Harness Racing

Monica Thors under investigation for horse abuse

The following story and video was released late yesterday by Charlotte Huffman for I-Team Eyewitness News CBS TV Philly. PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Disturbing questions are being raised about what is happening inside a New Jersey barn. This comes after concerned residents called Eyewitness News saying a woman is abusing her horses. They say despite recent deaths of several of them and an on-going investigation by humane officials, little has been done to save the others. Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman reports. Monica Thors has been raising and training horses for harness racing for years. She produced a documentary on the sport and is also a horse photographer. Some may call Thors a horse expert. Others call her a monster because of what happens inside a Swedesboro barn. “There’s something seriously wrong here,” one woman told Eyewitness News. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, says she recently went to Thors’ barn to do business. “It was just devastating … when you see it your heart breaks,” she said. Kathy McGuire also visited Thors’ barn. McGuire is a certified animal cruelty investigator and owns NJ Aid For Animals, Inc., a non-profit striving to end the suffering of animals. McGuire characterizes what she saw as “abuse.” “The horses can’t lay down … can’t move and their feet are all bandaged up,” she said. Following such allegations of abuse, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture investigated and sent inspectors to the barn in June of 2013. A department spokesperson says inspectors found the conditions inside the barn met the department’s definition of a “severe violation.” Thors showed the Eyewitness News I-Team around her barn and the horses she claims are healthy. She also showed the I-Team a horse with bandages around his hooves. The horse required the support of a sling to stand up for long and struggled to even walk. “Why can’t the horse stand on his own?” Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman asked Thors. “He started to get foot infections from the glue and I should’ve known better,” Thors explained. Thors says she was gluing on the horse’s shoes. “The glue was seeping into the foot,” she said. “When you’re gluing on shoes you don’t glue over the top of blood because you could cause an infection,” one of Thors’ former blacksmiths said. The blacksmith, who asked to remain anonymous, told Eyewitness News he has seen Thors routinely overuse tools like a dremel on the horse’s hooves. “She’s using it to cut away at the sole, filing the feet shorter and shorter …She would just keep trimming until blood started pouring out,” he said. Thors responded to such allegations by saying she trims all of her horses’ hooves short because it puts less stress on their joints. The Department of Agriculture says investigators handed their report over to NJSPCA (New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which has the enforcement authority. A NJSPCA spokesperson says the agency was made aware of situation in August of 2013. Since then, Thors admits three horses have died, including two from foot infections. NJSPCA would not talk on camera about why it has taken a year and a half to act on the Department of Agriculture’s findings but in a statement said the case is “difficult and complex” and they are working to conclude it “as quick as possible.” But for people like McGuire, it’s not quick enough. “They’ve had the report for a year … At this point someone needs to go do their job … How many more horses have to die? To see the I-Team Eyewitness New video report click here. 

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Kiesey's slice of history

Victorian harness racing trainer Brian Kiesey is poised to create history on Sunday. Crossing into South Australia for the Mount Gambier program, Kiesey-trained runners will complete the field in the Loddon Valley Trotters’ Handicap. While it’s believed to be the first time a stable has supplied the entire line-up in a trotters’ and open class event, it is not the only occasion a trainer has prepared every runner in a race. The most recent occurrence was on June 6, 2010 when Sam Torre trained each of the five entrants in Be Active Every Day Two-Year-Old Pace at Geraldton in Western Australia. Also in a WA-based two-year-old race, Graham Tindale had all eight starters in the Heart Foundation Stake at Northam on November 16, 1997. Playing down the milestone, Kiesey revealed his onslaught was a simple case of “helping out the club”. “The club rang me a month ago asking me to support their meetings, which I agreed to do,” Kiesey explained. “As such, I will make regular tips up there every fortnight, which I enjoy as it is a great place. “They particularly wanted help getting the trotting races going, so I’m just helping the club out.” With Its Not Dark Yet the early favourite, despite behing re-handicapped to 30 metres, Kiesey believes one of the contenders off easier marks shape as the likely winner. “She won at Terang last night, so she’s been put back to 30 metres,” Kiesey said. “I don’t think she can win from that far behind as it’s too hard to get around them on such a small track. “The Final Cut from 10 metres, or Master Kiesey from 20 both begin quickly and could find the front, which makes them the one to beat. “Once in front they will be too hard to run down and I can’t see the others getting around them. “But you never know in standing starts and I promise you they will all be out there trying and doing their best.” PAUL COURTS

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Miracle Mile - facts and figures

Since its inception, the Miracle Mile has become the event that captures the imagination – and opinion – of the harness racing population. Developed in 1967, the Group One was designed with one mission in mind…creating a ‘miracle’. To be more precise the dream was to see the two-minute barrier broken for the first time under race conditions in Australia. To everyone’s delight, New Zealand wonder mare Robin Dundee achieved the feat during inaugural running, stopping the clock in 1:59. Almost five decades later, the Grand Circuit gem has been captured by the “who’s who” of the sport, with records tumbling on a regular basis. As we count down to Saturday night’s edition at Menangle, here are some statistics on the race that has become ultimate speed test on this side of the equator.   SEX OF WINNERS: 3 Mares - (Robin Dundee, 1967 - Norms Daughter, June 1996 – Baby Bling, April 2013) 22 Stallions - (Last winner - Christian Cullen, 1998) 22 Geldings - (Last winner – Beautide, November 2013)   AGES OF WINNERS: 4-Y-O - 5 5-Y-O - 18 6-Y-O - 10 7-Y-O - 7 8-Y-O - 5 9-Y-O - 1 12-Y-O – 1   SUCCESSFUL BARRIERS: 1 - 10 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2011) 2 - 10 (Last winner, Be Good Johnny - 2005) 3 - 6 (Last winner, Baby Bling – April 2013) 4 - 10 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2010) 5 – 7 (Last winner, Beautide – November 2013) 6 - 4 (Last winner, Double Identity - 2002) 7 - 0 8 - 0   FIVE FASTEST WINNERS: Beautide (November 2013) - 1:50.2 Smoken Up (2010) – 1:50.3 Baby Bling (2013 April) – 1:50.5 Monkey King (2009) – 1:50.8 Iraklis (December 1996) - 1:54.2   FIVE SLOWEST WINNERS: The Scotsman (1979) - 2:00.7 Bay Foyle (1972) - 2:00.6 Pure Steel (1978) and Locarno (1980) - 2:00.4 Chokin (1993) - 2:00   CONSECUTIVE WINNERS: Westburn Grant (1989 and ‘90) Chokin (1993 and ‘94) Holmes D G (1999 and 2000) Sokyola (2003 and ‘04) Be Good Johnny (2005 and ‘06) Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11)   MOST APPEARANCES: Paleface Adios - 7 1974 - 2nd (Hondo Grattan 1) 1975 - 5th (Young Quinn 1) 1976 - 1st (Don’t Retreat 2, Hondo Grattan 3) 1977 - 2nd (Royal Force 2) 1978 - 2nd (Pure Steel 1) 1979 - 2nd (The Scotsman 1) 1980 - 3rd (Locarno 1, Pure Steel 2)   WHERE WINNERS TRAINED: New South Wales - 14 (Last winner, Baby Bling – April 2013) New Zealand - 12 (Last winner, Monkey King - 2009) Western Australia - 7 (Last winner, Norms Daughter - June 1996) Victoria - 9 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2011) Queensland - 3 (Last winner, Be Good Johnny - 2006) Tasmania - 2 (Last winner, Halwes - 1968)…debate over Beautide (November 2013) which was based in New South Wales!   FAVOURITES: 19 Successful - 28 Unsuccessful   BEATEN WHEN ODDS-ON: Preux Chevalier - 8/11 - Last in 1984 Village Kid - 4/9 - 3rd in December 1986 Il Vicolo - 4/5 - 2nd in June 1996 Iraklis - 9/10 - 3rd in 1997 Blacks A Fake - 4/7 - 5th in 2008 Excel Stride – 5/4 – 4th in April 2013   MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINERS: • Barry Purdon - Christopher Vance (1991), Chokin (1993 and ‘94) and Holmes DG (1999 and 2000) • Lance Justice - Sokyola (2003 and ‘04) and Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11)   MOST SUCCESSFUL DRIVERS: • Vic Frost - Lucky Creed (1970), Westburn Grant (1989 and ‘90) • Tony Herlihy - Christopher Vance (1991), Chokin (1993 and ‘94) • Lance Justice – Sokyola (2003), Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11) PAUL COURTS

