Semi Automatic - Very impressive in his Battle of Waterloo elimination

Battle finalists determined

Elimination races for Grand River Raceway's 25th annual harness racing Industry Day event (on Monday, August 3) were contested during five elimination rounds this evening, July 27. BATTLE OF THE BELLES Three elimination divisions of the Battle Of The Belles (for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing fillies) were carded as races one, three and six. The top three finishers from each division advance to the $141,246 final of the 7th annual Battle Of The Belles on August 3. Tempus Seelster took home the first win of the elimination card and secured herself a spot in the $141,246 final of the 7th edition of the Battle of the Belles. The 1:56.1 score in the first division marked the Big Jim filly's maiden win. Trainer/driver Travis Henry piloted the filly for owners Benbar Stables, Glen Wark and Craig Wood. Henry and Tempus Seelster will leave from the trailing position in the final. Doug McNair and Sports Expert followed by a half-length to finish second for trainer Blake MacIntosh. Heavenly Bet was third, securing a spot in the final for trainer Des Tackoor. The second Belles elimination was stolen by Jody Jamieson and Free Show. The David Menary trainee challenged Bold Amoretto for the lead after Noone To Depend On and Radar Trap both broke stride around the first turn. Jamieson cut the entire mile for a length victory in 1:55.4 over Paul Mackenzie and Bold Amoretto. Blake Macintosh will have two hopefuls in the Belles final after McNair and Mattjestic Tempo left early and secured a four-length victory in the third and final Belles elimination. McNair and Mattjestic Tempo stopped the clock at 1:55.2 with James MacDonald and Golden Idol finishing second. Im In Luv and Jody Jamieson were third. Golden Idol will leave from the coveted rail position in the final for trainer Tony O'Sullivan of Cambridge, ON. O'Sullivan and MacDonald (of Guelph, ON) teamed up last year with Golden Idol's full sister, Win the Gold, and captured the Battle of the Belles final. BATTLE OF WATERLOO Two elimination divisions of the Battle Of Waterloo (for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing colts) were carded as races two and seven. The top four finishers from each division, plus one of the two fifth-place finishers (as determined by draw) advance to the $207,397 final of the 18th annual Battle Of Waterloo on August 3. O'Sullivan and MacDonald were back in action for the first of two Battle of Waterloo eliminations which saw a Canadian season's record set by Semi Automatic. The Badlands Hanover colt left from the two-hole and put in some work to reach the top after the rail horse, Think On It, broke stride off the gate. MacDonald took two seconds off the current Canadian season record when he stopped the clock at 1:53.4. Semi Automatic will trail the field (post 9) in the $207,397 Battle of Waterloo final. Think On It managed to come back and finish fifth for trainer/co-owner Robert McIntosh. The good fortune continued when the homebred son of Ponder drew the coveted rail position for the final. Imsporty and Carolina Hurricane were second and third respectively. Doug McNair and Magnum J captured the second and final elimination for the Battle of Waterloo. McNair steered the Gregg McNair conditioned colt around the seven horse, Chalk Player, at the first quarter to take the lead. The pair stayed on top for the remainder of the mile and crossed the finish line two lengths ahead of Chalk Player and Bob McClure. The seventh annual Battle of the Belles and 18th annual Battle of Waterloo will be contested during Industry Day's 25th anniversary card at Grand River Raceway on Monday, August 3. Post time for race one is 1:30 p.m. For complete event details, visit www.IndustryDayCelebration.com Post position draws for both stake races were conducted on July 27. The following are the fields for the finals on Industry Day: POST POSITIONS FOR THE $207,397 BATTLE OF WATERLOO HORSE             DRIVER             TRAINER 1. Think On It   John Campbell   Robert McIntosh   2. Stonebridge Beach   Stephane Pouliot   Stephane Larocque   3. A Bettors Risk   Jonathan Drury   Casie Coleman   4. Carolina Hurricane   Sylvain Filion   Ronald Adams   5. Continual Hanover   Michael Saftic  John Darling   6. Imsporty   Jody Jamieson  Carl Jamieson   7. Magnum J   Doug McNair   Gregg McNair   8. Chalk Player Bob McClure   Jeffrey Gillis   9. Semi Automatic   James MacDonald   Tony O'Sullivan     POST POSITIONS FOR THE $141,246 BATTLE OF THE BELLES   HORSE                  DRIVER                 TRAINER 1. Golden Idol   James MacDonald   Tony O'Sullivan   2. Mattjestic Tempo   Doug McNair   Blake MacIntosh   3. Im In Luv   Jody Jamieson   Carl Jamieson   4. Free Show  Jody Jamieson   David Menary   5. Betty Hill   Jonathan Drury   Carmen Auciello   6. Sports Expert   Doug McNaIr   Blake MacIntosh   7. Heavenly Bet   Jody Jamieson   Des Tackoor   8. Bold Amoretto   Paul Mackenzie   Ian Moore   9. Tempus Seelster   Travis Henry   Travis Henry   Kelly Spencer

He's Watching (2).jpg

World Champion for Alabar

On his recent trip to New Zealand and Australia, champion driver Tim Tetrick was asked on several occasions – who’s the fastest horse you’ve ever sat behind? Each time the answer was; He’s Watching. The horse he won the 2014 Meadowlands Pace with in 1:46.8 – equalling the world record for the fastest race mile ever. In outstanding news for the Australasian breeding industry, He’s Watching – the fastest horse in the world – will kick off his stud career at Alabar in New Zealand this season. Retired last week, after a season of frustrations that kept him from the racetrack, the four-year-old He’s Watching will shortly head into quarantine for the trip down under. He’s Watching will shuttle back to North America each year but, in a coup for our breeders, the first foals by the fastest horse in the world will be bred here. From the first moment he stepped on to a racetrack, He’s Watching has been one of North America’s glamour pacers. As a two-year-old, he went on an unbeaten eight for eight winning rampage. In doing so, he broke no less than five track records - at Batavia Downs, Buffalo, Tioga, Vernon Downs and Yonkers. His win at Yonkers was in 1:52.4 - a world record for a two-year-old on a half-mile track. He won by over six lengths. His win at Tioga was in 1:50 – a world record for a two-year-old on a five-eighths track. He again won by over six lengths. After the victory at Tioga, driver Jim Morrill jnr said “… he is just so fast it is unbelievable. I asked him to go in the stretch there tonight a little bit but he could have just as easily gone in 49 tonight, he is just so fast it’s amazing.” He’s Watching was voted 2013 USTA Two-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. At the end of this incredible freshman season, a half share in He’s Watching was sold to the Muscara Racing Trust. The head of the Trust, ninety year old Joe Muscara had won the Meadowlands Pace with Mach Three in 2002. He wanted nothing more than to win it again in 2014. Sadly, Joe Muscara passed away on the Monday prior to the final of the 2014 Meadowlands Pace. That his latest superstar was named He’s Watching made an emotional week even more poignant. There was never any doubt that He’s Watching was up to the moment though, with a career defining performance to trounce a quality field in the rich final. He simply blew past the opposition in one of the most devastating displays of speed seen in our sport. He cruised home in 25.6 in the hands of Tim Tetrick to win by 2 ½ lengths in a sensational 1:46.8. This sublime victory matched the all-age world record, made him the fastest ever three-year-old at the Meadowlands and the youngest ever winner of the Meadowlands Pace. Being a 13 June foal, he had remarkably only turned three twenty-nine days earlier. After this victory, driver Tim Tetrick said “Unbelievable. He is a great horse and I was lucky to pick up the drive. He really exploded all the way to the wire.” What’s more, he told trainer David Menary that He’s Watching “had more left in the tank.” The Meadowlands Pace The secret to He’s Watching’s brilliance can possibly be found in his breeding. He has a freakish pedigree. His sire American Ideal is by a son of the champion mare Leah Almahurst and is out of a daughter another champion mare in Three Diamonds. These two outstanding mares are closely related having their third and second dam respectively as the great K Nora. Remarkably, the dam of He’s Watching carries the same cross. His own fourth dam is Leah Almahurst and the dam of his maternal grandsire is Three Diamonds. So four strains of a dominant mare in K Nora via sex-balanced duplications of two champion mares – a pedigree enthusiasts paradise. To round off a great pedigree he also has eight daughters of Tar Heel (six of them unique) in his sixth generation. He’s Watching retires to stud with $1,129,215 in earnings, five track records and two of his three world records still standing. Standing 15 hands and powerfully built, He’s Watching is best summed up by one of his owners as “strutting into the parade ring with a look that said - who wants to fight me today?” Very few could. He’s Watching will be available at NZ$6,000 (plus GST) in New Zealand and A$6,000 (incl GST) in Australia.

