Sumatra, harness racing

Sumatra aims for Dexter Cup glory

Trainer Tom Fanning and owner Joe Smith did pretty well for themselves when they bought then-2-year-old trotter Possessed Fashion at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale's Mixed Sale and hope the same game plan produces winning results this year with Sumatra. Sumatra was purchased at the 2013 mixed sale in Harrisburg for $100,000 out of the stable of trainer Julie Miller. Last season, he won five of 11 starts - including the Standardbred Stakes and divisions of the Historic-Harriman Cup and Arden Downs - and earned $108,334. On Saturday, the colt trotter makes his debut for the Fanning Stable when he races in the $38,460 elimination for the Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway. The $115,370 Dexter Cup final, the first major stakes test on the road to August's $1.2 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands, is May 3. The top eight finishers from Saturday's nine-horse elimination advance to the Dexter Cup final. Sumatra, with Brian Sears listed to drive, will start the elim from post No. 3 and is 7-2 on the morning line. Well Built, from the stable of trainer Chris Ryder, is the 5-2 choice from post two with driver John Campbell. "We were looking for another trotter and we felt he was the best one," Fanning said about buying Sumatra. "I saw him every day here at Gaitway (Farm training center); I had watched him and watched him race and saw him a lot in the mornings. We put a price on him and we got him for what we expected." Possessed Fashion, who was purchased for $82,000 in 2012, has won four of 23 races and $243,030 since joining Fanning's stable. He has earned a check 21 times, including last year in the Matron Stakes, Beal Memorial and his elimination of the Hambletonian. "We had Possessed Fashion the year before; a similar situation, (age) 2 turning 3, and he worked out well," Fanning said. "We've had some luck buying 2-year-olds out of that sale." Sumatra prepped for the Dexter elim by winning two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, the most recent in 1:55 on April 12. "He didn't really impress me until his last qualifier," Fanning said. "He's not a particularly smooth-going horse; he's not a particularly good trainer. He gets a little hot and can be kind of a pain in the neck to be around. But in the race, he trots and he's focused. "His last qualifier he really showed some good speed. He really looked like he was going in the right direction." Andy Miller, who co-owned Sumatra prior to his sale, drove the colt in his qualifiers but was injured April 15 in an accident at Yonkers Raceway and is expected to be sidelined for six months. "That was kind of deflating because I really thought we were a good team; Andy, myself and the horse," Fanning said. "We look forward to seeing Andy back." Sumatra, a son of stallion Muscles Yankee out of the mare Lola Seelster, will have a full stakes schedule ahead of him. Following the Dexter, his slate is expected to include the Simpson Stakes at the Meadowlands, New Jersey Sire Stakes, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, Stanley Dancer Memorial, and Hambletonian. He also is eligible to the Breeders Crown and Matron. "I think he's going to be a big-track horse, so I'm looking forward to the Meadowlands races," Fanning said. "The (available purse) money is good. I think if you're smart where you place your horse and manage him right, take a couple of shots, I think we can make some good money with this horse." Following is the field in post position order for the Dexter Cup elimination, with listed drivers, trainers, and odds: 1. King City, David Miller, Jonas Czernyson, 6-1; 2. Well Built, John Campbell, Chris Ryder, 5-2; 3. Sumatra, Brian Sears, Tom Fanning, 7-2; 4. Consumer Rate, Daniel Dube, Rob Harmon, 10-1; 5. Sheer Action, Jeff Gregory, Ray Schnittker, 5-1; 6. Dave Briggs, Jimmy Takter, Jimmy Takter, 9-2; 7. Sarcastic Man, Ron Pierce, Gail Wrubel, 8-1; 8. Derby, Jordan Stratton, Ray Schnittker, 5-1; 9. Donato's Wish, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker, 5-1. *Sheer Action, Derby, and Donato's Wish are a three-horse entry. ** Donato's Wish will start from the second tier. Hambletonian eligible: King City, Well Built, Sumatra, Dave Briggs, Sarcastic Man. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

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Artistic in full "Flite" for rich APG Series

If there was an award for the best early season two-year-old then Artistic Flite would be leading the charge for Anton Golino and harness racing connections, but it won’t get any better for his rivals if the well-travelled horseman’s predictions are correct. After already snaring the Bathurst Gold Crown in tough fashion, his trainer is expecting improvement to come from the talented juvenile son of Artistic Fella. “He hasn’t put in a bad run, he’s pretty tough and I think every race he has won he’s sat outside the leader so he’s been pretty good from the start,” Golino said. “I think he will get better. By the end of the season you will see the best of him. “I don’t think he has ever really been wound up as far as I don’t do much with him in between runs so I can’t see why he won’t keep going.” And with the $322,000 APG final looming if he can navigate his way through Friday night’s semi-final, the challengers are lining up. Artistic Flite and Follow The Stars will renew acquaintances this week while Mach Doro will be lying in wait assuming he makes it through. “He was very good last start, he got into a little bit of trouble coming to the turn but he hit the front and I think he switched off a little. He came out of it super though,” Golino said.  “We’re going to have to try and get off the rail at some stage. I don’t give John any instructions though so whatever he chooses to do I’ll be fine with it.  “Ideally if we can make the final of the Gold and then bring him home for a little freshen up before the big races at the end of the season.” Artistic Flite, who also ran third in the Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial, has been rated the $4.50 second favourite by HRV form expert Jason Bonnington. Follow The Stars is the odds-on elect at $1.40 while Monivae is the only other horse in single figures at $6. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Australia

