christen me vic cup.jpg

Kiwi superstar claims $400,000 Aussie feature

Boom New Zealand pacer Christen Me is a firm favourite in his quest to join an elite harness racing fraternity. Within moments of the star’s brilliant Victoria Cup win at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, TAB reacted by cutting Christen Me’s quote for next week’s A G Hunter Cup to $3.60 on Fixed odds. Earlier this week Christen Me was on the third line of betting at $6. The Cran Dalgety-trained stallion is aiming to become just the fifth champion to successfully defend his crown since the time-honoured event’s inauguration in 1949. Springfield Globe was the ground breaker in 1961 and ’62, followed by Monara in 1973 and ’74, Pure Steel in ’77 and ’78 and Blossom Lady in ’94 and ’95. Minuteman Man is the only other dual winner having scored in 1964 and ’66, while Pure Steel also boasts a third triumph thanks to his 1980 success. Thrilled with Christen Me’s form, Dalgety is confident the six-year-old can complete consecutive Hunter Cup wins. “I couldn’t be happier with him,” Dalgety said. “He has pulled up a treat from tonight’s run and is ready to go again. “The draw will play a role in next week’s Hunter Cup, but I’m going into this even more confident with him than last year.” As for his latest win, Christen Me began brilliantly to lead from barrier six, with driver Dexter Dunn maintaining a steady tempo as Guaranteed worked at his wheel. Slipped more rein along the back straight, Christen Me was never in danger of defeat as he cruised to a two-metre win from Lennytheshark, which trailed the pacemaker throughout. After gaining a three-wide trail at the bell, Adore Me was three-and-a-half metres away third. “From six, going back at the start wasn’t really an option, so I thought I’d chance my arm and come out looking for the lead,” Dunn said. “Down the back he was travelling so well and when I turned for home I knew I had them covered.” Covering the last half in 54 seconds, the son of Christian Cullen – which finished third in the 2000 edition of the feature - rated 1:55 for the 2240 metres. Christen Me provided Dalgety his fourth win in the Grand Circuit event, having prepared Desperate Comment in 1996 and ’97 and Bettor Strike in 2009. The latter was driven by Dunn. PAUL COURTS

Pauley, Palone and Burke signing posters for fans

Palone and Burke honored

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 30, 2015 -- On their 2nd annual "Night of Champions," The Meadows Racetrack & Casino and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) honored locally based horsemen Dave Palone and Ron Burke, who have become two of harness racing's most celebrated champions. Burke, the sport's leading trainer for six consecutive years, in 2014 smashed his own record with more than $28.3 million in earnings. "It's pretty well documented that we're a family operation . . . I couldn't do it without any of them," Burke said. "There's a whole other crew that we consider just like family. Thank you, and let's make this year special." Palone, a harness Hall of Famer, in 2014 collected career victory 16,754, which made him the world's "winningest" harness racing driver. Noted equine artist Thomas Allen Pauley captured that historic moment in a painting; on Friday, he presented the work to Palone. Palone also accepted congratulations from Pennsylvania Rep. Brandon Neuman; Bill Paulos, principal of Cannery Casino Resorts, which owns The Meadows, and Phil Langley, president of the United States Trotting Association. Langley said he hopes to be present for Palone's 20,000th victory. When asked about that, Palone smiled but said emphatically, "No shot." Few in attendance, however, doubted the possibility. Before the ceremony, fans were able to meet the two champions and take away Palone- and Burke-themed premiums. The festivities also included presentation of awards to The Meadows' 2014 equine champions, as voted by MSOA members. Evan Pattak

Melady's Monet

Melady's Monet returns in style

The trotter that had stolen the show this winter at The Meadowlands had been conspicuous by his absence for the last four weeks. Melady's Monet had not been seen since winning the top-level trot on January 2nd. Harness racing trainer Kevin McDermott reported the gelding suffered a quarter crack and was given time to heal and freshen up. There was no evidence of any lingering affects of that quarter crack Friday night at The Meadowlands. Sent off as the 4/5 favorite, the Revenue S gelding was allowed to settle in last in the field of seven and remained there as the field rolled through tepid fractions of 28.2 and 57.1, established by Modest Prince. Still last turning for home through three-quarters of 1:25.1, Melady's Monet saw Lindy's Tru Grit, who he was tracking the outer flow go off-stride directly in front of him. That was no problem either as the Tim Tetrick driven trotter towered up and powered home through the stretch while Tetrick remained motionless at all times to win going away into extremely strong headwinds, completing the mile in 1:55.1. Take My Picture rallied to be second while Team Six raced well uncovered finishing third. Melady's Monet is trained by Kevin McDermott for Melady Enterprises LLC. The Dash For The "C" Notes for trotters returned Friday night at The Meadowlands as well, featuring six divisions, providing very competitive racing as only a win in your division guaranteed a spot in the $25,000 Final next week. The remaining four finalists are to be drawn by lot from the second place finishers in the six divisions. The divisional winners were Captain Primeau (1:57.3 - Pierce), Perfect Picture (1:57.3 - Pierce), My Muscleman (1:55.3 - B. Miller), Bluebird Kidsqueen (1:56.4 - Abbatiello), Rock Of Cashel (1:55.3 - Richardson) and Scorcher Hall (1:56 - A. Miller). The second place finishers were comprised of Walltocousins, Mr Fenwick, Grey Ice, Worth The Money As, Most Wanted Lindy and Lauderdale. Four of these six runner-up trotters will complete the field of 10 for the $25,000 "C" Note Final next week, with the four being drawn by lot. Both Jackpot Super Hi-5's went unclaimed, with the fifth race carryover at $4,611.57 and the last race carryover standing at $76,077.56. Racing resumes on Saturday with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