Sierra Graham

Sierra Graham - one of the youngest drivers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Sierra Graham says she is always one of the youngest drivers — if not the youngest — when she takes the reins in harness racing. The 19-year-old's dream of becoming a thoroughbred jockey changed to becoming a standardbred driver because she kept growing. Thoroughbred jockeys are more limited in height and weight, compared with harness drivers who sit on a seat on a cart attached to the horse. The maximum weight for a thoroughbred jockey, with the saddle, is 126 pounds. "Everyone told me I was going to be too heavy for that, and I ended up being too tall and too heavy," she said. "I've been on a horse before I could walk, and I just always thought it was cool to race them." Graham is a 2015 Jackson-Milton High School graduate and has been driving — harness drivers are the equivalent of thoroughbred jockeys — in county fairs across Ohio this summer. That includes going to Paulding, Ottawa, London and Circleville. "Every fair we went to, only one of them got a rain delay. We've been really lucky," she said. She obtained her driver's license — for driving harness racing — last summer and was in 10 or 11 fairs last year. Graham is in second place of a series called the Lady's Pacing Series, made up of 20 women drivers. She is the second-youngest in the field and said her most exciting race so far this season was when she was last in an eight-horse field in Oak Harbor, near Sandusky, until the back stretch, when she was able to finish third. Graham plans to drive in the Canfield Fair later this summer and is hopeful that the latter half of the summer and the fall will get her 15 qualifying drives to get a license to race at racinos in Ohio. Harness drivers sit on a seat, with wheels on each side, that is attached to a metal U-shaped cart that goes around the horse. Straps under and over the horse's torso are attached to the metal structure. The horses either trot or pace. The racinos offering harness racing are Scioto Downs Racino, Columbus; Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, Dayton; Miami Valley Gaming and Racing, Lebanon; and Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park, Cleveland. "Getting into racing was fun, and especially with harness racing. There are not really any young people or girls in there, and it really is a good thing to have more girls involved in harness racing," Graham said. Graham said she hasn't made much money this summer, estimating it at about $1,000. "Especially with the younger horses, it's more important to get the experience of racing instead of pounding them into going faster and winning and making money," Graham said. She will attend Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, where she plans to study business marketing. Her goal is to use that degree in the horseracing industry. She trains with Dr. David Swaney at his New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, farm that has nine horses stabled. Graham's favorite horse is Genuine Star, who is 11 years old and has about $250,000 in career earnings. Dr. Swaney bought that horse at last year's Canfield Fair. "As long as you take care of them and don't overuse them ... they can race until they're 14" years old, he said. Dr. Swaney's farm sits on about 300 acres, mostly wooded, that has a practice track and has stabled as many as 15 horses in the past. He is a harness driver and a veterinarian. He said the purses for county fairs have "ups and downs," but said the last four years have had good payments at fairs in Pennsylvania. The introduction of video lottery terminals, VLTs, at the racetracks has been able to increase purse sizes in Ohio, both at thoroughbred and standardbred tracks, as well as incentivize Ohio breeders. Graham said she followed the racino process "a lot, because no matter what racing it is, it's a good thing to get more people involved because horse racing is kind of like a dying industry. The people who are involved are getting old and less young people are getting in. So no matter what type of track is coming in, it's a good thing." She also called the racinos "a good thing. Without the slots, the industry would have been almost dead in Ohio really. It was on the decline, but now since the racinos and slots all came back, the breeders have all come back to Ohio and Ohio is really taking off again." The 2014 annual report from the Ohio State Racing Commission said, in its standardbred stallion report, that 2014 was the highest year — 168 stallions, with 44 registered and 124 renewed, since 2003, which had 173 total. The lowest years were 2009 and 2011 with 14 registered stallions and 82 renewed, for a total of 96. Initially, the Toledo harness track was to relocate to the Youngstown area, but ended up relocating to Dayton. Dave Bianconi, executive vice president of racing and simulcast at Northfield Park, echoed Graham's sentiment about the lack of women drivers. "So far in 2015, I bet we haven't had more than three or four women drive here, so I'd love to see it," Bianconi said. He explained there are more women in the thoroughbred field because of the weight limit. "Breaking in is tough. It's not an easy game to break into. If she keeps it up, and I'm sure she can," she can do it, he said. "In the harness games over the years, there have really not been that many top women drivers, but I'd love to see it." Northfield Park, the track at the Rocksino, has increased purse offerings from 2011 to 2014. The Rocksino opened in December 2013. Northfield Park's purses totaled $6,921,700 for 2,769 races in 2011; $6,736,600 for 2,741 races in 2012; $8,394,400 for 2,866 races in 2013; and $16,199,700 for 3,176 races in 2014. Those figures are also from the 2014 OSRC annual report. That influx of an additional 310 races was due to more horses being stabled at Northfield. "More horses, and more purse money allowed us to run more races and possibly, looking into the future, more dates," Bianconi said. "It's been a great start to the Rocksino era." Northfield Park averages 15 races a day and begins with a post time of 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The track runs year-round. Bianconi said that the quality of horses has increased since the Rocksino gaming side of the facility opened, and because of that the top two drivers in harness racing are the top two drivers at Northfield Park. One is Ronnie Wrenn Jr., who won the 2013 and 2014 National Dash titles for more wins than any other driver those years. He currently trails the other top driver, Aaron Merriman, so far this year. Another top accolade is the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial on Aug. 14. Bianconi said that race "is likely to include" Wiggle It Jiggleit, the top harness horse in the country. "It doesn't get any higher than that, and the horse is 12 out of 13 lifetime," in races won, Bianconi said. On the gaming part of the Rocksino, the net win, or revenue after payouts to winning players, has had two months of more than $18.5 million and only three months below $14 million. Since opening, the Rocksino has brought in $289,546,841 in 19 months of operations. One month, the Rocksino outperformed three of the state's four casinos. By Robert Connelly Reprinted with permission of  the (Youngstown) Vindicator.  