Paul Langille, harness racing

Maritimes Paul Langille studying and racing

While working on a series of writings involving horsemen in the harness racing industry in the Maritimes I learned two major things. One, everyone I spoke with has a can do attitude and secondly horsemen from the Maritimes definitely enjoy having fun with one another. Whether it's for bragging rights or shooting the breeze, the horsemen know how to keep it light while maintaining a professional attitude on the track. Paul Langille, 20, is referred to by veterans of the racing industry in the Maritimes as a good person with a lot of potential. Paul was great to talk with and he's a real interesting person such as aside from driving and training horses, he is going to school at Dalhousie University taking four courses a semester to earn a degree in Economics. "If I can get an education and things don't work out, I can always use my education to find work." Paul says. Paul's school campus is about 30 seconds away from the track according to Paul, "I am at the track more than I am at school. I had a good first semester so I am expecting to have a good second semester." A self proclaimed night owl, Paul admits he tends to stay up late to follow his favorite hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers. So catching an Oilers game on TV may lead to Paul staying up until 2am due to the time difference. "I cheer for the Oilers so I'm used to this, (not being in the playoffs)" says Paul with a laugh. "We haven't been in the playoffs for the last seven years or so. I got following the Oilers during their Cup run in '06. I watched them then and ever since. I follow their drafts and would be up til real late watching their games, dedicated for sure." "Hopefully one of these years they will make the playoffs... painful!" Paul says conveying a true fan's frustration. "In the playoffs I cheer for Pittsburgh because Crosby is from about an hour from me. He's huge here, but I went to the Mooseheads game last Friday in Halifax and there is a lot of MacKinnon (this past season's top pick overall, drafted by the Colorado Avalanche), jerseys. I think he might be just as big because he played his junior career in Halifax." Paul finished 3rd in the driving standings at Truro Raceway in 2013 behind veterans Ryan Ellis and Darren Crowe. 2013 was Paul's first full year as a driver. He did drive for a couple of months towards the end of the season in 2012 at Truro Raceway. "I had a big year given what my expectations were. Everything worked out and a lot of people gave me nice drives. I drove a couple in Stake races for Phil Pinkney and when you start driving in Stake races, you get more recognition." Paul explains. As to how Paul got into horse racing, he thanks his grandfather, Ralph Driscoll, for that. "When I was four or five I used to go and watch races with my grandfather. That's when I really got into, when I was eleven or twelve I got my first horse." Paul says. "It was a $2,000 horse but he raced pretty good and we had him in Phil Pinkney's barn." Asking Paul what got him so passionate about racing, he explains "I always thought the racing was neat. (My grandfather) showed me everything about the program from an early age. He'd ask me what horse I like in this race for example, and he'd pick out the advantages of who is driving and I always thought that was neat. "My grandfather would go and see Phil everyday and that's how I got connected to Phil." Paul says. "My grandfather and Phil would go on road trips together, like driving to stake races. Now I have horses here and Phil and I work together. "If I have any questions, I can ask (Phil) and he will tell me. It's more like paying attention to him cause he hints at stuff, like if you're training he'll say 'maybe if you do this, that will be better.' You really got to be paying attention cause he doesn't come right out and tell you what you should do, but that's what he wants you to do." Paul goes on to say, "Everything I learned comes from him for sure." Paul has been working for Phil for the last ten years, learning small things one step at a time. "We have about 5 horses at Phil's barn" explains Paul. "We jog 5 horses between Phil and myself" Paul notes. "Sounds like we have a big operation, but we don't." However it may appear to Paul that is still a lot of work for two guys. Paul's mom, Rosanne Driscoll used to work for Phil Pinkney as a groom and trainer, thus helping to open the door for Paul to be engaged with horses from a young age. Paul's dad, Dwayne Langille is recently retired from owning a tractor business in Nova Scotia. Now Paul's parents work together at their family farm with two broodmares and four yearlings. "My grandfather owned horses and that's how my mom got into the business" says Paul. "My dad owned one or two horses way back, but he ran his own business, a John Deere tractor company." Paul admits he's not an early riser, probably due to the fact he's up late cheering on the Oilers, but he has a strong work ethic. Looking after horses, including training, cleaning stalls, feeding and jogging combined with taking on economics at University and driving full time at Truro raceway definitely highlights a lot about his personality to be successful and to have a plan B just in case the inevitable were to happen. Paul demonstrates a lot of maturity for someone who is 20 years of age. "I won a Stake race in Summerside on Governors Plate Night on a 3-year-old colt named Go Ahead in 1:56 flat." Paul says about his biggest win to date. Paul's horse was up against a horse named Rev who Paul considered was one of the top two horses in the Maritimes. "It was a definitely a big accomplishment for me." At Truro Raceway, Paul, Ryan and Darren do like to rub it in when either one of them wins a race. It's all about having fun with the sport you love. "We have a good relationship" explains Paul. "Yesterday (Sunday), we were racing and I came in second to Darren in one race and he was having fun with me as we crossed the wire." "At the same time, if I ever have question, they would help me and answer the question. They are really good to me that way." Paul says. All joking aside, Ryan and Darren truly want to see Paul succeed, but they'll enjoy themselves along the way. If and when Paul has any free time, Paul enjoys playing golf and considers himself to be good at it, "but on the easier courses" Paul says while laughing. That's another great thing I noticed about Paul, he enjoys laughing and his upbeat demeanor is inspiring. If Paul continues to put in the quality work he has up to now, you can only imagine how well he will be doing ten years from now, even five years from now. Hard work always pays off and hard work is something Paul embraces. Paul dreams to race at tracks such as Woodbine Racetrack, Mohawk Racetrack and the Meadowlands. "That would be awesome, that's the top of the class and hopefully one day I can race there." Paul says. There is reason to believe Paul will be racing at premiere tracks sometime soon. One step at a time and Paul's parents support all of his decisions from school to harness racing. By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com  Twitter: ScSupernova      

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M'lands Championship meet headed by Hambo

East Rutherford, NJ - The 2014 Championship Meet at The Meadowlands will offer over $9 Million in harness racing purses for its stakes races, headlined by the $1.2 Million Hambletonian on Saturday August 2nd. Carrying a $1.2 Million total purse, The Hambletonian is the richest Standardbred race in North America and will be the first jewel of the trotting triple crown in 2014. Hambletonian Day will also include a wide array of other stakes races, with total purses for the day being approximately $3.5 Million, the richest day of racing in the state of New Jersey. The Hambletonian program will also include The Hambletonian Oaks, John Cashman Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle, Lady Liberty and more. "Hambletonian Day is always the greatest day of racing for our sport each year and we are thrilled to be the home of such a historic event," said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali. "It is an event like the Super Bowl for us, where as soon as Hambletonian Day is over, we begin working on the next one." This year's Hambletonian will be the first in the new $100 Million Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment facility. "We are excited to give The Hambletonian a brand new, state of the art facility to call home," said General Manager Jason Settlemoir. "The experience for our customers will be better than ever, with more activities and a wide array of options for our customers to enjoy the day how they want, from fine dining, a gorgeous sports bar, skyboxes, a rooftop terrace and The Backyard which will be an enhanced version of the old paddock park. In addition, the day is sure to have a more intimate connection to the racing than ever before, as we have been feeling that energy all season long here at The Meadowlands." Post time for The Hambletonian Day program is scheduled for 12:00 P.M. The Meadowlands signature event, The Meadowlands Pace will take place on Saturday July 12th. Thanks to proactive changes made to the payment structure of the race, The Meadowlands Pace is showing promising growth through the sustaining payments and will carry a purse of an estimated $750,000 for the 2014 edition. "We worked very hard on improving The Meadowlands Pace," said Zoccali. "We implemented an altered payment structure which will continue to evolve going forward and we are already seeing the results through the sustaining payments. This year's Meadowlands Pace is trending toward a substantial increase in the purse for the Final over 2013." The Meadowlands Pace program will also offer a huge card of racing, including such races as The Mistletoe Shalee, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Del Miller Memorial, William Haughton Memorial, The Golden Girls, The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for two year olds and more, producing a near $3 Million night of stakes action. Meadowlands Pace Night will feature a special start time of 6:30 P.M. New to the 2014 Stakes Calendar is The $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity for four year old trotters, to be contested at 1 1/8th Miles on Saturday July 5th which is Meadowlands Pace Elimination night. A maximum of 16 horses will be on the gate for the $400,000 event. "This is a unique event," added Zoccali. "It would be great to see upwards of 12 or 13 horses entered as the race would have a European-style feel to it and I think is something we will all enjoy. It also provides a major race for the four year old trotters to target as their stakes season kicks off." Other major events are the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, to take place on Saturday May 17th and will coincide with Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night. The New Jersey Sire Stakes Championships for three year olds will be on Saturday May 31st and The Meadowlands Maturity Pace on Friday June 13th, which is likely to mark the 2014 debut of Captaintreacherous, the 2013 Pacer of the Year. While not a part of the summer Championship Meet, The Breeders Crown makes its return to The Meadowlands in the fall, with the Finals taking place over two championship nights of racing, Friday November 21st and Saturday November 22nd. The standardbred stakes season will end the following Saturday night, November 29th, with the second annual $1 Million TVG Free For All Championships. The 2014 Meadowlands stakes program will offer an estimated $16 Million in purses and the full stakes schedule can be found at http://meadowlandsracetrack.com/uploadedfiles/2014_Meadowlands_Stakes_Schedule.pdf. by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands  