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For A Reason - the quiet achiever

Despite being the fastest competitor in the event, harness racing star For A Reason is quickly becoming the forgotten horse leading into Saturday night’s Miracle Mile at Menangle. Boasting a 1:49.4 mark – the second fastest in Australasian history - For A Reason has generated little, to no, publicity as the focus centres around his rivals, particularly Beautide, Christen Me, Suave Stuey Lombo and Terror To Love. Trainer Belinda McCarthy is hoping the trend will continue during the rich sprint, leaving For A Reason to “do his thing” as he chases a second Grand Circuit win for the season. For A Reason captured last month’s Queensland Pacing Championship with McCarthy’s husband, Luke, in the cart. Luke will partner the son of Art Major again this weekend. “We’re happy to just go along our own way and get ready for the race,” McCarthy said. “The important thing is the horse is in great shape and is ready to do his thing.” Drawn awkwardly in barrier five, For A Reason is likely to be eased away from the mobile as Luke avoids the early speed battle in preference for a handy position in the running line. “We would have preferred one or two, but the draw could have been worse out in seven or eight,” McCarthy said. “From there we will be looking to get into a nice trail and hope for a bit of luck at the business end. “He couldn’t be in better shape going into this, so now we just need that bit of luck.” Citing defending champion Beautide as the one to beat, McCarthy believes the winner will have to break the magical 1:50 mark. Smoken Up’s southern hemisphere record of 1:48.5 is safe according to McCarthy. “I think whoever wins will have to go 1:50 or just under,” McCarthy said. “It would be great for the industry if Smoken Up’s record was broken, but it probably won’t happen.” PAUL COURTS

DOVER, Del. --- Overloooked Egosnattitus $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) two-year-old finals on Monday, Nov. 24 at Dover Downs. Egosnattitudes raced outside uncovered for nearly three-quarters-of-a-mile and still had plenty in the stretch to record a 1:59.3 victory in the state-sired freshman championship. Jonathan Roberts pulled the homebred son of Great George Two-Aerobic Linda out of fifth in front of the grandstand and methodically moved up on the outside to finally reach trot-setter Political Foe, the odds-on favorite teamed with Eddie Dennis, entering the final turn and then hustled past straightening out at the top of the lane. Political Foe fought to the wire finishing second with Perfect Vangogh and Tony Morgan, the show horse. Unsung Circle M RJ (George Dennis) and Political Cash (Allan Davis) collected the fourth and fifth payoff spots. "This is the first time that [Egosnattitudes] ever put it all together," said driver Jonathan Roberts in the winner's circle. "Last month he set a track record at Harrington (in a DSBF prelim) but he came up with some issues after that, so this is a pleasant surprise." Bib Roberts trains and co-owns Egosnattitudes with M&W and breeder Graham Grace stables. The gelding won for the third time in seven starts and ups his seasonal earnings to $73,400. He paid $10.60 to win. Win Power and trainer-driver Jeff Fout got up in the final stride to win the $20,000 DSBF Consolation in 2:05. Vangoghpaintsinred (Vince Copeland) had led from the start and had to settle for second. Wynfield Comet (Kim Vincent) was third. The DSBF male pace $100,000 final is set for Sunday, Dec. 7. Corey Callahan, Brett Brittingham and Allan Davis had driving doubles. Razor sharp Papa Ray, Nova Artist and Just A Jolt lead the top pace of the week, the $26,000 Delaware Special while Enrico As, last week’s winner, heads the $18,000 Open/Handicap trot, the Wednesday, Nov. 26 co-feature races at Dover Downs. First post is 4:30 p.m. Displaying a strong closing brush, Papa Ray, teamed with Eddie Davis Jr., scored a 1:51.4 victory a week ago to best Just A Jolt and Vic Kirby and another rapid closer Simon’s Artist, with Matt Makaley driving this time. Not to be overlooked, Eddie and Kathy Davis’ Nova Artist handled by Allan Davis, the fast Bandolito, owned, trained and driven by Daryl Bier and Frank Chick’s So Take That, on a three-race win streak, with Montrell Teague. Mary Ann Larrimore’s Believe This Bob is another winner last time out with Ross Wolfenden.  Tritton Inc.’s Malak Uswaad N and Trace Tetrick drew the rail with Kovach Stable’s Feel Like A Fool, reined by George Dennis, alongside. Corey Callahan drove Enrico AS along the passing lane to a nose victory in last Wednesday’s $18,000 Open trot. This week, his challengers include David Miller’s Cash On Delivery (Vince Copeland), Baximum (Allan Davis) racing for Tina and Joe Clark, both second in their previous starts, I Like My Boss, the only three-year-old in the field owned by trainer Bob Shahan, Jimmy and A.M. Parsons. Jim King and Tim Tetrick’s Powerful Charger (Trace Tetrick) leaves from the rail. Trainer Leigh Raymer and Vito Cucci’s Ashes Cash (Tyler Raymer) and recent arrival Wilamar Valley (Jim Morand) owned by Nanticoke Racing and Donna Messick, complete the eight-horse lineup. There is no live racing Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and as usual Fridays and Saturdays are dark at Dover Downs. Sunday post time is 5:30 p.m. Weekday racing, Monday through Thursday, begins at 4:30 p.m. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs  