A monstrous crowd witnessed Jamin and driver Jean Riaud feed artichokes to Jamin

A look back at the International Trot

The year was 1959. Interest in harness racing was at its zenith and those in the forefront felt that the sport should have international flavor. Since Europe only offered races for trotters it seemed natural that the powers behind such an international event would look across the pond to find the best trotters and bring them to race against the best that the United States and Canada had to offer. Back then the logical site of what was to be called the International Trot was Roosevelt Raceway, known in those days as the "Taj Mahal" of harness racing after a sparkling new $19 million racing facility was built and completed in 1957 with its Cloud Casino dining room. The onus of promoting the race lay upon Roosevelt Raceway's publicity and public relations department which got a tremendous boost from a harness racing friendly media including the New York Times. The inaugural racing distance was set at a 1-1/2 miles and the purse of $50,000 was huge in those days. Lew "Tootie" Barasch hunted down the horses worldwide and promoted the strong field that would participate. Representing the United States was Trader Horn; Philip Frost was Canada's entrant; Norway sent Jens Protector, while Germany was represented by Ivancourt; Italy had two entrants, Tornese and Icare IV and France sent their stalwart, Jamin. There was even an entrant from New Zealand by the name of Adept. Sure just the advent of bringing trotters across the vast Atlantic and Pacific was of utmost interest to the racing public but how was the attention of the general public captured to make the event a spectacular showcase for our sport? The French entrant, Jamin, was one of Europe's top trotters and when it was discovered that upon arriving in New York his food supply of artichokes was impounded by the Department of Agriculture, the stage became set. To stave off what could have turned out to result in a national disaster a solution had to be found. If not, Jamin would starve. He would lie at death's door. So humane societies, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, storekeepers and just private citizens, responded to the news stories flashed across the country via AP and UPI, and combed the land for the lifesaving delicacy. The search scoured along the eastern seaboard without turning up one single artichoke. But, in Monterey, California, a local grower Eugene Boggiato catapulted into action enlisting the aid of the California Artichoke and Vegetable Growers Association which assembled 120 pounds of them grown in Castroville, California and shipped them quickly to Idlewild (now JFK) Airport. Waiting for the touchdown of the mercy plane with its precious cargo was a horde of newsmen and photographers, a delegation of Raceway officials and, oh yes, a helicopter to hurry the artichokes to Jamin's stall. It all worked. It was great publicity and a fitting send off for the inaugural International Trot. The horse, energized after eating the artichokes, or so it was said, went on to win the race. Jamin held on to victory in front of a crowd of 48,000 spectators, with the Italian horse Tornese in second by half a length and betting favorite Trader Horn, the American entry, in third. Jamin toured the mile-and-a-half distance in 3:08.3. The monstrous crowd witnessed Jamin and driver Jean Riaud feed artichokes to Jamin in the winner's circle after the race. And the following year, on what was built by the Roosevelt Raceway the previous season, a crowd of 58,861 fans jammed into the state of the art racing facility to witness Holland's entrant Hairos win the second International Trot. After Roosevelt closed in 1988 the race moved to Yonkers Raceway and was last contested in 1995 when Sweden's His Majesty won the International Trot besting S.J.'s Photo and Panifesto, both American trotters. The timing seems right to bring back the International Trot especially with the inroads made by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York which has pioneered simulcasting to Europe. The upcoming $1 million purse for the International Trot is a big leap from the original purse and with or without an exceptional sidebar, this year's edition will be a welcome return of a great event at Yonkers Raceway on October 10.  

From humble beginnings to this year’s silver anniversary blowout, Grand River Raceway’s premier event has become one of the great days on the Canadian racing calendar. It began on a meagre budget as a way to help a struggling racetrack build an identity. Twenty-five years later, Industry Day has grown into one of the best events on the Canadian horse-racing calendar. The annual fete that has been instrumental in helping put Grand River Raceway on the map. On Monday, Aug. 3, the Elora, Ont. track will mark the silver anniversary of Industry Day, a celebration of the business of harness racing that began in 1990 at the track’s predecessor, Elmira Raceway. Dr. Ted Clarke, general manager of Grand River Raceway, said Industry Day was the brainchild of the late Ken Middleton, Sr., Elmira Raceway’s former race secretary, who “was instrumental in those early discussions.” At the time, Elmira Raceway was just three years removed from shutting down because it didn’t have enough money to operate. Clarke said Industry Day would never have happened without what was then a controversial decision in January of 1990 to begin taking the simulcast signal for one race program a week from Greenwood Raceway in Toronto. “It was the first time there had been common pool wagering in the province,” Clarke said. “Greenwood sent its signal in January on Saturday afternoons. We only ran one program a week, but it was extremely successful and it changed the menu that was before us, so to speak. We had to opportunity to take some of the revenue gained from that and try to do things that would build the success of that operation. So, one of the things that came up was, ‘We really need a day that identifies Elmira Raceway that can be that signature event.’” Clarke said Industry Day, “started with a cost structure that wasn’t too extravagant but depended, largely, on people who volunteered their activities.” Early Industry Days featured well-attended seminars on a variety of important industry topics. Clarke remembers breeder Jack McNiven of Killean Acres giving a talk on how to prepare yearlings for the auction ring. Trainer Doug Arthur spoke about selecting yearlings at a sale. “At that time many people hadn’t spent a lot of time associating with the best practices of the industry. In some cases, if you had a bit of an advantage in your ability to select a yearling over somebody else, it wasn’t exactly knowledge that you might willingly share, because it was your advantage. So, we sort of went out on a limb a little bit and had, what I thought were pretty good, semi-educational seminars and certainly knowledge sharing,” Clarke said. In 1998, Elmira Raceway launched the Battle of Waterloo, and added it to the Industry Day celebration. The track’s marquee stakes race proved to be an instant hit. It’s estimated 8,000 people were at Industry Day that year to see Distinctiv Seelster and trainer/driver Carl Jamieson win the inaugural Battle. The race for two-year-old Ontario-sired pacing colts will have its 18th edition on Aug. 3, along with a companion race for two-year-old Ontario-sired pacing fillies called the Battle of the Belles that was added to Industry Day in 2009. Clarke said Industry Day even had an influence on the design of Grand River Raceway, which opened in 2003. “As part of the design, there was a lot of topsoil on this site that had to be stripped when we started into the redevelopment. Rather than truck it away, we simply piled it in piles around the track and created the berms on which people now can sit and watch the races. It was, again, making use of what we had and it created a circumstance that at least for that day is the right venue,” said Clarke, who was also a proponent of keeping Grand River a smaller, half-mile oval like Elmira Raceway that is more fan friendly. In time, the seminars faded from the lineup and the Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles became the main attraction to Industry Day, which has always been an afternoon card held on the Civic Holiday Monday in August. Over time, Industry Day became a family friendly day complete with a long list of activities for kids, which has proven especially popular in recent years since the Grand River Agricultural Society that owns and operates the track no longer holds a fall fair. This year, Industry Day will feature the usual face painting, balloon artists, bouncy castles and pony rides for the kids and two backstretch beer tents for the adults. Kelly Spencer, Grand River’s manager of marketing and communications, has a range of fun activities and special giveaways planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary, including $5,000 in prizes such as Callaway Golf Clubs, Kate Spade and Tony Burch purses, a barbecue and a lawn mower. This year will also mark the 11th edition of the popular Bouncy Pony Stakes where trainers and drivers race each other by bouncing down the track on inflatable ponies. Eliminations for the two Battle races, will be held the evening of Monday, July 27, with two eliminations needed to determine the eight finalists for the $207,397 final of the Battle of Waterloo and three required to whittle the field to eight for the $140,246 final of the Battle of the Belles. Post time is 1:30 p.m. for the 12-race Industry Day card that also features Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series legs for three-year-old pacing fillies and a Racing Under Saddle event. Clarke, who was part of the management team in 1990 at Elmira Raceway when Industry Day started, said he can’t believe how much the harness racing industry has changed in a quarter century. Twenty-five years ago, even beaming in one card of racing a week from another track was considered controversial. Today, patrons can easily wager on horse racing from around the world by using their smart phones. “I had a birthday yesterday, so I’m aware of the time that’s passed,” Clarke said last week. “The time has gone very quickly and I’m sure everybody else my age would say the same thing. But, it’s been fun.” For more information on Industry Day, please visit: www.grandriverraceway.com Dave Briggs Standardbred Communications Ontario Horse Racing