Over the course of the last half-century there have been several aged trotting mares with North American roots whom were able to dominated their peer group, and in some cases their male counterparts as well, for an extended period. They are Moni Maker, Peace Corps, Delmonica Hanover, Fresh Yankee, Grades Singing, Scenic Regal and Buck I St Pat. Une de Mai and Roquepine were great mares, and both experienced success on this side of the Atlantic, but they were European. Fresh Yankee was the first of these mares to grace our presence, and she also lasted the longest, racing until age nine and winning 89 of 191 starts—an astonishing 47%. The story of Sanders Russell plucking Fresh Yankee from the 1964 Harrisburg yearling sale for $900 is familiar to most, but her journey from obscurity to stardom is less well known. She won four times, earning less than $8,000 at two; stepping up to eleven wins and earnings of almost $47,000 during her sophomore campaign, the highlight of which was a win over the Trotter of the Year and Hambletonian winner, Kerry Way, at the Red Mile. It was in her aged form that the Hickory Pride mare made her mark, but success didn’t come easily as she only beat the Metropolitan New York open trotters once at four, and for the only time in her career, speed was privileged over her ability to win races and money. A 1:57.1 time trial mark at Lexington for Ralph Baldwin established her as a world champion. It was during the next five years, from age five to nine, that the world class mare proved her greatness. Joe O’Brien had taken over the training and driving duties and at age five and six she won 23 races, including the Elitlopp, Challenge Match, American Trotting Classic, Pacific and Gotham—she was an Amazon from coast to coast. Fresh Yankee was awarded Canadian  Aged Trotter of the Year status in 1968 and was voted Horse of the Year in the USA in 1970, at age seven, accruing more than twice as many votes as Pacer of the Year, Most Happy Fella. She won 20 of 31 starts and finished second in the other nine. In the spring of that year O’Brien took Duncan MacDonald’s mare to Munich, Germany where she won the Grand Prix of Bavaria over expatriates Dart Hanover and Lindy’s Pride. And before returning to the states the mare took a heat of the Elitlopp. That summer she beat the formidable Euro Tidalium Pelo in the $125,000 Roosevelt International, and rocked his world again the following week in the $30,000 Roquepine Trot. The ten-year-old gelding Earl Laird was third for Jimmy Cruise. In September the mare was sent away as the 4/5 favorite in the $50,000 Gotham Trot at Yonkers but came up a half-length short to Dayan. Une de Mai was third. And in October Fresh Yankee beat the geriatric tandem Grandpa Jim and Earl Laird in the Galophone at Yonkers. It was her seventeenth win of the year and she had not finished back of second in 26 starts. The mare had won races in four different countries and was voted Horse of the Year. In 1971, as an eight-year-old, Fresh Yankee beat Dayan in the Star’s Pride at Yonkers in June, tying the track record in the process. At that point she had finished first or second in 51 consecutive races and trailed only Une de Mai, Roquepine, Cardigan Bay and Bret Hanover in earnings. Still, the brilliant but unpredictable Dayan was to Fresh Yankee what Adios Vic was to Bret Hanover or the Tar Heel brothers, Nansemond and Isle Of Wight, were to Albatross. He was the same sort of pest Songcan was to Super Bowl. The week after the Star’s Pride, Dayan scratched lame out of the Volomite and more than 25,000 watched the mare cruise to victory, paying a miserly $2.40. Dayan broke in the Speedy Rodney Trot at Yonkers a few weeks later and the mare won for the ninth time in thirteen starts, paying a generous $4.20. She was favored to repeat in the International but Une de Mai prevailed by a nose, after being parked the mile out of the eight post.  All was not lost, as runner up Fresh Yankee did pass the million dollar mark in career earnings. In the fall the mare set a world record for a mile and a quarter in Brandywine’s Star’s Pride Trot and went on to win a PASS race before losing to Cathy Lee—three years her junior—in the Trader Horn at Yonkers.  Fresh Yankee, who had won five in a row, was sent off at 2/5 from the eight post and dispatched almost $82,000 of the people’s money down a black hole. And the following week, when Dayan beat her in the Porterhouse, $86,000 was lost, as the eight-year-old was sent away at 2/5 once more. She finished the season by trading wins with Marlu Pride at Hollywood Park. He took the $50,000 Pacific Trot but the mare won the big one—the $100,000 American Trotting Classic. At age nine Fresh Yankee won 12 times. Her owner questioned Joe O’Brien’s driving tactics in the International and decided to drive her himself the following week in the $150,000 Challenge Match against Speedy Crown and Une de Mai. Howard Beissinger sat back and allowed MacDonald to do himself in as he took his mare to the mile much too fast, allowing Speedy Crown to blow by her in the last quarter. Fresh Yankee was retired at the end of October, second only to Une de Mai in earnings. She is a Hall of Fame Immortal and a member of the Canadian Hall of Fame.  Beissinger stated that Speedy Crown’s greatness was couched in the fact that he was unfailingly consistent at a very high level, and never made a break training or racing. One could say the same about Fresh Yankee. Peace Corps won more than forty stakes races and was Horse of the Year twice in Sweden in her aged form; Moni Maker earned well over five million dollars and was Horse of the Year twice in the U.S.; Delmonica Hanover won her division four times, was a two-time winner of the Roosevelt International and the first American owned winner of the Prix d’Amerique; but no US bred and North American based trotting mare of the last half-century has performed to the level of Fresh Yankee through age nine. Her 89 wins, most of them against the best of the boys, on all size tracks, don’t place her above the others but they do set her apart. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

From Norway, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Italy, most every state and provience in the USA and Canada, Europe to South America, names for the harness racing Standardbred filly by Somebeachsomewhere from the mare, Put On A Show, are flying in from around the world. It is not too late for anyone who has yet to enter the contest to get their name choice submitted to try and win the $2,500 cash prize in Harnesslink’s “Name the Foal Contest.” So far nearly 600 names have been submitted for the foal. Her caretakers at Hanover Shoe Farms say, “She is a bold and brassy filly who has a mind of her own. She is very playful but never strays too far from her mother’s side.” There are new photos and also a video of the filly with this story so you can check her out while coming up with the prize winning name. The prize money has been sponsored by the owners of Put On A Show, Richard and Joanne Young of Florida, along with the Somebeachsomewhere Syndicate and Hanover Shoe Farms in Hanover, PA. There is no purchase necessary to enter the contest. You must be age 18 or older and a legal resident of the country you live in. All entries must be submitted in English. Just click on the link below and fill out all the required information. The name cannot be more than 18 letters and/or spaces combined per the rules of the United States Trotting Association (USTA). Any name that has been used in the past 15 years cannot be entered. You can check on your name suggestion to make sure it has not yet been used by going to the free service at the USTA by clicking this link http://pathway.ustrotting.com/search/. Just type in the name of the horse and click. You will then see if the name is already being used. Contestants have until midnight on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 to enter the contest. Contestants are allowed to enter only one name for the foal per email address and only one winner will be allowed per household. Within one week after the deadline date, owners Richard and Joanne Young will select up to five (5) approved names for the foal. They will draw by lot to declare the official name of the foal. If there is only one person that submitted the winning name, that contestant will be declared the official prize winner and receive the entire $2,500. If there are four (4) entries or less with the same name, there will be a drawing in descending order with those entrants dividing $1,000 evenly and the final name drawn being the ultimate winner and get $1,500. If there are more than 5 entries of the same name, all those entries will be placed in a drawing and the first four (4) names drawn will receive $250.each and the final name drawn will receive $1,500. To enter the “Name the Foal Contest” click on this link. The official rules for the competition (in detail) can be obtained by clicking on this link. Please take a moment and read the official rules so you are familiar with the regulations. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Do you have a son or daughter who enjoys harness racing as much as you do? Or perhaps you have the horse racing bug and would love to consider a career in the industry? Then look no further than the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program (RTIP). Established in 1974, this Bachelor of Science degree program offers two different paths of study.  One prepares students for the business side of the industry, which includes careers in track management, regulation and pari-mutuel operations.  The other path is designed for students interested in working more directly with the horses and prepares them for careers in racing, training and bloodstock enterprises. The RTIP focuses both paths on quality education, emphasizing integrity and professionalism; the program offers personal mentoring and professional development opportunities and utilizes its deep ties to alumni working in the industry. While at the program, students gain invaluable hands-on experience through internships and create a network of industry professionals through their interaction with speakers brought to campus during each semester to lecture in the classroom. The most recent “guest professor” was Rachel Ryan, the Meadowlands’ head of public relations. The “who’s who” of the racing business who gather in Tucson each December for the Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming (hosted by the RTIP) are also a great resource for the students. One of the most important industry gatherings in the racing industry, the Symposium attracts experts and officials from throughout the world, bringing them right to the student’s doorstep. What is most impressive is the list of graduates who have gone on to great positions working in the harness racing industry including Peter Koch, race secretary at the Meadowlands; Barry Brown, director of racing operations at Harrah’s Philadelphia and Heather Belmonte, executive assistant at the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. And on faculty at the RTIP is none other than Hall of Famer Dean Hoffman, former head of Hoof Beats at the USTA! Graduates from the Thoroughbred side of the roster include top trainers Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher; Martin Panza, senior VP of racing operations at New York Racing Association; Thomas Ventura, president, Ocala Breeders' Sales Company; Peter Rotondo, VP – television, Breeders' Cup Limited and Jim Kostas, president, Daily Racing Form. The school’s rate for job placement within the industry is nearly flawless. This reporter can vouch for that having hired a graduate during my racetrack management days and working with numerous graduates over the years. Check out their website as it is full of information about the program, alumni, special services, grants, scholarships and more. The site is at http://ua-rtip.org/. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Olympiatravet, or the Olympia Trot is the first Group One of the new season for harness racing in Sweden and befitting its history it has drawn a stellar field of Scandinavian trotters. The UET Masters Series race, which has been a fixture at Aby since 1984 is worth 1.5 million SEK (330 000 euros) and is raced over two laps, or 2140m. This is a race whose alumni present a creme de la creme of European racing. Last year's winner was none other than Prix d'Amerique winner Maharajah, while the two previous winners were both Elitloppet winners, Commander Crowe and Brioni. The greatest trotter of all time Varenne won the race twice (2000 and 2002), while US champions who have had a marked impact on the breed in Europe such as Pershing (1979) and Sugarcane Hanover (1988) have etched the name on the honour roll. And a Swedish horse who has repaid some of that debt and influenced modern North American breeding, Meadow Road (the sire of Kadabra), also won the race, back in 1985. A US stallion Texas, is joint top sire with three individual winners in Grades Singing (1987), Karate Chop (1991) and dual winner Copiad (1996-7). Italian-bred but of pure US bloodlines, and the most influential sire of the millennium in Sweden, Viking Kronos also has three winners including Maharajah (who holds the record with 1.11.0 (1.54.1MR)), with stallion sons Triton Sund (2009) and Thai Thanic (2006). Swedish star Gidde Palema with 3 wins in a row from 2003 has won the race more times than any other although four horses have won it twice. Leading the trainers and drivers' honours are legendary horseman Stig Johansson and an addition to US ranks, champion mentor Ake Svanstedt, who have both trained four winners of the race, who by virtue of driving their charges each time, both also top the drivers honours with four. Stig Johansson is back again this year with Kash's Cantab (by Cantab Hall), although he leaves the driving these days to Erik Adielson. Svanstedt of course is busy with Sebastien K, who ran third in this race last year, and the rest of his team ready for a campaign in the States at his Florida base. But there is certainly plenty of stars left in Europe to provide a stellar lineup. How about last year's Elitloppet winner Sanity? Check. This year's Prix de France winner (the biggest race in France over the same distance) Noras Bean? Check. The best horses in Norway (Yarrah Boko ) and Finland (Brad de Veluwe)? Check. Raja Mirchi, who won the top races in Sweden for both 2YO and 3YO and also won this year's Prix Tenor de Baune in France, is also in the lineup. Throw in the in form V75 stalwarts Mr Picolet, Harry Haythrow and Ed You, and the stage is set for a super showdown. OLYMPIATRAVET Abby 26/04/14 SE UET Masters Series Group I Int 2 140 All 330,000 euros 1         Kash's Cantab h   Cantab Hall - O'cala Kash   Erik Adielsson   Stig H Johansson      2         Ed You v   Love You - Lancia Brick   Robert Bergh   Robert Bergh            3         Mr Picolit h   Scarlet Knight - Good Enough   Jorma Kontio   Raoul Engblom            4         Brad de Veluwe h   Andover Hall - Amazing Ride   Tuomas Korvenoja   Tuomas Korvenoja      5         Raja Mirchi h   Viking Kronos - Dame Lavec   Lutfi Kolgjini   Lutfi Kolgjini          6         Solvato h   Donato Hanover - Solveig   Veijo Heiskanen   Veijo Heiskanen     7         Sanity v   Love You - Flash Light   Örjan Kihlström   Malin Löfgren     8         Yarrah Boko h   Coktail Jet - Big Blue Kitten   Ulf Ohlsson   Trond Anderssen        9         Harry Haythrow v   Rite On Line - Speedy Tilda   Peter Untersteiner   Johnny Johansson     10         Noras Bean h   Super Arnie - Easy Bean   Stefan Söderkvist   Ulf Stenströmer   by David Sanders, for Harnesslink.com