Bobs Your Uncle - A son of Artsplace from the famous Black Watch family

Sons of Artsplace still available

One of the greatest harness racing stallions of all time in Artsplace is still available to breeders in the southern hemisphere via his frozen semen even though he has been deceased for nearly nine years. The son of Abercrombie has run up a set of statistics in the northern hemisphere that are truly mind boggling and will surely see him regarded as one of the all time greats. Winners - 1179        Stakes won $172,974,661     18 Millionaires      48 in 1:50  Artsplace only has three colts available in this years series of yearling sales in New Zealand and only one in the Australasian Classic Sale in Auckland. The colt for sale in Auckland is Lot 53, Bobs Your Uncle and he has a strong maternal family to support him. He is the second foal from the young Bettor's Delight mare Delightful Dale who though she qualified was unraced. The second dam is the former smart age group performer Dale Elinor 1:57.2 ($60,985) who finished an unlucky second in the Bathurst Gold Tiara Final at two. Dale Elinor has had a wretched run at stud with Delightful Dale her only live foal old enough to race at this stage. A full sister to Dale Elinor in Karen Donna left last seasons outstanding two year old filly Katy Perry 1:56.7 ($378,478) Kate Perry is by Bettor's Delight making her a full sister in blood to the dam of Bobs Your Uncle, Delightful Dale The third dam is the former star two and three year old filly in Megaera 1:56.8 ($250,646) who won the Caduceus Club Classic and the New Zealand Sires Stakes Filly final at three among her eight wins and was 1995/1996 two year filly of the year. This is another branch of the ultra successful Black Watch family which continues to churn out classic winners every season. Artsplace has already proven himself in the southern hemisphere with over 100 winners to date including such standouts as Guaranteed 1:50.4 ($810,772) and Flightpath 1:55.9 ($290,684)  Bobs Your Uncle has all the credentials on both sides of his pedigree to add to the record of his sire. Harnesslink Media  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, January 23, 2015 - Favored Carolsideal and harness racing driver Dan Dube, offered up some first-over fisticuffs Friday night, handily winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 featured Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. Sitting chilly (literally and figuratively early from post position No. 5, "Carol" saw Robin Cruiser (Jordan Stratton) stepped over Palm Patrol (Mark MacDonald) before a :28.3 opening quarter-mile. After a wind-compromised :59.1 intermission, Carolsideal moved from fourth...and did so with purpose. She busted the race wide open before the 1:26.3 three-quarters, opening up 6½ lengths entering the lane. The final margin was sixth lengths in 1:55.2. Palm Patrol, stuck behind a tiring leader, won the "other" race for second, with last week's victress, Set Me Up (George Brennan), Spirit of Desire (Jason Bartlett) and Robin Cruiser earned the smaller pay envelopes. Note that scheduled outside assignee Voelz Hanover was a judges' scratch for a second time this month as the millionairess has not made her 2015 parimutuel debut. For Carolsideal, a 6-year-old daughter of Western Ideal trained by Shawn Christner for co-owners Allard Racing, Yves Sarazin and Kapildeo Singh, it was her third win (each in same time) in as many seasonal starts (and purchase/barn change). The exacta paid $24, with the triple returning $128.50. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM). 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 (post time TBA). Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily (all provided Mother Nature cooperates). Frank Drucker

The West Australian harness racing community will be attached to the radio and television this Saturday night as David Hercules competes in the Group 1, Victorian Pacing Cup worth a massive $400,000. Trainer Dave Thompson spoke to the TABradio team about his assault on the Victoria Cup at Melton this Saturday night. “The horse went over on Wednesday night, he seems as bright as a button, went for a jog and everything’s great” Thompson said.   Having drawn nine, Thompson stated that it was one of his more preferred avenues leading into the race, whilst relishing the challenge of the opposition. “We just have to hope for the best because class wise it’s a step up, it’s probably the best group I’ve seen assembled together for a long long time” he added. After a brilliant performance in the WA Pacing Cup, seeing a narrow defeat to the swooping My Hard Copy, Thompson seemingly is not one to look in the rear-view mirror, but basking in the moment. “Some people are saying this is going to be one of the best races ever, so to have one of the runners in it, just makes me so proud of the horse” said Thompson. “I’m just so lucky to be involved with him” he added. “I’m even going to try and enjoy this one! Normally I just end up getting too wound up… we just have to sit back and enjoy it”. David Hercules runs in the Victorian Cup at Melton, race starting at 6:32pm WST, covered extensively on TABradio and seen on Sky Racing.  If you weren't on-course for the $400,000 Western Australian Pacing Cup, or even if you were, do yourself a favour and take a look at one the most dramatic WA Pacing Cup's ever seen at Gloucester Park.   Racing and Wagering Western Australia