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Sixteen harness racing fillies entered today for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the filly division of the Hambletonian. Hambletonian week kicks off on Aug. 1 with two $35,000 eliminations to narrow the field to 10 for the $500,000 Oaks Final on Hambletonian Day, Sat., Aug. 8, at The Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, NJ. The connections of Mission Brief, defending Dan Patch champion and Zweig Filly winner, have opted to race in the Hambletonian against colts but Zweig runners-up Wild Honey and Magic Marker have entered the Oaks. Entries for the Hambletonian close at 9:00 a.m. on Aug. 3 at The Meadowlands race office. Del Miller Memorial winner Spirit To Win, and third place finisher Livininthefastlane are also among the entrants. The 16 fillies entered in alphabetical order are Bright Baby Blues, Classical Annie, Cocoacabana, Gatka Hanover, Katniss, Lady Winona, Livinthefastlane, Lock Down Lindy, Magic Marker, Rules Of The Road, Sarcy, Smexi, Smokinmombo, Speak To me, Spirit To Win, Wild Honey. With 16 Oaks entries, the format calls for two fields of eight fillies to race and the top five finishers to advance to the final on August 8. The winner of the final on Aug. 8 is the Oaks winner, regardless of elimination finish on Aug. 1. Post positions for eliminations will be drawn today and disseminated when final. Post positions for the $500,000 final will be drawn and morning lines assigned on Monday Aug. 3, at the Hambletonian Press conference and post position draw, at 2:00 p.m. in Victory Sports Bar at The Meadowlands. The $300,000 John Cashman Jr. Memorial, $400,000 Cane Pace, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. [EDT] on Aug. 8. Hambletonian Day is closing day with a post time of 12:00 noon, and the zenith of the Championship Meet. Fans can follow the next two action-filled weekends at meadowlandsracetrack.com and on Twitter at #Hambo15. 2014 Hambletonian Oaks - Lifetime Pursuit - August 2, 2014  

WASHINGTON, PA, July 27, 2015 -- The Aug. 1 Adios Day harness racing card at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will feature a special race to honor the memory of Roy D. Davis, longtime Meadows-based horse owner and founder of "Team Spur," who died June 16. The Roy D. Davis Invitational for 4-year-old pacers will offer a $50,000 purse. Davis and Hall of Fame trainer/driver Dick Stillings were the principals of Team Spur, which enjoyed uncommon success, including victories in the Little Brown Jug, the Adios, the Breeders Crown, the Cane Pace and the Yonkers Trot. Davis also was a successful travel industry entrepreneur; his Royal Travel Corp. was headquartered on property adjacent to The Meadows. For the Adios, The Meadows has chosen Junior Achievement as its charity partner. JA will offer autographs from sports stars at its trackside Legends Tent and will stage a raffle and a Chinese auction. First post Adios Day is 12:20 PM. Evan Pattak The Meadows Racetrack & Casino  

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec, July 26, 2015 - Three-year-old pacers were featured Sunday afternoon at Hippodrome 3R, with an event for each sex in the fourth and final preliminary round of their Quebec-Bred series, with the top horses advancing to their respective $65,000 final on September 6. Trainer Dany Fontaine probably wishes the final was next week, as his Mach On The Beach has really found himself in his last three starts, on Sunday taking a new mark of 1:54.3 in winning the final $7500 colt/gelding elimination. Driver Pascal Berube sent the Mach Three gelding swiftly out of the gate, with the rest of the field of five in a post positional lineup. (Western Bayama, the division's defending champion, was scratched; in fact, trainer Yves Filion had a scratch in each Q-series event -- filly Wanda Bayama, who had won two prelims, was also withdrawn.) Sitting next-to-last early didn't sit too well with odds-on favorite Sugarsam, though, and the meet's leading driver, Denis St Pierre, moved him out midbackstretch to rush at the leader by the 28.1 quarter. Berube played some hardball, though, and while challenging in the middle of the second turn, Sugarsam took some nasty steps and drifted wide (not unprecedented behavior for him), finally settling back in last as Mach On The Beach got to the half in 56.2. At a bad positional disadvantage but game as can be, Sugarsam made another move frontward from about the same spot he had done a half-mile earlier, getting to Mach On The Beach by the 1:25 3/4s. Sugarsam behaved himself around the final bend this time, but he could not get by the determined pacesetter in a bitter stretch duel, with Mach On The Beach hanging on by a neck on the wire. Mach On The Beach didn't race at two and had been off the board in his first 10 career starts in Ontario until making the switch to 3R, where he has a record of 3-2-1-0, and he has shown that he should be competitive in the Championship for Ecurie Gaetan Bono Inc. Nine of the originally-programmed ten horses went postward in the filly division for $8250, with Voodoo Charm, winner of two of her prelim starts, also favored by the Quebec bettors at 2-5. (In the Quebec program, nine or fewer horses as entrants dictate a purse of $7500; if ten, one division goes for $8250; if 11 or more, the event is split for $7500 a division.) Unlike Sugarsam, Voodoo Charm did get to visit Victory Lane -- but only after a seven-minute inquiry into the action early on the second turn, the turn which had also plagued Sugarsam earlier. Big Bertha and Sylvain Lacaille left the gate quickly to get the lead before the 27.2 opening split, with Mario Charron moving just before the quarter from third with "Voodoo." As Voodoo Charm, who had made an early break in her previous start, started to go around Big Bertha to the lead into the second curve, the two came in very close quarters, and Big Bertha took a small stumblestep, which was the source of the inquiry, but no reason for placing was eventually found. Voodoo Charm went on to post splits of 57.2 and 1:27.4, and despite bearing out slightly in the lane she was strong to the wire, winning by a clear margin over Big Bertha in 1:57.2. The meet's leading trainer, Maxime Velaye, combined with Charron, who earlier had swept the Daily Double, to establish this filly as the favorite for her final for owners Yvan Mondoux, Guy Corbeil, Alexandre Morin, and Francois Laverdiere. Hippodrome 3R will now shift its focus to another type of horsepower for the next two weeks, as the Trois-Rivieres Grand Prix auto race will be the focus the next two weeks. The casino and simulcast wagering will be available at 3R during this period, and on the return card Wednesday, August 12, two-year-old trotters will begin their preliminaries in the Quebec-Bred series. Quebec Jockey Club  