‘‘A BLIND man can see what’s happening, we’re running out of horses.’’ With that stark statement, North Auckland trainer Ray Green issued a warning that unless Harness Racing New Zealand got off its hands and did something to address the problem, the game would quickly die. Green went on the attack this week with the revelation that the number of mares served was down another 6.6% and for the first time in decades New Zealand’s foal crop will dip below 2000. Alarmingly, the number of mares bred is down to 2832, a drop of 28% on 10 years ago. And Green says that’s all down to the wonderful policy HRNZ had adopted to arrest the decline - ‘‘it’s called let’s do nothing.’’ ‘‘Breeders are quite rightly getting pissed off - the owners aren’t there to buy their horses any more because the costs are too high and stakes too low. And HRNZ is the enemy because it has done nothing to counter that.’’ Green, trainer for the powerful Lincoln Farms operation, said they had recently sold talented pacers Medley Moose, Hawkeye Bromac and Imhisdaughter to Australia because it made no sense to keep racing them here. ‘‘Medley Moose is a beautiful horse, I would love to have kept him, but we had a good offer for him and it would have been hard to win that sort of money here. The handicapping system is such that with one more win he would have been up against Terror To Love. You just have to sell them.’’ Green said owners are continually weighing up whether to take a punt and keep their horse or to sell them. ‘‘If an owner thinks his horse can win two more races, and perhaps another $10,000, if an Australian wants to give him $50,000 for his horse, it’s a no-brainer. ‘‘The Auckland Trotting Club, struggling to fill its fields, is offering higher stakes, hoping people will retain their horses. But horses will still be handicapped out of it too quickly and people will still want to sell them.’’ Green cited the case of a two-year-old in his stable who had won three races.‘‘He’s a c2 but if he wins another race over $15,000 he’ll start next year as a c3 horse and to get a run he’ll have to go in standing starts and have Besotted, our c9 horse, breathing down his neck.’’ Crazily, Besotted, who has never won a race over $15,000, is still rated an M0 in Australia and could go to Sydney and win two or three races really quickly. ‘‘They need to create more opportunities for horses to be viable here if they want to keep them. But people will not wait forever. Like cars, horses depreciate as they get older, and the more a horse wins here, the less it is worth over there. ‘‘The game’s going to die unless something is done but  the powers that be don’t seem to be interested.’’ HRNZ chief executive Edward Rennell said Green was completely wrong to say nothing was being done to solve the problem but there was no silver bullet. ‘‘Yes, the number being bred is of concern but what is encouraging is the wastage factor is less.’’ Rennell said the breeding decline was a worldwide problem. In Australia, standardbred breeding numbers dropped by 33% in the last 10 years and by 47% in North America, according to a report it commissioned from the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders’ Association. The thoroughbred code faced the same issue, he said. Rennell said while the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club had introduced a breeders’ bonus - in the last three months 34 $500 bonuses have been paid out to breeders of tote race winners at Addington - HRNZ did not agree that all stake payouts should incorporate the same bonus, a French initiative being promoted by Studholme Bloodstock’s Brian West. ‘‘There is a limited pool of funds and if you pay some of that to the breeders that’s less that goes to the owners,’’ Rennell said. ‘‘And we are trying to make ownership more attractive and viable.’’ Rennell said HRNZ had increased the minimum stake to $5000 this season and stakes were up overall by 6%. It would be examining whether to increase the $80 payout to every starter. HRNZ was also looking at reducing the number of races next season by 2%. In the 2005-06 season, 2435 races were run while that number rose to 2743 last year, putting more strain on field sizes. Discussions were also underway with the Sires’ Stakes Board, the breeders and two principal clubs on whether changes were needed to age group and premier racing. ‘‘But we think that the changes to the handicapping system are working because field sizes are up from 10.4 starters per race to 10.6.’’ While that might not sound much, it was a significant improvement when it covered 2700 races. Rennell said the handicapping sub-committee was meeting next week to review the performance of the new system and its age group concessions and would make a recommendation on whether it thought the drop back provision should be reduced from 10 starts. The challenge for HRNZ was not only to get more horses to the races but to better use the horse population – if every horse raced just once more in a season, field sizes could be maintained. Rennell said the number of horses sold to Australia was actually down on previous years. ‘‘It averages around 850 a season but that’s down 50-100 because of the new import levy.’’  Overall, exports were similar with about 100 sent to China. WASTAGE COSTS BREEDERS $11 MILLION HALF OF all the standardbred horses we breed never get to the races. And that disturbing fact, rather than the continuing decline in numbers, will be the immediate focus for the industry’s main breeding body. The annual cost to breeders of the high level of wastage is put at $11 million in a paper by Kiely Buttell, executive manager of the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Association. ‘‘At an average service fee of $6000, plus vet costs, stud handling fees and agistment charges of a further $1500, the annual (wastage) cost to breeders is $11 million.’’  While figures show the percentage of the foal crop wasted dropped from 61% in 1995 to 53% in 2005, Buttell says the continuing high level is a major conern. ‘‘There will always be a percentage of the foal crop that is born with defects, die at an early age or suffer accidents that will impinge on their racing viability. ‘‘But we need to understand the percentage of horses that are deemed unviable for non injury related reasons and identify solutions to address this.’’ The NZSBA would also be focussing on conception rates. Only 71% of mares served in the latest breeding season were confirmed in foal, a figure which has been static in the last 20 years despite improvements in artificial insemination in other breeds. "Serving a mare three times and not getting her into foal is a massive cost to breeders.’’ Buttell said the association had engaged Palmerston North trainer and equine researcher Jasmine Tanner to scope a research project to investigate the quality parameters of chilled standardbred semen in New Zealand in order to improve conception rates in mares and increase the economic viability for broodmare owners. Funding would be sought from the NZ Equine Research Foundation but the industry might have to foot some of the bill itself, she said. Evidence suggested it was the smaller hobby breeder who was exiting the game, citing rising breeding costs along with declining stakes. That was a problem when breeders here raced 50% of horses. BARRY LICHTER Courtesy of the Sunday Star Times