The cross of Somebeachsomewhere over a harness racing mare by Bettor’s Delight is one of the most potent in North America today. Ultimate Beachboy 1:48.6 ($313,880), Bahama Blue 1:51 ($141,658), Tempster Hanover 1:50.4 ($134,749) and Misssomebeach Blue 1:52.6 ($121,800) are just a few examples of this ‘magical’ mating. There’s only one yearling in the Australian Pacing Gold sale at Oaklands Junction on Sunday carrying this cross of blood. It is Lot 118, a strongly built, long striding bay colt by Somebeachsomewhere from Molly’s Lucky Star, an American-bred daughter of Bettor’s Delight. The youngster of part of the powerful draft of Bruce Edward’s Durham Park Standardbreds, Durham Lead, near Ballarat, being offered at the sale. He is the second foal and the first colt out of the imported Molly’s Lucky Star, who won 15 races, earned $96,700 and took a mark of 1:54.4.  A half-sister to three $100,000 winners and seven sub 1:56 performers, Molly’s Lucky Star hails from the immediate family of world record holder and successful sire Pacific Fella 1:48.4 ($1,064,631), Pacific Renegade 1:49.2 ($746,247) and Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion Doubleshotascotch 1:51 ($692,491). The Somebeachsomewhere colt is eligible for Breeders Crown, Vicbred and Vicbred Platinum. A photo, video and pedigree of the colt is available at www.durhampark.com.au By Peter Wharton

Hall of Famer Charles E. "Chuck" Coon died Friday morning, Jan. 30, in Oxford, Mich., after a short illness. He was 86. Mr. Coon became harness racing's premier innovator in racetrack design, construction and maintenance, and starting gates during his 40-plus year career in harness racing. He adopted such cutting-edge design features as super-elevated curves, which addressed both equine safety and competitive racing at a time when the focus was solely on speed. As the speed rapidly increased, the need for banking continued. Mr. Coon lobbied racetrack managers around the country and eventually rebuilt the majority of the harness tracks in North America. The tracks Mr. Coon designed became known for their elevated curves; the ones he maintained earned appreciation from horsemen for their design and cushion. "My father (trackman Charlie Coon) taught me the importance of cushion," said Mr. Coon in his 2008 Hall of Fame induction speech. "Some people confuse fast with hard...." Born on May 15, 1928, in Detroit, Mich., Mr. Coon is the son of the late Charles J. Coon, a skilled trackman in his own right. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, Chuck married, started a family, and began working in racetrack maintenance. He and his father were the first to put sand on a clay racetrack, thus enabling horses to race rain or shine. Chuck was working at a track in Jackson, Michigan when Pat Provenzano, the president of Batavia Downs, hired him to be the track superintendent. Chuck's expertise resulted in horses regularly going two-minute miles on the weekends, a display of speed previously unseen at Batavia. After his success in Batavia, Chuck became the track superintendent at Buffalo Raceway. During this time, he obtained a starter's license and became the starting judge at the western New York tracks. Eventually he was appointed the starter at Yonkers Raceway. After the death of his father in 1970, Mr. Coon returned to Detroit as the starting judge at Wolverine and Hazel Park. During this period, he began to question the USTA's protocol that called for track turns to be elevated one-inch for every foot out from the rail. Stan Bergstein introduced Mr. Coon to a Swedish professor of engineering, Dr. Ingvar Frederickson. Dr. Frederickson had performed scientific studies on the detrimental effect of horses traveling over a poorly elevated racetrack. Mr. Coon agreed with Frederickson that improper racetrack design placed undue stress on horses. Chuck soon had the opportunity to put these new ideas into practice at Buffalo Raceway. He banked the turns 12 percent, which resulted in record-breaking performances. Next he went to Windsor Raceway, removed the synthetic Tartan track (which was believed to cause lameness), and elevated the turns to 16 percent. Direct Scooter then went a mile in 1:54.2 at Windsor, a world race-record for four-year-old pacers on a five-eighths-mile track. In 1975, for the very first time, the Hambletonian was to be telecast live from DuQuoin on network television. Chuck was retained by Fred Van Lennep and Bill Hayes to ensure that the race went off on time regardless of weather. Eventually the success at DuQuoin prompted Col. H. Willis Nichols, George Alexander, P.J. Baugh and eventually Tom Crouch to join Van Lennep and Hayes in retaining Mr. Coon to look after the clay racetracks, not only at DuQuoin but also in Springfield, Indianapolis, and The Red Mile. Mr. Coon was always eager to point out the difference between a hard and fast track. It was not uncommon to see him to talk about track conditions with horsemen, and he was involved in last-minute discussions with Clint Galbraith before Niatross scorched The Red Mile to make sure the track was conducive to the world record mile. Mr. Coon was always quick to embrace changes he thought would help racing. After visiting Dr. Frederickson in Europe and witnessing racing without an inside hub rail, he began to promote the removal of rails in North America. As a starting judge, he experienced the challenge of providing a consistent speed to the drivers trying to get their horses away on gait. This led to the development of a computerized speed control. He also introduced the slanted starting gate at the Meadowlands. Mr. Coon's sons, Greg and Dan, joined their father in business and have continued his work. Mr. Coon's brother, Jerry, also served an apprenticeship in Michigan and traveled all over North America during his career in track maintenance. Since his retirement, Mr. Coon has followed the work of his sons, Greg and Dan, and made annual pilgrimage to Goshen, N.Y., for Hall of Fame weekend and to the Little Brown Jug. For many years he continued to make an annual trek to his hometown of Croswell, Mich., to prepare the local track for fair racing on a volunteer basis. Mr. Coon is survived by his wife, Beverly; sons Greg (Lynette) and Dan (Kathy Parker); two daughters, Jeannine Weinschrod (Philipp) and Shelly (Mike) Gambino; grandchildren Peter (Melanie) Coon, Michael (Heather) Coon, Nick (Meghan) Gambino, Megan (Ryan) Reese, Caitlin Cullen and Erin Cullen; eight great-grandchildren; two brothers, Tom (Denise) Coon and retired trackman Jerry (Audrey) Coon; one sister, Joan (Dan) Deary; and two sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-law, and many nieces and nephews. Visitation will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 3, from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at the Elton Black and Son Funeral Home, 3295 E. Highland Rd., Highland, Mich., 48356, with a funeral Mass at 10:30 am on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at St. Perpetua Catholic Church, 134 Airport Rd., Waterford, Mich. 48327. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the following 501c(3) entities, the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, 240 Main St., Goshen, NY 10924; Goshen Historic Track, 44 Park Place, Goshen, NY, 10924, a National Historic Landmark; or Open Door Outreach Center, 7170 Cooley Lake Rd., Waterford, MI 48327. by Kathy Parker, for Horsemen & Fair World          