When the harness racing fields are drawn Monday morning for Hambletonian Day, Mission Brief's name won't be among the entries for the Hambletonian Oaks. On Sunday night, trainer Ron Burke confirmed to The Meadowlands Racetrack that his star three year old filly will take on the boys in the 90th Hambletonian on Saturday, August 8th. "We're going," said Burke. "The plan has always been to go as long as she was good and today at Vernon she was as good as she has been. She had to be super and she was." The Hambletonian is raced in heat format, which means if at least 14 horses enter, the winner of the Hambletonian would have to race twice in the same day. But Burke said that was not a concern. "I'm really not worried about that. She is just so athletic, I really don't think it will be a problem." If there are 13 horses or less entered in The Hambletonian, it will be raced as one dash for the cash. As for the reason why Burke and his ownership chose The Hambletonian over the Oaks, it came down to a simple notion. "If we win this race, it will change our lives and it makes her career." "I know the Oaks is $500,000 and she would be odds-on to win that race, but it wouldn't change our lives." "Winning The Hambletonian changes lives." The sportsmanship of Ron Burke and the ownership of Mission Brief was on display with this decision as well. "It will be great for the sport." "To have a filly like this trying to beat all of Takter's horses." "This will be a great story." "I think we have the filly to do it." "If I am wrong, I'm wrong and I have been wrong and criticized before, but I really think she can do it." There is one question that remains, who will Yannick Gingras drive? Gingras pilots both Mission Brief and the best three year old colt in the country, Pinkman. As of now, Ron Burke says that Gingras has not committed to either horse. "If they both race huge in the eliminations (assuming they are in separate eliminations), he might not be able to decide until after the first heat." That storyline is one that may go down in the annals of harness racing history. A decision of a lifetime some might say. Gingras may literally have to choose between two dynamic trotters in the sport's biggest race in the hour leading up to the race. Gingras has done it all in the sport, but still seeks his first Hambletonian, adding to the pressure of this decision. Gingras was quoted in an interview after winning the Zweig stating he "hoped Mission Brief went in the Oaks." But, given that he also drives Pinkman, it is certainly understandable why Gingras shared that sentiment. Gingras was reached Sunday night and confirmed a decision on his part has not been made as of yet. The last filly to win The Hambletonian was Continental Victory in 1996. Mission Brief looks to add her name to the list of fillies that have accomplished this most herculean fete. The Hambletonian will headline what may prove be one of the greatest days in harness racing history that will also include Wiggle It Jiggleit in the first jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, The Cane Pace. Hambletonian Day is Saturday, August 8th at The Meadowlands. Post time is 12:00 P.M The Hambletonian Final will be race 13 on a 15-race program with a post time of 5:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

When Yannick Gingras makes an appearance at a harness racing meeting at Vernon Downs, he has a strong tendency to be mightily successful on the racetrack.   Such was the case on Sunday (July 26) afternoon, when he swept the filly and colt divisions of the Harry M. Zweig Memorial stakes.   In the $185,000 Zweig for 3-year-old trotting fillies, Gingras settled Mission Brief ($2.60, part of entry) into the third spot out of her midpack post, tracking Wild Honey (John Campbell) and Magic Marker (Brian Sears) through a :27 initial quarter before brushing to the fore at race's midpoint.   Just as Wild Honey slackened through a :56.1 half mile, Mission Brief charged past, opening up her lead to two lengths on the far turn.   The daughter of Muscle Hill and Southwind Serena would hold that margin through a :55.3 final half, defeating Wild Honey in 1:51.4.   Magic Marker stayed on to be third, while Gatka Hanover (Brett Miller) rallied mildly off cover to take fourth.   Ron Burke trains Mission Brief for the Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, the J&T Silva Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi. Now a 12-time winner, Mission Brief has amassed $791,417 in career earnings.   Mission Brief     A mere hour after Mission Brief asserted herself in the $185,000 Zweig division for 3-year-old trotting fillies, Pinkman ($2.10, part of entry) found room up the inside to strike late from a pocket trip in the $370,000 Zweig event for 3-year-old trotting colts and geldings.   Beginning from post 7 as part of a four-horse Jimmy Takter-trained entry, Pinkman left strongly, stringing out Habitat (Brian Sears) in the early going before yielding to stablemate Canepa Hanover (Takter) after a :27.3 initial quarter.   The gelded son of Explosive Matter and Margie Seelster drafted comfortably behind his stablemate through a :56.1 middle half, but was boxed at the apex of the far turn when Habitat attempted a first-over bid.   With racing room at a premium in upper stretch, Pinkman found room up the inside, passing Canepa Hanover in the final sixteenth.   He prevailed by three-quarters of a length in 1:52, a stakes record.   Canepa Hanover held second, while Workout Wonder (Daniel Dubé) rallied late to take third past Wings of Royalty (Tim Tetrick).   Also taking career win number 12, Pinkman stretched his career bankroll to $1,187,139 for Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman.   Pinkmam   Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (July 31) evening, with first post at 6:45 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite

Dublin, Ireland - The Anglo-Ireland Inter Dominion series heated up at Portmarnock Raceway on Saturday when Brywinsmagicpotion stormed home to beat heat one winner Meadowbranch DJ by a neck in gritty fashion. The time of the race was 1:56, setting the all-age track record as the fastest mile ever at Portmarnock. British pacer Brywinsmagicpotion, who was luckless behind Meadowbranch DJ in the first UK/Ireland Inter Dominion heat at York, reversed that decision at Portmarnock, taking advantage of a speed duel between DJ and his Irish compatriot Sepia Sands. As the only trailer from the second line, Brywins was quickly angled behind leader Sepia Sands with DJ parked in the breeze, overcame a gallant Meadowbranch DJ in the closing stages Six runners started the second round of the series, but it was the first two home from the previous round that battled it out over the 1600m distance. The pair drew well clear with Meadowbranch Romeo taking third and Saunders Mach 3 fourth, the same positions they filled at York in leg one. Ideally drawn on the inside, Brywinsmagicpotion held his position throughout the race sitting second or third behind early leader Sepia Sands. Unlike the winner, Meadowbranch DJ had a tough trip being forced to come right around the field to gain to the lead which he didn't manage to achieve until there was only half a lap to go. It was a complete role reversal from stage one and this showed in their finishing positions, suggesting how close in ability these two pacers are. The sectionals tell the story – a scorching first stanza of 26.7 and half in 56 saw the rest of the field struggling to keep up and when DJ gave the leader the go by in the back straight, Alan Haythornthwaite (who represented the UK in Australia in 1999) had his charge poised to challenge as they turned for home. This was a wonderful result for connections of Brywinsmagicpotion, whose owner James Gammie only has one horse in training. After the race, driver Alan Haythornthwaite said "It's absolutely fantastic this series. It's been a great booster to our racing over here. The dream's still alive, which is exactly what it is; a dream to us." Two track records set in the first two heats, so now all eyes turn to York next Saturday over the mile and a quarter with the final heat over a mile and a half at Portmarnock at the big Vincent Delaney Carnival a week later. Leaderboard – Meadowbranch DJ, Brywinsmagicpotion - 14, Meadowbranch Romeo - 8, Saunders Mach3 - 4, Wellfield Official, Sepia Sands - 2, Astounding, Rhyds Destiny - 1. The series looks set for a terrific duel between Brywinsmagicpotion and Meadowbranch DJ with both on 16 points at the half way stage. The nearest pursuer, who has filled third spot in both races, is Meadowbranch Romeo on 8 points. The third stage of the series will be run over 2000m at York Harness Raceway on Saturday 1st August before the finale back at Portmarnock on Sunday 9th a week later. The winning horse and trainer in the series will get an all-expense paid trip to Australia to compete in the Inter-Dominion Series. Due to inclement weather, the final Vincent Delaney Memorial Prep for two-year-olds was postponed on Sunday and will be held next Sunday at Portmarnock. Contributed by Michael Andrews and Bill Hutchison              