It’s fair to say yesterday’s meeting at Hamilton was a family affair. The first race was won by Glen Craven aboard his aunties horse Salute Branch, before his brother Matthew (Craven) took over and won the next four in a row. Matt also finished second in a further three races on the eight race card. “It’s probably my best day ever as far as wins go,” enthused Matthew Craven. “I’ve won four races at Mount Gambier and Horsham before but I have never finished so many seconds as well,” he added. Craven’s four victories were for four different trainers. “The first race that I won on the card was for a fella (P Ralph), who I have known for a long time that doesn’t train many horses. So it was great to win a race for him as he is a top bloke,” said Craven. “And my other three victorious were all for trainers that have supported me a lot in the past, he added. But it didn’t stop their either as Matthew’s brother Glen was successful again in a later race, while his cousin Jason Lee also made a trip to the winners circle, giving the family seven wins out of just eight races. “Gavin Lang spoiled the party and beat me in the last race,” quipped Craven, who could have just as easily won five races on the card. “I had the option to drive Citysneak, but I gave the drive up to Glen (Craven) so I could drive I Wantano and he beat me a half-head the buggar,” laughed Craven. “But overall it was a great day for the whole family. There is no doubt about that,” he concluded.   By Mitchell Robertson

Perfect Alliance kept her record spotless in 2014 by coasting to victory in the $30,000 final of the Bobby Weiss late closer series for three and four-year-old trotting fillies on Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Perfect Alliance (Credit Winner-Yalta Hanover) came into the final with eight straight victories, including three preliminary wins in the Weiss, to start the season. Leaving from post position #6 in a field of seven as the 1-9 favorite, the 4-year-old mare from the Julie Miller barn sat second at the quarter but quickly sped by Dough Dough on the front stretch to take the lead. Driver Yannick Gingras had to do little coaxing from that point as Perfect Alliance confidently trotted home 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Dough Dough in 1:53:3. Clementine Dream finished third. Perfect Alliance now has nine wins in nine races this year. She has 11 wins in her career and her lifetime earnings now stand at $165,001. The Weekly Awards take a hiatus for this week as we stop to focus on the finals of the Bobby Weiss late closer series, which took place the past three racing nights. For those who have been paying attention to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in the first month of the season, you’ve likely noticed the preliminary Weiss races sprinkled through each night’s card, a chance for younger horses to go head-to-head for solid purses. The big attraction of the preliminary legs was the opportunity for the combatants to earn enough points to reach the finals, each of which carried a purse of $30,000. That’s a pretty penny for horses early in the season, so it makes sense that some top-notch talent arrived at Pocono at the start of the season for the series named after our longtime track superintendent. Over the past four weeks, we’ve had the chance to see some budding stars establish themselves in the preliminaries. But who would step up and capture the big-money finals? Read on and find out. 3 & 4yo Pacing Colts & Stallions The first of the four finals, held on Saturday night in excellent racing conditions, featured the most wide-open division. The wins in the preliminaries were divided pretty evenly. Only Getitoffyourchest managed three preliminary wins, and he finished seventh in his final leg. One horse in the final group of nine seemed to be peaking, but he was saddled with a brutal #9 post. Yet A Stitch in Time, driven by George Napolitano Jr. for the Lou Pena barn, didn’t seem to mind. The 4-year-old gelding hustled to the front end, set unconscious fractions, and still was burning it up in the lane. A Stitch In Time ended up comfortably in front by 1 ¾ lengths and set a career-best time of 1:48:3, proving that when a great horse in on his game, even an outside post can’t deter him. 3 & 4yo Pacing Fillies and Mares Envious Hanover came into the final with three wins in four preliminary legs. With the inside post, she was made the 3-2 favorite. But Prima Dragon, who had won her previous two starts, including a victory in 1:52:1 that represented the fastest winning time achieved in this group in the preliminaries, left right alongside of Envious Hanover, setting up an inevitable showdown. The difference was in the trip. While Envious Hanover did the work on the lead and had to fight off outside pressure, Prima Dragon sat the pocket trip to save energy. In the stretch, she uncorked her best move in the passing lane to beat the favorite by a 1 ¼ lengths in 1:52:1. Brett Miller did the driving for trainer Michael Dowdall, as Prima Dragon won the tightest of the four Finals. 3 & 4yo Trotting Colts & Stallions Each time Ray Hall lined up for a Weiss race, he was made an odds-on favorite. And each time, he delivered on that promise with Tim Tetrick in the bike. Still, this final was far from a foregone conclusion, or at least it seemed so after Time To Quit battled Ray Hall to the end in the last preliminary, losing by only a neck. The final on Tuesday had the potential to be a donnybrook. Instead, Ray Hall was completely dominant. The four-year-old gelding from the Mark Harder barn had the lead by the first turn and controlled matters from that point, once again with Tetrick doing the driving. In the stretch, he kicked away from his listing foes to win by 2 ¾ lengths, adding the exclamation point with a career-best mile of 1:53:2. That made him the only horse to complete a sweep of all four legs and the final. 3 & 4yo Trotting Fillies & Mares In many ways, this race was over once the entries were set. In the preliminaries, Perfect Alliance and Take The Money, a pair of standout mares from the Julie Miller barn, went a combined six-for-six, winning all of those races with ease. Once it was determined that Take The Money would sit this one out, Perfect Alliance immediately became the prohibitive favorite. Of course, anything can happen in a harness race, but this final always had the feel of a foregone conclusion. Sure enough, with Yannick Gingras doing the driving, Perfect Alliance handled the field without any problems. Her win in 1:53:3 by 1 ¼ lengths gave her nine consecutive victories to start the season, including five at The Meadowlands and four at Pocono. Living up to her name, she made for the perfect way to conclude the Bobby Weiss series for 2014. That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com by Jim Beviglia, for Pocono Downs      