As the new year begins, so does foaling season at Winbak Farm. This year the farm is expecting around 300 foals that will be eligible to rich stakes programs in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For the second year in a row, a filly was the first to be born. This year, the first to arrive was a Muscles Yankee filly out of the mare Call Me Hazel (sired by Call Toll Free), 1:57.2f ($57,916). She was born on January 17th. The filly is a half-sister to Delaware Stakes standouts, Starlit Eyes, 3, 1:58.3f ($149,680), The Felton Queen, 1:58.2f ($114,238), and Call Me Hal, 3, 1:58h -'14 ($90,627). Call Me Hazel is a half-sister to Scorpion Moon, 1:52.3s ($952,041). This filly is the first crop of Muscles Yankee foals to be eligible in the rich New York program. Second to arrive, 9 days later was a Vintage Master filly from the mare Santino's Rosa (sired by The Panderosa), p, 1:50.3 ($166,827). The filly was born on January 26th. Santino's Rosa is a full-sister to San Antony O, p, 1:52f ($348,996), and Yankees In Seven, p, 1:52.3h ($280,868). This filly will be Ontario-eligible. Vintage Master's first crop are now two and preparing for stakes action in 2015. The third to arrive was a Betterthancheddar filly from the mare Lilli Maid (sired by Christian Cullen). The filly was born on January 27th. This is the first year for North American foals from Betterthancheddar. His foals from the southern hemisphere are getting great reviews. Lilli Maid is a half-sister to Western Expression, p, 1:51.2f ($192,751), and Little Michael B, p, 1:50f ($169,477). This filly will be New York eligible. He is now standing at Winbak Farm of Ontario. The fourth to arrive was an Artiscape colt from Latin Liftoff (sired by Shotgun Scott) p, 3, Q1:57.4f. The colt was born on January 28th and is a half-brother to Battle of Waterloo Elimination Winner, Steady Warrior, p, 3, 1:52.1s -'14 ($144,156). Latin Liftoff is a half-sister to Spring Break, p, 3, 1:50.3z ($787,057). This colt will be New York-eligible. Those interested in learning more about Winbak Farm, including information about the stallions, should visit www.winbakfarm.com or call 410.885.3059. To see pictures of the foals born this year, be sure to follow Winbak Farm on Twitter or like their Facebook page. by Elizabeth Cheesman, for Winbak Farm