New Zealand harness racing star Christen Me has arrived in Australia early in an attempt to acclimatise ahead of Saturday night’s Miracle Mile. While trainer Cran Dalgety stayed at home in Christchurch, the son of Christen Cullen has settled in at the Sydney stables of Blake Fitzpatrick, where temperatures soared past 40 degrees. “I sent my travelling foreman over with Christen Me a little bit earlier than normal just to make sure he would be acclimatised to the Aussie weather,” Dalgety said. “They tell me it got pretty hot, but he has coped with it really well, and I thought it was better to get him over there and get him ready for the possibility of hot weather rather than turn up a few days before and have him melt when he got off the plane.” Christen Me will head home after the Miracle Mile, with Dalgety keen to return for next year’s Inter Dominion at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “He wasn't ready to race in everything last year and that’s why we missed the Inter Dominion, but we will be there with bells on next year.” GREG HAYES

As part of the Harnesslink Fantasy Ballarat Pacing Cup promotion, we will aid harness racing fans with their selections by providing profiles on each of the Cup’s 44 winners. The most popular provincial event on the calendar, the Ballarat Cup is scheduled to be run on December 13, with topliners such as Beautide and defending champion, Restrepo, being aimed at the feature. During its December 9 barrier draw breakfast, the Ballarat and District Trotting Club will conduct a ‘phantom call’ of the Harnesslink Fantasy Ballarat Pacing Cup based on the field selected by our panel of experts. Panellists will submit their top 12 members from the Cup’s honour roll, with a point system to decide the final line-up. The voice of the industry - Dan Mielicki – will then ‘call’ the race to determine which Cup winner can lay claim to being the greatest of them all! Enthusiasts are also invited to submit their fantasy field via the club’s Facebook page, with the person who correctly selects the most starters in the final fantasy field - including their finishing order - to receive a $1000 bet on this year’s Cup compliments of the Flying Horse Venue and hospitality on the night. 1975 Sporting Son (Typhoon Hanover – Cindoro) Won Ballarat Cup from front line in 1:19.5 1975 Stawell Cup Two Inter Dominion heats (3rd 1977 Final) 1976 Royal Gaze (Tarport King – Glenfern Observe) Won Ballarat Cup from 30 metres in track record 1:17 1975 A G Hunter Cup 1974 & 75 Shepparton Cup Four Inter Dominion hearts (3rd 1974 Final) PAUL COURTS

Freehold, NJ --- A co-owner of Always B Miki, scratched “lame” just minutes before post time from the Breeders Crown on Saturday, has confirmed that the horse had orthopedic surgery Monday morning and a full recovery is expected.  Mitchel Skolnick of Bluewood Stable confirmed on Monday evening that the 3-year-old pacing colt had surgery on Monday morning performed by Dr. Patty Hogan at Hogan Equine in Cream Ridge, N.J. “She has no concerns (about a return to the races), very optimistic. She said it was a clean break of the P1 (long pastern bone), a sagittal fracture. She pulled it together and put in four screws, she said three screws might have been enough, but he is a very active horse, so she put in an extra one.” Skolnick said that Hogan had no doubt about a successful return to the races after a period of healing and recuperation. “He will come to the farm tomorrow (Bluestone Farm in Hopewell, N.J.) for 30 days of stall rest and then 30 days of walking on the Equicizer. Then maybe he can start jogging.” Skolnick said, “We just don’t know,” how Always B Miki sustained the injury. “I hate to speculate, because we just don’t know,” he said. “It’s repairable and we’re just thankful he didn’t go race (on the affected limb).”  Always B Miki is trained by Joe Holloway for breeders and co-owners Roll The Dice Stable, Val D’Or Farm and Bluewood Stable. He has won $926,866 in his career, including his most recent five races in a row, and has a mark of 1:47.4.  by Ellen Harvey, for Harness Racing Communications