The secret is out. Kayla Grace has quietly gone undefeated in 15 lifetime starts, racing under the radar in Michigan.   This Friday she will step onto the big stage in the first major stakes race of the season for three-year-old fillies, the $110,000 Courageous Lady at Northfield Park. She was supplemented at the last minute for $10,000 and stands as the morning line 3-1 favorite.   Kayla Grace is owned by long-time Michigan owners Ed and Cheryl Sayfie of Rockford, Michigan.  She was named for their two-year-old granddaughter. Kayla Grace is trained by renowned Michigan trainer Marie St. Charles. She will be driven on Friday by her regular driver, Brad Kramer.   Kayla Grace comes into the event with 15 wins, all in the state of Michigan. Most of the victories have been in Michigan Sire Stakes races. She was named Michigan's Two-Year-old Filly of the Year for 2013. Kayla Grace was the winningest  two-year-old filly in North America going 12-for-12 and banking $62,277.   Kayla's Grace was bought by partners Ed and Cheryl Mayfie and Marie St. Charles and her husband Kevin at a private horse sale. She was purchased for the now bargain price of $10,000.   "We took her to Hazel Park and schooled her once behind the gate," said her trainer, Marie St. Charles. "She acted like she went from kindergarten to college. We raced her in the Michigan Fair Circuit at the start, and she started beating everyone she faced. She is a nice little filly who loves to race.   "She is definitely one of the better fillies I ever trained," said St. Charles. "I trained Doc's Hope for Andrew Roberts. She was an awesome mare. We went in 1:50 with her at Woodbine. I don't know if Kayla Grace can fit in her category or not. We raced Kayla mostly at the fairs and Doc's raced mostly at the big tracks.    "We are going to learn a lot about this filly on Friday," said St. Charles. "I am either going to go home with a smile or wonder why I supplemented her for $10,000. We don't know where the bottom is since she has was won her races by so many lengths. The one thing I got going for me is she knows how to win. It's just an honor to be in a race like this.   "She has raced mostly on the front end to stay out of trouble," added St. Charles.  "She can race anyway. Kayla can race from behind. You don't teach a horse anything racing on the front. This will be a test. She is going to be in with top horses who know how to race. We can only wish for the best.   "Brad Kramer is going to drive the horse," explained St. Charles. "Brad was not going to go to Northfield, but now he is. I was going to put Ronnie Wrenn Jr. on to drive. Brad changed his mind. I love Ronnie but I am happier that Brad is driving the horse. Brad knows the horse and this makes it better for me."   "The owner, Ed Sayfie, and myself have been partners on many horses in the past," said Kramer. "These are the people who owned Admirals Express. I have been partners with them for twenty years.. I talked to Ed and decided to go.   "She is a very talented horse," said Kramer. "I didn't know how she stood as a really good horse until recently. The last couple of starts at Hazel Park she has done what real good horses do. She can leave hard, relax in the middle, and have an even faster quarter at the end. It takes a very special horse to be able to do that. Two starts back she really impressed me. She went a really big mile and still came home in 27.3 into a very strong headwind.   "She has raced mostly on the front end to stay out of trouble," explained Kramer. "Kayla raced from behind her very first start. She comes off the helmet so much better than she races on the front. When she gets in with better quality and she can follow, this will be a hell of a horse. She has all the things you need to be a great horse. She can relax but turn on that speed twice in a mile. We will know a lot more on Friday, in Cleveland."   "I have had people ask me if she is for sale," said St. Charles. "We really haven't put a price on her. We really don't know what her true value is right now. We have her nominated for the Cinderella at Maywood, the Circle City at Hoosier, and the Hanover at Balmoral.  She has the whole Michigan Sire Stakes Circuit. Maybe with all this publicity someone will call to buy the horse. Everything is for sale."   On Friday we will know if the Cinderella story continues. Will Kayla Grace go from racing for $3,000 a night on the Michigan Circuit to winning a $110,000 major race? The phone may be ringing off the hook with offers come Saturday morning.   by Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com

With the North American breeding season well underway we will continue with our "A Stallion Review" series highlighting the stallions that are making an impact on the harness racing breeding scene. Today we have produced an in depth review for the outstanding racehorse Artistic Fella who had his first crop race as two-year-olds in 2013 in Canada and in Australia. His second crop of two-year-olds are now racing in Australia. Enjoy the read. BREEDING Artistic Fella is a son of the Cam Fella stallion Pacific Fella who earned $1,064,631 on the racetrack and took a best time of 1:48.4. He has been a successful sire in both North America and Australia with his stock having earned $20,727,656 in North America with three millionaires including No Pan Intended $1,613,180 and Romona Disomma $1,033,475. Pacific Fella is already a sire of sires with No Pan Intended already having passed the $28 million mark in earnings at stud. In Australia Pacific Fella made his mark with stake earnings of $8,100,881 (especially with his fillies) including such smart horses as Ima Spicey Lombo $483,686, Ruby Dazzler $350,767 and That's Mister Ali $312,662. Artistic Fella is from an unraced daughter of Artsplace in Everything's Easy, who has had 13 foals for six winners with four in 1:53 headed by Artistic Fella. Other notable winners include Melissa's Fancy 1:52f, ($473,313) and Easy Big Fella 1:50.4 ($246,764) The grand dam is the very smart No Nukes racemare called Everything Goes who took a record of 1:53 on her way to earning $342,033. She left 12 foals for seven winners with one in 1:53 and two in 1:55 including the talented Everything's Great 1:52.1f ($240,391) who is a full sister to Everything's Easy. The third dam is the Meadow Skipper mare in Easy To Love who left 12 foals for 10 winners with four in 1;53 including the smart Wear My Ring 1:52.4f ($284,258). Easy To Love is a three quarter sister to the great racemare Halcyon ($855,588) and a half sister to two sires who stood down under in Present Laughter ($509,912) and Paulsboro ($231,561). What makes Easy To Love so interesting is not only is she the third dam of Artistic Fella but she is also the second dam of his sire, Pacific Fella. So Artistic Fella is 3x3 to Easy To Love. A half sister to Easy To Love in Expressive Moves was imported into New Zealand and left the very smart race mare in That's Life Lavra ($191,346) who has two foals old enough to race for two very good winners in Neffeli Lavra 1:53.9 (Australia) and the 3yo Bio Marinus 1:58.3 mile rate with six wins from just the 16 starts to date. RACE RECORD Lightly raced at two, Artistic Fella faced the starter just four times at that age for three wins including two heats of the New Jersey Sires Stakes on his way to earning $51,250 and taking a mark of 1:53.3.  At three he faced the starter 18 times for 11 wins and $941,558 in stakes with a best winning time of 1:48.4. His biggest win was undoubtedly in the $1,000,000 Meadowlands Pace. That day he won in 1:48.4 beating a top line up including My Boy David ($1,339,281), Shark Gesture ($2,890,594), Total Truth ($2,105,122) and Western Ace ($1,924,290). Another top effort was his win in the $225,000 Berrys Creek final at The Meadowlands in 1:50.3 running his last quarter in 25.4. At four he raced a further 16 times for 7 wins 2 seconds and 3 thirds for $702,107 in stakes with a record of 1:48.4. His wins included the $540,000 Breeders Crown Final in 1:49.2 and the $200,000 Dan Patch final in 1:49.2. The Breeders Crown that year was an outstanding group of great horses. They included Mister Big, Lis Mara, Boulder Creek, Total Truth, Western Shore and Mypanmar. The nine starters had average earnings of $2,201,344 (can you believe that?) Total stakes earned by this group is a staggering $19,812,103. It was a great, great group!  Stepping out again at five, Artistic Fella raced 14 times for 5 wins, 7 seconds and 1 third for earnings of $945,617 and an improved record of 1:48 flat. He took his record in the $500,000 Ben Franklin Final at Chester. With just a little bit of luck he could have doubled his earnings as he ran second in the $702,000 Canadian Pacing Derby (to Mister Big), the $600,000 Haughton final (to Mister Big), the $532,000 Breeders Crown final (to Mister Big) and the $332,000 US Pacing Championships (to Mister Big). Retired at the end of his five year old campaign, he went to stud with a race record of 52 starts for 26 wins and 14 placings for stakes totaling $2,604,532. He took a best time of 1:48 and broke the 1:50 barrier 21 times during his career. NORTH AMERICAN STUD RECORD Artistic Fella stood in Canada and has made a good start to his siring career with his first crop of two year olds racing in the 2013 season. He made it on to the top twenty list of two year old sires in North America and with the hugely reduced stake money on offer in Canada this has been a good start. He was third on the Canadian based sires list behind Shadow Play and Mach Three and you would expect that like his sire, his progeny would improve markedly at three. His best two performers to date are the fillies Porsche Seelster ($107,647) and Regil Meg ($75,748). Others showing up are Allstar Seelster ($43,433), Concert Artist ($42,852), Titus Seelster ($40,125) while Can Art and Western Fella have looked progressive types.   With just the one crop racing in Canada, Artistic Fella has 98 old enough to race (2yo olds in 2013) for 47 starters, 25 race winners, 1 in 1:53, total stakes to date of $599,900. AUSTRALIAN STUD RECORD Artistic Fella's first crop raced as two year olds in the 2012/2013 season and really made a statement. From a foal crop of 80 he produced the best two year old filly in Australia in Mindarie Priddy, now the best three-year-old in Australia p3.1:53.8 ($226,560) as well as Kimba Bay 1:57.5 ($100,273), Artistic Copper ($87,815) Majestic Amy 1:59.4 ($87,390) and Paua Fella 1:58.8 ($37,849). It was a great debut season and his second crop of just 56 foals has started in the same vein with the outstanding two-year-old colt Artistic Flite winning in sensational fashion the Bathurst Gold Final last week already confirming Artistic Flite as the best two-year-old in Australia this season. All up Artistic Fella has had 15 winners from 35 starters in Australia to date for $709,636 in total stakes. POSITIVES His stock are in the main like their sire, displaying both speed and grit. They are good gaited and his fillies seem as good as his colts. They should continue to improve as they mature as both their sire Artistic Fella and grand sire, Pacific Fella did. Has already shown that he has the ability to leave stock that can race and win at the elite level. NEGATIVES The only knock on him so far in North America is the low money his progeny will race for in Canada where he stands as the program there has almost disappeared. Although he has good size crops in Canada it will be difficult for his progeny to make any money of note and this will be a handicap as a stallion in the eyes of the breeding world.. Down under his problem will be the small crops over the next few seasons of just 67 and 42. He did breed big numbers this year at 220 mares. OVERVIEW A very good start to his siring career especially down under. He has a special three-year-old filly in Mindarie Priddy and a special two-year-old colt in Artistic Flite that could carry him through to when his big crop that has just been bred, starts to race. His fillies run as well as his colts which is a big plus but he does need to improve his overall percentages to cement his spot in the stallion market. It is early in his career and if age does help his stock as many predict, then those percentages may improve to the same level achieved by his competitors. OVER ALL RATING  5.5 out of 10 JC  