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – July 25, 2015 – Split The House gave harness racing trainer James “Friday” Dean his third Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic victory and Wicked Little Minx overcame post 10 and a first-over trip to win the Thomas D’Altrui Miss New Jersey as the spotlight was on New Jersey-sired three-year-old pacers on Saturday night, July 25, 2015 at the Meadowlands. In the hands of Randy Waples, Split The House [$8.60], a son of Rocknroll Hanover – Shake The Junk, got up for a half-length tally over Revenge Shark [Cam’s Card Shark] while 6-5 favorite Artspeak [Western Ideal], the Dan Patch divisional champion at two, was third by a length and a quarter in the 11th race. The $200,000 New Jersey Classic and the $100,000 Miss New Jersey are sponsored by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey.  Friday Dean harnessed previous winners Big Jim in 2011 and Panther Hanover in 2012 “He’s a nice horse with all the parts,” said Waples of Split The House.  “His only flaw was that he was silly behind the gate, But he’s turned the corner [after some equipment changes]. “I just wanted to draft as long as I could [behind Artspeak],” Waples added.  “Then he swelled up and dug in.”  Split The House, bred by Fair Winds Farm of Cream Ridge, NJ, paced the mile in 1:48.3 A $60,000 Harrisburg Sale purchase, Split The House was unraced at two and has now won seven of nine starts, including three straight.  He has banked $162,158 for Ontario owners Scott Horner of Toronto, Peter Milligan of Mississauga and James J. Dean of Guelph. Split The House Wicked Little Minx captured the filly companion race, the Miss New Jersey, the seventh race. “She’s like a big diesel truck,” said winning trainer Nancy Johansson of the Rocknroll Hanover – Beachy Lady filly who was driven to her second win of the year by Brett Miller.  She coasted past Stacia Hanover [Western Ideal], who cut most of the mile.  It was two and a half lengths to 6-5 favorite The Show Returns {Rocknroll Hanover], who had limited room trying to slip up the rail and finished third. Wicked Little Minx [$6.60], a $50,000 Harrisburg Sale purchase by Courant AB of Stockholm, Sweden, improved her record to two wins, one second and three thirds from eight starts this year and 10 of 19 in-the-money lifetime.  Her $109,199 earnings this year lifted her total to $157,234.  She was bred by Perretti Farms of Cream Ridge, NJ. Wicked Little Minx In other racing action, Graceful Vision put forth a sparkling debut, winning a maiden event for two year old filly pacers in 1:52.3.  The 1/2 favorite made a backstretch brush to the lead, dueled around the far turn and sprinted away from the competition to score and impressive maiden-breaking score with Steve Smith in the sulky.  She is owned and trained by Erv Miller. Graceful Vision Sayitall BB was a drop and pop winner, scoring an emphatic 1:50 triumph in the upper level condition event for the pacing mares.  On the heels of a troubled trip, the Breeders Crown winning mare earned a nice confidence building win which could set her up nicely for the Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day, with eliminations (if necessary) next Saturday night.  Sayitall BB was driven by Joe Bongiorno, one of two wins on the program for him and is trained by Ron Burke who co-owns the mare with Weaver Bruscemi LLC. Sayitall BB The Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed again on Saturday night and that carryover now stands at $219,579 into the Friday, July 31st racing program. Darin Zoccali

JULY 25, 2015 – Even before his three-year-old pacing geldings Robert Hill and J Js Delivery swept the Gold Series divisions at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, harness racing trainer Dave Menary was having a pretty amazing weekend. ‘I’m pretty pumped. I wasn’t at the races tonight myself. I was watching them at home on TV, because yesterday morning I had a daughter born,” explained the rural Cambridge, ON resident. “Julie and I, my fiancé, we had a beautiful baby girl born yesterday morning. We just come home from the hospital tonight.” As if in celebration of daughter Mikayla’s birth, the Menary Stable had an extraordinary evening at Mohawk. In addition to sweeping the Gold divisions, the trainer captured an overnight event and posted three seconds and one third. “I had seven in to go, including three colts in the Sires Stakes, and it couldn’t have gone any better,” said the trainer. “Everything we raced tonight has been unbelievable.” Adding another touch of the extraordinary to the evening was the fact that James MacDonald was in the race bike behind both of Menary’s Gold Series winners, just one night after being involved in an accident at Mohawk that sent him to the hospital for stitches in his arm. In the first $105,000 Gold test MacDonald and Robert Hill started from Post 6 and were sitting seventh when Shoe Shine reached the opening quarter in :26.4. At the :54.1 half and 1:22.1 three-quarters clocked by fan favourite Drachan Hanover, Robert Hill was still at the back of the pack, although MacDonald had moved him into the outer lane. At the top of the stretch Drachan Hanover still had a short lead and another Menary other starter, Sportsmanship, looked poised for victory, but when MacDonald gave Robert Hill a clear look at the wire the gelding powered down the stretch to a one and three-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:51.1. Sportsmanship finished second, giving Menary a one-two sweep, and Thinkofagameplan rounded out the top three. “Last week I think Sportsmanship went the mile of his life, and tonight when they come up to the head of the stretch I was cheering for him, but then all of sudden, when he was getting conquered it was by my other horse, so I had to change cheering,” said Menary. “I had to jump off one bandwagon and get on the other bandwagon.” Menary conditions Jereme's Jet son Robert Hill for Tom Hill of Lancashire, GB and Sportswriter son Sportsmanship for Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown, ON, Denis Breton of Welland, ON, Thomas Kyron of Toronto, ON and Parkinson Farms of Lucan, ON. Robert Hill In the second Gold division MacDonald and J Js Delivery also lined up at Post 6, but the Guelph, ON resident hustled the Jeremes Jet son away from the starting gate, reaching the opening quarter in :26.1. The duo yielded to Go Daddy Go through the :53.2 half, but were back out and powering toward the front at the 1:21.1 three-quarters. J Js Delivery turned for home with a narrow lead and had to battle all the way down the stretch to secure the victory, keeping a neck in front of Go Daddy Go and Star Cover. The 1:49.4 clocking was a personal best for J Js Delivery, who had posted one second and one third in the first two Gold Legs. Bob Hamather of Exeter, ON owns J Js Delivery, who is a half-brother to $1.1 million winner Secrets Nephew. J Js Delivery “It’s been a non-sleep week. I’m lucky I have a good staff around me,” said Menary. “Everything has just fallen into place, partly because of luck, partly because of the people, but mostly because of the horses.” Joining J Js Delivery in the winner’s circle was lucky “Be A Winner” contestant Nick Toltl, who had his photo taken with the gelding and driver MacDonald. In addition, Toltl will be back at Mohawk for the Sept. 26 Grassroots Championships enjoying dinner for four and a $100 wagering voucher. The three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will make their fourth Gold Series start at Georgian Downs on August 25. Next on Mohawk Racetrack’s active Ontario Sires Stakes calendar are six Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting colts on Tuesday, July 28. The colts will battle in Races 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 10 on Tuesday’s program, which kids off at 7:25 pm. Ontario Horse Racing

