELA CHARM) - Propriétaire : Ecurie VICTORIA DREAMS - Entraineur : PH. MOULIN - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 1076530 € 14 MAVENY. GINGRAS 7a140a1'14"3(Vinc.) (GLIDEMASTER - M STEWART) - Propriétaire : Herb A. LIVERMAN (USA) - Entraineur : JIMMY TAKTER - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 1268294 € 15 UP AND QUICKJ.M. BAZIRE 4a142a0a0a1a8a2a1a131'10"6(Vinc.) (BUVETIER D'AUNOU - FICHTRE) - Propriétaire : Ecurie QUICK STAR - Entraineur : F. LEBLANC - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 1291060 € 16 TIEGO D'ETANGCH. BIGEON 2m142a1a7a2a7a3a8a2a1'10"4(Vinc.) (CHAILLOT - HAROLENE) - Propriétaire : F.L. ADAM - Entraineur : CH. BIGEON - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 1592680 € 17 TIMOKOB. GOOP 147a4a6a4a1aDa2a1a1a1'09"9(homol) (IMOKO - KISS ME COULONCES) - Propriétaire : R. WESTERINK - Entraineur : R. WESTERINK - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 2825478 € 18 ROXANE GRIFFE. RAFFIN 1m144a1m3a3m5a2a2m2a1'10"2(Vinc.) (TENOR DE BAUNE - JULIA MESLOISE) - Propriétaire : Ecurie GRIFF - Entraineur : S. GUARATO - Distance : 2700 - Gains : 2891818 €   by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

Former New Zealander Franco Ledger sealed his position in two of harness racing’s biggest events with his success at Shepparton tonight. Thanks to his victory in the club’s flagship feature, Franco Ledger is certain to gain a berth in next Saturday night’s Victoria Cup and the A G Hunter Cup the following week. Should the seven-year-old race up to expectations, he will also compete in an Inter Dominion heat of February 14. Australasia’s pinnacle event, the Inter Dominion Final is scheduled to be held at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 1. Since being transferred to local trainer Geoff Webster, Franco Ledger has won two of his three starts, while finishing fifth in the South Australia Cup after over racing a fortnight ago. During his two victories, Franco Ledger has been driven with a sit, which Webster stated is obviously the best way to drive the son of Falcon Seelster. “In his first-up win at Melton and again tonight he has finished brilliantly when given the chance to come with one big run in the straight,” Webster said. “Both times he has hit the line hard and felt terrific. “In South Australia when he led, he got on the steel pretty hard, which ultimately cost him. “With that said, he is obviously suited to being driven for a bit of luck.” With Webster in the cart during his latest triumph, Franco Ledger began slowly from the pole to settle two-back along the pegs as Lennytheshark and then hot favourite, Philadelphia Man led. Finishing swiftly along the passing lane, Franco Ledger sprinted to a two-and-a-half metre win from Philadelphia Man, with Lennytheshark three metres away third in his first run since last July. “He got a nice trip along and when the opening came, he was good enough to take advantage of it,” Webster said. “Down the back and around the home turn I knew he was travelling well and I was positive he’d run in the top three. “Once he straightened he just sprinted so well and rounded them up pretty easily. “That should be enough to see him make his way into the Victoria and Hunter Cups.” Covering the last half in a slick 55.1 seconds, the stallion rated 1:58.9 for the 2690-metre journey, with his time just five-tenths of a second outside Mr Feelgood’s track record set in the 2009 Cup. PAUL COURTS

TORONTO, January 23 - The first two stake finals of 2015 took place Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack and it was the Sylvain Filion show. The veteran harness racing reinsman could be poised for another big year, as he took home both the $45,000 Snowshoe Series and $40,000 Blizzard Series finales. The Snowshoe Series final appeared to be wide-open on paper, as seven different horses won divisions during the first two legs. Kindofabigdeal and Filion came into Friday's final as the most consistent horse in the ten-horse field and left with another big effort. The Richard Moreau trainee got the cue to leave hard from Filion and sprinted out to the quick lead, but was quickly challenged for the front by A Boy Named Suuzz. Filion allowed the outside challenger to clear and got a perfect two-hole trip for Kindofabigdeal. Kindofabigdeal sat patiently in the pocket until Filion made his move at the top of the lane. In the stretch, Kindofabigdeal overtook the lead by the eighth-pole and paced away to win in 1:53.3. Bad Bug came on late to make it close and finish second by half a length, while A Boy Named Suuzz held on to hit the board in third. A four-year-old son of No Pan Intended, Kindofabigdeal has been on a roll over the last few months at Woodbine, but has recently been unable to come through in series finals. The Moreau trainee won a leg of the Autumn Series, but finished second in the November final. Last month, Kindofabigdeal won the opening two legs of the Valedictory, but finished third as the favourite in the Boxing Day finale. The series final victory Friday gives the pacer seven career wins from 13 starts and pushes his bankroll over $88,000 for owner Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc. Kindofabigdeal paid $5.70. Kindofabigdeal In the Blizzard Series final, heavy favourite Artistic Fusion completed the series sweep with a 1:54.4 victory. Trained by Joe Agostino, Artistic Fusion and Filion got away in fourth and came first up down the backstretch to challenge the leader A Fearless Affair. Those two mares would battle side-by-side past the three-quarter pole in 1:25.2, but Artistic Fusion was too much to handle for A Fearless Affair in the lane. Artistic Fusion wasted no time leaving her rivals behind and cruised home to win by 2 ¾ lengths. Badlands Love got up for second, while A Fearless Affair dug in to finish third. A four-year-old daughter of Artistic Fella, Artistic Fusion has been firing on all cylinders over the last few months in series action. The Agostino trainee won the Autumn Series final in November, finished second in the Niagara Series final on Boxing Day and has now swept the Blizzard Series. Artistic Fusion surpassed the $100,000 mark in career earnings with her eighth career win Friday night for owner Mike Foote. She returned $2.60 to win. Artistic Fusion Mark McKelvie