HRV RAD Board Panel - Brian Collis QC, John Denahy, Dr Hugh Millar The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today considered charges issued by HRV Stewards against Mr Ahmed Taiba. Mr Taiba pleaded guilty to a charge under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 173(1) that reads: A driver shall not bet in a race in which the driver participates. The particulars of the charge being that in Race 2 at the Wedderburn meeting at Maryborough on 20 January  2012 Mr Taiba placed a win bet on the horse Wahush, via a Betfair betting account listed in his name, when he then drove Wahush in the relevant race. After considering submissions from HRV Stewards and Mr Taiba regarding penalty, the HRV RAD Board imposed a fine of $1500. Mr Taiba also pleaded guilty to a charge under ARHR 239A that reads as follows: A person whose conduct or negligence has led or could lead to a breach of the rules is guilty of an offence. The particulars of the charge being that during the period of February 2009 to November 2013, Mr Taiba was at all relevant times the account holder of 3 separate wagering accounts with Sportsbet, Betfair and Tabcorp. During this period, Mr Taiba was negligent in allowing the access and use of such accounts to family members and or associates for betting purposes, when Mr Taiba then participated as a driver in such races. After considering submissions from HRV Stewards and Mr Taiba regarding penalty, the HRV RAD Board imposed a fine of $500. In imposing each penalty, the HRV RAD Board acknowledged Mr Taiba’s guilty plea, co-operation in relation to the investigation and a previous unblemished record in 20 years as a licensed participant in the harness racing industry. HRV RAD Board Hearing – Alison Chisholm HRV RAD Board Panel - Brian Collis QC, John Denahy, Dr Hugh Millar The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Racing Appeals and Disciplinary (RAD) Board today heard a matter in regards to a charge issued by HRV Stewards under Australian Rule of Harness Racing (ARHR) 190(1) against licensed ‘A’ Grade Trainer Mrs Alison Chisholm. ARHR 190(1) reads as follows:     A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. The charge under ARHR 190(1) issued by HRV Stewards against Mrs Chisholm related to a pre-race blood sample taken from the horse ‘Yourworthwaitingfor NZ’ prior to it competing in Race 3, the ‘Stan & Bernice Lythgo Pacers Handicap’, at Maryborough on 20 February 2014.  Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) reported that analysis of the blood sample collected from ‘Yourworthwaitingfor NZ’’ revealed the sample contained a prohibited substance, that being alkalinising agents as evidenced by a total carbon dioxide (TCO2) concentration in excess of 36.0 millimoles per litre in plasma. Mrs Chisholm pleaded guilty to the charge and after considering submissions regarding penalty, the HRV RAD Board imposed a $7,000 fine upon Mrs Chisholm.  In imposing this penalty, the HRV RAD Board noted Mrs Chisholm’s early guilty plea, co-operation with the investigating Stewards and clean record over a period in excess of 20 years as a licensed participant. Under ARHR 195, the HRV RAD Board ordered that ‘Yourworthwaitingfor NZ’ be disqualified from Race 3 conducted at Maryborough on 20 February 2014. Harness Racing Australia

A close association with All Stars going back 12 years will end in July when Blair Orange strikes up a new career combining training with driving. Blair has entered into an agreement with Ken Barron to operate a training/driving operation similar to that which Ken enjoyed with his mentor John Lischner which resulted in Ken ultimately taking over the training operation. Blair will continue to drive free lance where he can and is sure to be seen in the All Star colours again-but not as a stable associate which he has been since 2002.  "The only reason for my leaving is that this is an opportunity too good to miss” Blair said. "It was always going to come to this sooner or later because I intended striking out on my own. This is just an ideal way to take the next step. Mark and Natalie have been involved through the process and we part on the best of terms. I have been grateful for what happened to me during my time at All Stars. It lifted me into the big time you could say and gave me great opportunities I would not have got otherwise. We have always had a good relationship and that will continue. But you have to keep moving forward. I was due to do that. I am looking forward to the challenge'' Blair was approached by Ken after the latter decided he would take a step back from race driving and concentrate more on stable administration.  Both Mark and Natalie offer Blair all the best in his new venture. As Natalie put it "We wish Blair all the best. He had been with the stable 12 years or so after all and has always been an important member of Mark's team and he justified that confidence and was very loyal.  There always comes a time when you move on and this is a good opportunity for him'' Blair joined All Stars within a couple of years of leaving junior driver ranks. In December 1997 he drove his first winner, Whizza Nova, at Reefton, trained by Tim Butt who was then his employer. His winning total in stakes was just over $7000. By 2007 his winning drives had topped $1m a season in earnings having built steadily during his stay with All Stars and have rarely dropped below that figure. Blair has set a stack of personal records including seven Harness Jewels wins and set such marks as four of the last 8 runnings of the Welcome Stakes. All Stars have helped him push his total wins to 929 and he should join the 1000 club before the end of the year. Even if the 1000th winner does not come in All Stars colours Blair would be the first to say its contribution to his career has been crucial. By David McCarthy (Courtesy of ALL STARS STABLES)