A mix of the state's top harness racing youngsters shared Saturday night's spotlight at Balmoral Park as the Crete oval presented five big money finals as part of the Southland Festival of Racing. Freshmen pacing fillies kicked off the fast paced action in race four as a field of 10 gathered behind the gate for the $50,000 Loyal Opposition Stake.   It was "bombs away" in this battle as Finn Racing and Tami Michi's Likeafireballshot parlayed a perfect pocket sitting trip into a half-length victory at odds of 12-1 for driver-trainer Jared Finn in 1:54.1.   Perfectly positioned after leading the field through an opening quarter in 28.3 Finn elected to let a hard charging Narcissistic (Mike Oosting) grab control of things as the fillies moved through middle splits of 58.0 & 1:26.0.   Patiently waiting for racing room in the lane the daughter of Sportsmaster--Major Philly moved to the outside with a sixteenth of a mile to go where she proceeded to wear down the favorite, rallying in the closing strides for her first win in lifetime start number three. Another longshot, 42-1 outsider Fox Valley Gypsy (Clifton Bell) unleashed a huge late rally to finish as the bridesmaid while LK's Nancy Lee (Tim Curtin) was a game third.   The winner returned $26.40, $13.40 & $6.40 while helping to key a $3,800 trifecta payout.   Next up were freshmen pacing colts as a field of 10 lined up behind the gate for the $52,000 Mini Me Stake.   Fresh off three straight stake scores Stephen Mc MacKin, Marilyn Kelly and Lorna Rousch's Wondrous Sport made it four in a row over the competition as he recorded a neck decision in a career best of 1:52.2 with Casey Leonard at the controls.   Sweeping to the front after watching BS Tyrrific (Kyle Wilfong) lead the field through an opening quarter in 28.0 Leonard continued to let the Gary Rath trainee roll through swift middle splits of 55.4 & 1:24.3.   Gamely digging in through the stretch the altered son of Sportsmaster--Wondrous Grace paced home in 28.1 while holding off the pocket sitting BS Tyrffic in a thrilling stretch duel. Dan D Dune (Mike Oosting) held on for third after making a strong first over bid as the field neared the top of the lane.   Sent off as the 2-1 favorite by the betting public Wondrous Sport returned $6.20, $4.80 & $3.00 while running his record to 4-0-0 in 5 starts with earnings of $35,000.   A field of eight sophomore trotting colts met in the third event of the night the $38,000 Kadabra Stake.   This battle provided another big price as William Wright and Geis Enterprises Bulldog Benji, a 20-1 outsider with just one career win to his credit, picked the right night to come up with a lifetime best, trotting to a convincing 5¾ length triumph in 1:55.0 for driver Mike Oosting.   Placed in mid-pack as a "fired-up" Tricky Nick led the field through splits of 28.3, 57.0 & 1:25.3 Oosting moved the Mike Brink trained son of Powerful Emotion--Ms Brittania to the outside as the field approached the head of the stretch.   With plenty of open space available after early miscues took Southern Appeal, Fox Valley Qatar and Southern Special out of the race Bulldog Benji seemed to find another gear as he quickly left the rest of the field in his wake while cruising to his second win in 11 starts this season. Captain Greedy (J D Finn), who had been riding a five race winning streak was forced to settle for the runner-up role on this night while Tricky Nick held on for third.   Bulldog Benji returned $42.80, $7.40 & $4.20 while upping his career bankroll to $29,720.   Next up were sophomore pacing fillies as field of 10 renewed acquaintances in the $45,000 Ann Vonian Stake.   Once again Kay Willis's home-bred filly Lex came up big when the cash was on the line as she rolled to a 2½ length victory in 1:52.1 for driver Kyle Wilfong.   Storming into the lead on the backstretch after watching Fox Valley Charm (Tim Curtin) and Fox Valley Aubrey (Robert Smolin) slug it out through an opening quarter in 28.0 Wilfong put Lex on the "engine" where she proceeded to put up middle splits of 57.0 & 1:24.3 while going along comfortably on the front.   Sprinting away from her rivals in the lane the Nelson Willis trained daughter of Lexington Legend--I Bet U effortlessly opened up a three-length advantage by the mid-stretch call as she rolled to her sixth win in 11 starts this year. Sportsmuffler (Todd Warren) shook loose late to rally for the place check while Southern Girl (Casey Leonard) was forced to settle for the show dough.   The 3-2 favorite of the betting public Lex returned $5.00, $3.60 & $3.20 while running her career numbers to 10-4-4 in 26 starts with earnings of $131,703.   Sophomore pacing colts closed out the Saturday stake action as a field of 10 three-year-olds knocked heads in the $45,000 Incredible Finale Stake.   After getting a week off and a bye into the final Bo & Pat De Long and Elmer Miller's Earndawg returned fit and fresh as he roared to a three-quarter-length victory in a lifetime best of 1:51.0 for driver Todd Warren.   Benefitting from a perfect steer by Warren, the Roger Welch trained son of Sportsmaster--Pacific Sister K enjoyed a pocket trip while longshot Engine One O One (Brian Carpenter) put up fractions of 27.1, 55.4 & 1:23.0.   After pulling the pocket as the field neared the top of the lane, Earndawg proceeded to blow right by the pace setter sealing the deal with a 28.0 final quarter to earn his fourth win in 10 starts this season. Fox Valley Elijah (Robert Smolin), a 26-1 outsider rallied sharply to get the place spot while Lucpark (Mike Oosting) finished third.   The second choice in the wagering at 2-1 Earndawg returned $6.60, $4.00 & $2.80 while running his career record to 12-7-4 in 27 starts with earnings of $277,188.   The Southland Festival action continues on Sunday, July 26th, with a trio of finals sharing the spotlight on the 10-race card. Freshmen trotting colts start the action in race two as a field of six will slug it out in the $36,500 Plesac Stake. Their female counterparts will hit the track in race four as a field of 10 meet in the $40,000 Fox Valley Flan Stake. Closing out the action will be sophomore trotting fillies as a field seven go postward in the $39,000 Fox Valley Evita Stake.   Once again the action gets underway at 7:10pm on Sunday night and as always the $1 Pick 4 (races 7-10) features a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The 10-cent Hi Five (race 10) also features a guaranteed pool with a minimum of $15,000 on the line in the "ultimate get out wager!   Tom Kelley  

P H Supercam (Million Dollar Cam) overcame a first over journey to score in the seventh annual harness racing Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace at Saratoga Casino and Raceway on Saturday night. The Jeff Bamond Jr. trainee drew post position four and after leaving to get away third, came first over on the race's favorite Dancin Yankee (Jim Morrill Jr) in the $260,000 free-for-all pace. Dancin Yankee, the Saratoga track record holder after winning the 2014 Gerrity in 1:48.4, returned to town to defend his title and came up just a neck shy of repeating. Jason Bartlett piloted P H Supercam, who wore down Dancin Yankee in the final strides to secure the win in 1:50.1, easily the fastest mile of the '15 campaign at the Spa. Dancin Yankee had to settle for second while longshot Domethatagain (Billy Dobson) came on to finish third. P H Supercam returned $11.20 to win and led an exacta and triple that paid $33.40 and $647, respectively. The victory was the eighth in seventeen seasonal tries for millionaire pacer P H Supercam. Live racing takes place every Tuesday through Saturday at Saratoga for the next six weeks with first post times set for 7:05pm each night. Mike Sardella  