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 23, 2015-Favored Set Me Up (George Brennan, $5.40) finished what she started Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 featured Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. In play early from post position No. 3, Set Me Up-beaten choice a week ago-marched around Sir Jillian Z Tam (Pat Lachance), then waltzed through Westchester (:28.2, :58.4, 1:27.1). In the interim, last week's victress, Spirit of Desire (Jason Bartlett), was trying it first-up, moving from fourth. Set Me Up had a length-and-a-half entering the lane, then fended off "Jillian" in a two-speed number. The final margin was a half-length in 1:55. Spirit of Desire held third, with Palm Patrol (Mark MacDonald) and Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton) completing the cashers. Pole-assigned Nefertiti Bluechip (Matt Kakaley) settled for valuable experience, which figures to serve her well later in life. For Set Me Up, a 6-year-old daughter of Shark Gesture co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, it was her second win in three seasonal starts The exacta paid $21.40, with the triple returning $55.50. The Raceway's live season continues night Saturday (post time 7:10 PM, weather permitting). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note the next Sunday matinee is Feb. 22. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

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LEBANON, OH. - Dabestleaderever captured the $25,000 championship of the "Claim To Fame" series for $20,000 claimers on Sunday at Miami Valley Raceway, the seventh win of the day for harness racing driver Dan Noble over the rain-and-thaw dampened sloppy track. Trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. and partner Carl Howard collared the winner from the second preliminary leg and the eight-year-old Cambest gelding paid immediate dividends, going wire to wire to top Rusty's No Fool (Greg Grismore) and Littlebitaclass (Andy Shetler). Dabestleaderever hasn't missed the board in four starts since coming to Miami Valley, including back to back wins. A $10,000 championship in the "Claim To Fame" series for $5000 claiming mares was also decided with Bittersweet Best (Kyle Ater) benefitting from a perfect second-over trip to top Luna Hanover (Kayne Kauffman) and Debi's Sign (Josh Sutton) in 1:56.2. The victory pushed the six-year-old Pro Bono Best mare over the $100,000 earnings plateau for owners Allen and Ira Kaplan and trainer Dan Ater. Noble's winners were Earls Dixie Darlin, Wounded Warrior, Miss Suggs, Custom Made, Milliron Pete, Mama Made Me Blue and Dabestleaderever. Noble's seven win day secured his second place standing in the local driver's dash contest. The 32-year-old former national dash champion follows only defending Miami Valley champion Kayne Kauffman, who scored a driving triple on Saturday night. Gregg Keidel  
DOVER, Del. ---- Mach A Wish, a winner from post 7 last week, leaves from post 8 this time in the harness racing $18,000 Mares Open pace on Monday, Jan. 26 at Dover Downs. Post time is 4:30 p.m. Corey Callahan racing fourth heading to the half mile, made a strong brush to put CTC Stable and Doug Lewis' Mach A Wish into the lead on the way to a 1:53.4 victory in the top female pace of the week. Erv Miller's longshot Fox Valley Hermia, closed strongly for Marcus Miller for a second-place finish. Van Otterloo Stables' Flick A Fly and Allan Davis, also came on to take third place. JFE Enterprises' Handsoffmycookie, handled by Trace Tetrick, was used early to get the lead and had to battle it out the rest of the mile, before coming up short in the stretch, finishing seventh, to miss a check for the first time this meet. Harry von Knoblauch's Scootin For Joy, a winner of this event two weeks ago, with Ron Pierce driving, is another factor. Keith Pippi's Lounge Act and Vic Kirby moves up after an impressive victory in the Winners-Over level. Jonathan Roberts will be behind the consistent Jeremes Sweetheart, owned by Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar and Steve Iaquinta. Tim Tetrick's McSauna, with Jim King driving, completes the hard-hitting field of females. Monday through Thursday racing begins at 4:30 p.m. Each week, there is no racing on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday post time is 5:30 p.m. At Dover Downs, there is no charge for parking and admission. Reservations are suggested for the Winner's Circle Restaurant and for those planning to stay at the 4-star Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight. To enjoy dinning and watchin the races, reservations are suggested for the Winners Circle Restaurant. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad
Despite warnings about a predicted snowy and icy Saturday afternoon in lower New York, 40 intently interested and concerned U.S.T.A. members, including some of the harness racing sport's most prominent owners, attended the annual meeting of U.S.T.A. District 8A in the Good Time Room of Yonkers Raceway. Reelected District 8-A Chairman Joseph Faraldo, and directors Mike Kimelman, Jordan Stratton and newly reappointed track director Bob Galterio lead discussions concerning a variety of controversial issues, including questions involving the efficacy of cobalt as a performance enhancer and the proper establishment of a scientific baseline for the substance. In addition, the significance, or lack thereof, of the U.S.T.A.'s $250,000 per year social media campaign and what metric there is, if any, to measure the effectiveness of this effort were considered. With regard to television coverage, the existing metric has not been made public, as it was barely able to be measured; an extremely disappointing circumstance.  USTA rule change proposals were thoroughly discussed and voted upon:  ·         Approving in principle proposal # 1's intent, but recommending that all distance numbers in the uniform pylon proposal be revised at the annual March meeting.  ·         Rejecting proposal # 2 which seeks to prohibit a driver with a financial interest in more than one horse in a race from driving therein.  ·         Approving as a group all Racing Under Saddle proposed regulations embodied in proposals 3, 5, 6 and 8.  ·         Rejecting proposal # 4 mandating that drivers with but one exception may not remove any foot from the stirrups, and recommending that the inconsistent provision in current rule 18.08 in the last sentence be deleted from that rule.  ·         Approving proposal # 7 eliminating the need to qualify when adding or removing hobbles for horses on either gait.  ·         Lastly, approving staff's recommendation to the registration rule and flat fee for non- extended pari-mutuel meetings found in proposals 9 and 10.  The group then enjoyed a buffet dinner in the track dining room during the conduct of Yonkers 12 race Saturday night live card. USTA District 8A meets at Yonkers Raceway  
Maven has been the darling of the harness racing press and a hefty chunk of the sport’s fan base for the past few months. She’s taken the crown from Foiled Again, who held that distinction for a couple of years. The six-year-old daughter of Glidemaster—the only top tier trotter that sire has produced in North America—only won four races during 2014, and only one of those was a grade one stakes race. She set a track record in winning the Muscle Hill at Vernon Downs in November. Her other three wins came in the Miami Valley Distaff in mid-May, a preferred trot at Pocono in August and the BC elimination at the Meadowlands. Maven finished out in three legs of the Miss Versatility Series, which she won in 2013, and was third in the final at Delaware, which division champ Classic Martine won. She earned $333,027 between her dozen starts in NA and a pair in Europe. So what’s all the fuss about? Why is Maven the flame of the Twittersphere and the horse harness scribes have elevated to the top of the pile? Her pedestrian numbers during the past year scream journeyman in a slump—not superstar. Racing in Europe adds some panache to her resume, but she has one third place finish to show for five European starts last season and this. Maven’s popularity obviously extends to the sales ring as she brought a record $750,000 bid from Herb Liverman at Harrisburg in November. And he already owned a piece of rival Bee A Magician. One of Maven’s problems is that Liverman is determined not to have the pair go head to head. That means Maven is stuck in Europe, or destined to take on the boys back home. Neither of those scenarios looks promising at the moment. Contrast Maven’s overseas performance with the much less celebrated Arch Madness, who made eight starts in Europe during 2011, 2012 and 2013. He won two of them, the 2011 Oslo Grand Prix and a heat of the Elitlop. He finished second in the latter twice and was third three times in European races. Arch got some publicity for all of this, particularly in Canada, but Maven seems to be leaving him in the PR dust despite a much shorter record of accomplishment. Something similar has been happening on the pacing side. Eleven-year-old Foiled Again is still the most popular pacer in NA. He was second to Sweet Lou in division earnings in 2014, thanks to making the board in 19 of 26 starts, but he had no grade one stakes wins. The Quillen was his only significant victory, and that one isn’t very important at this point. He won four legs of the Levy, then went winless for the season except for his Quillen elimination and final. In 2013 he was wildly popular and a candidate for Pacer of the Year, despite suffering 18 losses. Foiled’s hook is excellence over many years, consistency and the money record for pacers that he holds. Maven was good at two and three, winning 15 times and earning more than $900,000, but she took a back seat to Check Me Out until the late fall of her sophomore campaign. She was the standout in her division at four, winning 10 times and banking more than a half million dollars, and had an off year in 2014. This exaltation on the part of fans and the press is curious. Some of it has to do with her newsworthy passage from Jonas Czernyson to Ron Burke to Jimmy Takter. And participating today in the premier race in France for last year’s trainer and driver of the year doesn’t hurt. But with each non-competitive loss on the Continent, we should get less cheerleading and more questions about why she has been placed on a pedestal.  by Joe FitzGerald for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/
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