Within a week or so hundreds of ballots will go out to the membership of the United State Trotting Association (USHWA) and race secretaries throughout North America. These journalists and communicators will have the duty of selecting the prestigious Dan Patch award winners for the 2014 race season. They are entrusted in voting for what will mean a lot of prestige and big bucks for both colts and fillies and horses and mares when it comes time for the stallion shed or broodmare ranks. So who will these USHWA members be voting for? After this weekend’s top notch racing some of the choices are just plain standouts but a lot are not. In fact, some voters will have to wait until next week’s TVG finals at the Meadowlands before they can sit down and make their final decisions. USHWA members are human being too and thus have to weigh-in all the facts and separate the statistical data they will review with the feelings in their heart when it comes voting time and look back on the long season and not just the last few weeks and then cast their ballots. Then on Thursday, December 18, once all the ballots have been counted, the USHWA membership will hold a press conference at the Meadowlands to announce the winners. Usually these announcements would be held up in suspense until the big Dan Patch Awards dinner February 22, 2015 at the DoubleTree Hilton Orlando by SeaWorld. The USHWA membership voted last year to announce all the winners ahead of time to try and glean the most publicity out of the winners this year instead of it being buried and not getting any newsprint until after the fact on the night of the dinner. The Dan Patch Awards Dinner will still be a major event and celebration of all the winners, both equine and human from the 2014 season and the first introduction of the newest inductees to the prestigious Hall of Fame. It is truly an event that everyone should consider attending. But it still leaves the question of who will everyone be voting for? Let’s do a little overview of each of the divisions and how they stack up after the Breeders Crown. Two-Year-Old Trotting Fillies - If if if….Wild Honey could only have stayed on stride and have a shot against Mission Brief. She was as near perfect as you can get in a season. Mission Brief was super-fast both on track and in jumping off stride, but without Wild Honey being able to take real shot at her, looks to have given Mission Brief the nod of approval in this division. Also setting a world record along the way always helps too. Two-Year-Old Pacing Fillies - No one in the world can argue that JK She’salady is the unopposed candidate in this division. Yes, Sassa Hanover is no slouch and Yannick Gingras chose wrong and it will be great to see these two tangle next year, but going undefeated at 12 for 12 is perfection at its best. Her pulling away from Sassa Hanover in the stretch in the Breeders Crown was very impressive after the great season she had. The only question is if the voting membership of USHWA can make her the Harness Horse of the Year in 2014. More on that to come later in this story. Two-Year-Old Trotting Colts - Now we really get into a tough category. Pinkman closes out the season with a flourish, winning four straight including the Breeders Crown in a lifetime mark on a cold night nearly rewriting the world record. But both Habitat and French Laundry also had super seasons. Pinkman did beat Habitat three of the four times they faced each other. French Laundry only faced Pinkman in the BC final and French Laundry never faced Habitat until the Breeders Crown.  Can’t we just race the three of them against each other and winner takes the title? Two-Year-Old Pacing Colts - Throughout this season all the talk was Artspeak and rightly so. The colt was fabulous and beat all comers until he met up with In The Arsenal in Lexington and then things changes as the unbeaten was beaten. But Artspeak was able to come back to victory lane and close out his season with a big win in the Governor’s Cup before either getting too sore or enough is enough this year and skipping the Matron and Breeders Crown. Now comes along the dragon slayer, In The Arsenal. He puts an end to Artspeaks unbeaten streak, then he does the same to unbeaten Yankee Bounty two starts in a row. Here comes the Breeders Crown and not once, but twice drawing the 10 post and races super valiant but could not win but he should be a real terror next year. Three-Year-Old Trotting Fillies - All season long Shake It Cerry was the horse to beat in this division. And on just two occasions, one important one being the Hambletonian Oaks, Shake It Cerry did get beat. But that was it for the year. After the Oaks loss she rallied for nine straight wins to close out 2014 with 15 wins in 17 starts. Her Breeders Crown score after going three-wide on the final turn was a super dramatic way to end the season.  Credit also must be given to her stable mate, Lifetime Pursuit, who also had a top notch season. Three-Year-Old Pacing Fillies - This was a topsy turvey division throughout the year. With last year’s top filly, Precocious Beauty unable to come back and dominate the division it became a question of who will win this week. Then a filly named Color’s A Virgin put on a dramatic showing in winning the Jugette in straight heats and slowly became a household name for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Brian Brown…until the Breeders Crown finale. After winning her BC elimination division for her seventh straight score and 13th win of the year, Color’s A Virgin was living up to her hype. Now comes the Breeders Crown final and low and behold here comes Sayitall BB. She wins very convincingly and when you look at her record she shows nine wins and over $500,000 earned. Three-Year-Trotting Colts - Father Patrick was tabbed early on to be the great one. And he was early on but after his went off stride in the Hambletonian, his stable mates, Trixton and Nuncio took over the spot light. And each time Father Patrick would rebound, he got beat again or made a break to set him back. Then Trixton went lame and ended his career and Mr. Consistency, Nuncio, emerged on the scene to reap two of the three trotting Triple Crown races and the only one of the three to step on and win on a half mile track. But then here comes Father Patrick in the Breeders Crown final. Beaten by E L Titan, beaten by Nuncio, the top rated colt at the start of the season comes back at the very end with stakes record 1:51.4 triumph to close out the 2014 season. Tale of the tape says Father Patrick beat Nuncio five times to Nuncio beating him three times, or at least beating himself by breaking. Both colts have near identical records so a strong case can be made on behalf or against either top candidate. Three-Year-Old Colt Pacers - All Always B Miki had to do was not go lame before the start of the Breeders Crown as if he had won there would be no contest in this division. Despite the lameness, Always B Miki has had a sensational season with 12 big scores, winning eight of his last nine starts. Now with Always B Miki going lame for the Breeders Crown, it brings to light the other top colts in the division. Jug winner Limelight Beach was going strong but scratched early from the Breeders Crown Final. JK Endofanera was third in the BC final and sports ten wins this year and over $1 million in earnings this season. Then there is McWicked, who was so hot in mid-season but failed to fire in the Jug and had not won a race since early September. Always game but could not win. He becomes the strong horse in the Breeders Crown and overpowers the field to win in a very impressive 1:49. He now leads all the colts with $1,300,00 won this year. Older Trotting Mares - USHWA members get a ton of statistical data to help them make their decisions in voting for horses of the year and this division needs those stats. Bee A Magician is the defending Harness Horse of the Year. She won’t have a shot at it again, but for her division she has to go up against Maven and Classic Martine. Bee A Magician was not her old self this year but came back to winning form in the Breeders Crown. She changed tactics and wired the field in 1:51.4. But only four wins this year vs a perfect 17 or 17 last year is not good. She was a game second place finisher in some big stakes six times this year. Maven has caught everyone’s eye and rightly so. She raced against the boys off and on this season and beat them here and in Europe. Her come from behind score from post ten last week at the Meadowlands was sensational. Her second place finish to Commander Crowe was top of the line against some very good horses. But once again only four wins and maybe not the world champion caliber she was last year. Classic Martine is most certainly the statistical favorite in here. Her 9 wins, 5 seconds and 2 thirds in 18 starts is the best record of anyone. She also has more earnings this year than anyone else in the group at $460,000 is tops too. Plus she did not skip many of the big dances. This is another toughie division. Older Trotter Horses - There was a lot of hype when Sebastian K first came over to the USA. Is he the great horse everyone in Europe had been talking for years? That question was answered in his first start for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt. Then the next start and the next start and how fast can this guy go? How domineering can he be? Well, the answers were all age world record 1:49, numerous 1:50 and change miles, the barefoot wonder who was nearly unbeatable unless it rained and the track was off. No question what so ever that Sebastian K, regardless of his final appearance this year in the TVG finals this weekend, has been a true super star performer. The only question will be if Sebastian K is fit enough to win the TVG final and then go head and head with a little pacing filly and a duo of trotting colts for Harness Horse of the Year honors. Older Pacing Mares - For three straight years Anndrovette has dominated this division, but maybe not in 2014. She was a decent fourth in the Breeders Crown but had yet to win a race against these since late August. The new kid on the block this season has been Yagonnakissmeornot. With 14 wins in 30 starts she has been very good in both stakes and Opens and is the highest money earner among this group. Yet she could not hit the board in the Breeders Crown either. Somwherovrarainbow came into the Breeders Crown in good form but she could not muster a BC check.  Rocklamation, when good is great, but she has just too many issues each season but she did rally hard to be second in the Breeders Crown. Shebestingin, Charisma Hanover, Voelz Hanover, even the Breeders Crown winner, Shelliscape, could have been considered but their inconsistent race patterns eliminate them. Older Pacing Horses - A win would have made it more convincing, but after yet another game effort, second in the Breeders Crown, Sweet Lou may just be able to end his career as he started it, with a Dan Patch award. His ten wins and $1.1 million in earnings this year plus the win streak and the sub 1:48 miles every week make him just about too strong to think twice about. Foiled Again had another great season, State Treasurer too and Bettor’s Edge. It was a great season again for the older pacing ranks with so many good competitors who would step up and score big, like Thinking Out Loud in the Breeders Crown, Clear Vision too. Trotter of the Year - It is just about too tough to call in here. Sebastian K quietly came into the United States and then set the sport on fire this summer, set track and world marks nearly every other start. Then he faced some losses on sloppy tracks and sorta sored up at the end of the season. But now he looked great in his qualifier and voters will be watching the TVG finals this weekend at the Meadowlands to see how he rebounds. But what about Father Patrick and/or Nuncio? Throw out the two major breaks and he is nearly perfect all season long and was on cruise control in winning the Breeders Crown. Nuncio is Mr. Consistency all season long, no breaks, won two of three Triple Crown jewels and won with ease on a half mile too. His third place finish in the Breeders Crown was the only time he was worse than second all season. Both horses have nearly identical records, Father Patrick beat Nuncio five times, Nuncio beat Father Patrick three times. And let’s talk about Shake It Cerry! With 15 wins in 17 starts, $1,230,000 in earnings. Three-wide on the final turn and trots away in the Breeders Crown. She had nearly done it all except for her Hambletonian Oaks fourth place finish. You can’t make a case for the other three without having her join in too! Anyone have a four-sided coin we can flip? Pacer of the Year - JK She’salady was perfect this year, 12 for 12. She never shied from any major stakes race. She took on all comers and in the Breeders Crown was looked in the eye by Sassa Hanover and dug in to score in a romp. But she is a freshman filly and more than likely going against a seasoned veteran in Sweet Lou, who for months was unbeatable against the best in the sport. Harness Horse of the Year - With nearly 200 members of USHWA voting for the horse of the year honors this season, it’s impossible, maybe, to read everyone’s minds. From a statistical point of view, provided JK She’salady can beat Sweet Lou, then harness racing history could be made as no two-year-old filly has ever been named Harness Horse of the Year. But that could very well change in 2014 as the little lady had a sensational season, sorta like last year’s Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician. From the trotting side perhaps because of the boost to harness racing’s moral from his sensational season, should Sebastian K beat out Shake It Cerry, Father Patrick’s and Nuncio, then it will be a real contest between the world champion trotter and the little lady. But that’s not to say it could also happen with most any of the possible finalists. It’s been that great a racing season. It is actually too close to even try and make a pick, and with so many great possible scenarios to consider, we’ll just have to wait and see who the USHWA Membership votes for. We will all know before Christmas. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