On Friday 23rd January 2015, UK harness racing fans learned of the passing of one of the modern day harness racing legends, Rhyds Five Star. Known as ‘Sam’ to those closest to him, Rhyds Five Star was one of the country’s most prominent Free For All class horses and his loss has been felt across the harness racing community. Born in 2007 at Rhyd Farm, north Wales, Rhyds Five Star was the third colt out of Tonda Star (Albert Albert) to be born in the UK, by John & Grethe Wright’s own stallion Hasty Hall. At public auction as a yearling he broke the then British sales record, selling for £24,000 to John Howard. The training and driving partnership chosen to nurture and develop Rhyds Five Star were Sheelagh and Michael ‘Mick’ Lord, who firstly broke him in and then guided him through his early qualifiers. These initial appearances did not indicate the level of success that would befall Five Star, however on his first start as a two year-old he finished second at Tir Prince. This would prove to be the springboard from which he launched arguably one of the most impressive juvenile campaigns seen in the UK. Rhyds Five Star went on to win the Will Cowan 2YO at Musselburgh, York 2YO, Breeders Crown 2YO Colts at York, BHRC National Pacing Futurity at York, Junior Welsh Dragon at Tregaron, and finally the Sire Stakes 2YO Colts Heat and Final at York in September. In 2010 he returned to the racetrack under the guidance of Sheelagh and Mick, and built upon the foundations laid in his two-year-old season, with the NESA 3YO Grass Championship at Staindrop being the first title added to an already impressive collection. The 3YO Derby Trial at Ffos Las followed, with Rhyds Five Star seeing off his closest rival by a staggering 10 lengths, and after that the victories kept coming. Fivestar went on to claim the York 3YO Championship Heat and Final, BHRC National Pacing Derby, Foster Care Associates 3YO, Corbiewood 3YO Derby Heat and Final, Musselburgh Scottish 3YO Derby, Hereford & Borders 3YO Colts and the Christopher Dunne 3YO Memorial Heat and Final in Ireland. At Tregaron in August in the Little Welsh Dragon he lost out slightly in the heat being placed fourth, but still qualified for the final and went on to win. He finished his 3yo year at York in September in the Sire Stakes where he was beaten into second in the heat, but a week later he was back to take the prize in the final. The only titles to elude Rhyds Five Star in his three-year-old campaign were the Breeders Crown and Appleby Grass Track Championship, however he never competed in either event. It was in this peak of form that he broke the two-minute barrier, clocking a time of 1.58.4 at York and setting his lifetime best of 1.57.7 in Annaghmore. Rhyds Five Star began the 2011 season at the top of the handicap system, a Grade 12 at four years of age. Only a handful of horses, if any, can claim to have attained such lofty heights at the end of their three-year-old season, but such was the success of Rhyds Five Star’s early career. Perhaps it was the sheer number of races in these early years which accounted for him only facing the starter five times in his four-year-old season, however yet again he returned to the winner’s enclosure, this time netting the Tregaron Senior Welsh Dragon early in the season and a heat of the York 4YO Championship. His other three appearances saw him finish outside the first four on only one occasion. In winning at Tregaron, Five Star became only the fourth horse in history to complete the hat-trick of ‘Dragons’ – the Junior, the Little and the Senior Welsh Dragons, and joined his half-brother Star’s Dragon (Dragon Again/Tonda Star), Rhyds Destiny (Hasty Hall/CPR) and Mattador Hall (Blissfull Hall/Matt’s Sunshine) in the history books. Stepping up to the Free For All ranks, Rhyds Five Star encountered his toughest opposition yet. Taking on the likes of Forafewdollarsmore (The Panderosa/Oh My Dear) and Stoneriggs Mystery (Village Jasper/Stoneriggs Quality) amongst other top class pacers, Five Star finished second in the Crock of Gold Final at Tir Prince and the FFA at Musselburgh. However, the horse knew better than most where the winning post was and returned to victory lane in the FFA at Pikehall and the BHRC European Pacing Classic. In 2013, Rhyds Five Star raced competitively, finishing second in the European Pacing Classic which he had added to his list of accolades the year before. Rhyds Five Star had amassed such great success whilst trained by Sheelagh Lord, however his owner made the decision to bring the horse home mid-season for his son, Samboy Howard, to train. With his usual pilot Mick on board, Five Star returned to Musselburgh as a 16/1 outsider in the Hazel Kemp Memorial FFA. They say a change is as good as a rest, and John Howard’s decision to let his young son train a horse that some would say had seen his best days paid off. His impressive victory at Musselburgh saw him surpass the £50,000 lifetime earnings mark, making him one of the highest earning Standardbreds in British history and only the second horse ever to do so. Furthermore, the victory saw him complete a treble that remains unmatched, winning the 2YO, 3YO and FFA at Musselburgh, one of the ‘big four’ meetings in the racing calendar. The victory at Musselburgh would be Rhyds Five Star’s last visit to the winner’s enclosure, missing the 2014 season. He had resumed training with the Howard stables for the 2015 season with a view to continue his successful career, however tragedy struck. Suffering from colic initially, Rhyds Five Star was taken to Liverpool University and had to undergo surgery. That all went well but he broke his leg in the recovery stall coming out of the anaesthetic and had to be put down. His full brother, Rhyds Mega Star, sold as a yearling at public auction in October of last year for a new British sales record of £51,000, being the first colt from the mare since Rhyds Five Star. His existence alone generated much hype both before and during the sale, and he will be closely watched throughout his career, no doubt with comparisons being drawn at every step of the way. Such was Rhyds Five Star’s dominance that he leaves a very hard act to follow. There have been, and no doubt will be, other horses with Five Star in their name; but for everybody in British and Irish harness racing, there will only ever be one Rhyds Five Star. By Sara Thomas, for Harnesslink.com