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National Debt has been an early three-year-old sensation in harness racing this season.   He was a relatively unknown horse going undefeated in winning all four lifetime starts in Alberta Canada until winning the $60,500 Buddy Gilmour Memorial at the Meadowlands in 1:50.3 more than a month ago. The Buddy Gilmour Memorial was the first major test for the three-year-old pacing colts in 2014. National Debt brings a resume of being the fastest pacing colt in Alberta Downs history, in 153.3.   National Debt now shows six lifetime starts on his program. But, National Debt's last race will be 49 days ago when he puts his nose on the starting gate this Saturday in the first leg of the Diplomat Series at Woodbine. Does the betting public know how fit and ready National Debt is to race? Is he ready to win the race?   National Debt recently shipped north to Canada from the USA. and into the care of Bob Young. He had been trained in United States by Ron Coyne. He has been trained by Bob Young for the last month in Canada.   "We were going to qualify him but we were told that he is still eligible by date," Coyne said. "We schooled him twice. It was better than a qualifier. The qualifier he would have been in went in 1:55 and a piece. We went a lot faster than that. They called us and told us that he was still eligible by date, whatever it is, forty five or forty six days between starts. We didn't need to qualify.  We are fine. We didn't need to put a line on there. Sylvain Filion went with him and everything is good.   "The Diplomat is really a prep race," Coyne said. " He continues to get his legs under him and more seasoning. There are two legs and a final. This is a springboard  toward the major races he has coming up. He has the Somebeachsomewhere and the North America Cup in Canada, and then he comes back to the states for the Meadowlands Pace."   "I have had National Debt for about a month," Young said. "After the Gilmour he was turned out for a week with Ron Coyne. Ron trained him a couple times before he came to me. Ron and myself talk a couple times a week. We put a schedule together for him that would suit the Diplomat. The horse is healthy, he ate well, and his blood had come back perfect.   "He trained and we schooled him once at Woodbine." Young stated. "He schooled last Friday at Mohawk. He has been very good. We are very happy with him. There is no doubt in my mind, I don't think the horse is short at all. I am sure he is ready. I've trained horses here in Canada for a lot of years. When my horses go to the races they are ready to race!   "When we schooled him last, I told the driver to go in 1:55 with him." Young said. " The driver said he went a little faster with him.  He said you can fire me Bob. He showed me his watch. He said he went strong. He was well within himself and when he came back to the paddock he wouldn't blow out a match. Sylvain Filion has been on him for the schooling. He's been on him three times already."   What will the betting public see when they look at the program on Saturday? The public will see a last race line of 49 days ago. What has the horse done for the last 49 days? It is evident that the trainers did the right thing with getting National Debt ready for the Diplomat. But did the officials do the right thing?   The public will not have access to all this information unless they read this article. They will only see a gap of forty nine days between races. They will have to wonder if National Debt is ready to win and should we put our hard earned money down on him? It would have been really nice if the race officials had demanded an official workout that would be shown in the race program for the betting public.   By Brian McEvoy, for Harnesslink.com
The $110,000 Courageous Lady has drawn an impressive field of six and goes postward this Friday evening, April 25 as Northfield Park's eleventh race. Approximate post time for this Grant Circuit event is 10:40 p.m. The race is an open contest for North America's top three-year-old-filly pacers and is the first national stake of 2013. Undefeated Kayla Grace has paid $10,000 to supplement to the race and has been named the 3-1 morning line favorite. She will face five rivals, including two fillies trained by North American leading trainer, Ron Burke. Burke is no stranger to winning major stake events over Northfield Park's Flying Turns. The 2014 $110,000 Courageous Lady Field: #1 - Shell Bell prepared for this race by qualifying twice and racing once at Hoosier Park. She won her second qualifier in 1:56.2 and was beaten just two lengths in her sophomore debut, pacing in 1:55.1. She is a daughter of Always A Virgin and was a winner in three of sixteen starts last year, taking a mark of 1:56.2 at Hoosier Park and earning $47,254. Shell Bell is Buckeye-owned by Dean Davis of Wooster and is trained by Steve Carter. She was assigned a morning line of 6-1 and is scheduled to have the driving services of the leading reinsman in North America, Aaron Merriman. #2 - Sister Stroll is a daughter of Art Official and won five of eleven races last year, taking a 1:54.1 mark at Harrah's Philadelphia. She is the richest filly in the race, bankrolling $102,617. She is owned by the partnership of Jennifer Brown, Strollin Stable, both of Ohio, and King McNamara of Florida. She is trained at the Delaware County Fairgrounds by Brian Brown. Sister Stroll shows two qualifiers this season at The Meadows, pacing in 1:58.3 and 1:54.3 respectively. She carries a 9-2 morning line. Ryan Stahl has been named to drive. #3 - Kayla Grace is undefeated and paid the $10,000 supplement to compete in this event. Owned by ECS Racing and Kevin St. Charles and trained by Marie St. Charles, Kayla Grace has been campaigned solely in Michigan. This daughter of He's All That has a fifteen for fifteen unblemished record and has garnered $69,227. Her 1:55.1 career best was paced at Hazel Park. Despite this being the first time she crosses the Michigan state line and faces open competition, she was named the 3-1 morning line favorite by Northfield Park Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, Dave Bianconi. Brad Kramer will be in her sulky. #4 - A La Notte Hanover, owned by Burke racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino and Lawrence Karr, is one of two fillies in this race trained by Ron Burke. She has one start this year, finishing second and pacing in 1:52.2 at Meadowlands Racetrack. This daughter of Art Major has earnings of $76,584 and has won one of eight career starts, a 1:56.1 victory at Saratoga Raceway. Chris Page picks up the driving assignment aboard this 7-2 second favorite. #5 - Fiyonce is the other Burke-trained filly in this year's field and is owned by Burke Racing LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. She made her only start of 2014 at The Meadows, pacing in 1:53.4. Her two-year-old season consisted of nine starts, of which she won one and finished on the board five times. This daughter of Rocknroll Hanover has earnings of $61,549 and boasts the fastest lifetime mark in the field, a 1:52.4 record at Meadowlands Racetrack. Northfield Park leading driver, Josh Sutton, is listed to drive this 10-1 morning line starter. #6 - That Woman Hanover was a five-time winner last year in ten starts. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere has qualified twice at The Meadows in preparation for this race, most recently winning in 1:54.2. She took her lifetime mark at Pocono Downs in 1:54 and has earned $56,719. She is trained by Daniel Altmeyer, who also co-owns with Richard Kelson, Jack Piatt II and Jeffrey Altmeyer. Pennsylvania regular, Mike Wilder, has been named to drive this filly, who carries a 4-1 morning line. Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $7,500 Pick-5 total pool guarantee to Friday’s (April 25) program. Beginning in Race 3, the $7,500 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $2,016.72. Northfield’s Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3’s offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park
April is Autism Awareness month, and on Friday night, April 25, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association will host a special evening of racing to help benefit a local organization.   The event was coordinated by MSOA Director Brad Buxton, MSOA Public Relations Director Heather Wilder, and horse owner John Olshefski.   Olshefski is the driving force behind the Liv With Autism Foundation, and the Liv With Autism Stable, named for his daughter, Olivia, who is autistic.   "I got into the horse racing business about five years ago," says Olshefski. "My family and I decided we were going to start the Liv With Autism Foundation, and also start the Liv With Autism Stable. There have been many studies done that show there is therapeutic help for children with autism from horses. We were excited to combine the two ideas and get into the business." Olshefski, who has horses racing at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs, The Meadowlands and The Meadows, donates a percentage of all of his horses' earnings to the foundation.   On Friday night, the MSOA will donate its commission from the eighth race on the card to autism awareness. Olshefski wanted the donation to stay local in the Western Pennsylvania area, so the race will benefit Autism Atlas, an organization based in Pittsburgh.   The evening could provide an even bigger benefit to autism awareness, as one of the Liv With Autism Stable's horses, Chekov, will be competing in the 15th race of the night.   Post time for the first race of the Friday card is 6:55PM. by Jeff Zidek, for MSOA  
Final preparations are under way for the ninth season of harness racing at Tioga Downs, with the first of 61 programs set for Saturday, May 3.   Fans taking in Opening Night at Tioga Downs will receive a 2014 race date T-shirt and schedule magnet (while supplies last) and will be treated to a fireworks display following the last race. New for this year, one lucky fan will win a $1000 wager on the Kentucky Derby, with the winnings theirs to keep.   While opening night post time will be 5:00 p.m. and Sunday afternoon cards will typically maintain their 1:30 p.m. start times, evening cards have a new earlier post time for 2014. Friday and Saturday night programs will begin at 6:15 p.m., as will the handful of non-holiday Monday and Thursday cards scheduled for the upcoming meet.   "We are looking forward to our ninth season at Tioga Downs, kicking off with the biggest Kentucky Derby party in the Southern Tier and continuing with quality harness racing all summer with full, competitive fields," said Jason Settlemoir, Regional Vice President of Racing at Tioga. "To continue our commitment to fans and horseplayers, we've lowered our trifecta, Pick 3, and Pick 4 wagers to a 50¢ minimum, and our takeout, the lowest by statute in the State of New York for harness racing, remains among the lowest in harness racing across North America."   Live and simulcast players alike will benefit from the new Handicapping Resources section of the Tioga Downs website, with detailed race analysis and trip notes available for all Tioga race programs. In addition to being available in the Tioga Downs on-track program, simulcast fans can access the resources at http://www.tiogadowns.com/racing/handicapping.php. Players can cover more combinations without exhausting their bankroll, as trifectas, Pick 3s, and Pick 4s are all now 50¢ base wagers.   Once again, the Cane Pace and Roll With Joe Pace headline the racing season, with top three-year-olds vying for the first leg of pacing's Triple Crown on Monday, September 1 and older pacers contesting a $200,000 (est.) purse on Sunday, June 1.   Horsemen are advised that the Opening Weekend condition sheet is available at http://tiogadowns.com/media/racing/condsheet.pdf. Additionally, pre-meet qualifiers are scheduled for the morning of Friday, April 25 and the evening of Tuesday, April 29 in conjunction with the annual pre-meet Press Night.   by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs
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