The deadline for entries for the 2014 John Hervey Awards, which honor the best of harness racing journalism, is Dec. 15. Entries will be accepted in four categories - news/commentary writing, feature writing, television, and the George Smallsreed Awards for race and feature photography. Winners will be recognized at the U.S. Harness Writers Association's annual Dan Patch Awards festivities Feb. 22 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Seaworld. Judges in each category will select a winner and, where appropriate, up to two honorable mentions. Entries published or aired between Dec. 1, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2014 are eligible. There are no entry fees or cash prizes. The rules are available by request to Ken Weingartner, chair of the Hervey Committee, at ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. Email entries should be sent to ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com Mailed entries should be sent to Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications, 49 E. Main St. #5, Freehold, NJ 07728. If using an overnight service, please indicate that no signature is required. Rules for the 2014 John Hervey Awards The best of harness racing journalism in 2013 will be honored with the 52nd edition of the John Hervey Awards for writing, the 30th edition of the Broadcasters Awards for electronic media as well as the 14th edition of the George Smallsreed Awards for photography. Please read these rules carefully. Failure to follow instructions may result in disqualification of the entry. Entries will be judged in the following categories -- all must be in English: 1. News & Commentary Writing (hard news, opinion pieces and essays) 2. Feature Writing (articles not written on overnight deadline; involving background research or expanded profiles -- not Q&As) 3. Television (a featured or live racing segment no longer than 10 minutes which must have aired on a network, local or cable station or have been included in a racetrack's simulcasting presentation) 4. Racing Photography 5. Feature Photography Winners will receive a plaque/trophy as well as two dinner tickets to the Dan Patch Awards dinner on Feb. 22. There are no cash prizes. The decisions of the Hervey Committee and the judges are final. Photo and written submissions -- news or feature categories -- must have appeared in a paid-circulation publication or on the website that is the same-name affiliate of a paid-circulation publication, recognized broadcast news organization or established industry/news website. Content that appeared on personal websites, message boards or lists and similar entities is not valid for inclusion in the competition. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. Television entries must have aired on a commercial or public television/radio station or be part of a racetrack's simulcasting broadcast. Additionally, audio/podcasts are eligible if they were posted to the websites of recognized news organizations or established industry websites. Documentaries or other long-form productions are not eligible although one segment of that documentary, edited only to fit the length limitations of no more than 10 minutes, may be submitted for consideration. The final decision on eligibility is in the hands of the Hervey Committee. General Rules The decision for eligibility of Internet posted materials is at the discretion of the Hervey Committee and all decisions are final. These awards are not open to entries which are fiction or were prepared for commercial purposes (for advertisements/promo/publicity purposes). There is a limit of one submission per person in any one category. You may enter more than one category, but not with the same submission. The Hervey Committee, at its discretion, may disqualify an entry at any time in the process, and reserves the right not to bestow an award in a particular category based on the quality and quantity of entries. An entry may only be submitted in one category and the category for which someone is submitting must be clearly indicated. What You Must Submit All entries must originate with the author/photographer/producer and must include a signed cover letter expressing the wish to enter materials in the contest and granting permission for the materials to be used for promoting the awards in press releases. The letter must also include the following contact information for the writer/producer/photographer: name, full address, telephone numbers (home, office, cell and fax) and email address. The letter must also include the date that the media organization published/aired the submission and specify the category for which the entry is being submitted. All the rules for submission must be followed. Editors may submit on behalf of authors provided that the cover letter is provided with information on the writer/producer/photographer as well as the person submitting the entry. All other third-party entries will be rejected. Rules for Submission All written entries -- news or feature -- must specify the category (news or feature) for which the author wishes to be considered. All print entries must include both a tearsheet of the entry (a PDF is acceptable via electronic submission) as it appeared in print and an electronic or emailed version that is plain text, without identifying information (no bylines, publication names, graphs, photos or other graphic elements). The emailed (or electronic) file must be named for the author so that it is easily identifiable as being by the author. The plain text version must be as it was published. The tearsheet from the publication must show the author's name, title and date of publication. Tearsheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a "screen print" of the document. At the discretion of the Hervey Committee, an editor or similar senior official of the publication or website may be required to provide a letter attesting that the document is the work of the author who submitted it and it appeared on the website or in the publication on the date in question. If the author wishes to submit a multi-part series, it must be where the parts were published at the same time (sidebars with a primary story) or where it covers a single theme over the course of two or three publication dates. Multi-part submissions are not to exceed three parts. All television entries must not exceed 10 minutes and must not contain commercials. Each submission (one per person or group) should have its own cover letter. Each submission should be in the form of a DVD. Please provide two DVDs of each submission. The submission may be a segment from a live show or a pre-taped feature but must be submitted "as broadcasted" and not edited other than to meet the length restriction and to remove commercials. Commercials or promotional videos are not eligible. A single segment of a documentary may be submitted but not a full-length documentary. Photography entries must be in the form of two non-returnable 8-by-10 prints of each photograph as it appeared in print, with no identifying information on the front or back along with the cover letter that provides all the identifying information. The two prints should be accompanied by a single tearsheet of the published photo, showing the date, name of publication and photographer's name and info. Tearsheets for Internet-based submissions will consist of a "screen print" with an accompanying letter from the editor or similar senior official of the website, attesting to who submitted it and that it appeared on the date indicated in connection with a news-related story. Each photographer may submit one entry in each the race and feature categories. Additionally, the winners (and any honorable mentions) must be able to provide a JPG version of the photograph upon request from the Hervey Committee. Photographs should not be digitally enhanced beyond the basics needed to achieve realistic color balance and sharpness. Failure to follow these rules will result in disqualification. Deadline All entries must be in the hands of Hervey Chairman Ken Weingartner by 5 p.m. on Dec. 15. This is not a postmark deadline but actually when the entry must be received. You are urged to submit early to avoid missing the deadline. Where to send the entries Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications, 49 E. Main St. #5, Freehold, NJ 07728. If using an overnight service, please indicate that no signature is required. Where to e-mail the digital portion of the entry ken.weingartner@ustrotting.com. Questions may be sent to Ken Weingartner at the above e-mail address. by Ken Weingartner, for USHWA  