January 29, 2015 - The greatest German harness racing driver Heinz Wewering celebrated his 65th birthday last Sunday. The career driving winner of 16,761 races, Wewering was born in Recklinghausen in 1950 and went on to win eight German Derby’s (Noble Stardom 1981 Flight Pride 1983 Diamond Way 1985 Toppino 1987 Chergon 1990 Gringo 1997 Oscar Schindler Sl 2001 Unikum 2010), and was the European Championship Driver in 1993 and 1997. He also won the World Driving Championship in1998. Wewering won almost 300 Grand Prix events including with Diamond Way (Orsi Mangelli 1985), Campo Ass (European Championship and Citta 'di Montecatini 1993), Nuke it Linsay (European Championship, Citta' di Montecatini and V. Di Capua 1999) and Oscar Schindler Sl (Continental 2002). Next Sunday at Paris-Vincennes is the UET Masters Series 2015 Gr. I Prix de I’lle de France (monte, €200,000 purse, 2175 meters, 13 starters) with the field led by Roxane Griff, a winner now of €2,911,818. This will be her third straight Sunday start after winning the Prix de Cornulier and finishing sixth in the Prix d’Amerique, both of these at 2700 meters. Thomas H. Hicks  

There was a great sigh of relief tonight amongst harness racing followers when one of  the real good guys in our industry Blair Orange reined Change Time home in race two at Addington and in doing so became the twenty third New Zealand driver to crack the 1000 win mark. Blair had a run of bad luck at Blenheim last weekend but all that was forgotten tonight as Blair sent Change Time to the lead after 800 metres before trailing The Brigadier for the last lap and using the passing lane to sprint clear for a comfortable victory. A throng of family and well wishers applauded Blair as he brought the mare back to the winners circle tonight. Blair was his usual modest self as Harness Racing New Zealand.chairman Gary Allen made a presentation to mark Blair's achievement. Blair was full of praise and thanks for all the people who had helped him along the way. " For someone who doesn't come from a harness racing family, I can only thank the people who encouraged me and gave me a chance." "Tim Butt who I started with was never afraid to put me on when I was starting out and that helped get me established." "Mike Austin, Mark Purdon, Mark Jones and Andrew Stuart have all helped me throughout my career and I can't really thank them enough." "I am lucky enough to have a great wife in Lisa who stays at home looking after the kids while I am travelling all over the country." "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her support," Blair said. Harness racing is indeed fortunate that Blair chose this industry over his other great love Rugby League at which he was good enough to attract the interest of the Melbourne Storm . Harnesslink would like to join the rest of the industry in congratulating Blair on driving 1000 winners and for the manner in which he has done it. Harnesslink Media  

January 29, 2015 - Secret de Chenu (9g Kesaco Phedo - Liberte de Chenu) captured today’s Quinte+ Prix de Langeais (€88,000 purse, 2850 meters, 18 starters, Q+ jackpot €4.9 million) at Vincennes clocked in 1.15.1kr and reined by Alexandre Abrivard  at 21/1for harness racing trainer J-M Bazire. Bazire was second driving another trainee, Trophee de Jaba (8g Kesaco Phedo-Otika Vita, that was the 2.2/1 favorite despite a 25 meter handicap. Uppercut Orange (7m Jag de Bellouet-Mimi L’Abeille) was third at 5.8/1 for trainer/driver J.L.C. Dersoir. The Q+ exact order payoff is shown below:  Rapports (pour 2€) Tirelire 4.900.000 € - Numéro plus : 1210   Ordre :       10.800,00€   Désordre :       90,00€   Bonus 4 :       €   Bonus 4sur5 :       €   Bonus 3 :       €   Secret de Chenu It was quite a day for sire Kesaco Phedo, a 1998 son of Caballio in Blue, and winner of US$2,328,789. Often forgotten, this stallion was quite a racehorse, winning the Criterium des # ans, Prix d’Amerique, Prix de Bourgogne twice and the Criterium de Vitesse de la Cote d’Azur twice. The Prix de Feucherolles (€36,000 purse, 2175 meters, 15 starters five year-old females) went to Alexia (5f Prodigious - Ilexia) with Julien Dubois teaming for Philippe Moulin and Ecurie Victoria Dreams. The 7.3/1 odds easy winner scored in 1.13.9kr over 17/1 Alizea des Bordes (5f Korean-Koquine de Herce) and Alexandre Abrivard for owner/trainer J.E. David. The Mathieu Mottier driven Aube de la Nade (5f Oakwood du Closet-Luna Pop) was third at 5.6/1. The winner’s dam Ilexia (Cezio Josselym-Arazia-Fakir du Vivier) is also dam of Official Secret 1:56.3 mile rate, Quel Secret 1:57.3 and Pacha 1:58.2. Ave Avis (5m Kesaco Phedo-Magna Avis) was victorious in the Gr. III Prix de Verdun (€105,000 purse, 2700 meters, 13 starters). Clocked in 1.14kr the 2/1 favorite was handled by trainer J-M Bazire. Alienor de Godrel (5f Orlando Vici-Julietta) was second for trainer/driver Franck Anne at 6.5/1 and owner Ecurie AB Trot. Norway’s Lionel (5m Look de Star-Aurora Sign) was third at 3.8/1 for teamster Franck Nivard, trainer Fabrice Souloy and owner Goran Antonsen. The Prix des Chambery (€50,000 purse, 2700 meters, 18 European starters) resulted in victory for Tell Me No Lies (6g Offshore Dream-B Glorious) clocked in 1.15kr. The 9/1 outsider was driven by Franck Nivard for trainer Fabrice Souloy and owner KLV Holding AB. 19/1 Viking du Pilet (6g Kuodro Wild-Indra du Pilet) was second for Franck Ouvrie with third to 22/1 Vanquero Phedo (6g Le Retour-Imparable) and reinsman Damien Bonne. Thomas H. Hicks