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Despite setting a grueling pace with even-money favorite Fireyourguns tracking from the pocket throughout, Steelhead Hanover ($6.00) had enough left in deep stretch to narrowly prevail in Monday (July 27) evening's $12,000 Open Pace at the harness racing meeting at Tioga Downs.   Mike Simons secured a close tracking spot with the 6-year-old Bettor's Delight entire on the first turn, situated just behind Fireyourguns (Aaron Byron) and Eastend Eddie (Jim Marohn, Jr.) through a :26.3 first quarter.   Upon completing his brush to the lead with a circuit to go, Steelhead Hanover kept at a rapid pace, bracing for a sustained challenge from Fireyourguns on the far turn after a :54.3 middle half.   Driven out through the stretch, Steelhead Hanover prevailed by a neck, holding off Fireyourguns in 1:49.4 over fast going.   Eastend Eddie hooked three-wide in the stretch, sustaining a belated rally to hold third.   Joe Pavia, Jr. trains Steelhead Hanover for Dijo Racing, Joseph Barbera, the AGC Stables, and Pint Size Racing.   While Simons completed a driving double in the sub-featured $10,000 Open II Pace with Electrofire ($3.90, 1:51.4), Jim Marohn, Jr. led all drivers with three wins on the 10-race card.   The "Mighty Mite Part Two" teamed up with Giddy Up Delight ($6.60, 1:52.4), Flying Cowboy ($15.80, 1:50.3), and Retail ($6.10, 1:53).   Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Friday (July 31) evening, with first post scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.   James Witherite
Four divisions of New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) 2-year-old trotting fillies went postward on opening night (7-27) at the harness racing meeting at Batavia Downs and as a result the first record of the season just missed being broken. The track proved lightning fast as three of the four divisions set lifetime marks. Posterity (Lucky Chucky-Vintage Ship) took full advantage of an early break by favored Winning Princess (Jim Morrill Jr.) to wire the field and post a 1:59.1 victory, which was only one-fifth of a second off the track record set by Dreamy Dawn in 2010. Charlie Norris, who both trains and drives the filly, left sharp and set even fractions en route to an easy three and one-half length decision. The winning time was a new lifetime mark and the second win in three starts this year for Posterity, who paid $7.00. Posterity is owned by Carrie Norris, Janine Zito and Jerry Buck Sprinkle. In the first division, Lima Playtime (Credit Winner-Pacific Legacy) was an easy coast to coast winner who led the field by open lengths the whole race. Driver Rick Zeron seemed to have a gas pedal at his disposal after they passed three-quarters in 1:32.1; that's when the mare sped away from the group to come home in an impressive 28.3 and take a new lifetime mark of 2:00.4. The even-money favorite returned $4.20. Zeron trains and co-owns Lima Playtime with Millar Farms, James Walker and Paul Fisher. The second division saw a dominant winner displaced due to interference by her coupled entry. Goosebump Hanover (RC Royalty-Good Common Cents) and Jim Morrill Jr. wasted no time getting the lead before setting speedy fractions of 28.4, 58.4 and 1:29.4 into the far turn. The entry on the ticket, Steel Wheels (Lucky Chucky-Some Girls) and Gates Brunet pulled off the rail from third to take a shot at the leader. But shortly after that move, she made a break and interfered with trailing horses. After the heavily favored Goosebump Hanover pulled away to an easy five-length victory, the inquiry sign went up, and the winner came down due to the interference by the coupled horse. Second place finisher, Credit To Thelimit (Credit Winner-Prize Angie) and driver Sam Schillaci were then declared the winner ($23.80). Credit To Thelimit is also trained by Schillaci for owners Matthew Bencic, Peter Barbato, Sam Bova and Jodi Schillaci. In the final split, Dizzy Broad (Broad Bahn-Portia) proved last week's win was no fluke as she set a new lifetime mark of 2:00.4 while registering a four-length decision over her six competitors. Lindylicious (Credit Winner-Scrumptious Lindy) flew off the wings for Chris Lems and went right to the front before leading for almost three-quarters of the race. But when the field was headed up the backside, driver Kevin Cummings pulled Dizzy Broad from third and appeared to fly past Lindylicious to take the lead. From that point on the only thing in question was how much the filly would win by. Dizzy Broad, who is owned and trained by Noel Daley, returned $9.10 to her backers. There were also two divisions of the NYSS Excelsior A series on the card and the both also proved to be career best efforts for the winners. Take The Cash (Cash Hall-Take The Lid Off) driven by Jim Morrill Jr. scored her first career victory in 2:01.4 and returned $4.60. Take The Cash is trained by Perry Simser, who co- owns the filly with Clifford Morcom, Richard Kaplan and Salvatore Corcione. In the second leg, Barn Diva (Conway Hall-Misty Ridge) captured her second straight career win while also stopping the timer in 2:01.4. The winner, who returned $4.30, is trained and co-owned by Steve Pratt with Nancy Pratt and the Purple Haze Stable. Racing resumes Wednesday night (7-29) at Batavia Downs with the first post set for 6:35 p.m. Tim Bojarski
Yonkers Raceway's Monday harness racing program played no gender favorites. Driver Jason Bartlett won seven races, while trainer Jennifer Sabot won four. The two successfully crossed paths three times, the first with odds-on choice Little Joke ($2.20), who won the $20,000, third-race pace by 8½ lengths in a maiden-breaking 1:55. Bartlett/Sabot then prevailed with American Venture ($7.20), who won the $19,000, seventh race by 10½ widening lengths (life-best 1:50.4). Then, it was Rock My World ($3.70) in the $25,000, ninth-race pace (season's-best 1:55.2). Bartlett authored his own personal Pick 5, which included favored Midnight Dylan ($4.50) in the $19,000, sixth-race pace (1:53.4, matching a season's-best), American Venture in the seventh, with Yes You Can ($8.60) in the $25,000, eighth-race pace (life-best 1:53.2), Rock My World in the ninth and Secretsoftheknight ($14) in the $22,000, 10th-race pace (season's-best 1:53). Bartlett, who had nary a race off during the dozen races, wrapped it with a first-up Villager Beat ($34.60) in the $25,000 pacing finale (season's-best 1:52.2). Ms. Sabot's other training victory was JC Kingdom ($10) in the fifth-race pace (1:53.1, a season's-best). She won with all but one of her starters Monday evening. The Monday wagering Pick 5-as opposed to the Monday Bartlett Pick 5-attracted $20,902.74 of new money with a $10,000 guaranteed poll and a carryover of just over $4,100. The winning combination of 4/1/2/5/3 returned for every correct half-a-buck wager. Frank Drucker
Right on the heels of two regional mid-season finales the CKG Billings amateur driving series returned to its roots for a competition over the double oval at the harness racing meeting at Livingston County Family Fair in Fowlerville, Michigan. The fair, which has been thrilling locals since 1887, once again offered a full card of 17 harness races on Monday afternoon, July 27 despite the reproachful racing climate in the Wolverine State. And to the delight of local amateur drivers one was for Billings members in the Midwest region. Of course where ever there's a chance to drive a spirited Standardbred it's a good bet that Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford will avail himself an opportunity to compete. Joining Oldford in a quest for a victory were Jerome "Call me Jerry" Mihelich, " Lightning Larry" Steenbergen, Patrticia "the Write Stuff" Miller and Kelly "Sky" Walker. In that contest Oldford was up behind Gespacho , a trotter trained locally by June Du Russel. When the starter said go, Oldford sent his charge to the front and made every pole a winning one en route to an easy 2:05.4 victory over Beauty Chip and driver Jerry Mihelich. Hay Look Out finished third for Pat Miller. "I can't say enough good things about June Du Rusell," Oldford said after the race. "She's always helped the amateurs by supplying horses for us to drive" "She's just a great gal." " And there's no secret about the state of racing in Michigan but we're hopeful that things will get better in the future." It was the third seasonal triumph for Gerspach, a 7 year old altered son of Holy Guacamolie and his 21st in 87 career outings. For Oldford it marked his 11th seasonal driving victory and the 108th of his amateur career. The next Midwest region Billings action will be at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park on Saturday, August 1. That same night there will also be a Billings trot at Vernon Downs in the series east region. John Manzi
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