Connections of outstanding New Zealand pacer Christen Me are hoping he can emulate his father by capturing harness racing’s ultimate speed test on Saturday night. Christen Me will contest the SEW-Eurodrive Miracle Mile at Menangle, a race his sire captured almost two decades ago. Trained by Brian O’Meara, Christian Cullen blitz his rivals in the 1998 edition of the Grand Circuit gem when driven by Danny Campbell. An odd-on favourite at 11/8, Christian Cullen scored by 20 metres from Tailamade Lombo, with Our Sir Vancelot four metres away third. In a performance that drew comparisons to the great Popular Alm, Christian Cullen rated a brilliant 1:54.4 for the 1760 metres, with his time just two-tenths of a second outside Iraklis’ record established in two years earlier. Should Christen Me emerge triumphant, it will also be the first time a Miracle Mile champion has produced a subsequent winner. Drawn barrier four for astute trainer Cran Dalgety, Christen Me is in “perfect shape” for the 1609-metre dash. “I couldn’t be happier with him,” Dalgety declared. “He has come through his two runs during New Zealand Cup week in great condition and is primed for this. “Going into last year’s Miracle Mile when he finished second he hadn’t recovered from the New Zealand Cup week as well, so I’m expecting him to be even better this time.” Citing defending champion Beautide as the one to beat, Dalgety stated he will instruct driver Dexter Dunn to ‘stalk’ the locally-trained gelding. “Beautide is the one to beat and we will stalk him everywhere he goes,” Dalgety said. “From four we should have the chance to follow Beautide right from the start and hopefully get the drop on him and the rest of the field in the home straight.” PAUL COURTS

One of the most pressing issues for people involved in the harness racing industry in New Zealand is what are we going to do to address the continuing decline in the number of mares bred. Many participants in the industry have a various rationale for the reasons for the decline which has seen the  number of mares bred last breeding season drop back to levels last experienced in the late 1960s. On the racing side of the industry a lot of time and effort has gone into getting better utilization of our racing stock and progress has been made. Our two major clubs have made great strides in recent times with regards to stake levels and returns to the industry. However on the breeding side of the industry the core issue for breeders of affordability continues to languish in the too hard basket. The chances of the average New Zealand breeder returning a profit on their foal/foals has continued to decline over the last 20 years as costs have risen far quicker than returns. The commercial side of the breeding industry has held up reasonably well to a point but the hobby breeder who sends one or two mares to stud each year are starting to resemble 21st century moas. The reason that it is so important to keep numbers up overall is the position of harness racing in the New Zealand gambling market. At present we have a market share around the 29% mark, down from a high of 32% in the not to distant past. Greyhound racing continues to grow its market share and with its low cost structure and overheads and ability to stage wall to wall racing it presents a major challenge to the long term health of harness racing in New Zealand. To see off that challenge, harness racing needs to continue to have a presence in as much of rural and provincial New Zealand as possible.  The way the breeding numbers are heading, harness racing is going to have enormous difficulty maintaining some of the current meetings held outside of Auckland and Christchurch. We haven't even got to the significantly smaller crops that are coming through the system and yet we are struggling to card even eight races on some recent programs. Harness Racing New Zealand is being extremely creative in trying to frame races to fill the shortfall but that job is just going to get more and more difficult as the smaller crops come on stream. Several industry participants have put forward suggestions to try to turn around the breeding decline and while there was merit in all of the ones we have seen, none in our view were going to stop the decline. In our view we need something tangible that the breeder can see is going to help their bottom line if we are to encourage breeders to continue to send their mares to stud. The idea of a breeders payment every time a racehorse wins a race has been around for ages and in our view is an option whose time has come. We envisage a standardbred breeding fund operated and controlled through Harness Racing New Zealand. Every time a race is held in New Zealand, a breeding credit of $500 will be added to the standardbred breeding account held by Harness Racing New Zealand of the breeder of that winner. Every breeding season, breeders will be able to offset stud fees they owe against money held in their standardbred breeding account at Harness Racing New Zealand. Promient breeders we spoke to thought the idea had merit but how do you fund the proposal without hurting the stakes side of the equation. The closer we studied the available data surrounding the breeding industry in New Zealand, the more convinced we became that a funding model sustained by the studs was the way to go. The first thing that strikes you when looking at the stud scene in New Zealand is the domination of our market by overseas interests.  In the last breeding season, 77% of the stallions available to New Zealand breeders were owned by foreign interests and thats where most of the income from those stallions ends up, offshore. By our calculations, close to $10,000,000 was sucked out of our industry last year by overseas owned stallions and going by the list of stallions available this season, that figure will continue to grow. So we think a breeding levy is justified but setting the rate and how it would operate are not clear cut. We looked at several overseas examples, both here in Australasia and in Europe and have settled on the "Kiwi" model we think best serves New Zealand's harness racing industry. The formulae is simple: Every mare with a positive 42 day test attracts a breeding levy of 5% of the advertised stud fee which is payable by the stallion owner to Harness Racing New Zealand by May 1st each year after every breeding season.   There are a lot of questions around whether the breeding fund should be universal or not or should there be a limit on how much a breeder can accrue in one season but they are all solvable. Could this proposal be the answer to the decline in our breeding numbers is a question for industry participants to answer. What no one should lose sight of is the status quo or tinkering around the edges hasn't worked and time is quickly running out to reverse the slide.. Action is long overdue to support  the remaining breeders and the clock is ticking. J.C

To say well-known harness racing studmaster Ian Slater is looking forward to seeing Shadyshark Hanover’s stock compete in 2015/16 would be an understatement. Slater stands Shadyshark Hanover, along with Tiz A Masterpiece and Western Edition, at his Victorian establishment – Goodtime Lodge. A well-bred son of Cam’s Card Shark and Shady Past, Shadyshark Hanover served 140 mares – with 129 returning positive tests – during his first American season at stud and has been a hit with Australian breeders. Along with the numbers, Slater is excited about the quality of mares which have visited Shadyshark Hanover’s court. “He has had some top bred mares and some top producers as well come his way,” Slater declared. “Given his exceptional bloodlines and the quality of mares served, I’m looking forward to seeing his stock hit the track. “As it is, he is leaving some great looking foals, which isn’t a surprise as he is a magnificent looking stallion. “He’s big, strong and has a presence about him…not to forget he has a top record at the track as well.” Alimar Star - dam of last season’s Horsham Cup winner, Keayang Steamer – was among the first mares booked into Shadyshark Hanover, along with Decethree Lombo, which boasts 10 winners from 11 starters. Dam of Lombo Skyrider, Decethree Lombo has produced a colt by the young stallion. Next Strike, dam of Goodtime Marjie – winner of seven of her 12 starts – is another waiting to foal to Shadyshark Hanover as is Graces Beach, whose son, Goodtime Bobby has won four of his last five starts. “I’ve got no doubt he will prove his worth and leave some very nice types,” Slater said. “Along with being a top racehorse, which went 1:47.8 at three, he has the breeding to match. “Couple that with some nice mares and there is plenty to look forward to.” Shadyshark Hanover - 2011 Oliver Wendell Holmes PAUL COURTS