Communicators Hall of Famer and long time North American stakes coordinator for the USTA, Carol Cramer, captured these magnificant photos of a herd of Standardbred yearling fillies frolocking in a snow storm. Carol's house is located adjacent to MIdland Acres in Ohio. She braved the snow storm to go out and take the photos. As you can see, one of the fillies did not mind the weather at all as she ends up rolling in the snow.  

The Pacific Fella stallion Artistic Fella has now reached the crossroads in his siring career in both hemispheres and he badly needs to lift his numbers or else harness racing breeders will quickly leave him on the shelf. North America Artistic Fella started well enough with his first crop in North America with the two year olds showing enough to suggest that they would be stakes horses at three. And while they were better it wasn't to the extent most had expected and his reputation took a bit of a hit. That first crop in North America numbered 98 foals and to date as early four year olds they have won $1,753,900. Fifty one have won with eight taking a sub 1:53 mark with the best winners to date being Porsche Seelster 1:54 ($168,144) and Regil Meg 1:53 ($119,298) The second crop numbered just 55 foals and raced in North America in 2014 as two year olds and to say they were very disappointing is being kind. The best performer from the second crop to date is Little Miss Artist 1:55.1 ($35,520) while the next best is Faithful Friend 1:55.2 ($16,905) To date thirteen of that crop have been winners and stakes earned total $179,973. The performance of the first crop meant his foal numbers have dropped even further in North America with this years two year olds numbering just 28, with his yearling crop also numbering just 28. Comment  Not a bad start but failed to kick on and is on borrowed time as far as his future as a sire goes. His second crop were poor last season and he badly needs a couple of flagbearers quickly or his days are numbered as a sire in North America. Australia In Australia Artistic Fella's first crop numbered just 80 foals and he started in good fashion. His flagbearer was the brilliant filly Mindarie Priddy 1:53.8 ($284,659) while others of note were Kimba Bay 1:57.5 ($118,490), Artistic Copper 1:59.1 ($99,807) and Majestic Amy 1:59.4 ($87,530) As of today that first crop has won $855,642 which is a reasonable start but the problem for Artistic Fella is only twenty two of that first crop have won a race as of today which equates to a percentage of winners to live foals of just 27.5% which is way off the pace of  todays leading sires. The second crop in Australia numbered just 56 which raced as two year olds last season. Again Artistic Fella was able to produce a high class individual in Artistic Flight 1:57 ($170,094) but again his numbers are not that flash. Half way through their three year old season, the winners to foal percentage is a very low 16.07% His second best horse from his second crop is Leonardos Son 2:07.3 ($15,490) and to date Artistic Fella has just nine winners from the fifty six foals who have earned a total of $273,920) to date. It is way to early to comment on this seasons two year olds but Artistic Fella has 67 two year olds and to date has had one winner in Sultan Fella 2:03.3 ($4520) Off the back of his good start with his first crop, Artistic Fella has his biggest crop on the ground as foals this season with 97 registered to date. Comment Has left a top horse from each of his first two crops in Australia and a few other handy horses from his first crop as well. His problem is well and truly his number of overall winners in relation to his number of foals. A winners to live foals percentage of just 27.5% from his first crop who are now half way through their four year old season is way short of what all his major competition are achieving and has to be lifted substantially or breeders will turn off the son of Pacific Fella. A winners to live foals percentage from his second crop of just 16.07% is further evidence that he badly needs to lift his overall numbers. New Zealand Has just six live foals which are two year olds this season. Overview Has done a better job in the Southern Hemisphere with a couple of outstanding youngsters but his overall numbers are very poor. Has shown he can leave that elite individual but it is all negated if his overall numbers don't compare to those of all his competitors. Needs to lift those numbers in the next twelve months or his future as a sire is in doubt in both hemispheres. Harnesslink Media