DOVER, Del. --- Penny Paratrooper won the first of four $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) two-year-old harness racing finals to highlight the Monday, Nov. 24 program at Dover Downs. Paradise Lost took the $18,000 Mares Open trot on the regular card. Ross Wolfenden drove four feature race winners. Ross Wolfenden was at the controls as the bay filly took command on the backstretch and opened up romping to a 1:58.2 victory her fifth in six races. A smiling Wolfenden extoled the winning filly in the winner's circle, recalling, " the only time she didn't win was after breaking stride early in the $100,000 final last month at Harrington." I Got Spunk (Corey Callahan) finished second with fast finishing Silence Is Bliss (Robert White) third. Callmemza (pronounced Call-me-miz-a) was fourth and Cuddle Punk (Allan Davis) fifth. Carl and Rod Allen bred and raced both world champion Cr Commando and the CR Penny Lane. Rod Allen broke and then sold the Penny Paratrooper to present owners trainer Carlo Poliseno and Foulk Racing Stable. Driver Wolfenden behind another daughter of Cr Commando, Sign N Drive, whose dam is Tybridge, won the $20,000 DSBF Consolation. Star Hit (Tony Morgan) nipped Mila Bella (George Dennis) for second-place. The win was the fourth in eight starts for Sign N Drive trained by Duane Wagner for owner Scott Woogen. In $20,000 DSBF Filly Pace 1st leg prelims, Breeder-trainer Virginia Louthan scored a lifetime best 1:54.4 triumph with Wolfenden driving. The No Pin Zone-David's Art brown filly won for the third time in eight outings. Riggins Route (Callahan) was second in front of early leader and race favorite Love Forbidden (Morgan). In the other $20,000 prelim, Purrfect Bags won for the sixth straight time via a 1:55.2 mile. Vic Kirby piloted the unbeaten Roddy's Bags Again-Purrfectly Bad daughter for trainer Jim King and owner Joann King. Brian's Thunder (Jim Morand) was next with Ohbytheway (Eddie Davis Jr.) the third-place finisher. The second $20,000 DSBF leg for freshman male pacers is set for next Sunday. After two legs, the top eight point-getters meet in a $100,000 final on Dec. 7. The long eight-race win-streak of Willow Mill Faith came to a close in a Delaware $7,500-$10,000 Claiming Handicap. After taking the early lead, Trace Tetrick sent Quick Pulse Daisy past on the backstretch on the way to a 1:55 victory. MA Jackie (Kirby) was runner-up. Great Vodka (John McKinnon), third. The DSBF male pacers begin their two weeks of $20,000 preliminaries Tuesday with four divisions. This week, racing continues through Wednesday with a 4:30 p.m. post. There is no racing this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and as usual no live racing Friday and Saturday. Sunday racing resumes at 5:30 p.m. There is no charge for parking or admission when visiting Dover Downs. Leading harness and thoroughbred simulcasts are featured from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight daily in the Dover Downs Race and Sports Book. by Marv Bachrad, for Dover Downs

Harnesslink’s new recruit and Australian Editor-In-Chief, Paul Courts, is among the recipients of Harness Racing Australia’s “Joseph Coulter Media Awards” announced yesterday. Courts captured Best News Story for his piece titled “Trigger’s final shot”, which appeared in Harness Racing Weekly last August. Courts’ article was a “topical story marking the retirement of Smoken Up”. Smoken Up proved to be a popular topic, with Nadia Horne’s tribute to the champion on RSN's digital channel "RSN Carnival" judged best Radio Feature To Air. Harness Racing Weekly grabbed a second award with Amanda Rando snaring Best Photograph with her “quirky photograph of Beautide, trainer-driver James Rattray and his partner, Fia Svensson” following their Inter Dominion win last March. Courts, along with Robbie O’Connell, was also ‘highly commended’ in HRA’s Award of Merit for Demonstrating Excellence in Promotion. The duo were recognised for the outstanding work they did in organising and promoting the TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day last September, which raised more than $40,000 for the Childrens' Tumour Foundation while attracting “widespread publicity for our industry.” The full list of Harness Racing Australia’s awards: BEST NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR Trigger's final shot - a well written, topical story by Paul Courts marking the retirement of Smoken Up, published in Harness Racing Weekly on 7th August 2014. Highly Commended For the love of the game - The trots are back at the Ekka - Bernie Pramberg's entertaining look in the Brisbane Courier-Mail on 26th July at harness racing's return to the show arena. BEST FEATURE STORY OF THE YEAR For the love of the Game - a heart warming feature on the family influences that underpin harness racing and the passion, commitment and work ethic of the Lee/Craven clans from Victoria's western districts, written by Lucy McCormick and published in the Harness Racer April/May 2014 edition. BEST HISTORICAL FEATURE Broodmares are not created equal - an enthralling feature by Max Agnew in the Spring 2014 edition of Track Bred about breeder Max Allen and the achievements of his mare Ranji Maid, which began a family in the 1940s which is still producing black type winners today. BEST REGIONAL STORY Cramp's shot at history in pacing cup - an interesting story on prolific winning trainer/driver Shayne Cramp on the eve of his home town (Mildura) feature race, written by Matt Taylor and published in the Sunraysia Daily on 12th April 2014. BEST PUBLISHED ACTION OR STILL PHOTOGRAPH Where to now? - a quirky photograph of Beautide, trainer-driver James Rattray and his partner, Fia Svensson, taken by Amanda Rando and published on the front page of Harness Racing Weekly on 6th March 2014 following the Tasmanian pacer's outstanding win in the Inter Dominion final. Highly Commended Hitting the turn - taken by Cindy Hurley on 3rd August 2014 as the field negotiated the home turn at the first stand alone grass meeting staged in Queensland. Published on the Racing Queensland website. BEST BOOK MANAROA - The People's Champion - Peter Collier's latest book, published in May 2014, details the history of the popular New Zealand owned pacer Manaroa which raced with great success in New Zealand, Australia and America in the early 1970's. RADIO - BEST FEATURE TO AIR Tribute to Smoken Up - Nadia Horne produced and hosted this program on RSN's digital channel "RSN Carnival", dedicated to the wonderful career of Smoken Up prior to his retirement. TELEVISION/VIDEO/FILM - BEST FEATURE TO AIR Kathleen Mullan on the road to the Garryowen - A moving feature by reporter Pip Courtney on the ABC's Landline program in November 2013 on the challenge to equestrian stereotypes by Kathleen Mullen, as she took her beloved standardbred James to compete in the prestigious Garryowen at the Royal Melbourne Show. AWARD OF MERIT - DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE IN PROMOTION 2014 Inter Dominion Championship & Event ambassador Stephanie Rice - exceptional promotion of the event across all media, utilising the personable Olympic swimming champion, by Harness Racing NSW and the NSW Harness Racing Club. Highly Commended TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day in Victoria - promoted by Robbie O'Connell and Paul Courts, this fun day in Bendigo in August 2014, supported by many harness racing participants and followers, raised over $40,000 for the Children's Tumour Foundation and attracted widespread publicity for our industry. AWARD OF MERIT - DEMONSTRATED EXCELLENCE IN SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE & INNOVATION Harness Racing New South Wales - HRNSW surpassed 2,000 followers on Twitter and significantly increased Facebook followers to more than 11,000 following a successful Inter Dominion and Carnival of Cups promotion in 2014. Congratulations are extended to not only each award winner but to all those who play an important role in promoting the sport of harness racing. Harnesslink Media

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The following story and video was released late yesterday by Charlotte Huffman for I-Team Eyewitness News CBS TV Philly. PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Disturbing questions are being raised about what is happening inside a New Jersey barn. This comes after concerned residents called Eyewitness News saying a woman is abusing her horses. They say despite recent deaths of several of them and an on-going investigation by humane officials, little has been done to save the others. Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman reports. Monica Thors has been raising and training horses for harness racing for years. She produced a documentary on the sport and is also a horse photographer. Some may call Thors a horse expert. Others call her a monster because of what happens inside a Swedesboro barn. “There’s something seriously wrong here,” one woman told Eyewitness News. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, says she recently went to Thors’ barn to do business. “It was just devastating … when you see it your heart breaks,” she said. Kathy McGuire also visited Thors’ barn. McGuire is a certified animal cruelty investigator and owns NJ Aid For Animals, Inc., a non-profit striving to end the suffering of animals. McGuire characterizes what she saw as “abuse.” “The horses can’t lay down … can’t move and their feet are all bandaged up,” she said. Following such allegations of abuse, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture investigated and sent inspectors to the barn in June of 2013. A department spokesperson says inspectors found the conditions inside the barn met the department’s definition of a “severe violation.” Thors showed the Eyewitness News I-Team around her barn and the horses she claims are healthy. She also showed the I-Team a horse with bandages around his hooves. The horse required the support of a sling to stand up for long and struggled to even walk. “Why can’t the horse stand on his own?” Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman asked Thors. “He started to get foot infections from the glue and I should’ve known better,” Thors explained. Thors says she was gluing on the horse’s shoes. “The glue was seeping into the foot,” she said. “When you’re gluing on shoes you don’t glue over the top of blood because you could cause an infection,” one of Thors’ former blacksmiths said. The blacksmith, who asked to remain anonymous, told Eyewitness News he has seen Thors routinely overuse tools like a dremel on the horse’s hooves. “She’s using it to cut away at the sole, filing the feet shorter and shorter …She would just keep trimming until blood started pouring out,” he said. Thors responded to such allegations by saying she trims all of her horses’ hooves short because it puts less stress on their joints. The Department of Agriculture says investigators handed their report over to NJSPCA (New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which has the enforcement authority. A NJSPCA spokesperson says the agency was made aware of situation in August of 2013. Since then, Thors admits three horses have died, including two from foot infections. NJSPCA would not talk on camera about why it has taken a year and a half to act on the Department of Agriculture’s findings but in a statement said the case is “difficult and complex” and they are working to conclude it “as quick as possible.” But for people like McGuire, it’s not quick enough. “They’ve had the report for a year … At this point someone needs to go do their job … How many more horses have to die? To see the I-Team Eyewitness New video report click here. 
YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, November 25, 2014-We're not suggesting Canadian Mark MacDonald isn't a fan of American Thanksgiving, but no one could blame the guy if he'd rather be working. MacDonald has caught fire late in Yonkers Raceway's season, as evidenced by three wins each this past Friday, Saturday and Monday nights. "I think a lot of it has to with the fact I'm here every night," MacDonald said. "I'd been going to Pocono, which is closed for the season, and occasionally to the Meadowlands. The trainers know I'm going to be around, and I'm getting a lot more live horses. "Also, if I have one that draws poorly or may be in tough one week, I have a better chance of keeping the drive the next time." Those who have invested in MacDonald have been handsomely rewarded. Among his winners since the middle of the month have been Mister Anson ($43), Theseyesrcrying ($32.40), Frame Worthy ($31), Don't Stare ($28), Brenway Dixie ($22.80), Giddy Up Delight ($21.60), Mr. Coolie ($18), Upfront Countryboy ($17.80), and Duel in the Sun ($12). MacDonald, who turns 36 next month, was twice lauded with an O'Brien Award as Canada's leading driver. The Charlottetown, PEI, native was among the leaders on the WEG circuit for a decade. He relocated stateside early in 2012, looking for a change of venue after a series of career-threatening injuries. MacDonald has career totals of more than 5,400 wins and $71 million in purses. He's currently deadlocked for 10th in the local standings with 67 wins, but only one name on the leader board (Pat Lachance, also with 67 wins) has fewer drives. The Raceway's five-program-per-week live schedule is in play through Dec. 14, with first post every Monday, Thursday (save for Thanksgiving Night), Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM, and the fourth of six Sunday matinees (replacing Tuesday evenings) this weekend at 11 AM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all nighttime programs, with afternoon simulcasting (including an early Turkey Day opening) available daily. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (November 25, 2014) - Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment is proud to once again serve as an official Toys for Tots donation site. Patrons, horsemen, and employees can donate a new, unwrapped toy beginning Friday, November 28 through Saturday, December 13. Following the collection period, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program will collect the donated toys and distribute them as holiday gifts to needy children in area communities. Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment has participated in the Toys for Tots Program for more than a decade and has helped collect thousands of toys for children. by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands
WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 25, 2014 -- Cowgirl Hall proved once again that she currently has no peer among The Meadows' trotting elite as she ripped off her fifth straight victory in Tuesday's $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap. Although Cowgirl Hall had to endure a demanding, parked-out first quarter in 27.2, she and Dave Palone were in control every step, scoring in 1:53.2. Martz Time was a ground-saving second, 3/4 lengths back, with Count Me In third. Ron Burke trains Cowgirl Hall, a 5-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Centerfold Hall who extended her career bankroll to $646,303, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Jack Piatt III and Michael Rosenthal. It was one of three victories on the 15-race card for Palone. by Evan Pattak, for the Meadows            
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