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WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 30, 2015 -- On their 2nd annual "Night of Champions," The Meadows Racetrack & Casino and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) honored locally based horsemen Dave Palone and Ron Burke, who have become two of harness racing's most celebrated champions. Burke, the sport's leading trainer for six consecutive years, in 2014 smashed his own record with more than $28.3 million in earnings. "It's pretty well documented that we're a family operation . . . I couldn't do it without any of them," Burke said. "There's a whole other crew that we consider just like family. Thank you, and let's make this year special." Palone, a harness Hall of Famer, in 2014 collected career victory 16,754, which made him the world's "winningest" harness racing driver. Noted equine artist Thomas Allen Pauley captured that historic moment in a painting; on Friday, he presented the work to Palone. Palone also accepted congratulations from Pennsylvania Rep. Brandon Neuman; Bill Paulos, principal of Cannery Casino Resorts, which owns The Meadows, and Phil Langley, president of the United States Trotting Association. Langley said he hopes to be present for Palone's 20,000th victory. When asked about that, Palone smiled but said emphatically, "No shot." Few in attendance, however, doubted the possibility. Before the ceremony, fans were able to meet the two champions and take away Palone- and Burke-themed premiums. The festivities also included presentation of awards to The Meadows' 2014 equine champions, as voted by MSOA members. Evan Pattak
WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 30, 2015 -- In her characteristic Silky Sullivan fashion, Macharoundtheclock rallied from sixth to capture Friday's $15,000 harness racing Filly & Mare Not Listed Preferred Pace at The Meadows. Macharoundtheclock followed the live cover of Novascotia Hanover into the final turn, then swung wide for Eric Ledford for the drive. She defeated 51-1 long shot Nutmegs Yankee by a neck in 1:55.1, with Doubelieveinmagic third. Tim Twaddle trains Macharoundtheclock, a 5-year-old daughter of Mach Three-Summers Soul who now boasts $395,577 in career earnings, for Birnam Wood Farms. Dave Palone piloted three winners on the 12-race card. Evan Pattak
The trotter that had stolen the show this winter at The Meadowlands had been conspicuous by his absence for the last four weeks. Melady's Monet had not been seen since winning the top-level trot on January 2nd. Harness racing trainer Kevin McDermott reported the gelding suffered a quarter crack and was given time to heal and freshen up. There was no evidence of any lingering affects of that quarter crack Friday night at The Meadowlands. Sent off as the 4/5 favorite, the Revenue S gelding was allowed to settle in last in the field of seven and remained there as the field rolled through tepid fractions of 28.2 and 57.1, established by Modest Prince. Still last turning for home through three-quarters of 1:25.1, Melady's Monet saw Lindy's Tru Grit, who he was tracking the outer flow go off-stride directly in front of him. That was no problem either as the Tim Tetrick driven trotter towered up and powered home through the stretch while Tetrick remained motionless at all times to win going away into extremely strong headwinds, completing the mile in 1:55.1. Take My Picture rallied to be second while Team Six raced well uncovered finishing third. Melady's Monet is trained by Kevin McDermott for Melady Enterprises LLC. The Dash For The "C" Notes for trotters returned Friday night at The Meadowlands as well, featuring six divisions, providing very competitive racing as only a win in your division guaranteed a spot in the $25,000 Final next week. The remaining four finalists are to be drawn by lot from the second place finishers in the six divisions. The divisional winners were Captain Primeau (1:57.3 - Pierce), Perfect Picture (1:57.3 - Pierce), My Muscleman (1:55.3 - B. Miller), Bluebird Kidsqueen (1:56.4 - Abbatiello), Rock Of Cashel (1:55.3 - Richardson) and Scorcher Hall (1:56 - A. Miller). The second place finishers were comprised of Walltocousins, Mr Fenwick, Grey Ice, Worth The Money As, Most Wanted Lindy and Lauderdale. Four of these six runner-up trotters will complete the field of 10 for the $25,000 "C" Note Final next week, with the four being drawn by lot. Both Jackpot Super Hi-5's went unclaimed, with the fifth race carryover at $4,611.57 and the last race carryover standing at $76,077.56. Racing resumes on Saturday with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali
LEBANON, OH. - Shine N Shimmer slid into town Friday night and captured the $16,500 Mares Open pace at Miami Valley Raceway in 1:52.3, just two-fifths of a second off the harness racing track record for aged pacing mares despite 26 degree temperatures and gusting winds. Driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr., the 2014 national dash champion, pushed the seven-year-old American Ideal mare right to the front when the wings folded and was able to maintain the lead through fractions of :27.3, :56.3 and 1:24.1. The winner, shipping in from the east coast where she earned $95,413 with eight wins in 2014, beat Igottafeelinfran (Dan Noble)-the winner of last year's Ohio Sires Stakes championship for older mares, making her first seasonal start-and Metro Shopping (Tyler Smith), who got the show dough. Jim Ellison trains now trains Shine N Shimmer for the partnership of Dandy Farms and Howard Taylor. She paid $8.80 to win. Earlier on the program the $8200 championship final of the "Claim To Fame" series for $5000 claiming trotters was contested. Upset winner was JW's Jasmine (Kyle Ater), who topped King Trut (Josh Sutton) and Pacific Wave K (Ken Holliday) at odds of 14-1. The winner got away third as Beauregret carved wicked trotting fractions of :27.2 and :56.1 to the half. Ater came first up headed to the three-quarters where his nine-year-old mare stuck a head in front in 1:25.4. Her :30.3 final panel was enough to garner the championship for the pride of the Baron Racing Stable and trainer George Anthrop. The Saturday night card at Miami Valley will feature a $14,500 Open Pace as well as the $20,000 championship leg of the "Claim To Fame" series for $12,500 horses and geldings. Miami Valley will also provide the only live harness racing action in the United States on Super Bowl Sunday with a 3:00 p.m. post time. The matinee program should wrap-up about a half hour before kickoff of the Patriots-Seahawks clash, which will be shown throughout the Miami Valley casino and bars on dozens of large-screen television monitors. Gregg Keidel
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